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Rarely at the top of the list to visit and stuck in the shadow of other Austrian cities, setting out to find all the things to do in Linz that stem from the city’s creative arts scene might well change your perceptions about how much there is to love about Austria’s third-largest city.
Linz, the capital of Upper Austria, sets out to showcase the best of itself visually and artistically, proving that as a Federal capital, its worthy of attention.
A city proud to describe itself as future-orientated, Linz has transformed over the decades by continuously embracing change. It soon becomes apparent that the arts form the very core of its identity.
Historically, Linz grew from the Roman fortification of Lentia to a flourishing town in the 15th century, home to Habsburg Emperor Frederick III, but is largely defined by its 17th-century Old Town quaintness and wealthy steel industry status. It’s a Danube river city whose artistic revival was first ignited in darker days when Hitler wanted to restructure and use it as a core European base and rebuild it as the main cultural centre of the Third Reich.
Today, Linz has evolved into a designated European Capital of Culture (2009) and a UNESCO Media Arts City. It has grown to become home to educational institutions and research facilities involved in the development and understanding of media art and digital culture and further established itself as a European centre for social innovation and artistic enterprise.
Beyond the pastel hues which come to define old Austrian towns, are the city’s multi-layers of artistic flair here. Where contemporary arts seamlessly blend with the city’s historic structures to form a collection of cultural hubs, funky hangouts and artistic business ventures.
So, where can you find it all when you visit Linz? This list pulls together the places to visit in Linz, the city’s top sifghts and attractions, and the spots that will make you see it differently.
- Things to Do in Linz Austria to See it Differently
- Stroll Linz Old Town – History in Architecture
- Enjoy Creative Hangouts on the Linz Danube Riverside
- Visit Linz Museums and Core Visual Arts Centres
- Eat Original Linzer Torte at Jindrak Café
- Browse Boutique Stores and Culture Cafes
- Take a Theatre Costume Guided Tour in Linz
- Find the Giant Map of Linz in the Town Hall
- Marvel the Modern Remake of Linz Castle
- See Modern Art Stained Glass in the Biggest Church in Austria
- See Rooftop Artworks at Höhenrausch in OÖ Kulturquartier
- Mural Harbour – Linz Industrial Heritage in Art
- Is Linz Worth Visiting?
- Travel Tips for When You Visit Linz
Things to Do in Linz Austria to See it Differently
Stroll Linz Old Town – History in Architecture
Linz doesn’t forget its history and nor is it overlooked or replaced.
On one side of the Danube River is the historic railway line that takes you to the fairy tale castle on the Pöstlingberg Mountain to the Pöstlingberg Pilgrimage Basilica that overlooks the city. On the other are the preserved minty greens, soft blues, butter yellows and delicate pink facades of the Old Town with its avenues of flagstones and archways.
The lovingly restored showpieces are incorporated within the city’s contemporary expansion.
Enjoy Creative Hangouts on the Linz Danube Riverside
It’s not just the town itself humming with new ideas. One of the things to do in Linz is to delve into the social culture that has been built upon the waterfront. Riverside green spaces are accompanied by independent enterprises such as the red van ‘pay as you like cafe’ and crazy golf by the river and the Salonschiff Fräulein Florentine gastropub on a boat.
Visit Linz Museums and Core Visual Arts Centres
Along the river bank, I visited the bold-edged glass structures housing two of the city’s core arts centres. The visual media and technology Ars Electronica Centre, which focuses on digital issues of the future (and whose ‘FutureLab’ research unit is a worldwide top 10 media laboratory), and the modern art collection that fills the Lentos Kunstmuseum.
Eat Original Linzer Torte at Jindrak Café
Besides churches and cultural hubs, what is Linz famous for? The Linzer Torte – the indication of the origin of this famed Austrian cake. While the recipe of this jam-filledbuttery-almond pastry date back to 1653, where a recipe was found in the cookbook a Countess, the Jindrak café lays claim to baking the “Original Linzer Torte”.
Visit here and get yourself a slice of the Linzer Torte that’s been served here since 1929.
Browse Boutique Stores and Culture Cafes
Cake-filled tradition rubs shoulders with modernity with boho-cool coffee shops like Friedlieb und Töchter serving up avocado toast breakfasts and international coffees, boutique outlets outshining modern chain stores and the cultural centre Stadtwerkstatt standing as a symbol of communication. It was established by activists protesting the modern concrete development of the old town.
Take a Theatre Costume Guided Tour in Linz
Art goes beyond galleries and architecture. Theatre costume guided tours bring the old streets of Linz and their stories to life via theatre and drama. The interactive group tours, for up to 35 people, are by request.
The Theatre Costume Guided Tour in Linz.
Find the Giant Map of Linz in the Town Hall
Even the Town Hall has brushed off a typical stuffy civil structure by becoming an exhibition space showcasing Linz from above. A giant aerial city view of Linz is displayed under foot, in one of the large ground-floor rooms.
Marvel the Modern Remake of Linz Castle
The South Wing of the Linzer Schloss (Linz Castle), which burnt down in 1800, is replaced by modern architectural construction and is home to the Schlossmuseum documenting the early history of Linz.
See Modern Art Stained Glass in the Biggest Church in Austria
In Linz, you’ll find the Mariendom – the biggest church in Austria. Keeping with the city’s artistic streak, it features stained glass windows displaying modern-art designs.
See Rooftop Artworks at Höhenrausch in OÖ Kulturquartier
My favourite space is Höhenrausch – an annual art event and creative space. It’s set within the repurposed area known as the OÖ Kulturquartier. It incorporates over 30 indoor, outdoor and rooftop artworks with great views across the city, even to the point of incorporating artworks onto the front of the Ursulinen Church next to it.
The wooden tower, erected amongst it all, allows you the most artistic view – Linz in a 360 panorama and the perfect display of its many layers of old and new.
Mural Harbour – Linz Industrial Heritage in Art
Creative minds and hands have given the industrial heritage of Linz a makeover, showcased in the area called Mural Harbour. Urban development can be found all along the Danube, such as Tabakfabrik – a former tobacco factory turned hub for makers and designers and soon-to-be home to an international research centre for media and performance arts (Valie Export Centre).
A boat trip on the Linz Harbour eventually takes you to the commercial port transformed into a giant street art space. While you can’t get off here for a closer look, the boat allows access to the art mural wall, which has become one of the world’s most extensive outdoor galleries.
Various murals adorn the industrial buildings, with works from international creatives, including Spanish street artist ARYZ whose artwork – the biggest of them all – has come to symbolise this area’s transformation. During the outdoor event known as Bubble Days, street and graffiti artists are invited to come and decorate the space, expanding Linz’s international art platforms.
Plan your boat trip along the Danube. The Hafentour (Harbour tour) aboard the MS Linzerin departs six times daily at 11:00, 12:00, 13:00, 14:00, 15:00 and 16:00. Tickets cost €12 per person. You can also book Hafentour tickets via GetYourGuide.
Is Linz Worth Visiting?
‘Say Linz. Say Change’ is one of the city’s taglines – it’s not afraid to try something new as it incorporates an ultra-contemporary present into its cherished centuries-old past.
When it comes to the things to do in Linz, it’s clear it is a city that likes nothing more than to treat visitors to sensory overload, both interactive and visual, in honour of the media arts and forward-thinking dynamism for which it is often rewarded.
Travel Tips for When You Visit Linz
Want to know how to get to Linz and how best to spend your time once you arrive? These tips have your trip covered.
Getting to Linz
The city is a perfect weekend getaway, taking approximately 90 minutes by train from Vienna and 1 hour and 15 minutes from Salzburg. Linz is connected to all major Austrian cities via the ÖBB national rail network and the private operator, Westbahn, although Innsbruck is the furthest away by close to 4 hours.
- Search train tickets for travel from Vienna to Linz.
- Search train tickets for travel from Salzburg to Linz.
The Linz Card for Transport and Attractions
The digital Linz Card includes the use of all public transport within the city, a return ticket (uphill and downhill) to the Pöstlingberg Tram, admission to all museums, discounts on over 15 attractions, a €10 voucher for some concerts and theatres and a €5 restaurant voucher.
A 3-day card costs €35, a two-day card is €27 and a one-day card is also available for €16.
Where to Stay in Linz
The modern-decked renovated 15th-century Hotel Schwarzer Bär is a family-run accommodation in Linz city centre. Choose a room with a balcony or enjoy the view from the roof terrace and bar.
The stylish adult-only Hotel Am Domplatz has Mariendom Cathedral views and several spa facilities.
For a no-fuss, self check-in hotel in a quiet corner of Linz, check ART-INN Design Self-Check-in Hotel.
Arts Festivals in Linz
Linz plays host to many annual festivals, including the Ars Electronica festival, Crossing Europe Film Festival, the Pflasterspektakel street art festival, Nextcomic comedy festival and the Linzer Krone Fest of music acts.
Further Information About Planning a Trip to Linz
For further inspiration, visit the Linz Tourism Website.
Are you travelling around Austria? Read more about neighbouring areas and days trips from Linz including the nearby Danube Cycle Path near Linz and how to get the most out of visiting Salzburg.
My trip to Linz was part of an Austria project involving various cities, regions and activities all over Austria. All opinions remain my own.
Nice post! I love Linz! I think I has so much to offer! I hope people put it on their travel list.
Linz will be on our list someday. We were in Vienna a few years ago and in a month we will be visiting Salzburg. Austria it is always a very very good idea.
I loved Ars Electonica and so did the kids. Love the sound of the art wall too. Sounds like a new visit is in order.
Stuart Forster says
I’ve often wondered what Linz is like. Despite having travelled widely in Austria it’s a place I’m yet to visit. Thanks for sharing your impressions.