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Your guide to Vienna
All About Vienna
A city brimming with culture and history, Vienna is home to stately buildings, beautiful gardens, and more than 100 museums, with classical music at its heart. Austria’s capital gave birth to the world’s greatest composers, and today the Viennese Philharmonic and the Vienna Symphonic Orchestra are among the most famous musical ensembles that call this city home. The city stages more than 15,000 musical events every year, with concerts and operas to enjoy almost every day of the week.
The city’s most impressive buildings include Schönbrunn Palace, the lavish former royal residence; Hofburg Palace, the largest palace complex in the world; and the opulent St. Stephen’s Cathedral. At the Kunsthistorisches Museum, you can see the world’s richest coin collection, while the Leopold Museum is Vienna’s finest art museum, and the MUMOK offers one of Europe’s most extensive contemporary art collections.
Along with music and culture, drinking good coffee in a traditional coffee house is an important part of everyday life in Vienna. Local favorites include a Wiener Melange (similar to a cappuccino) or a Mozart Café — a double espresso with whipped cream and sherry brandy. The Viennese believe that coffee is best enjoyed with a pastry, like an apple strudel, a Sacher torte (a Viennese chocolate cake), or a Kaiserschmarrn (a fluffy shredded pancake).
The best time to stay in a vacation rental in Vienna
Summer is a great time to secure a vacation rental in Vienna when the days are warm and sunny and the nights are mild, perfect for enjoying outdoor dining at the city’s many restaurants and cafes. The main square in front of the Rathaus turns into a gourmet street food market and outdoor cinema with events all summer long. The weather is still generally pleasant in fall, and the changing colors in the Schönbrunn Gardens are spectacular.
The Wiesn — Vienna’s Oktoberfest — kicks off in late September with plenty of events around town. The weather can be changeable in spring, with cool, rainy days mixed with sunny spells. Vienna is a magical place to be in winter, with snow on the ground, beautifully decorated streets, and traditional Christmas markets, which have been held in the city since the 17th century. There’s also the popular outdoor ice-skating rink and the city’s famous New Year’s Eve ball. It can get very cold, though, so make sure you bring plenty of layers.
Top things to do in Vienna
This former royal summer residence is a UNESCO World Heritage site of cultural importance. Dating back to the 17th century, it boasts an extravagant 1,441 rooms, and a tour inside allows you to visit 45 lavishly furnished interiors befitting Austrian royalty. Outside, the sprawling palace grounds offer beautiful gardens with rows of flowers, a hedge maze, and the Neptune Fountain. The Gloriette, which is situated high above, offers amazing views of the entire palace complex and beyond.
St. Stephen’s Cathedral
Built in the 12th century, this immense Gothic Cathedral is the most important church in Austria. The impressive baroque interior houses many treasures, including priceless jewels and holy books, as well as the tombs of Viennese luminaries. When inside, look up and notice the intricately patterned main roof with hundreds of colored tiles. You can climb the 343 steps to the top of its tower, where you’ll be rewarded with amazing views of the city.
A visit to this historic amusement park is free, and here you can ride its iconic landmark — the 213-foot-high Wiener Riesenrad — one of the oldest Ferris wheels in the world, for a fee. You’ll enjoy beautiful views of the city and the River Danube as you reach the top, with many other rides, games, and attractions, including a waxworks display. There are also food stalls and a famous traditional Viennese restaurant that’s known for its pork knuckles.