By Briana Seftel
Elegant and sophisticated, Vienna seduces travelers with its imperial palaces, musical history and delcious desserts. Headed to Europe’s reigning capital of culture? Here's everything you need to see!
Go palace hopping
Vienna is home to a holy trinity of palaces: Schönbrunn, Hofburg and Belvedere. Start at The Hofburg, an imperial wonder that’s the official residence of the Austrian President. Then head to Schönbrunn, a beautiful baroque gem and the former summer residence of the Habsburgs. Conclude your palace hop at Belvedere, once the summer residence of Prince Eugen of Savoy. The palace is also home to Gustav Klimt's famous painting The Kiss.
Ogle art at MuseumsQuartier
For a dose of art and culture, don’t miss MuseumsQuartier, Vienna’s vibrant arts district that’s home to some of the city’s most important cultural venues. Choose between Leopold Museum (Schiele), Museum Moderner Kunst (Museum of Modern Art), Architekturzentrum (Architectural Center) and Kunsthalle or just simply stroll past the stunning architecture and outdoor installations.
Ride the ferris wheel at Prater Park
Feel like a kid again at Prater Park, an amusement park that’s home to the Wiener Riesenrad, a giant ferris wheel dating back to 1827. Head to the park before sundown and watch the sunset from the ferris wheel. Visitors can also enjoy carousels, rollercoasters and plenty of Austrian carnival eats like schweinsstelze (pork knuckle). Adjacent to Prater is Stadtpark, a lovely and calm alternative.
Eat your way through Naschmarkt
Vienna’s best-known market is a treat for all five senses. Operating since the 16th century when it mainly sold milk, today Naschmarkt is filled with goodies from around 120 stalls. Come hungry and weave your way through Austrian and international food vendors selling everything from Viennese to Vietnamese. On Saturdays, visitors can also peruse a flea market.
Embrace Viennese coffee house culture
At the turn of the 20th century, Vienna’s coffee houses were the intellectual heart of the city. Sigmund Freud, Gustav Klimt and Karl Kraus could all be found reading the paper or in a deep discussion. Famous for their relaxed atmosphere or gemuetlichkeit, Viennese coffee houses are a must on a trip to Vienna. Order a einspänner coffee and a slice of sacher torte or apple strudel (or both).
Get to know the city’s music history
It’s no accident that Vienna is called the City of Music. Strauss, Mozart, Beethoven and Haydn all spent time in Vienna, thus shaping the city’s musical history. There are plenty of places to enjoy Vienna’s musical offerings like the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra (one of the world’s best), Vienna Opera House and the Vienna Boys’ Choir. Mozart fans shouldn’t miss the Mozart Memorial at Burggarten, while Beethoven fans can visit Pasqualati House where the composer lived.
Visit the world’s oldest zoo
Located on the grounds of Schönbrunn Palace, Schönbrunn Zoo (or Vienna Zoo) is the oldest continuously operating zoo in the world. Founded in 1752 at the order of Frances I, the zoo was initially built as a menagerie. See giant pandas, Siberian tigers, orangutans, elephants and more at this beautiful zoo.