Vienna
 

Travel guide - Vienna

The birthplace of the Hapsburgs, Vienna was the capital of Europe for many centuries which explains why it’s such a popular destination for visitors wanting to learn more about European history. The city has a rich artistic, architectural and gastronomic heritage that’s sure to impress.

In the footsteps of the Hapsburgs

Welcome to the Vienna of the Empire, of palaces and pomp, and of the Hapsburgs, Austria’s sovereign family. Built starting in the 13th century and finished in the 20th century, Hofburg Palace was shaped by dynastic ups and downs and architectural trends, resulting in a building with elements of many different styles. Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque: the castle’s 18 wings show off the grandiloquence of this royal family. In addition to the Sisi Museum and the Treasury, take time to visit the stunning State Hall of the National Library, also part of the castle.
While Hofburg was the Hapsburgs’ winter residence, Schönbrunn Palace is where they spent their summers. This former hunting pavilion was transformed into a true Viennese Versailles over the centuries. Its rococo architecture, mind-boggling 1,441 rooms and over-the-top garden and park make this a can’t-miss sight during your discovery of Vienna’s extensive architectural heritage.

The European cradle of fine arts

Vienna was, particularly in the 19th century, Europe’s main place of artistic experimentation. The most important artistic minds of the day took up residence here. Just a few minutes’ walk from Hofburg Palace, you can find the museum quarter, the “MQ”, and notably the Leopold Museum, where countless Schiele masterpieces are displayed. The Kunsthistorisches Museum, for its part, presents the grandeur of Vienna’s artistic heritage. In addition to its neo-Renaissance architecture, embodied by its facade and staircase, Vienna’s most important fine arts museum possesses a particularly vast collection. Every school, every period of history and every style of art is represented here, from Egyptian busts through the 18th century. You will come across works by Pieter Brueghel, Titian, Velázquez and Arcimboldo as you walk through the halls of this prestigious gallery.
In the Secession Building, explore the artistic movement that influenced all of Europe through the introduction of Art Nouveau. This building with stunning architecture showcases a fascinating avant-garde style, where plant motifs and dreamlike fantasies reign—as you can see in Klimt’s famous fresco, Beethoven.

Hit the right note in the Innere Stadt

When you think of classical music, Vienna instantly comes to mind. The list of musicians who spent time in Vienna includes many of the most famous composers: Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Schubert, Mahler among others. Elevated to the rank of national treasure, music can be found in casual conversations amongst locals and in prestigious performances at the Wiener Staatsoper. You simply must visit this astounding building during your stay in Vienna. Make your way to the wide boulevard of Opernring, then walk under a few Baroque arches before climbing the steps to reach a lobby dominated by the opera house’s famous staircase. Magic happens each and every night on this stage, thanks to the skilled performers and the hall’s particularly remarkable acoustic.

At a crossroads of flavour and history

Vienna offers insight into central European cuisine through a plethora of local specialities and high quality establishments. It would be a shame not to sample some of the local cuisine by enjoying a few meals in the city’s many beisl, traditional Viennese pubs. The beisl Beim Czaak offers a menu filled with classic Viennese dishes and an ambiance that feels like a cross between a local bistro and a brewery. From schnitzel to the local beef stew known as Tafelspitz, Beim Czaak offers homestyle cooking that is delicious, if not designed for people watching their waistlines. As you eat your hearty food and enjoy your delicious beer, you will discover a delightful, convivial side of Vienna, light years away from the prestigious cafes for which the city is so famous.

Nevertheless, it would be a shame to visit Vienna without tasting the special coffee with whipped cream available at Demel K.u.K Hofzuckerbäcker. Comfortably seated at a table at “Demel”, order a slice of Dobos torte (traditional Hungarian sponge cake), the house speciality, and enjoy the excellence of this institution founded in 1786.

Each stone in Vienna seems to carry the weight of the past. From its imperial palaces to its prestigious cafes, the city is home to an extraordinary concentration of monuments and museums. In its trendy clubs and in the balconies of its national opera house, the city of Mozart and Sisi continues to follow its own rhythm. After all, this is where the waltz was invented.

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