The Insider Guide to Vienna
Straddling the Danube, the Austrian capital, known as the gateway to Eastern Europe, offers palaces, playgrounds, museums and café culture – you can go from high art and architecture to coffee, pastries and people watching all in a morning’s exploration.
Let’s Go! The Main Attractions
Austrian poet Karl Kraus may have been biased when he said that the streets of Vienna were paved with culture, while other cities were paved with asphalt – but he had a point. If you’re wanting to get an eyeful of historic opulence, Vienna has palaces aplenty, including Hofburg Palace, once the seat of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In 1900, the Austrian capital was also the epicentre of the art world, and Belvedere Palace is where you’ll find the largest collection of Klimts in the world. Meanwhile, Schönbrunn Palace is worth a visit, with more than 1,400 sumptuous rooms, as well as gardens to stroll in and a historic zoo. As if that wasn’t enough grandeur to feast on, enjoy a cultural night out at the Vienna Opera House, or soak up the gothic architecture of St Stephen’s Cathedral, which dates back to the 12th century. A 20-minute stroll from both these landmarks, take a guided tour of the lavish state rooms at Vienna City Hall. From here, art lovers should make a beeline for the Kunsthistorisches Museum, with 12 works by Bruegel, making it the world’s largest collection; 10 minutes away on foot is the Albertina Museum, housing 1m master prints, graphic art and photography. Meanwhile, Hundertwasserhaus offers a quirky and colourful contrast to the more historic attractions. A Vienna Pass can help you plan your itinerary and budget – it allows you free entry to over 60 attractions, including sightseeing buses. Alternatively, if you want to see everything in one go, head for the giant ferris wheel in the Prater amusement park – the views are worth it (if you’ve got a head for heights). With so much to see, take time out at one of the many famous coffee houses here. Café culture is so ingrained in Viennese life, Unesco awarded it a place on its intangible cultural heritage list for Austria. Austrian wine can be sampled at a Viennese Heuriger, or wine tavern, and local cuisine at a beisl, or bistro. For traditional street food, grab yourself a sausage on the hoof from a wurstelstand. Want to dig a little deeper and discover Vienna’s hidden gems? Read on!