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Vienna, Austria

Vienna

Great Destination:

5

Value for Money:

2.5

Total Stars:

7.5

Personality Types that Like it Best

Strong ratings across the personality spectrum, especially among Mid and Centric-Authentics

Did You Know … ?

  • The ever-so-staid Viennese waltz was first deemed scandalous by 19th century society.
  • The Central Cemetery is Europe’s largest burial site (remains of 3 million in 593 acres).
  • The Austrian capital has more than 800 coffeehouses.
  • During Carnival season, there are more than 100 major balls in Vienna.
  • Johann Strauss Jr. first worked as a bank clerk because his father didn’t want him to pursue a music career.

Memories of empire

The grandeur of Vienna’s story is evident in almost every quarter in the city’s old section. Ornate architecture, magnificent palaces and elegant gardens pay tribute to the power the Hapsburg Empire wielded for more than seven centuries.  Art, cuisine, fashion and music play a role in this city’s make-up, while farms, nature parks and forests within easy day-trip distance give the region plenty of variety. Located on the Danube, Vienna is a natural for river cruises, as well.

The capital of Austria, Vienna is a thriving city with a population approaching 2 million. It has a reputation of being old-fashioned and beautifully formal, rather like a many-tiered wedding cake. With its palaces and mansions of fairytale pinks and yellows, decked out with impossibly intricate carvings and statues, visitors are likely to have their expectations surpassed.

The Hapsburg dynasty ruled the region beginning with its conquest of the area in the late 13th century. After fending off several Turkish invasions over the centuries, the royal court made its permanent home in Vienna in the 16th century.

With prosperity came an interest in the architecture, art and music that give Vienna much of its character today. The Ringstrasse encircles the oldest and most touristed part of the city, and visitors can explore most of this inner area on foot. Even Schonbrunn Palace, once home of Empress Maria Theresa, and the Prater amusement park are within easy reach of the inner city.

Vienna remembers its role during the Nazi occupation with a Holocaust Memorial in Judenplatz, which also includes the ruins of a former synagogue. While Old World architecture rules in Vienna, visitors can see traces of the Vienna Art Nouveau movement in Karlsplatz, particularly in the Secession building in the square.

Once home of some of Europe’s finest musicians — including Beethoven, Brahms and Schubert — the city also is the burial place for Mozart, in the Zentralfreidhof.

A key element both in the city’s development and its attraction for tourists is the Danube, which offers everything from waterfront hotels and restaurants to floating sightseeing excursions and river cruises to other river cities.

Things to do for Venturers

  • Scale the 52.5-foot tall Kletterhalle Wien, Austria’s largest climbing wall. With more than 7,000 square feet in surface area, the wall offers a challenging boulder area as well as grips and steps designed for climbers with varying skill levels.
  • Leave the guided tours behind and dodge the traffic around the Ringstrasse and out to the Danube on a rental bike. Tip: You can bring your bike aboard designated subway cars as well as park and lock it for free at bike-friendly pensions and hotels throughout the city.
  • Strap on a pair of rental in-line skates on Friday nights in summer at Heldenplatz for free skating or venture over to the Prater and the Danube Island, where you’ll find more skating enthusiasts practicing their moves.
  • Give in to the dark side by visiting Vienna’s Crime Museum, Torture Museum and (by prior arrangement) the Undertaker’s Museum.
  • Skip the high-priced hotels and go camping at the new Camping Ground Wien Sud or snag a spot at the Schlossherbergepalace hostel near the Vienna Woods.
  • Go for a swim at the Badeschiff, a retired barge on the Danube that offers a pool, sun deck and dining by day, dancing below water level by night.

Things to do for Centrics

  • Indulge in a sinful slice of Sacher torte at the venerable Hotel Sacher, where you can even get a chocolate body treatment at the spa.
  • Enjoy a spin on the giant Ferris wheel — aka the Riesenrad — at the Prater, site of a famous scene from the movie, “The Third Man.”
  • Beware of ghouls on a tour of royal burial sites, including Capuchin’s Crypt, St. Augustine Church and the catacombs of St. Stephen’s Cathedral.
  • Meditate while following the Pilgrimage Trail, which wends its way from Vienna to the town of Mariazell.
  • Celebrate the holidays at international choral festivals in Vienna and at Christmas markets throughout the region.
  • Work off that apfelstreudel with a brisk stroll at one of the many nature parks nearby.

Things to do for Authentics

  • Attend midnight Mass on Christmas Eve at the Gothic St. Stephen’s Cathedral, or just drop in to sightsee.
  • Spend an afternoon at Schonbrunn, the imperial summer palace inspired by the French palace of Versailles. Also, tour the Hofburg, a self-contained city that served as the winter home of the imperial family.
  • Take in an equestrian show of Lipizzan horses at the famous Spanish Riding School.
  • Enjoy the best of international art and music at the annual Vienna Festival in May and June.
  • Relax with an afternoon treat of Viennese coffee — and don’t forget a generous dollop of schlag (whipped cream).
  • Drop a few euros at Casino Vienna at the Palais Esterhazy n Karntnerstrasse.

Additional Resources

For more information, consult the Vienna Tourism at www.vienna.info, and change the language if necessary.