Vienna City Guide

Vienna is famed for its culture and architecture, which go hand in hand to create an exquisite city on the banks of the Danube.

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Marrying architectural opulence with an incredible depth of history, Vienna is heralded as one of Europe’s foremost cultural gems — and for good reason.
Nestled amid exquisite scenery on the banks of the Danube, the city is as beautiful to look at as it is fascinating to explore. Much of Vienna has been designated a World Heritage Site on account of its wealth of important sites, and is regarded as the City of Music thanks to its fabled musical legacy.
 
‘Infinite’ doesn’t do justice to the amazing array of things to see and do on Vienna’s cultural map. Blending the ancient with the new, the Austrian capital boasts an incredible menu of galleries, monuments and architectural treasures, not to mention enough chic cafes, bars and shops to please everyone.
 
Whether you have visited Vienna one, twice or 20 times is of no consequence; there will always be something new to discover. From the must-sees of Schönbrunn Palace and the Ringstrasse, to the lesser-known marvels of Burggarten and Hundertwasser House, the City of Dreams will forever be a joy to explore.

Must-see sights

Ringstrasse

Flanking Vienna’s historic Innere Stadt quarter, the Ringstrasse is no ordinary ring road. Established in the 19th century, this ‘Lord of the ring roads’ is protected by UNESCO on account of its exquisite architectural beauty. The road passes many of Vienna’s most esteemed buildings, including the Vienna State Opera, Academy of Fine Arts and the opulent Palace of Justice, so it’s a great starting point on an all-encompassing tour of the city.

Kunsthistorische Museum

Arguably one of the most prestigious fine art galleries in the world, Kunsthistorische Museum boasts a vast roster of exquisite works from the likes of Rubens, Caravaggio, Titian and Brueghel. If you aren’t partial to art spotting, the museum is worth visiting for its architecture alone, which is considered the finest example of 19th-century design anywhere in Europe.

Burgtheater

First opened in 1741, the Burgtheater remains one of the world’s most significant German-speaking theatres, and regularly hosts award-winning productions which feature prompts in English. Even if you don’t book seats for a show, the magnificence of the building’s architecture makes it a must-see, and tours of the theatre’s majestic interior are also available.

Schönnbrunn Palace

From local food festivals to the city’s iconic Christkindlmarkt, the Vienna City Hall is an iconic 19th-century civic building which is at the heart of many of Vienna’s foremost events. Built between 1872 and 1883 in a Neo-Gothic style, the City Hall’s design is said to comprise over 30 million bricks – giving you an idea of its immense scale.

Vienna City Hall

From local food festivals to the city’s iconic Christkindlmarkt, the Vienna City Hall is an iconic 19th-century civic building which is at the heart of many of Vienna’s foremost events. Built between 1872 and 1883 in a Neo-Gothic style, the City Hall’s design is said to comprise over 30 million bricks – giving you an idea of its immense scale.

St. Stephen's Cathedral

St Stephen's Cathedral
From local food festivals to the city’s iconic Christkindlmarkt, the Vienna City Hall is an iconic 19th-century civic building which is at the heart of many of Vienna’s foremost events. Built between 1872 and 1883 in a Neo-Gothic style, the City Hall’s design is said to comprise over 30 million bricks – giving you an idea of its immense scale.

Cultural Features

The Hofburg

Once the imperial palace of the powerful Habsburg dynasty, the Hofburg is entrenched in the culture and heritage of Vienna. Originally built in the 13th century, the palace has been upgraded, renovated and added to several times over the centuries, and now stands as one of the most esteemed Baroque buildings in Vienna. The palace served as the official winter residence of the Habsburgs, and continues to serve as the official residence of the President of Austria.

Spanish Riding School

Forming part of the Hofburg, the Spanish Riding School is one of the most famous stable yards in the world, and one revered for its beautiful Lipizzaner stallions. This magnificent school has long been part of Viennese culture, putting its famous stallions through their paces with the grandiose haute école (high school) of classical horsemanship since 1565. The stable’s stock of Lipizzan horses perform classical dressage within the Hofburg, while visitors can also see them training up close at the Winter Riding School.

Palais Liechtenstein

Steps from Vienna’s famous Volksgarten and Burgtheater, the Palais Liechtenstein is among the finest Baroque buildings in the city, having served as the winter residence of the Liechtenstein family since the 17th century. One of the foremost buildings of Vienna’s High Baroque Era, the Liechtenstein Palace showcases some of the finest Baroque and Rococo designs in Vienna – making it the perfect place to enjoy an exclusive evening of culture and music with Scenic Enrich.

Food and Drink Highlights

Wienel Schnitzel

If you only try one local food in Vienna, make it the iconic wiener schnitzel. Developed in Vienna in the 1800s, this classic Austrian dish comprises a thin slice of veal, seasoned with salt and pepper, coated with eggs and breadcrumbs, and fried for a few minutes in oil. Locally, it’s served with a wedge of lemon and roast potatoes – for a no-nonsense taste of Austria.

Where to find it

Countless eateries claim to serve the best wiener schnitzel in Vienna, but we think Pfarrwirt has to be up there among the very best. Established in the 19th century, this is the oldest Wirtshaus in Vienna, and is famous for its authentic schnitzel.

Pfarrwirt 

Apple Strudel

Another classic Viennese dish – and the perfect sweet accompaniment to a wiener schnitzel – is apple strudel. Austrians have perfected the strudel over many centuries, and it’s now one of the most popular desserts in the country. You’ll find it across Vienna, both in casual cafés and high-end restaurants, so be sure to give flaky apple pastry treat a try.

Where to find it

For a truly Viennese strudel experience, make for Café Eiles. With its elegant Art Deco Interior, this café was once reserved for Vienna’s upper sets, and while it’s still retained its traditional Viennese style, it’s today much more inclusive.

Café Eiles

Viennese Coffee

Vienna is fiercely proud of its café culture, and no visit to the city would be complete without stepping into one of its grand, turn-of-the-century coffeehouses for a cup of traditional Viennese coffee. Made using a blend of ground coffee beans, fig extract and whipped cream, this warming beverage is a delightful treat after a busy day of sightseeing.

Where to find it

There can be nowhere else: Café Hawelka. This family-run café is a Viennese institution, and has been serving up traditional Viennese coffee and cake for generations.

Café Hawelka

Fun Facts

  • Thanks to its reputation for classical music, Vienna is known as ‘the city of music’. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven, Joseph Haydn, Franz Schubert, Johann Straus and Johannes Brahms are some of the legendary musicians who were born or worked extensively in the city.
  • Vienna is one of the only capital cities in the world which produces wine within its city limits. Few people know that the Austrian capital is home to 1,700 acres of vineyards, producing varieties including Grüner Veltliner, Riesling and Weißburgunder.
  • The Vienna Zoo is the world’s oldest and only Baroque zoo. Located in the grounds of Schönbrunn Palace, the zoo was established in 1752, and was once home to the private menagerie of Empress Maria Theresa.
  • Did you know that croissants aren’t from France as many people believe, but are actually from Vienna? The Austrian kipferl was developed in the 17th century to commemorate Austria’s victory over the Ottoman Empire, and this is from where the croissant was inspired.
  • During the Cold War, Vienna was divided into four separate zones: USA, UK, France and the Soviet Union. However, unlike Berlin, no walls were built to physically split the city, and Vienna was reunified in 1955.

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