Vienna, Austria grew out of a Roman military settlement on the Danube River called Vindobona, into an important medieval and baroque city, and then the capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. From the 17th to the early 20th century, Vienna (or Wien, as it’s called in German) was a leading European center of music, architecture, art, and ideas. Haydn, Schubert, Beethoven, Strauss, Klimt and Freud all called Vienna home at one time.
Palaces and Museums Abound in Vienna
Truly one of Europe’s most fascinating cities, you’ll find palaces like the Habsburgs’ summer residence at Schönbrunn, The Belvidere, and Hofburg Palace, a museum quarter with a multitude of historic and contemporary art galleries, shopping at boutiques, flea markets and Christmas markets, renowned coffee and pastry shops (including the famous sachertorte), and music at opera houses, classical music venues, and jazz clubs.
No trip to Vienna is complete without a visit to Schönbrunn Palace (or Schloss, in German). The photo at top barely does it justice. At the end of the 17th century, Emperor Leopold I built an imperial hunting lodge for his son, Crown Prince Joseph, later to become Emperor Joseph I. It was to grow into the palatial imperial residence that is now Schönbrunn, over the course of the 18th century. Tours of the palace, which is now a UNESCO World Heritage site, include 40 gilded interior rooms as well as acres of gorgeously landscaped parks and gardens.
A Musical Interlude at the Vienna State Opera
For a musical spectacle, visit the Vienna State Opera, or Wiener Staatsoper. The spectacular opera house was the first major building on Vienna’s Ringstrasse commissioned by the Viennese city expansion fund in 1861. The Wiener Staatsoper is one of the busiest opera houses in the world producing 50 to 60 operas per year, and 10 ballet productions in approximately 300 performances. Chances are there’ll be a breathtaking production scheduled during your visit, and it’s worth getting tickets for it in advance.
Try Traditional Austrian Eats at Vienna’s Oldest Restaurant
The quaint Der Liebe Augustin Griechenbeisl is the oldest restaurant in Vienna, founded in 1447. It is located on Fleischmarkt 11 near the old Holy Trinity Greek Church. The restaurant derives its name from the Greek and Middle Eastern merchants who long ago lived in the vicinity. However, the fare is not Greek but traditional Austrian – you’ll find dishes like Wiener schnitzel, goulash, tafelspitz, strudel, and tasty buchteln bread on the menu, plus Austrian wines and cheeses – all in a series of stone and wood-lined rooms filled with whimsical and historical art.
There’s a Museum for Everyone in Vienna
Where to start on the many museums in Vienna? The famous Kunsthistorisches Museum chronicles the history of art through the ages; the Albertina Museum in Vienna’s inner city houses thousands of works of print and graphic arts; the Leopold Museum is the place to go for modern art; the Museum of Natural History is one of the best in the world; the Imperial Treasury houses the treasures collected by the Hapsburg family over the last thousand years; and you can see Roman ruins under the city at the RömerMuseum. Not to be missed, there’s an entire city quarter dedicated to modern culture and art called the MuseumsQuartier or MQ – 60 museums make up this walkable neighborhood!
Take a Day’s Outing to the Vienna Woods
Johann Strauss the Younger was inspired to write his well-known waltz, “Tales From the Vienna Woods” after visiting this bucolic forest land, only a streetcar ride away from Vienna’s center. Put his beautiful waltz on your headphones on the trip out to truly get in the mood! The hilly Wienerwald, as it is called in German, forms a green belt – actually the northeast tip of the Alps – extending from the northwest to the southwest of the city, encompassing an area about the size of NYC’s five boroughs. Pack a picnic lunch for the day (or pick up goodies at one of the many taverns and biergartens in the Wienerwald) and stroll the hiking paths through the woods. Or visit the abbey at the 13th-century Klosterneuberg on the north edge of the Wienerwald at the foot of the majestic Leopoldsberg (berg meaning mountain in German). Definitely worth a day trip.
And so much more…
This is just a sample of the many things to see and do in Vienna; there is so much more – from the Prater (the giant ferris wheel at the circa 1897 amusement park on the Danube River) to the gracious St. Stephen’s Cathedral to the Spanish Riding School where the Lipizzaner Stallions do their classical dressage to the Graben shopping district – there is beauty and history on every corner. Want help planning your trip to Vienna? Contact us today, and we’ll #makeyourtraveldreamscometrue!
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