3 Museums in Vienna You Can Go to for Free

Austria takes pride in its museums. While some only open their doors “gratis” on certain days, others even go so far as never charging.

Austria takes pride in its museums, but many come with a price tag for adults – at least on most days of the year. Those looking for cheap thrills – indeed free thrills – need look no further.

Here are some well-known museums that offer free admission, as well as some information on the Kulturpass (culture pass), a program to provide access to numerous cultural institutions for people with little to no income.

1. Gedenkstätte Steinhof

Steinhof Gedenkstätte
The Steinhof memorial site at Pavilion V of Vienna’s Otto-Wagner Hospital (formerly Am Steinhof Psychiatric Hospital) was opened in May 2002 on the occasion of the interment of the remains of Spiegelgrund victims. (c) Documentation Center of Austrian Resistance

A permanent exhibition by the Dokumentationsarchiv des Österreichischen Widerstands (Documentation Center of Austrian Resistance), this memorial at the Otto Wagner Hospital memorializes the mentally or physically disabled adults and children euthanized by the Third Reich. With more than 7,500 either deported to concentration camps, used for unethical medical research or killed by deliberate starvation and systematic neglect, the crimes of the Nazi regime are carefully documented for posterity – lest we forget.

Otto Wagner Spital, Pavillion V
14., Baumgartner Höhe 1
Wed-Fri 10:00-17:00, Sat (including holidays) 14:00-18:00

Free admission.

2. Heeresgeschichtliches Museum

Heeresgeschichtliches Museums
Formerly the arsenal of the Imperial army, Vienna’s Heeresgeschichtliches Museum today lives its slogan “Wars Belong in Museums Only” © Hubertl / Wikimedia Commons

Their witty slogan: “Wars belong in museums.” This is a particularly good one. Devoted to Austria’s martial history, the museum boasts an impressive permanent exhibition, chronicling the armed forces from the Thirty Years War through today. Of particular interest are their WWI displays, featuring uniforms, aircraft and even the bullet-riddled uniform of Franz Ferdinand, whose assassination triggered a conflict that quickly drew in the entire region. It’s also worth a visit for its remarkable Neo-Gothic architecture, the work of Theophil Hansen and Ludwig Förster.

3., Arsenal, Objekt 1
Daily 9:00-17:00

Free admission every first Sunday of each month

3. Hermesvilla

The Hermesvilla palace was Emperor Franz-Josep’s gift to his wife, Empress Elisabeth (“Sisi”) © Bwag / Wikimedia

An idyllic mansion in the middle of the Lainzer Tiergarten – previously the private hunting ground of the Emperor – the Hermesvilla was a gift fromthe Emperor Franz Joseph to his wife, Elisabeth, enabling her to stay far away from the bustle of court. With interiors designed by the likes of Gustav Klimt, Hugo Charlemont and Franz Matsch, and a wonderful collection of personal effects and artwork formerly owned by the imperial family, this former residence shows the private side of Austria’s beloved Sissi.  

13., Lainzer Tiergarten
Mar 27- Nov 1,  Tue-Sun 10:00-18:00
Free admission every first Sunday of each month

THE KULTURPASS

A special card granting free access to many major museums, cultural institutions and festivals, the Kulturpass is issued to welfare recipients, the unemployed or to members of low income households – the eligible need only apply. A list of museums and festivals is to be found on the official site. Cardholders should be ready to show photo ID.

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