Vienna Austria

Vienna City Guide

Vienna stands majestically next to the River Danube. It's one of Europe's grandest imperial cities, full of classical music, style, imposing architecture and celebrated art. Vienna was formed during 700 years of the Habsburg Empire and is a city of elegance and grandeur that easily delights.

Vienna City Breaks & Tours: Vienna makes the perfect cultural city break. Vienna was once the capital of a vast European empire - and now it's the capital and largest city of Austria.

Vienna is a city of culture, renowned for its fine Rococo and Baroque architecture, sweeping boulevards and home to some of the world's most distinguished classical music. Vienna is the birthplace of the world's most famous artists and composers, including Mozart, Strauss and Schubert, plus the Austrian Symbolist painter - Gustav Klimt.

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Compare low cost Flight Ticket Deals to Vienna (VIE). Fly direct from the following UK airports:

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Vienna offers an air of elegance, coffee-house culture, a classical music heritage, outstanding architecture, plus frothy coffee and chocolatey slabs, what more could you ask for!

Vienna City Centre

Vienna Introduction: A Vienna city break provides a 'treasure trove' of history, culture and entertainment. Central Vienna is pedestrianised and surprisingly compact; the main tourist attractions are located within the historical centre (Innere Stadt) or around the Ringstrasse. The Ringstrasse is a wide ring road full of beautiful boulevards and Imperial palaces.

Top Tip: For an inexpensive way to see the city - take a roundtrip tram ride around the beautiful Ringstrasse - the half-hour journey passes theatres, state buildings, museums & the Vienna State Opera.

The historical centre is where you will want to walk around and soak up the atmosphere; or sample a traditional Viennese coffee and Sachertorte (a rich chocolate torte with an apricot jam filling), available in many of Vienna's grand coffee houses for which the city is famous. There are plenty of fascinating adventures to be had, with a dizzying number of sights and museums to explore, so read on to find more top sightseeing tips that we think you'll enjoy.

(1). The Imperial Palace of Hofburg: The Palace of Hofburg was built in the 13th century and is located in Vienna's historic centre. The Palace was designed to be the residence and seat of Habsburg emperors, which it was up until 1918. For over 700 years the Palace was the heart of the Habsburg empire and is one of the most important centres of European history. Today the Palace houses the office of the Federal President, along with numerous art collections and impressive antiquities.

Large sections of the Palace are regularly open to the public, including the Sisi Museum, which provides an authentic look into the life of the famous Austro-Hungarian monarch Empress Elisabeth. You can also explore the Imperial Apartments, the private and opulent chambers of Emperor Franz Joseph and Empress Elisabeth (a fashion icon and trendsetter of her time).

You can also visit the Imperial Silver Collection, which provides insights into the court dining culture, including impressive ceremonial silver and tableware. The tour also includes access to the silver chamber. A tour of the Palace is a great way to learn more about the fascinating history of the Habsburg - once one of the most prominent royal houses in Europe.

A must-do is the guided tour of the iconic Spanish Riding School and the home of the world-famous Lipizzaner horses, known as 'the dancing white horses of Vienna'. Set within the Baroque ambience of the Imperial Palace, the tour gives an insight into how the art of classical dressage has been preserved and practised unchanged from as far back as the Renaissance period. Dressage performances 'take place' in the inner halls of the Winter Riding School at the Hofburg Palace.

(2). The Belvedere Palace art complex: The Belvedere is one of Vienna’s finest palace complexes, comprising two beautiful Baroque palaces. They face each other across a formal sloping Baroque garden, which also offers spectacular views of Vienna. Belvedere is a must-visit for art lovers; the palace is home to an incredible art collection, including a substantial collection of works by Klimt, which includes The Kiss and Judith.

Belvedere was completed in the early 18th century and was the former residence of Prince Eugen von Savoyen, a successful general and art lover who commissioned the Belvedere garden palace as a summer residence.

Since 1903 Belvedere has been the home of the Österreichische Galerie Belvedere art museum and contains masterpieces by Claude Monet, Helene Funke, Pierre Auguste Renoir, Elena Luksch-Makowsky and Vincent van Gogh, as well as other art collections from the 19th and 20th centuries. The Belvedere Palace is noted for its spectacular marble hall and ceiling paintings, Belvedere is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Entry tickets can be purchased direct from the palace and range in price from €16 to €30.

The Belvedere Palace Vienna

(3). Vienna State Opera: The Viener Staatsoper is one of the world's most famous and distinguished opera houses - and opera companies. The magnificent neo-renaissance building was constructed in 1869; it was the first property to be built as part of the Ringstrasse project (an area of Vienna established for the city's most iconic buildings).

The Wiener Staatsoper holds around 1700 seats, and provides over 290 first-class opera and ballet performances yearly. Performance ticket prices can be pricey; however, if you're travelling on a budget, it's possible to buy 'standing room only' tickets for just a few euros; (approximately 567 standing room spaces are made available most evenings), which can usually be bought a few hours before the performance.

Alternatively, in the warmer summer months, the Opera House 'Live Screens' is a series of opera and ballet performances outside the building; it's a fun and relaxing way to enjoy a picnic and free classical entertainment as the sun sets over Vienna.

Top Tip: For a reasonable price, you can join the 40-minute guided tour of the Wiener Staatsoper. You start in the magnificent foyer, ascend the Grand Staircase and visit the ceremonial and staterooms. Learn what happens (behind the scenes) and gain insights and facts about the building’s history, including its architecture and how an opera house works.

Vienna State Opera

(4). Schönbrunn Palace: Schönbrunn Palace is simply stunning and remains Vienna's key historic landmark and top tourist attraction; it's also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The palace's origins can be traced back to 1569; however, Emperor Ferdinand II commissioned it in 1642. The Schönbrunn was initially built as a summer residence for the Habsburg rulers and the imperial family of Austria - with Maria Theresa, Emperor Franz Joseph, Empress Elisabeth and others once residing at Schönbrunn.

The Palace has undergone many expansions and redesigns over the decades, most notably under Maria Theresa (ruler and monarch of the Habsburg Dynasty for 40 years). The Palace has become an exceptional example of European Baroque architecture, known for its elaborate Neoclassical interior, magnificent furnishings, imperial ceremonial rooms and magnificent French-themed gardens and sculptures.

Schönbrunn Palace: Entry Tickets and Tours. There are several tours available, starting with the 22-room 'Imperial Tour' - which includes visits to the lavish state rooms and private apartments of Franz Joseph and Sisi. The more expensive 'Grand Tour' - has access to additional (18th-century) rooms and interiors dating from the time of Maria Theresia.

Alternative tours and ticket entry options are available - including the all-day, 'Classic Pass Plus'. The 'Classic Pass Plus' - includes entry into 8 attractions, including Schönbrunn Palace, Schönbrunn Zoo, the Privy & Orangery Garden, the Maze & Gloriette, plus the Desert Experience & Palm House. Please refer to the Schönbrunn Palace website for amendments, updates and ticket prices.

Top Tip: The Schönbrunn Palace is massive; and has several different ticket entry and tour options. This helps to tailor-make your visit experience to suit your interests and the time you have available. To help plan your visit further, the ticket information sections at the Schönbrunn website advise the recommended time it takes to complete each tour.

Schönbrunn Palace Vienna.

(5). Austrian Parliament Building: The imposing Austrian Parliament Building is located on the prestigious Ringstraße close to the Hofburg Imperial Palace in central Vienna. The building was constructed in 1883 using white Italian marble and is one of the world's finest examples of Greek-revival style architecture. The building is also one of the largest, and most stately-looking structures on the Ringstraße - it covers an area of 13,500 square meters.

The building is worthy of a closer inspection inside and out. Outside is the stunning Athena Fountain (Pallas-Athene-Brunnen) - with the goddess Athena standing on a richly decorated base. The fountain is surrounded by smaller figures, representing the four important rivers of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Once inside, you're met by the grand Hall of Pillars (Säulenhalle), containing 24 stunning Corinthian pillars made of Adnet marble.

The building contains over 100 rooms, including - committee rooms, libraries, and dining rooms; it's also a working government building. Top Tip: Guided tours of the Parliament building are available - they give an insight into Austrian history and its government, plus many opportunities to view the building's rich and beautiful architecture.

Austrian Parliament Building

(6). The Prater Amusement Park: The Prater is one of Europe's most famous amusement parks. Located in green parkland 2 miles from Vienna's city centre, the Prater is often seen as a welcomed break from visiting Vienna's many historical sights.

The park is home to 'The Wiener Riesenrad' - a Giant Ferris Wheel made world famous by Orson Welles in the film 'The Third Man'. The wheel was constructed in 1897 and was one of the first Ferris wheels ever built and has become one of the city's main trademark sights.

Top Tip: The Ferris Wheel is located near the park entrance and is very popular during peak summer months, so ride the wheel as soon as you enter the park to avoid queuing later. A ride on the Ferris Wheel is recommended; it rotates at a leisurely pace giving you plenty of time to admire the impressive views and take in the wheel's unique age and design.

The Pratter Amusement Park offers a wide range of family entertainment, including bowling, karting and a 5D Cinema, plus rows of vintage attractions and traditional fast food stalls.

If your looking for fun, you've found it. Prater offers a host of thrilling rides - both traditional and new, such as the adrenaline-pumping 'Flying Coaster', the super scary 'Super Roller Coaster' and the 'Olympia Looping Coaster', plus the white knuckle rides of the 'Free Fall Tower' and stomach-churning 'Ejection seat', there's also the slightly less scary ghost train and carousel ride.

The park is open to all ages and operates daily from 11am to midnight, entrance to the park is free of charge, and you pay separately for each attraction you enter or ride you take. Metro Station: Praterstern, lines U1 and U2. See the Prater website for up-to-date ride details and park opening times and days of operation.

Vienna Prater amusement park

(7). St Stephen's Cathedral (known by its German name Stephansdom): Built in the 12th century and towering over Stephansplatz in the heart of the city, St Stephen's is the most important religious building in Vienna and is one of the world's most beautiful cathedrals. St Stephen's is also the most recognisable feature on Vienna's skyline, with its tall south tower standing proud to a height of 136 meters.

The South Tower is affectionately called 'Steffl' by the Viennese; the tower contains an observation look-out area named 'Turmerstube' located approximately halfway up. Turmerstube is reached by climbing the tower's 343 steps; at the top, you can enjoy views over the city. (Quick Facts: the tower's construction lasted 65 years, from 1368 to 1433).

St Stephen's Cathedral is built of limestone with a distinctive multi-coloured glazed tiled roof - made with 240,000 chevron patterned tiles. The Cathedral sees over 4 million visitors pass through it each year to admire its beautiful Romanesque and Gothic form - plus its enriched interior of renowned artworks, including religious relics decorated with gold and precious stones. The Cathedral's most important works are housed and displayed in their own exhibition in the west gallery.

  • St Stephen's Cathedral - Top Tips:

(a) Take a guided tour of the Cathedral's interior and catacombs; it's the best way to fully appreciate the Cathedral's history and importance.
(b) Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was married here, and his funeral was also held in St Stephen's.
(c) There's no better way to experience the Cathedral (and its spiritual atmosphere) than to attend one of the Cathedral's many classical concerts. Classical concerts include the great works of European composers like Mozart, Bach, Beethoven and Vivaldi, concert ticket information and bookings can be made direct at St Stephen's website.

(8). Vienna’s MuseumsQuartier: Vienna’s MuseumsQuartier (MQ) is a sensational 90,000 square metre art, cultural and entertainment district. Located near the old city close to the Imperial Palace, the Museum Quartier is an oasis of learning, peace and relaxation. The Museum Quarter hosts around 60 cultural institutions - and attracts both Viennese and tourists from all over the world, with prominent museums, coffeehouses, shops and a great selection of restaurants.

  • MuseumsQuartier houses many fascinating museums including:

(a) The Leopold Museum, exhibiting Austrian modern art including works by Gustav Klimt.
(b) The Mumok - Museum of Modern Art, contains the largest collection of modern and contemporary art in Central Europe and includes major works of classical modernism, minimal and conceptual art, pop art and art of the present day.
(c) The Kunsthalle has displays of international contemporary art that invite audience participation.
(d) The Tanzquartier Wien (Dance Quarter Vienna), Austria's first production and event venue dedicated to contemporary dance and performance.

Vienna - Public Transport: Vienna's public transport system is operated by Wiener Linien. Vienna's public transport is well-developed and very efficient, consisting of Buses (Autobus), Trams (Straßenbahn), a fast U-Bahn (underground) and S-Bahn or Schnellbahn (railway). The city's tram network is a popular mode of transport, and Vienna has one of the largest tram networks in Europe, making tram hopping a great way to explore the city.

Taxis are readily available but expensive. A horse-drawn carriage or 'Fiaker' is the most romantic; but possibly the most expensive way to view the city's sights. Carriages are usually available from the Hofburg Palace and from other tourist hotspots. Expect to pay around €100 for a 40-minute carriage ride.

Vienna U-Bahn (Subway): Vienna U-Bahn (Subway): The subway transport system consists of five lines, with trains serving approximately 109 stations on 90km of track. The subway operates daily from around 5am to 12.30am, with the subway network covering the vast majority of tourist hot spots. Trains usually depart every 5 minutes during the day and more frequently during commuter and other busy times - most platforms have electronic information displays that show either the wait time remaining or the next departure time for your destination.

Vienna Trams or Straßenbahn: The Vienna Tram network started in 1865 and is now one of the world's largest and most efficient networks. Travelling around Vienna by tram can be great fun; the main tourist routes are Lines 1 and 2; these routes operate the Ringstrasse and other main tourist areas, including the Opera, Parliament building, Hofburg Palace and the Prater Amusement Park. You can plan your journey and route by using the route planner on the Wiener Linien website.

Top Tip: Take a round-trip ride on the 'Vienna Ring Sightseeing Tram' - this route circles around the Ringstrasse; the journey takes 25 minutes and provides excellent views and commentary on some of Vienna's most important landmarks. Ticket prices are around €12 for adults and €7 for children. Vienna's tramcars are slowly moving to Easy Access Trams or ULF (ultra low floor) vehicles, making tram access easier and providing more space and comfort on longer journeys.

Tickets and Travel Pass: The one travel ticket is valid on most of the city's public transport systems, including all public trams, buses and subway services. Every ticket is valid up to your destination; it includes multiple transfers and a change of transport mode (provided there are no detours or long breaks in your journey).

So the one ticket covers trams, city trains, subway and bus services of the Vienna Transport Authority. Most of Vienna's transportation networks work on an 'honesty system' in that you must buy a valid ticket to use the services; however, there are no ticket barriers or electronic ticket swipers at stations to pass through. However, regular random ticket inspections are carried out by Transport Authority officials. You must produce a valid ticket if asked to do so - if you cannot produce a valid ticket, you will be issued with a hefty fine.

Tickets can be bought at multilingual ticket machines; located at subway stations, tobacco 'TABAK' shops, and newsagents, or you can buy them online. Single tickets are also available to purchase onboard trams (with a slight supplement added to the fare); you must use exact change. You can buy tickets online or as a Mobile phone ticket.

Validate your Travel Ticket: You must validate your ticket before use. Tickets must be validated using the blue validation machines located on platforms or on board buses and trams - the 'period of ticket validity' starts at the time stamped on your ticket. Tickets bought online are valid from the date and time you specified at the time of purchase, so you don't need to validate online tickets.

The Vienna City Card: Discover the delights of the Austrian capital for less with the Vienna City Card. The Vienna City Card is good value and acts as a public transport travel pass for tourists, providing 24, 48 or 72 hours of free travel on the city's underground, tram and bus networks. The Vienna City Card also gives you discounts with many of the city's top museums, tourist attractions and participating restaurants.

Top Tips:
(1) If you plan on buying a Vienna City Card, you can purchase the card at the airport; this way you receive discounts on your train ride from the airport to the city centre. You will then have the following 24, 48 or 72 hours to use your free travel pass.
(2) You can buy the Vienna City Card online - or for further details. visit the 'Vienna City Card' website.

Vienna Airport (VIE). Vienna International Airport (VIE) is located in Schwechat, 18 km (11 miles) southeast of central Vienna and 57 kilometres west of Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia.

Airport: Flughafen Wien (VIE) is Austria's largest airport. It serves as the hub for Austrian Airlines and a base for low-cost carriers Wizz Air and Ryanair. Public Transfer Services to and from the airport and the city centre are fast and convenient.

Airport Transfers to Vienna City Centre

City Airport Train (CAT): The City Airport Train (CAT) is a dedicated direct non-stop rail service that connects the airport with the city centre transport hub at Wien Mitte (central rail and U-Bahn station) in only 16 minutes. The City Air Terminal is located at Wien Mitte station - it provides additional services such as city check-in with baggage drop.

CAT airport train services run every 30 minutes, and tickets can be booked and purchased online or from ticket machines - they can also be bought from the tourist information desk at the airport. Top Tip: You can purchase your CAT airport transfer ticket, in conjunction with the (Vienna City Card + Transfer) option. Wien Mitte is located close to St. Stephan’s Cathedral in central Vienna and can be reached easily by tram, underground, bus or taxi.

S-Bahn and RailJet Airport Trains: The S-Bahn is one of the cheapest ways to travel into Vienna's city centre. Line S7 departs Vienna airport every 30 minutes and arrives at Wien Mitte (city centre) and Wien Praterstern (north of the city) stations in around 25 minutes, with good connections to the subway network.

The Railjets of Austrian Federal Railways (ÖBB) run non-stop from Vienna Airport to Vienna's city centre main rail station and to Wien Meidling station, located just southwest of the central districts.

Bus & Taxi Services: Various Bus services operate to and from the airport; the Vienna Airport Lines company operates three services with drop-off and pick-up points throughout the city.

Taxis are the most convenient method of travelling to and from the airport, taxi services can be pre-booked (which usually works out cheaper) or you can hire one from outside the arrivals hall. Taxi journey time is 30 minutes from the airport to the city centre, they operate a fixed tariff charge system, with one way fares from airport to the city costing around €60.

Car Hire: All major car rental companies are represented at Vienna airport, Avis, Budget, Europcar, Hertz and Sixt.

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