A vibrant fusion of imperial grandeur with a contemporary European lifestyle, Vienna stands as a monument to the once-powerful Habsburg Monarchy and positively oozes history, culture and opulence as a result.
World-famous for its musical heritage and once considered the beating heart of the music world, the city has been home to some of the true musical greats, including Mozart, Beethoven and Brahms.
Café culture is a huge part of the Viennese lifestyle, with the 3 o‘clock coffee and pastry tradition considered “intangible cultural heritage” by UNESCO. So fill your ears with beautiful music, your eyes with striking architecture and your belly with fresh Viennese apple strudel.
Vienna is bursting with things to see, museums to explore and pockets of culture to discover. A great place to start any sightseeing journey in Vienna is at the Ringstrasse (Vienna Ring Road) that encircles the city centre. A gentle stroll along the route will allow you to take in sights such as the Vienna State Opera, the Parliament Building, the Museumsquartier and the breathtaking University of Vienna.
Stephansplatz, which is home to the enchanting medieval cathedral Stephansdom, is another tourist hub and a must-see. The majesty of Schonbrunn Palace is something to behold with its stunningly impressive gardens. A stop-off at the interactive Haus der Musik Museum is an absolute must while you’re visiting Vienna, especially if you’ve spent time touring the houses and memorials of some of the famous musicians who called the city home.
Lastly, no Austrian trip would be complete without an evening at the opera. For just 4 euro you can experience the beauty of the opera in the stunning setting of the Vienna State Opera.
Eat and Drink
With such a diverse range of European influences, Austrian cuisine is considered one of Vienna’s major drawcards. Italian, Hungarian, Polish and Jewish ingredients and methods have all contributed to the shaping of Viennese cooking culture, which is most famous for its pastries. Must-try foods include Wiener schnitzel, Buchteln rolls and Erdapfelgulasch.
And that’s all before you’ve even started on the sweets. Apple strudel is sure to feature on your Viennese food list, and so should gugelhupf, a sweet, dense cake that’s so traditionally Austrian, Austrian airlines serve it on flights. Lastly, Vienna happens to have extensive vineyards within easy reach of the city. So take a trip to one of the many winemakers and make sure you sample a glass or 3 of gemischter satz.
Where to Stay
The Innere Stadt is considered the epicentre of Viennese life, and it’s a great place to book accommodation when in Vienna. For the time-pressed and those wanting to fully immerse themselves in the hustle and bustle of the city, the vast majority of sightseeing opportunities are dotted around the centre here.
However, Neubau and Wieden are well worth checking out and offer some idyllic boutique hotels close to the Museumsquartier. Prices tend to be high in Vienna, and bargains can be hard to come by, however there are several budget hostels available in both the Innere Stadt and Josefstadt.
From big-brand flagship stores to large fashion brands, small boutiques and independent jewellers, Vienna hits the right note when it comes to shopping as well as music.
The Golden Quarter in Vienna’s Old City will serve you well if you’re after the luxury of big names such as Louis Vuitton, Prada and Saint Laurent. Kohlmarkt in downtown Vienna is the home of traditional Viennese jewellers and makes for an authentic Austrian shopping experience.
The flea market at Naschmarkt is an institution in its own right and a massive tourist attraction to the city. The market sells everything from souvenirs to high-end antiques, as well as being a great place to pick up some supplies for a budget-friendly picnic lunch.
Vienna Like a Local
If you want to escape the hustle and bustle of city life, follow the streams of Viennese heading to the Donauinsel on weekends. A small island next to the Danube, the Donauinsel is the perfect location to rent a bike, take a walk, picnic in the park and hang out with Viennese locals.