Vienna City Breaks
Capital of the Hapsburg Empire for centuries, this charming and elegant city still possesses a rather regal atmosphere. Its history shines through at every corner, but this is no museum – it is also very much a living city of the 21st Century.
The centre of Vienna contains countless magnificent buildings, grand boulevards and sumptuous palaces which bear witness to its status as an Imperial capital. The many unmissable sights of this great city include the lovely St. Stephen’s cathedral, the mighty Hofburg Palace with its crown jewels and historic artefacts and the exquisite Spanish Riding School with its stunning white Lippizaner horses. A short walk away is the peaceful Stadtpark with its monument to Johann Strauss, just one of the famous composers who lived and worked in Vienna. Another large park is the Prater with its famous giant ferris wheel which dates back to 1897. A short tram ride away from the centre lie the magnificent Belvedere Palace and museum and no visit to Vienna would be complete without taking in the delights of the wonderful Schonbrunn Palace and its stunning gardens.
For anyone with an interest in classical music or opera, a visit to Vienna is almost like a pilgrimage. Great composers of the “Viennese School” include Mozart, Beethoven and Haydn. The Vienna Boys Choir is widely known for the boys’ angelic voices and sailor suits and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra is considered to be one of the best in the world.
Vienna has a long tradition of Balls. The most famous, expensive and glamorous of these is the Viennese Opera Ball which has taken place annually at the State Opera House since 1877. One of the city’s highlights every summer is the Film Festival which is held in front of the Vienna City Hall. Each night a different opera-related film is shown on a huge screen .
Eat and Drink
Vienna is famous for its cafés and coffee houses which entice customers in with their elegant décor, variety of coffees and sumptuous cakes and pastry creations. It’s difficult to leave the city without having tried a piece of Apfelstrudel, Linzertorte or the famous Viennese speciality cake, Sachertorte. If you’re looking for some tasty street food buy a Wiener (the local version of a frankfurter) at one of the sausage stands which can be found on sale throughout the city. Beer is the usual accompaniment to a Wiener.
For high end shopping the shops in Kaerntner Strasse and around St. Stephen’s Cathedral have all the top brands. Mariahilfer Strasse is the city’s longest and most lively shopping street which has something to offer every shopper. Head to the colourful Naschmarkt for everything from organic bread to Asian foods but also a spot of people-watching and a true Viennese experience.
There’s so much to see in Vienna that you’re almost spoilt for choice, but two of the city’s lesser known museums are well worth a visit. The Vienna Furniture Museum is home to the Imperial furniture collection and is housed in the building where the Hapsburgs stored their furniture. The museum’s displays and special exhibitions include current furniture developments and designs. The Museum of Technology is a fascinating place to visit for anyone who has an interest in how things work. The unique exhibits, from the past to the future, make the museum a showplace for exciting technological developments.
Take a tram to Grinzing on the outskirts of the city and go walking in the Vienna Woods. The Woods are Vienna’s “green lung” and provide an ideal contrast to the busy city centre. Grinzing is a charming wine village and it’s well worth spending time exploring the surrounding vineyards and visiting a few taverns.
Warm or very warm summers and cold winters (November – March). Snow is quite frequent most years. Spring and autumn can offer very pleasant temperatures, with June often being the wettest month.
Vienna is quite an expensive city whenever you visit, but you will probably see the city at its beautiful best in spring and autumn.
Goes well with
Budapest, another former Imperial capital which is under three hours away by train.
Reflecting on a city which delights the senses in so many ways – through its elegant architecture, unforgettable opera and classical concerts and unbeatable cakes and pastries.
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