Few cities slide so elegantly between the present and the past like Vienna. Known for centuries as the capital of classical music, its Konzerthaus, Viennese State Opera, and Viennese Boys' Choir are admired throughout the world. Wherever you are in Vienna, you are always in the presence of magnificence and grandeur, whether you are attending an outstanding opera or being amazed by the imperial splendour of one of Vienna's palaces.
Vienna is the capital of Austria and its largest city. It is home to a quarter of the country's population. It sits close to the Alps and enjoys warm summers and much cooler winters, with snowfall common. The city is ideal for those who want to immerse themselves in local culture and spend time in one of the oldest cities in Europe.
The Schonbrunn Palace and the Rococo Belvedere Palace are interesting highlights close to the city centre, but most visitors stroll around the Hofburg Palace. The Hofburg Palace, where the Habsburgers once lived, ruled, and married, is today the home of the Museum of Cartography and the Spanish Riding School. The palace is formed of a number of buildings that have developed over the last 700 years, and is almost as large as the Vatican. Travellers can visit the National Library and a number of other attractions.
The architecture is the main reason why people visit the Austrian capital. Karlskirche is the tallest Baroque church in Vienna, and the Stephansdom Cathedral stands out with its very tall spire and its amazing glazed-tiled roof. The most beautiful baroque capital in Europe, Vienna is also the cradle of modernism and the birthplace of Klimt, Loos, and Freud.
Vienna is filled with museums and the Museum of Art History is one of the most popular. This is home to the impressive collection of art that was collected by the Habsburgs, and features works from the 15th century through to the 18th century.
Visitors can also call in at the Lainzer deer park, which is a large expanse of woodland in the south-west of Vienna. There are acres of parkland to be explored, and it is the ideal day out for a family.
Shopping is perhaps one of the most popular pastimes in Vienna and there are many areas of the city that are ideal for those who want to part with their cash. Areas such as Graben and Karntner Strasse are home to some of the city's top boutiques and designer labels, but the city is filled with shops and markets of all descriptions.
Vienna is made up of very distinct neighbourhoods, which are known as districts. The “1st District" is Innere Stadt, and this is literally the inner part of the city. There are many streets in this area that are open only to pedestrians, including the streets that go past the Vienna State Opera House and the Cathedral. Visitors to this district can also visit the Hofburg palace, which is home to a variety of attractions.
The “2nd District" is Leopoldstadt, which is just a short journey from the city centre. Prater Park can be found in this district. For more attractions, the “3rd District" is an option. This is an area filled with old churches and other tourist attractions, including the Belvedere Palace and the city's Diplomatic quarter. The “4th District" is known as Wieden and is a very fashionable area of the city. There is one of the city's largest museums here, and it can be easily reached from the city centre.
Do not leave Vienna without having a steaming cup of coffee in a Wiener Kaffeehaus where you will be tempted with an amazing selection of cakes and pastries. In addition to the famous coffee houses, there are “sausage stands" located at various points around the city. While many tourists will avoid eating from a street vendor, there is no cause for concern as they are strictly regulated for health and safety purposes. These can be found at places such as subway stations and in the main shopping areas, with a vast variety of sausage available.
Wine taverns are a good option for an evening out, as many serve food as well. These are known as “heurigen," and those away from the city centre often serve their own wine. The locals also favour these taverns.
Tourists who are unsure where to begin can try the Spittelberg area of the city, located in the “7th District." This is a very touristy area and there are plenty of eateries of all types. In addition, the cafes and restaurants in and around Florianigasse are popular with the student population of the city.
Arts and Entertainment
Vienna now has a museum quarter, which was opened in 2001. It is located in a building that used to be the former royal stables, and it attracts thousands of tourists each year. The Museum of Modern Art is located here and houses a number of works from the 1960s and 1970s, although mainly Austrian pieces. It is also home to the Leopold Museum, which has works by Klimt and other famous artists. There are exhibitions that change regularly at the Kunsthalle, although the focus is again on modern art.
Music lovers will also find plenty to enjoy in Vienna. The Vienna State Opera is one of the most famous in the world and dates back to the middle of the 19th century. This can be found right in the heart of the city. The orchestra at the State Opera provides musicians for the national Philharmonic orchestra.
In addition to this, there are theatres in the city where shows are held regularly and travellers can take in a ballet or musical.
Parks and The Great Outdoors
Just outside of the city is Schonbrunn Palace, where not only are there amazing buildings and architecture to see, but also fabulous surrounding gardens. The garden areas are free to enter and are a lovely relaxing place to spend a few hours away from the hustle and bustle of the city. For both a little fun and a sense of history, Riesenrad is the place to visit. The Amusement park has been there for over 100 years, and is fun for the whole family. The views from the top of the Ferris Wheel are worth the ride.
Just a mile from the city centre is the People's Park. As well as being home to several statues and monuments, the park also has a gorgeous rose garden and is a lovely place to visit. The People's Park is a serene escape in the heart of the city. The Botanical Garden of the University of Vienna is another peaceful day out, while only a short distance from the centre of the city. With a vast array of flora and fauna to see, it is a great place to pass a few hours.
Hotel accommodation in Vienna will meet the needs of all travellers. From the smaller family-run hotels, which are ideal for those on a tight budget, to the larger international chains, there is something for everyone. There are hotels that are suitable for families, honeymooning couples, and business travellers. The city centre is home to numerous hotels and finding suitable accommodation should not be a problem for most travellers. The one thing all travellers can be sure of in Vienna is that no matter where they choose to stay, they will get a warm welcome.