Austria’s capital, the historic city of Vienna, was the cultural and artistic pride of the Austro-Hungarian Empire until the early 20th century. Its magical musical legacy included the genius of Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms, Mahler, and Haydn, and led to its nickname of the City of Music. Nowadays, the Vienna Philharmonic is one of the world’s most celebrated orchestras for its feted New Year’s Day Concert, and the Vienna State Opera theater attracts the world’s finest operatic talent. Set along the banks of the great River Danube, the city holds the fine architecture of heritage palaces and mansions, museums, wide boulevards, art galleries, and landscaped parks.
The vast majority of Vienna’s hotels and other accommodation is located within a short walk of either a subway station, a tram stop, or an overground station, although the choice of hotels in the historic city center is limited. A complete range of prices and amenities is on offer, and you are as likely to find yourself in a beautiful heritage building such as the Hotel Regina or the Hotel Imperial as you are in the modernism of the Suite Novotel Wien. Nightlife happens all over the city and is most enjoyable in the small neighborhood bars with tiny dance floors and live music, and Vienna’s café scene is world-famous and continues into the early hours.
Vienna, celebrated as the hub of the Austro-Hungarian Empire for centuries, is one of Europe’s loveliest cities. Its ancient center is now a UNESCO World Heritage site, giving visitors a stunning array of places to visit and sights to see.
The city’s Museums Quarter holds magnificent mansions and palaces which are now home to displays of everything from the Hapsburg Dynasty’s magnificent imperial jewels to artifacts from the eras of the world’s greatest empires. Must-sees are the Schatzkammer treasury, the imperial apartments of the Sisi Museum, the Liechtenstein Palace art collection, and Castle Belvedere with its paintings and sculptures.
Belle Epoch heritage buildings
Architecture buffs in love with this iconic turn of the 19th century design era will thrill at Vienna’s elegant Art Nouveau buildings. Three of the world’s finest Belle Epoch structures are found here: the Secession, Kirche am Steinhof, and Karlsplatz Stadtbahn Station.
This former winter residence of the Hapsburg Dynasty rulers of the Austro-Hungarian Empire originated as early as the 13th century and was added to over hundreds of years to form the magnificent, curving structure seen today. A must-see in its grounds is the world-famous Spanish Riding School and its stables.
Immortalized in a painting by Canaletto, the Schonnebrunne Palace was the Hapsburgs’ summer residence. Set in glorious landscaped grounds ornamented by sculpture-lined terraces, it is today Vienna’s most visited landmark and holds regular classical music concerts.
Eating, drinking and shopping nearby
Viennese cuisine is unique to the city, with dining out more of an adventure than in most European cities. The local dishes are meat-heavy, rich, and delicious, and come in large portions. Unusually, sweet dishes are eaten here as main courses, and vegetarian versions of all-time favorites are becoming more common. For a stunning gourmet meal on a special occasion, Wienbotschaft on lovely Annagasse 12 is the place, with all its ingredients sourced from organic growers and rich, sweet Viennese desserts to die for. Vienna’s shopping opportunities are not set at bargain-basement level, but the vast variety and fine quality make up for the high prices in the Kohlmarkt, crammed with high-fashion boutiques and stunning jewelry shops. For affordable fashions, antiques, art, and souvenirs of your visit, the Naschmarkt’s flea market is fun and popular with residents, expats, visitors, and the city’s beautiful people.
Vienna’s international airport offers direct flights from overseas destinations including several US cities and London. The airport complex is linked with the city by its S-Bahn suburban rail service via Wien-Mitte station’s U-Bahn line to the center and the U4 line to the Opera district. Hotels offer inexpensive airport shuttles and there is a direct airport bus service to the city. Airport taxis are plentiful but expensive, with bookable flat-rate transfers a better option. Once you are settled, getting around by public transport is straightforward either by subway, commuter rail line, tram, or bus, all of which provide frequent service.