By Briana Seftel
Waltz your way through Vienna, Austria's cultural capital. Whether you take a backstage tour of the Vienna Opera House or sit back and relax at Volksgarten, Vienna's many pleasures delight all who visit.
What to Know
Vienna, the capital of Austria, has been the cultural heart of Europe for centuries. Situated along the Danube River, the city also known as Wien was once the mighty center of Habsburg Empire and home to more royalty than you could count on one hand. In addition to its royal past, the city was famous in the 19th and 20th centuries as an intellectual hub, with Einstein and Freud frequent patrons of the city's coffee houses.
Vienna is often called The City of Music because of its storied musical past. Strauss, Mozart, Beethoven and Haydn all spent time and performed in Vienna. While deeply rooted in its historical past, Vienna is a proudly modern capital that continues to grow.
When to Go
April to May and September to October are the best times to visit Vienna, with mild weather and fewer crowds. If you plan on visiting in the summer, expect larger crowds and higher hotel rates. December is also a very popular time to visit with the Christmas Market and Opera Ball.
How to Get Around
Although Vienna has an efficient public transportation system, walking is the best way to experience the beauty and culture of the city. Many visitors choose to follow the Ring Road (Ringstrasse), a 3.3-mile boulevard flanked by some of Vienna's most iconic buildings and monuments.
Where to Eat
Famous for its coffee houses and wiener schnitzel, food and drink in Vienna can range from casual to upscale. Below are some of our top picks for eating and drinking in the city.
- Plachutta Wollzeile 38 Phone: +43 1 5121577
- Justizcafé Schmerlingpl. 10 Phone: +43 1 521523828
- Demel Kohlmarkt 14 Phone: +43 1 5351717
- Figlmüller Wollzeile 5 Phone: +43 1 5126177
- Gasthaus Reinthaler Stuwerstraße 5 Phone: +43 1 7268282
- Café Mozart Albertinaplatz 2 Phone: +43 1 24100200
- Gmoa Keller Am Heumarkt 25 Phone: +43 1 7125310
- Café Sacher Philharmoniker Str. 4 Phone: +43 1 51456661
What to See
In a city known for its opulent palaces, Schönbrunn is among the finest. Located southwest of the city center, the baroque palace was the summer residence of the Habsburgs. Together with its gardens, zoo and gloriette, Schönbrunn Palace makes for a wonderful half-day adventure.
Travel tip: Buy your ticket online in advance to avoid long lines at the ticket counter.
St. Stephen's Cathedral
The 12th century St. Stephen's Cathedral is an iconic symbol of Vienna. Admire its colorful mosaic rooftop then step inside to see where Joseph Haydn sang as a choir boy. Climb the 343 steps to the top of the gothic steeple and enjoy unparalleled views over the city!
Kunsthistorisches Museum, also known as the Museum of Art History, holds one of the most important art collections in Europe. Peruse works by van Eyck, Dürer, Caravaggio, Rubens and more while you take in the opulent surroundings.
House of Music
Get to know Vienna's musical history at this interactive museum! Journey through five floors of interactive installations and learn about Viennese music over the years.
Check out more things to do in the city here.
Tips and Tricks
If you are sharing a meal with an Austrian, refrain from eating until the host says Gesegnete Mahlzeit (bless this meal) or Guten Appetit (enjoy your meal).
Tap water in the city comes straight from the mountains and is perfectly safe to drink.
The Wiener Riesenrad, constructed in 1897, is the oldest continuously operating ferris wheel in the world. Head to Prater Park and take a ride!
Hot dog stands can be found all over the city. When ordering this popular snack, be prepared to answer whether you prefer sweet kremser mustard or spicy estragon.
A fairy tale destination overlooking the Danube, Melk Abbey is a fortified Benedictine abbey and UNESCO World Heritage Site. Located in Wachau Valley, the abbey was originally constructed in the 11th century but rebuilt in the 18th century after a fire. The must-sees at Melk Abbey are the church and library, home to 16,000 ancient texts and a stunning ceiling fresco.
You don't have to travel far for a taste of Viennese wine - more than 1,700 acres of vineyards can be found within the city limits! Experience the city's wine culture at a heuriger, a traditional wine tavern serving wine and hearty Austrian cuisine, and walk along the 6-mile Vienna Wine Trail. Vineyards can also be found in the Wachau Valley and can be combined on a day trip along with Melk Abbey.
Just an hour away from Vienna, the capital of Slovakia can be easily visited in a day. This undiscovered European city is full of treasures and has an authentic, local feel. Stroll the city's Old Town, explore Bratislava Castle, and savor tasty Slovak beer and dumplings.