In the Southern part of Central Europe in the shadow of the Eastern Alps sits the country of Austria. Composed of nine states, Vienna is the capital and the most populous area of the country. It is a city steeped in culture with fabulous museums, historical sites and stunning examples of architecture. Why make Vienna wait? Let your travel advisor at GetAway Travel design a dazzling adventure in Vienna for you.
Plan to visit a parade of palaces
The Schönbrunn Palace was the summer residence of the Habsburgs and it is one of the most important cultural monuments in the country.
You can tour impressive ceremonial rooms and stunning gardens. The gardens include the Gloriette, an elevated structure in the garden that offers fabulous views of Vienna. Emperor Franz Joseph I and Empress SiSi loved the Gloriette and had breakfast there frequently, Today it houses Café Gloriette which is famous for its great Sunday brunch featuring its fabulous pastries as well as live music.
While the palace include some of the most stunning Rococo rooms in existence, there are also some other attractions on the grounds.
You can visit the Imperial Carriage Museum; there’s a maze that features the 12 signs of the Zodiac and a zoo that is the oldest existing zoo in the world. Animals are housed in near-natural surroundings and it has been named Europe’s best zoo at least six times.
The Imperial Treasury showcases fantastic items of jewelry including one of the biggest emeralds in the world.
The Belvedere Palace and Museum is a magnificent example of baroque architecture. One of Austria’s most prestigious art collections with works by Klimt, Schiele and Kokoschka is in the museum. Belvedere, like Schönbrunn, was built as a summer home. Belvedere was built by Prince Eugene Savoy, an art connoisseur, the two palaces now showcase Austrian art from the Middle Ages to the present.
The Hofburg Palace was the original center of the Habsburg Court and it is one of the biggest palace complexes in the world. It has a church, chapel, the Austrian Habsburg Library and the Imperial Silver Museum. Located near the Vienna Opera House, it also has a tropical oasis, Schmetterlinghaus or The Butterfly House. The greenhouse was constructed during the
Art Nouveau period and year-round, you can find at least 400 live free-flying butterflies flitting around the exotic plants and water features.
In the spring, 400 species of roses bloom in the gardens in the palace complex.
Awe-inspiring cathedrals, architectural marvels
At the center of the city is St. Stephan’s Cathedral. Boasting four towers incline a tower room with panoramic views of the city, this cathedral is a symbol of Vienna. The coat of arms of the city of Vienna as well as the Imperial Double Eagle are patterned in the roof tiles.
Wear sensible shoes when visiting the cathedral, there are 343 steps to get to the viewing tower room.
Inside, there are cathedral treasures on display as well as gilded relics embellished with precious stones. There is a collection of liturgical antiquities on display including vestments, texts and books. Austrian royalty as well as cardinals and archbishops are entombed at the cathedral.
Karlskirche or St. Charles Church is a stunning example of baroque architecture. There is a great dome at the top and giant front columns. Inside, there is marble stonework, wall paintings and reliefs as well as statues and intricate scrollwork carvings edged in gold. A lift takes visitors to the top of the dome for views of the city as well as the dome paintings.
Even if you can’t take in an opera, the Vienna State Opera House is worth a visit and take a some time to admire the administrative headquarters of the city, Vienna City Hall. A great example of Neo-Gothic architecture, city hall’s 2,000 windows and long front facade make it a great place for art installations.
Museums, vineyards and food!
The city’s largest residential palace has been converted into the Albertina Art Museum. On permanent display in the 21 place staterooms are works from Europe’s most influential artists including Dürer, Rembrandt, Raphael, Titian, Picasso, Dali, da Vinci, Rubens and Cezanne.
Kunsthistorisches Museum or the Museum of Art History has pieces from major European artists including Raphael’s “Madonna in the Meadow” and Vermeer’s “The Allegory of Painting.”
But the city also has some interesting and quirky museum offerings including Madame Tussauds Wax Museum, the Roman Museum, Sigmund Freud Museum, Globe Museum, Funeral Museum and the Museum of Illusions to name a few.
The city’s Heurigers (wine taverns) offer local wine. You can tour Weingut Cobenzl, one of Austria’s top vineyards. Acres and acres of vines are lovingly tended in this vineyard high above the Danube. The vineyard produces everything from Grüner Veltliner to Riesling. Take the tour to go from grape to cellar and you are able to taste up to six of Cobenzl’s best vintages.
The Naschmarkt is a foodie paradise. This open-air market lets you sample and buy everything from pickles and stuffed olives to exotic fruit and cheese. Demel Confectionary has beautifully wrapped chocolates and a huge selection of marzipan fruits. You can watch master craftsmen make the fruit. Zuckerlwerkstatt or sugar workshop, has hand-crafted sweet treats and the confectionary magicians who work there will let you watch them create jellies, lollipops and candy canes. If you contact them in advance of your visit, you can order personalized candies.
And you won’t go hungry anywhere you stop to eat — there’s Weiner schnitzel, Sacher torte (chocolate cake with apricot jam), Kaiserschmarrn (a sweetened shredded pancake) and apple strudel. Coffee is serious business in Vienna and coffee houses have dozens of options on the menu.