Last Updated on March 13, 2023 by gregor
In this blog post, we’ll explore the top things to know and do at the Stephansdom in Vienna, so you can make the most of your visit to this iconic cathedral. Among the most famous landmarks in Vienna is the Stephansdom, or St. Stephen’s Cathedral, located in the heart of the city. The Gothic-style cathedral is over 700 years old and has been a central point in Vienna’s skyline for centuries.
St. Stephen’s Cathedral Highlights:
- Gothic cathedral with Baroque fittings and an iconic multicolored tiled roof
- Main attractions include:
- Self-guided tour & catacombs tour
- Go up north & south towers
- Dom Museum (over the road)
- Part of the interior is free; you pay for each other area (or go all-inclusive)
- Book full cathedral tickets* (with the Dom Museum) online
- But check the cathedral calendar for days when entry times may be restricted
Why do you need to visit the Stephansdom in Vienna?
There are many reasons why you should visit this historic site:
- Rich History: Stephansdom is a historic monument with a rich history dating back to the 12th century. The cathedral has survived many wars and has witnessed numerous significant events throughout its history.
- Architectural Marvel: The cathedral is an architectural marvel and an impressive example of Gothic architecture. The intricate details on the exterior and interior of the cathedral are breathtaking and awe-inspiring.
- Stunning Views: Climbing up to the top of the South Tower of the cathedral will reward you with stunning views of the city. You can see the rooftops of Vienna and the surrounding landscape from a unique perspective.
- Cultural Significance: Stephansdom is not only a religious site, but it also holds cultural significance. The cathedral is home to many artworks, including the pulpit by Anton Pilgram, the High Altar by Tobias Pock, and the tomb of Emperor Friedrich III.
- Religious Experience: Stephansdom is an active place of worship, and attending a mass or service can be a unique religious experience for visitors.
Get to Know the History of Stephansdom Cathedral
Stephansdom is steeped in history, and it’s worth taking the time to learn about its past before you begin your tour. The cathedral was built in the 12th century and has seen many changes and additions over the centuries. During the Second World War, the cathedral suffered heavy damage, and restoration work continued until 1960. Today, the Stephansdom is one of the most significant landmarks in Vienna and is a symbol of the city’s resilience and endurance.
Things to do and See when visiting the Stephansdom in Vienna City (Ticket Options)
Visitors options for inside are:
- The Self-guided tour: wander around the main interior in the company of an audio guide rich in details and stories
- The South Tower: a climb up 343 steps to an observation chamber with excellent views of Vienna, particularly (obviously) of the surrounding central district
- The North Tower: a lift to a viewing platform and the famous 21,283 kg Pummerin bell that rings in Austria’s New Year
- The Cathedral Treasury: an extensive collection of Christian relics and other historical treasures (though closed for refurbishment when I last visited)
- The Catacombs: a guided tour among the crypts below ground, including one or two that live up to breathtaking expectations
Admire the Gothic Architecture
The Stephansdom is a prime example of Gothic architecture, and its impressive spire and intricate details make it a must-see for visitors to Vienna. The cathedral’s roof is covered in ornate mosaics, and the interior is adorned with stunning stained glass windows. Take your time exploring the cathedral’s nooks and crannies, and don’t forget to look up to appreciate the grandeur of its vaulted ceilings.
- The Self-guided tour: wander around the main interior in the company of an audio guide rich in details and stories
Climb the South Tower
If you’re up for a challenge, consider climbing the 343 steps to the top of the cathedral’s South Tower. The climb is not for the faint of heart, but the views from the top are worth it. From the tower, you’ll be able to see the city in all its glory, with panoramic views of Vienna’s historic center. It’s a great way to get a unique perspective on the city and to take some unforgettable photos.
Visit the cathedral Treasury
The Stephansdom’s Treasury houses a vast collection of religious artifacts, including gold and silver crucifixes, reliquaries, and other precious items. The collection is spread over 20 rooms and offers a fascinating insight into the cathedral’s history and religious significance. Highlights include the crown of Emperor Rudolf II and the altar of the cathedral’s patron saint, St. Stephen.
Attend a Concert or Service
The Stephansdom is not just a tourist attraction but a working cathedral, and attending a service or concert is a great way to experience its spiritual side. The cathedral’s acoustics are world-renowned, and it regularly hosts performances by Vienna’s finest musicians. Check the cathedral’s website for upcoming events and to book tickets in advance.
Explore the Catacombs
If you’re feeling adventurous, consider exploring Stephansdom’s catacombs. The underground tunnels are home to the remains of over 10,000 people, including members of the Habsburg royal family. A tour of the catacombs is a fascinating experience, and the guides are knowledgeable and passionate about the history of the cathedral.
Visit the Roof
If you don’t fancy climbing the South Tower, you can still get a great view of the city by visiting the cathedral’s roof. Access is via a lift, and the views are stunning, particularly at sunset. The roof also offers a closer look at the cathedral’s intricate mosaics, which are often missed from ground level.
Light a Candle
Many visitors to the Stephansdom light a candle as a symbol of their faith or as a tribute to loved ones. Candles are available for purchase at the cathedral’s entrance, and there are several candle stations throughout the cathedral where you can light your candle and say a prayer. It’s a simple but meaningful act that adds to the spiritual atmosphere of the cathedral.
Visit the Pummerin Bell
The Pummerin Bell is one of the largest bells in Europe and weighs over 20,000 kilograms. It hangs in the North Tower of the Stephansdom and is rung on special occasions, such as New Year’s Eve and major religious holidays. Visitors can see the bell up close and even touch it on certain days of the year. It’s a unique and impressive sight that’s not to be missed.
Take a Guided Tour
To fully appreciate the history and significance of the Stephansdom, consider taking a guided tour. The cathedral offers several tour options, including a general tour, a tower climb tour, and a catacombs tour. The guides are knowledgeable and enthusiastic, and they can provide a deeper understanding of the cathedral’s history and architecture. Guided tours are available in several languages, including English.
Enjoy a Viennese Coffee at a Nearby Café
After exploring the Stephansdom, take some time to relax and enjoy the Viennese café culture. There are several cafes and restaurants in the area where you can savor a coffee or a pastry while soaking up the atmosphere. Café Demel and Café Sacher are both popular options that are within walking distance of the cathedral.
Read more: BEST COFFEEHOUSES IN THE CITY CENTER OF VIENNA, AUSTRIA
Shop for Souvenirs
No visit to the Stephansdom is complete without picking up a souvenir to remember your trip. The cathedral’s gift shop offers a wide range of items, including postcards, books, and religious artifacts. You can also find unique handmade items by local artisans, such as jewelry and ceramics. It’s a great way to take a piece of Vienna home with you.
Read more: WHAT TO BUY IN VIENNA: BEST 15 SOUVENIRS FROM VIENNA
Attend a Mass in English
If you’re an English speaker and want to attend a Mass at the Stephansdom, there are several options available. The cathedral offers a Sunday Mass in English at 10 am, as well as occasional weekday Masses in English. It’s a great way to experience the spiritual side of the cathedral while also connecting with other English-speaking visitors.
Take a Walk Around the Surrounding Area
The Stephansdom is located in the heart of Vienna’s historic center, and there’s plenty to see and do in the surrounding area. Take a walk around the nearby streets and alleyways, and you’ll discover charming cafes, boutique shops, and historic buildings. The Graben and Kärntner Straße are both popular shopping destinations that are within walking distance of the cathedral.
Read more: VIENNA CITY WALKS – 11 SIGHTSEEING ROUTES (FREE VIDEO TOUR GUIDES)
Read Also: LUXURY SHOPPING IN VIENNA GUIDE (STORES, MAP AND VIDEO GUIDE)
Visit the St. Stephen’s Cathedral in the Evening
The Stephansdom takes on a whole new atmosphere in the evening when it’s illuminated against the night sky. Take a stroll around the area after dark, and you’ll see the cathedral in a different light. It’s a great way to experience the city’s nightlife and to take some stunning photos.
In conclusion, the Stephansdom is an attraction that’s not to be missed during a visit to Vienna. From its impressive Gothic architecture to its rich history and spiritual significance, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Whether you climb the South Tower, explore the catacombs, or simply light a candle, the Stephansdom is a place that’s sure to leave a lasting impression on all who visit.
In conclusion, the Stephansdom is a must-see attraction for anyone visiting Vienna. Its impressive Gothic architecture, rich history, and spiritual significance make it a unique and unforgettable experience. Whether you climb to the top of the South Tower, explore the catacombs, or simply light a candle, the Stephansdom is a place that’s sure to leave a lasting impression on all who visit.
HOW TO GET TO STEPHANSDOM
Since it’s right in the center, you’ll probably wander past on your first stroll through town. Otherwise:
- Use the U1 or U3 subway lines, getting out at the Stephansplatz station
- Take a 1A, 2A or 3A bus (the stop is also called Stephansplatz)
Once you get off the bus or leave the subway station.
Address: Stephansdom, Stephansplatz, 1010 Vienna | Website
Here are some tips to help you make the most of your visit to the Stephansdom in Vienna
Plan Your Visit in Advance
The Stephansdom Cathedral is a popular attraction, so it’s a good idea to plan your visit in advance to avoid long queues and crowds. Check the opening hours and admission fees ahead of time, and consider booking tickets online to skip the line.
The Stephansdom is a religious site, so visitors are expected to dress appropriately. Make sure to wear clothing that covers your shoulders and knees, and avoid wearing hats or sunglasses inside the cathedral. This is a sign of respect for the religious significance of the site.
Be Prepared for Stairs
If you’re planning to climb the South Tower or explore the catacombs, be prepared for a lot of stairs. Wear comfortable shoes and be aware that the climb can be steep and narrow in some places. If you have any mobility issues, it’s best to skip the climb and enjoy the cathedral from ground level.
Video Guide about the Stephansdom in Vienna
Respect the Rules
The Stephansdom has several rules that visitors are expected to follow. For example, photography is not allowed in certain areas, and visitors are not allowed to touch the artwork or artifacts. Be sure to read the signs and follow the rules to avoid any issues.
Take Your Time
The Stephansdom is a large and impressive attraction, so take your time to explore and appreciate it fully. Don’t rush through the cathedral, and take the time to admire the artwork, stained glass windows, and other details.