Elegant, full of history, and a thriving food, nightlife, and cultural center, Vienna has everything vacationers could ever need. This stunning Central European gem is truly one of the world's great cities.
Walk in the footsteps of Viennese greats like Sigmund Freud, Mozart, and the artist Egon Schiele. Watch a classical concert at the Musikverein or a spectacular opera at the Staatsoper after dining on succulent Wiener Schnitzel at restaurants like Reinthaler's Beisl. Tour stunning palaces like Schönbrunn or spend all day at the massive Art History Museum with masterpieces by Vermeer and Velázquez.
But Vienna isn't all about concerts and art. You can shop at fashion boutiques in the Goldenes Quartier or dive into all-night dance clubs like Donau Techno. Whatever you love to do, you'll adore Vienna.
If you love art, Vienna is a must-visit. The Art History Museum towers over the local art scene with its Vermeers and Dürers, but there's more to see as well. See up-and-coming artists at bäckerstrasse4, see the paintings of Klimt at the Belvedere or the Schieles at the Leopold Museum.
Vienna is a famous gastronomic destination. Grab a Viennese coffee and pastry at Kaffeehäuser like Heiner, try a schnitzel at Figlmüller Wollzeile, or just head to the Naschmarkt to peruse the mile-long food market and stock up on picnic materials for the day ahead.
Few cities in the world can match Vienna for musical pedigree. Mozart, Brahms, Schubert, and Beethoven all made their careers here, and their works are still regularly performed at venues like the Musikverein.
Vienna combines fabulous 18th and 19th-century architecture, like the Hofburg or Schönbrunn Palace, with the majesty of the "beautiful blue Danube" as it sweeps through the city. Don't miss a river tour while you are in town (or even take longer boat trips to nearby vineyards if you have the time).
Vienna is also a fantastic shopping destination. The Old City hosts upscale labels like Louis Vuitton and Prada, the Kohlmarkt is the place to go for world-class jewelry while the Naschmarkt and the Brunnenmarkt offer hundreds of stalls selling food, craft products, and antiques.
Summer is an excellent time to see the sights and stroll along the Danube, but if you are into classical music and want to get the best seats, try late spring (May and June) or the fall (October is good). Alternatively, Vienna is a magical Christmas destination, with markets, lights and parties all over town.
Vienna International Airport (VIE) is a few miles southeast of the city itself and getting into town isn't hard. One option is to take the S7 S-Bahn train (EUR4, 25 minutes) or the less frequent but faster Railjet trains (same price, 16 minutes). If you'd prefer to take a taxi, it should cost around EUR30 and there are also airport buses (though these are more expensive than trains).
Vienna's Hauptbahnhof has excellent connections to the rest of Europe and arriving by train is a popular option. The station is on the Vienna subway system, so transferring from international trains to your accommodation should be hassle-free.
Anyone driving to Vienna from Germany will probably take the A3 to the border, then the A8 and the E60 straight into Vienna. From the Italian border, the best route is to take the A2 then the E59, while those driving from Prague can take the E50, the E461 then the A5 into the heart of Vienna.
Plenty of buses arrive in Vienna every day from destinations all over Europe. Eurolines is the major operator, and generally stop at the Vienna International Busterminal, just southeast of the Old City. From there, you can take local buses or hop on the subway from Schlachthausgasse and you'll be in the center in 10 minutes.
Vienna has no shortage of stunning luxury accommodation and some comfortable budget options too. In the Old City, some of the finest options include the Hotel am Stephansplatz and the Ambassador, but the finest hotels are located in the outer "ring." Check out the Hotel Sans Souci and the Park Hyatt for first-class accommodation. Alternatively, try budget hostels like the Hostel Ruthensteiner or Wombats (which is very handy for the Naschmarkt).
The Old City - Vienna's Altstadt is clustered around Stephansplatz and the city cathedral, right at the center of town. Here you can see the filming locations for "the Third Man", attend an opera, window shop on Kärntnerstrasse or sip coffee in Café Hawelka, a legendary artists' hangout.
Leopoldstadt - Vienna's "Second District" is situated on an island in the Danube river and it's a charming neighborhood. Once home to the city's large Jewish population, it's also home to the Prater - Vienna's funfair with its iconic ferris wheel. With bars and sports stadiums in the area too, Leopoldstadt is a fun place to be.
Landstraße - located southeast of the Altstadt, Landstraße is a large neighborhood with plenty to see. There's the elegant grounds and superb art collection of the Belvedere Palace, the vibrant Haupstraße shopping district and off-beat artistic attractions like the KunstHausWien, a must for modern art lovers.
Vienna's public transportation system is superb and getting around will be easy. There's a choice of subway (Metro), tram, bus, and commuter rail services, and every area is well connected to the center. It's also affordable, with a single fare of EUR2.20, 24-hour tickets for EUR7.60, and weekly passes for EUR16.20.
With such a good public transportation system, you don't really need to take taxis much in Vienna. However, if you do, expect to pay a meter drop of EUR3.80, then around EUR2 per mile after that. Uber is active in the city too, and offer rates of EUR1 for the meter drop then around EUR1 per mile, so it can be a good way to save money.
Renting a car is easy, either at Vienna International Airport or downtown. Local companies include Sixt, Hertz, Avis, Europcar, and Budget and rates can be as low as EUR15 per day for smaller vehicles. However, driving in central Vienna isn't easy, with narrow and often one-way streets inside the Ring. Instead, use your car to reach day trip destinations like Liechtenstein Castle or suburban attractions like Schönbrunn Palace.
Vienna is a wonderful place to shop for jewelry, apparel, chocolates, shoes, and food. In the center of town, Kohlmarkt is the street to head for, hosting labels like Burberry, Chanel, and Armani (and Graben next door is also lined with high-end boutiques). Another place to look is the Goldenes Quartier, a showcase for fashion labels like Alexander McQueen, Miu Miu, and Mulberry.
Vienna can be a little expensive, but you can save money by shopping for groceries at supermarkets like Merkur, Billa, Spar, and Hofer (or the Naschmarkt). Expect to pay around EUR4 for a gallon of milk and EUR1 for a pound of apples.
Vienna's food is out of this world (though sometimes a little calorific). For starters, be sure to try a Wiener Schnitzel (veal fried in breadcrumbs) at places like Figlmüller Wollzeile. For an all-round gourmet experience, try the 100 percent organic Weinbotschaft. And, while you see the sights, grab a traditional apfelstrudel from Cafe Central or the stalls of the Naschmarkt. Prices vary wildly, from EUR5-10 for street food to EUR50 for a gourmet three course meal.