Time To Compose Yourself
78 people found this review helpful
Classical music and film fans will be well aware of the music and film connections to this fabulous city.
From the Strauss family, Beethoven and Mozart to Carol Reeds' 1949 film noir classic The Third Man, Vienna has been the backdrop to all of these icons.
It's ancient origins as a Roman fort and position on Europe's second longest river, the Danube, has led to centuries of development and redevelopment.
The Habsberg royal family also lived here in several of the spectacular palaces now open to visitors.
Belvedere, Hofsburg and Schonbrunn Palace (a world heritage site) are all within easy reach of the city centre and all are stunning in both architecture and contents.
The Hofsburg Palace is also home to the Spanish Riding School whose white Lipitzzaner horses put on regular displays in the dazzling winter riding school hall.
When the old city walls were demolished in 1860, much of the present centre was constructed over the following fifty years in the neo-classical or new renaissance style. Thus, there are strong horizontal lines, arched windows, stone columns, swags, balconies, balustrades and intricately carved figures, with much gilding work.
All of the buildings are white, cream or pale yellow and so very easy on the eye.
There are no high-rise buildings in the centre, apart from palaces and churches, so there are amazing views around every corner.
The State Opera House in the centre, is a world reknowned building, staging performances daily and featuring a huge outdoor screen showing the live action from inside.
Prater Amusement Park is a short underground ride away and is actually bigger than Central Park in New York. The ride section has the highest chairoplane in the world as well as the Riesenrad, the famous Ferris Wheel, which was built by an Englishman in 1897 and is one of the stars of the film, The Third Man.
The Naschmarkt (snack market) is something of an institution. It consists of long rows of restaurants and cafes. By morning it is a sensory delight of fruits, spices and bakery products from around the world, but from lunchtime to late evening it is THE place to be. Family friendly, cosmopolitan and excellent value, it has a vibrant atmosphere with cuisine from many countries to eat either indoors, or, as most people do, at the packed outdoor tables under the stars or vast canopies.
Cafe Culture was invented in Paris and Vienna when local cafes became meeting places for artists, composers, writers and thinkers of the day. Don't miss a visit to the Johann cafe in Stadtpark or the Cafe Museum or the Hotel Sacher to sample Viennese melange coffee and sachertorte – the famous chocolate cake invented here. Be warned, you can put weight on simply by looking at a slice!
Buy a Vienna Card at the airport (or shops and hotels in the city) for free use of trams, buses and the underground as well as many discount vouchers for cafes, restaurants and attractions.
As an alternative to the crowded S-Bahn from the airport, use the CAT (City Airport Train), a fast, non-stop 16 minute luxury train to the centre. It has leather seats and runs every half hour. It is only a few Euros more.
Entry to the grounds of Schonbrunn Palace and grounds is free and you can walk up the grassy hill to the Gloriette Summer House and cafe, which affords glorious views of the palace and city.
Ride the VRT (Vienna Ring Tram) early in your visit. This is a circular trip around the centre with an audio guide so that you can get your bearings. You can stay on all day or hop on and off at will on a day ticket.
If you are keen on the Spanish Riding School, check before travel to ensure they are not away on tour or on their summer break.
Kohlmarkt, or the Golden-U as the three main shopping streets are called are pedestrianised and feature top names from around the world.
Take the 38 tram on a fifteen minute ride to Grinzing. This is a pretty and typical Austrian village which has a number of 'wine-gardens', some with entertainment. Best in the evening for a meal and a few glasses!
A three hour drive on a coach trip brings you to Saltzburg, a world cultural heritage site. It sits by a river and on a hill and has ancient streets and a castle with a funicular railway. It is where many scenes from the Sound of Music were filmed.
From the Schiffstation on the Danube Canal, two fast catamarans operate trips to Bratislava, Slovakia up to five times a day.
Don't forget to try the sachertorte!
78 people found this review helpful
This review is solely based on the opinion of a Silver Travel Advisor member and not of Silver Travel Advisor Ltd.