Three of the biggest growing destinations for UK tourism within Europe are Prague, Budapest and, you guessed it, Vienna. It is hard to think of this city without instantly picturing classical composers blasting beautiful music out in opera houses. Read on to find out everything you must do on a holiday in Vienna.
1) Schonbrunn Palace and Gardens
Empress Sisi had a huge taste for the glamorous, so it brings little surprise that she would be based in this exquisite palace, with over 1,400 rooms and a giant garden. Albeit, you can only view up to 40 rooms on a tour, but you get the general picture of the luxurious lifestyle they must have lived. The grounds even hold a zoo and a giant Roman style pool.
The Rinstrasse, or Vienna Ring Road, is a great walk where you will be able to spot some of the city’s greatest monuments and buildings. Now a UNESCO world heritage site, some of the buildings you can expect to see include the state opera house, the palace of justice, the university of Vienna and the academy of fine arts.
3) The Coffee Houses
I am biased, as I’m a bit of a coffee addict, but even if you’re not, you could tuck into some pastry and relax after a busy day of sightseeing. Vienna is famous for its glorious coffee culture, with some of the best coffee houses including cafe landtmann, sacher wien or cafe kafka.
4) St Stephen’s Cathedral
Or properly known as Stephansdom, the cathedral is visible from almost anywhere within Vienna. I love a gothic design, hence why I think Barcelona is so amazing, while this cathedral doesn’t fail to impress. Open from 6am to 10pm, you can get a guided tour at 10:30am every day except for Sunday’s (obviously). There is a charge to get in, just over £5, however if you go during services, they will let you in for free.
5) Museum Quartier
A giant Kaiserforum complex, this is a collection of museums all housed together, through the great thinking of art fanatic Emperor Franz Joseph. Both the art and history museum are based here and are two of the countries biggest museums. Like London, I love it when museums are based close together as you can tick several off within a short space of time without having to travel across an entire city.
6) Wine Tour
I’ve become a lover of wine, the 21 year old me would never have seen that coming! There are a number of wine taverns, while the journey to visit these will normally take you along a picturesque landscape of hills overlooking the city. You can alternatively walk to these vineyards on a walking tour guide.
7) Hofburg Palace
The second palace to make the list, this won’t disappoint. With over 2,000 rooms, you will sadly only get to see about 12 of them. If you visit on a Sunday at the right time, you should be able to catch the boy’s choir singing mass. I won’t lie, tickets are expensive for the Hofburg Palace, but it’s one of those items on the list you kind of need to tick off as you probably won’t be back to this city a second time soon after, so make the most of it. You should also check out the on-site Kaiserappartements Sisi musem, detailing the life of Empress Elizabeth.
8) Bratislava Trip
This might seem like an odd one to list, considering it’s a completely different country, let alone city, but you can take a quick train journey (seriously, just an hour) from Vienna to Bratislava, allowing you to cross borders into Slovakia for a day trip. Saying you spent the day in two foreign capitals is not a bad shout. You can normally get a ticket on the day and get seats, while the tickets are normally valid for three days from purchase, so you could buy them in advance if needed. Plus, the funniest part, is it is cheaper to get a return ticket to Bratislava, than it is for me to go to London one-way off-peak from Brighton! Basically, you won’t break the bank.
9) Schonbrunn Zoo
OK, I slightly covered this earlier, but I reckon it should have its own section as I love seeing animals. Admittedly, I’d rather see them in the wild than in an enclosure, but that might be hard in Austria. From giant panda’s to polar bears, the zoo has a great selection of animals, although get ready for the busy crowds and screaming kids. Still, a great place to go as a family or as a couple.
10) Kaiserliche Schatzkammer
Translated, the Imperial Secular Treasury, this is the area where you will get to see the crown jewels that have bestowed the royalty of Vienna. Be careful what day you plan on visiting, as it isn’t open Monday or Tuesday. It also shuts at 5:30pm, so it is better to visit slightly earlier than some of the other attractions on this list.
11) The National Library
You might not plan on taking a book out while on a summer vacation, but this building is worth visiting simply to stare upwards at the ceiling. With designs that would normally belong in a museum or a palace, this is no normal library! I’d go as far as to say I thought this building was the most stunning of the entire city. Yes, that includes the palaces, but maybe that is just me, so check it out for yourself.
12) Christmas Markets
If you happen to be in Vienna in December then you are in for a treat! Christmas markets have been hosted in this city for almost a thousand years, first initiated by Empress Albrecht. From toys for the kids to a tasty warm meal, I think the number one thing to keep your eye out for is the mulled wine. They also setup an ice skating rink, for those of you who aren’t like me (Bambi on ice). They normally stay open from 10am till 10pm, meaning I would recommend visiting in the evening after spending the day touring the museum’s and palaces.
13) State Opera House
Oh come on, after talking about the classical composers in the intro, you hardly think I wouldn’t highlight the opera house as a must-see? Holding 1,200 people, the tickets can be hard to come-by, so I recommend booking in advance, or enquiring on the day you arrive. Due to the structure and layout, the voice booms around, creating a cacophony of sound that will leave you awe inspired and short for words.
14) Kaisergruft Capuchin Imperial Crypt
Laying below the Capuchin church is the creepy, yet mesmerising tombs of previous leaders and respected figures. While these crypts were only originally meant to hold Emperor Mathias and Empress Anna, it eventually became home to over a hundred figures.
15) Belvedere Palace
What? That’s right, a third palace! Strangely, this one doesn’t make it on to most ‘must-see’ lists for Vienna, despite how stunning it is, probably due to the other two palaces taking centre stage. But with an art museum, some beautiful gardens and some great fountains, this one is easily onto my list.