by Ellen Curham
Vienna is full of quirky hidden gems that many tourists overlook. If you’ve already ticked off the typical attractions then check out our off-the-beaten-path Vienna picks with a spooky twist—just in time for Halloween.
The Stephansdom is a classic European cathedral boasting Romanesque and Gothic architecture and located in the heart of the city. Yet below this striking building lies something a little more sinister.
Underneath St. Stephen’s is a crypt that houses the bones, hearts of intestines of the Habsburgs, one the most influential royal families and rulers of the Holy Roman Empire. Along with the Habsburgs, these catacombs also feature the bones of over 11,000 persons that were originally from nearby cemeteries. An important historical feature, this crypt is a must-visit for those looking to explore a different side of Vienna.
Located outside the city and on the banks of the River Danube is the Zentralfriedhof, or Central Cemetery. Along with gorgeous grounds and many graves, you’ll also discover the Bestattungsmuseum. This morbid museum details the traditional burial rituals from around the world and gives case studies of a number of different figures from former royalty to sports stars. This interesting museum is open from Monday to Saturday with tickets starting at €3.
Another slightly scary yet informative place, the Kriminalmuseum is situated in Leopoldstadt in a building from the late 17th century. Items here include weapons, newspaper clippings, counterfeit money and even skulls. Although it is entirely in German, those who don’t speak the local language will still find this spooky museum fascinating in the most macabre way. It’s open every day except Monday from 10am-5pm and entry starts at 3EUR for students.
This imposing building, translating as the ‘Tower of Fools’ is located next to the University of Vienna already looks scary enough until you find out it is actually Europe’s oldest mental asylum. Although no longer used for that purpose, it is now The Anatomical-Pathological Museum. Terrifying pieces on display in former cells include organs, bones, foetuses in jars and the piece the résistance, a hydrocephalic skeleton. Not for the faint of heart but well worth a look if you can handle it, this branch of the Natural History Museum has restricted opening hours usually on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays so it’s worth checking up on these before you go.
Cemetery of the Nameless
The name itself is scary enough and it’s pretty much exactly what you think it is. The Friedhof der Namenlosen is located on the banks of the River Danube and has nearly 500 graves for bodies that washed up at the shore of the Danube. This is only accessible by car and is located in Simmering at the Alberner Hafen. Be warned that it can be difficult to find due to the lack of signage. However, it is worth the hunt as aside from being kind of creepy, it is also quite a beautiful place. So much so that it was one of the locations in the romantic films Before Sunrise.
Not traditionally celebrated in Austria, Halloween has gained traction over the last decade thanks to North American influences. It’s still not as big as in other countries but Vienna is a large city with lots of young people so if you visit around that time you are sure to find costumed parties at clubs and bars as well as lots of decorations.
Where to stay?
Wombats City Hostel Vienna – at the Naschmarkt is a clean, secure and friendly place set an easy walk from most of the city’s main museums and sights. We love how all of their rooms are en-suite! And if you’re looking for amazing atmosphere, look no further than Hostel Ruthensteiner Vienna, an independent eco hostel with walking and cycling tours, local art, musical instruments and not one but two gardens.