This city is Bugbog's favourite European walking capital!
Vienna (known in north Europe as Wien) has piles of magnificent and varied architecture ranging
from Gothic to Art Nouveau, all set in an uncrowded, relaxed, spaced-out
city that must be the most pedestrian-friendly world capital.
Home to Strauss, Brahms, Beethoven, Schubert and Mozart, the place
revolves around music but also offers some interesting museum experiences.
The locals are well-mannered, it's extremely safe, efficient, not
too expensive and only a few hours drive from other great cities
in and out of Austria.
Food is good, though heavy and meat oriented.
Inline skaters and bikers are also well catered for.
Nothing serious but...
- The Danube is neither blue nor near the city centre, though the
green Danube Canal is.
- Shops tend to be elegant and pricey, while the centre lacks little
- Austrian modern art is a disaster.
Rainfall is moderate year round with June and July getting most precipitation but that's balanced by perfect summer temperatures, with average lows of 15C and highs of 25C.
Winters are drier, with snow, and not too cold, normally just above or below freezing.
So...very best: May, September and pretty good though busy in summer months, but Wien tourism is possible all year.
n.b. The Lipizzaner Horses (Spanish Riding School) and the State
Opera House are both out of action every July/August, tho' there's
plenty of other music around.
Current Vienna temperature and time.
Two pleasant, rambling walks can cover many of the key sights for
Vienna's inner city is outlined by
the Ringstrasse - a wide, tree-lined boulevard uncrowded by cars,
trams, bikes or pedestrians.
Many important sights line this ring
road - including the Stadt Park (with its Strauss monument), Opera
House, Hofburg Palace, a cluster of big museums, Parliament and
the imposing Rathaus (City Hall). This latter has exceptionally
lively evening action outside, with a daily free showing of famous
music films (evenings, July/Aug) and a busy world food court of
varied cuisine, ranging from Greek to Australian (?!). This is not
a tourist attraction.
Saturday night at 10pm sees hundreds of skaters swooshing around
the Ringstrasse - legally.
Pedestrianised Kartner Strasse runs
from the Opera House/Ringstrasse junction down to the spectacular
St Stephen's cathedral and offers many diversions en route. This
is an area that demands random walks of discovery.
but only just, still walkable are:
- the magnificent Karlskirche (church) with awesome dome frescoes.
- the cute little Art Nouveau Secession Building.
- the huge, baroque Museumsquartier culture complex.
- the two Belvedere Palace/Museums.
the inner city,
needing a taxi or short trip on the metro/subway/underground/U-bahn:
- the totally wacky, 'Austrian Gaudi' apartments of Hundertwasserhaus.
- the huge Schloss Schonnbrunn palace complex, with clear, detailed
tours of 'a day in the life of an emperor's family', superb free
gardens, and frequent concerts/operas in different locations.
- Vienna Woods, stretching from the
city to the Alps provide excellent hiking, biking and Austrian country
- Salzburg (209m/336km SW) is a fast
3hrs by car - about €100 for a day trip with a guide. Impressive
little town with depressing numbers of tourists.
- Baden (15m/24km SW) for the Spa bath
- Neusiedl Lake (28m/45km SE) for family
activities, bird watching or biking,
- The Wachau Danube Valley (NW), including
popular Krems( 50m/80km W), lovely Durnstein (5m/8km W of Krems,
where Richard the Lionheart was imprisoned) and the amazing over-the-top
baroquery of Melk Abbey (55m/89km W). Car, bus or boat, tho' boat
trips take a long time to get anywhere interesting...
Vienna's hotels are brilliant, but also very pricey - even compared to neighbouring countries which are hardly cheap - particularly if you want to stay in or near the central zone 1st District.
With an increasing number of apartments available due to the tough economic times it makes sense to check Vienna apartment rentals for low cost places near key attractions, especially if the organisation is efficient and secure.
Christmas - March, Ball Season finds dances, mostly waltz, all over
the city, with the elite jigging at the Hofburg Palace.
May-June, Theatre Festival, including dance.
mid June - early July, Jazzfest takes over.
September, one week, Hallamasch, multi-ethnic music and dance performances.
some precise dates or more information see: European
Festivals or Arts
Museums and Galleries:
There are some superb displays - including how the Imperial families
lived - in gorgeous settings, such as the Hofburg Palace, Kunsthistorisches
Museum (Fine Arts), the Belvedere Palaces, the recently redeveloped
Museumsquartier culture complex, and many more.
Excellent free daily shows of music films outside the Rathaus (city
hall), July, August. With food/drink stalls.
Musikverein for the Philharmonic Orchestra, Burgkapelle in Hofburg
for Vienna Boys Choir.
Dance/Opera: Note that the #1 opera place, Staatsoper, is
closed July/Aug, tho' tours run every hour and the interior is spectacular.
Otherwise there are plenty of concerts and occasional operas at
Schloss Schonnbrunn and other musical establishments. Look for touts
in tourist areas wearing 19thC costumes!
Also the Rathaus has lively outdoor, evening showings.
Theatre: Performances in English for foreigners at English Theatre
and International Theatre.
Live Music and Clubs: The best area for a night out is around Ruprechtsplatz,
Seiten-stettengasse, Rabensteig and Salzgries, or other districts
(WUK, U4, Arena,etc.)
Tickets can be bought from the venues or at the tourist office
near the Opera House.
Check the tourist office's magazine for event info/listings.
There're not a lot of kid friendly activities, but Schloss
Schonnbrunn has a few things to keep small tourists busy - a maze,
a zoo, a puppet theatre and kid-oriented tours of the Palace.
Elsewhere there's the Riesenrad - the giant ferris wheel, the
Zoom Kindermuseum and several adventure swimming pools. Diana-Tropicana
is probably the best.
Heavy on the meat is Austrian style. Tafelspitz (spicy, boiled beef),
Wiener Schnitzel (veal or pork in breadcrumbs) and Gulasch (spicy
beef stew) are specialities.
Around Vienna there are also many good quality sausage stalls, serving
beers and excellent wine too.
Pastries are superb, as is coffee and desserts. This is not a good
place for dieters!
Coffee Houses and Heuriger (wine taverns) are integral parts of
local culture : try Café Bräunerhof, Café Hawelka,
City Heurigen, Weinhof Wieninger, Wienglut Klager.
Bars infest Wien but no more so than the fabled 'Bermuda Triangle',
a rectangle running south of Stephansdom to the Danube Canal and
west to the ring road. So called because once you start bar hopping
in this maze of streets you may disappear forever.
Classy: In Vienna's inner city just about all the shops
are 'classy', so you won't have trouble finding elegant, expensive
outfits. Steffl and Ringstrassen Galerien are two good examples
of posh department stores, both in Kartnerstrasse.
Antiques/books: Am Hof square, Fri/Sat.
Farmer's markets: Freyung, esp. interesting before Christmas.
Wacky: Naschmarkt flea market, Saturday.
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