Vienna

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Vienna is a city that straddles both the past and present with ease. No other city effortlessly combines a rich history that has left behind such remarkable gifts as gothic  tephansdom or baroque Schönbrunn palace with contemporary gems like the Leopold Museum or MuseumsQuartier. Here you can spend your days marvelling at one historical building after the next and evenings clubbing to electronic beats. And that's to mention nothing of the musical history that abounds from this city the Turks once called the 'golden apple'.

Culture is the mainstay of the city, but it's not the only thing on offer. Coffee houses, wine taverns, markets, the Vienna Woods, and even swimming in the Danube are here, all within easy reach of Vienna's marvellous medieval centre.

Orientation

Many sights are in the Innere Stadt (inner city), which is encircled by the Danube Canal (Donaukanal) to the northeast and broad boulevards called the Ring or Ringstrasse.

In addresses, the number of a building follows the street name. Any number before the street name denotes the district, of which there are 23. District 01 (the Innere Stadt) is the most central. Generally, the higher the district number, the further out it is.

Internet Access

Bignet (Tel 533 29 39; 01, Hoher Markt 8-9; per hr €5.90) Speednet Café (Tel 532 57 50; 01 Morzinplatz 4; per hr €4.60) Surfland Internetcafé (Tel 512 77 01; 01, Krugerstrasse 10; initial charge €1.50, per extra min €0.10)

Medical Services

Allgemeines Krankenhaus (General Hospital; Tel 40 400-0; 09, Währinger Gürtel 18-20; h24hr) Dental Treatment (Tel 512 20 78; h24hr) Germanspeaking only.

Tourist Information

Tourist offices and hotels sell the Vienna Card (€18.50), which provides admission discounts and a free 72-hour travel pass. Jugend-Info Wien (Vienna Youth Information; Tel 17 99; http://www.wienxtra.at/; 01, Babenbergerstrasse 1; hnoon- 7pm Mon-Sat) Offers various reduced-price tickets for 14- to 26-year-olds.

Tourist-Info Wien (Tel 24 555; http://www.wien.info/en; 01, cnr Am Albertinaplatz & Maysedergasse; h9am-7pm)

Vienna’s ostentatious buildings and beautiful parks make it a lovely city for strolling. Catch tram 1 or 2 around the Ringstrasse (the road circling the centre) to acquire a taste of the city. It passes the neo-Gothic Rathaus (Town Hall), the Greek Revival–style Parlament, and the 19th-century Burgtheater – you can even glimpse the baroque Karlskirche (St Charles’ Church) from the tram.

Heading into the Innere Stadt (Inner City) will take you to a different age. Designated a Unesco World Heritage site, the heart of the city is blessed with a plethora of architectural wonders that hint at Vienna’s long love affair with history. Begin by strolling along the pedestrian-only Kärntner Strasse past its plush shops, cafes and street entertainers and into Graben, where the knobbly Petsäule (Plague Column), designed by Fischer von Erlach, was built to commemorate the end of the Plague. Turning left into Kohlmarkt brings the impressive Hofburg (Imperial Palace), the Habsburgs’ city-centre base, into view. Walk towards it and wander around this large complex’s nooks and crannies. There are several museums inside, including the Kaiserappartements & ‘Sissi’ Museum (Tel 535 75 70; Hofburg; admission €9.90; h9am-5pm), which relates the unusual life story of Empress Elisabeth (Sissi), and the Schatzkammer (Treasury; Tel 525 24-0; Schweizerhof; admission €10; h10am-6pm Wed-Mon), where all manner of wonders, including the 10th-century Imperial Crown, a 2860-carat Columbian emerald, and even a thorn from Christ’s crown, are on display.

Not far from the Hofburg is the Kaisergruft (Imperial Vault; Tel 512 68 53; 01, Tegetthofstrasse/ Neuer Markt; admission €4; h10am-6pm), the final resting place of most of the Habsburg elite (their hearts and organs reside elsewhere).

Stephansdom

The prominent latticework spire of Stephansdom (St Stephen’s Cathedral; Tel 515 52-0; http://www.stephanskirche.at/; 01, Stephansplatz; admission free; h6am-10pm Mon-Sat, 7am-10pm Sun), along with the geometric pattern of its roof tiles, make this 13th-century Gothic masterpiece one of the city’s key points of orientation. The interior is nothing to scoff at either, complete with a 16th-century stone pulpit and gigantic baroque high altar. Inside, you can take the lift up the north tower (admission €4.50; h8.30am-5.30pm), tackle the 343 steps to the top of the south tower (admission €3.50; h9am-5.30pm), and explore the church’s Katakomben (catacombs; admission €4.50; h10-11.30am & 1.30-4.30pm Mon-Sat, 1.30-4.30pm Sun), which contains some of the internal organs of the former Habsburgs rulers. Guided tours (€4.50) are also available, as are audio guides (€3.50).

Museums & Galleries

When it comes to classical works of art, nothing comes close to the Museum of Fine Arts (Kunsthistorisches Museum; Tel 52 524-0; http://www.khm.at/; 01, Maria Theresien Platz; adult/student €10/7.50; h10am-6pm Tue-Sun, to 9pm Thu). It houses a huge range of art amassed by the Habsburgs and includes works by Rubens, van Dyck, Holbein and Caravaggio.

The MuseumsQuartier (Tel 523 04 31; http://www.mqw.at/; 07, Museumsplatz 1), a public and exhibition space unrivalled in the capital, contains both contemporary and baroque architectural splendour. Its highpoint is the Leopold Museum (Tel 525 700; http://www.leopoldmuseum.org/; adult/ student/senior €10/6.50/9; h10am-6pm Fri-Wed, to 9pm Thu), which houses the world’s largest collection of Egon Schiele paintings, with some minor Klimts and Kokoschkas.

Belvedere Palace (Schloss Belvedere; Tel 79 557- 0; http://www.belvedere.at/jart/prj3/belvedere/main.jart; combined ticket adult/senior/student €12.50/9.50/8.50) consists of two main buildings. One is the Oberes Belvedere & Österreichische Galerie (Upper Belvedere & Austrian Gallery; 03, Prinz Eugen Strasse 37; adult/senior/student €9.50/7.50/6; h10am-6pm), where you’ll find instantly recognisable works, such as Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss, accompanied by other late-19th to early-20th-century Austrian works. The other is the Unteres Belvedere (Lower Belvedere; 03, Rennweg 6A; adult/senior/student €9.50/7.50/6; h10am-6pm Thu-Tue, 10am-9pm Wed), which contains a baroque museum. The buildings sit at opposite ends of a manicured garden.

Built in 1898, the Secession (Tel 587 53 07; http://www.secession.at/; 01, Friedrichstrasse 12; adult/student €6/3.50; h10am-6pm Tue-Sun, to 8pm Thu) is a popular art nouveau ‘temple of art’. It bears an intricately woven gilt dome, and inside the highlight is the 34m-long Beethoven Frieze by Klimt.

Albrecht Dürer’s Hare and a few Michelangelos are joined by superbly curated modern exhibitions at the Albertina (Tel 53 483-0; http://www.albertina.at/jart/prj3/albertina/main.jart; 01, Albertinaplatz 1a; adult/student/senior €9.50/7/8; h10am-6pm Thu-Tue, to 9pm Wed).

At Haus der Musik (House of Music; Tel 51 648; http://www.hdm.at/; 01, Seilerstätte 30; adult/student €10/8.50; h10am-10pm) make your own music in this mind-blowing array of interactive exhibits.

Sigmund Freud Museum (Tel 319 15 96; http://www.freud-museum.at/cms/; 09, Berggasse 19; adult/student €7/4.50; h9am-6pm Jul-Sep, to 5pm Oct-Jun) is the former home of the father of psychoanalysis, while the Wien Museum (Tel 505 87 47-0; http://www.wienmuseum.at/; 04, Karlsplatz 5; adult/student/senior €6/3/4, permanent exhibition free Sun; h9am-6pm Tue-Sun) provides a snapshot of the city’s history, and contains a handsome art collection.

Schloss Schönbrunn

The Habsburgs’ 1441-room summer palace, Schloss Schönbrunn (Tel 81 113-0; http://www.schoenbrunn.at/; 13, Schönbrunner Schlossstrasse 47; self-guided 22-/40- room tour €9.50/12.90; h8.30am-5pm Apr-Oct, to 6pm Jul-Aug, to 4.30pm Nov-Mar) is a grand display of baroque imperialism. Inside is one luxurious apartment after the next, while outside are its Versailles-like gardens (admission free), containing, among other attractions, the world’s oldest Tiergarten (http://www.zoovienna.at/; adult/seniors & students €12/5).

Riesenrad

Anyone who’s seen The Third Man will recognise the Riesenrad (Giant Wheel; http://www.wienerriesenrad.com/; adult/student €8/7; h10am-7.45pm) in the Prater amusement park; it’s where Orson Welles ad libbed his immortal speech about peace, Switzerland and cuckoo clocks.

Cemeteries

Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms and Schönberg have memorial tombs in the atmospheric Zentralfriedhof (Central Cemetery; 11, Simmeringer Hauptstrasse 232-244; h7am-7pm May- Aug, 7am-6pm Mar, Apr, Sep & Oct, 8am-5pm Nov-Feb), about 4km south of the centre. Mozart also has a monument here, but he is actually buried in the St Marxer Friedhof (Cemetery of St Mark; Leberstrasse 6-8).

Water Sports

You can swim and sail in the stretches of water known as the Old Danube (Alte Donau), located northeast of the Donaustadt island, and also in the New Donau (Neue Donau), which runs parallel to and just north of the Donaukanal (Danube Canal).

Festivals & Events

Lifeball (http://www.lifeball.org/) One of the final – and flamboyant – balls of the season, this huge gay/straight AIDS-fundraising gala in May attracts celebrity guests.

Wiener Festwochen (Vienna Festival; http://www.festwochen.or.at/) Features performing-arts programs from mid-May to mid-June.

Donauinselfest (www.donauinselfest.at, in German) At the end of June, look out for free rock, jazz and folk concerts.

Kaiserball In November/December, the Imperial Ball kicks off Vienna’s three-month season of balls, combining glamour and high society with camp decadence.

Christkindlmarkt (Christmas market) Vienna’s traditional market takes place in front of the city hall between mid-November and 24 December.

Der Wiener Deewan (09, Liechtensteinstrasse 10; hMon-Sat) Pakistani curries – three vegetarian and two meat – are prepared daily and served buffet-style at this easy-going eatery. There’s no set price here, just eat at much as you like and pay as much as you like, although the food’s so good you’ll want to fork over a decent amount of cash.

Kent (16, Brunnengasse 67; mains €4-9) Authentic Turkish cuisine and one of the largest gardens in the city make Kent a hugely popular choice with locals of all ethnic backgrounds. After your meal, take a wander along the nearby Brunnen market and pick up some fresh fruit for dessert.

Zu den 2 Leiserln (07, Burggasse 63; schnitzel from €6) A classic Beisl (traditional Viennese pub serving solid Viennese fare) if ever there was one. Leiserln has been serving enormous schnitzels for over 100 years to politicians, blue-collar workers, and everyone in between. Take a seat and appreciate a true Viennese institution.

St Josef (07, Mondscheingasse 10; mains €6-7.20; hMon-Sat) St Josef is the choice of the healthy diner. It only serves wholly organic and vegetarian cuisine, and the menu changes daily.

Stomach (Tel 310 20 99; 09, Seegasse 26; mains €10- 18; hdinner Wed-Sat, lunch & dinner Sun) Many vegetarian dishes have dropped off the menu at Styrian-style Stomach, but some remain, and the quaint, ramshackle rooms and the courtyard create a rustic outpost in the big city.

Schweizerhaus (02, Strasse des Ersten Mai 116; mains €10-20; hmid-Mar–Oct) In the Prater park, this place serves Hintere Schweinsstelze (roasted pork hocks) and the like to a rowdy crowd of international travellers who wash it all down with huge mugs of Czech beer fresh from the barrel.

Sausages are the fast-food choice of many Viennese (especially at the end of a night out), and sausage stands dot the city. For fresh fruit and cheap kebabs, head for the colour Naschmarkt (06, Linke Wienzeile;h6am-6pm Mon-Sat), which also has a string of fine Asian diners.

Cheap student cafeterias include Technical University Mensa (04, Resselgasse 7-9; mains €3.50-5; h11am-2pm Mon-Fri) and University Mensa (7th fl, 01, Universitätsstrasse 7; mains €4.50-5; h11am-2pm Mon-Fri Sep-Jun).

Bars

The area near Schwedenplatz, dubbed the Bermudadreieck (Bermuda Triangle), may still attract plenty of drinkers (mainly drunk teenagers and out-of-towners), but the real scene has moved out of the centre to the likes of the Naschmarkt, along the Danube Canal (summer only), Schleifmühlgasse area, and along the Gürtel, an outer ring road that joins up with the A22 on the north bank of the Danube and the A23 southeast of town.

Flanagans (Tel 513 73 78; 01, Schwarzenberg Strasse 1-3) With plenty of tellies featuring live English football and international rugby, along with Guinness and Stella on tap, Flanagans pulls in the expat crowd like no other pub in Vienna. Friday and Saturday nights here can be a spectacle.

Kunsthallencafé (Tel 587 00 73; 04, Treitlstrasse 2) The ubercool Kunsthallencafé is a mecca for BoBos and students, offering slick surrounds, comfy couches, regular DJs, and a massive summer terrace. Surprisingly, the desserts here are divine. Rhiz (Tel 409 25 05; Lerchenfelder Gürtel 37-38) One of the bars lining the U-Bahn (underground) arches near the Gürtel, this is a hip mecca of Vienna’s electronic music scene. Also recommended: Chelsea (Tel 407 93 09; Lerchenfelder Gürtel 29-31) Underground spot with frequent indie band concerts and DJs. Phil (Tel 581 04 89; 06, Gumpendorferstrasse 10-12) Retro bookshop-bar with a bohemian slant and easygoing vibe. Schikaneder (Tel 585 58 88; 04, Margaretenstrasse 22-4) Alternative bar-cinema attracting students and black-clad folk.

Coffee Houses

The Kaffeehaus (coffee house) is an integral part of Viennese life and everyone has a favourite.

Café Sperl (Tel 586 41 58; 06, Gumpendorfer Strasse 11) With its scuffed but original 19th-century fittings and cast of slacker patrons playing chess and reading newspapers, this is exactly how you expect an Austrian coffee house to be. Under the high ceiling and old-fashioned lights, wooden panelling reaches up to meet mustard-coloured wallpaper, while battered wooden legs hold up red-patterned chairs, and a few billiard tables add a modern twist.

Café Prückel (Tel 512 61 15; 01, Stubenring 24) Juxtaposing Vienna’s formal cafes, this 1950sstyle cafe is the epitome of shabby chic. Enjoy the delightful cakes, friendly waiters, and nonsmoking section out back. Café Central (Tel 533 37 63; 01, Herrengasse 14) A lot more commercialised than when Herrs Trotsky, Freud and Beethoven drank here, we dare say, but still appealing with vaulted ceilings, palms and baroque architecture. Noteworthy:

Café Sacher (Tel 514 56-661; 01, Philharmoniker strasse 4) An institution for its world-famous chocolate cake, the Sacher Torte, baked here since 1832. Expensive treat, but well worth the little extra.

Kleines Café (01, Franziskanerplatz 3) Tiny bohemian cafe with wonderful summer seating on Franziskanerplatz.

Heurigen (Wine Taverns)

Vienna’s Heurigen are a good way to see another side of the city. Selling ‘new’ wine produced on the premises, they have a lively atmosphere, especially as the evening progresses. Outside tables and picnic benches are common, as is buffet food.

Heurigen are generally clustered together in the wine-growing suburbs to the north, northeast, south and west of the city. Look for the green wreath or branch hanging over the door that identifies a Heuriger. Opening times are approximately 4pm to 11pm, and wine costs less than €2.50 a Viertel (250mL).

The Heurigen areas of Nussdorf and Heiligenstadt are near the terminus of tram D. In 1817 Beethoven lived in the Beethovenhaus (19, Pfarrplatz 3, Heiligenstadt). There are several Heurigen in a row where Cobenzlgasse and Sandgasse meet, of which Reinprecht (Tel 320 14 71; 19, Cobenzlgasse 22) is the best, even if still rather touristy.

If you don’t have time to venture out into the suburbs, you can get a taste of the Heurigen experience at Esterházykeller (Tel 533 34 82; Haarhof 1; h11am-11pm Mon-Fri, 4-11pm Sat & Sun), a Heurigen dating from 1683. Alternatively, try Zwölf Apostelkeller (Tel 512 67 77; 01, Sonnenfelsgasse 3), another atmospheric cellar haunt with as many levels as Dante’s Inferno.

Falter (€2.40, in German) and the tourist office’s Vienna Scene have up-to-date listings.

Cinemas

Burgkino (Tel 587 84 06; 01, Opernring 19) Screens The Third Man every Friday evening and Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoons. Seats are cheapest on Monday.

Classical Music

There are no performances in July and August. Ask the tourist office for details of free concerts at the Rathaus or in churches.

The state ticket office, Bundestheaterkassen (Tel 514 44-7880; http://www.bundestheater.at/Content.Node2/; 01, Goethegasse 1), sells tickets without commission for the Staatsoper and Volksoper. In the hut by the Staatsoper, Wien Ticket (Tel 58 885; http://www.wien-ticket.at/de/home, in German; 01, Kärtner Strasse 40) also charges little or no commission for cash sales.

The cheapest deals are the standingroom tickets that go on sale at each venue around an hour before performances. However, you may need to queue three hours before that for major productions.

Staatsoper (State Opera; Tel 513 15 13; http://www.wiener-staatsoper.at/Content.Node/home/index.php; 01, Opernring 2; standing room €2-3.50, seats €7- 254) Performances are lavish, formal affairs, where people dress up.

Musikverein (Tel 505 18 90; http://www.musikverein.at/; 01, Bösendorferstrasse 12; standing room €4-6, seats €17-118) The opulent and acoustically perfect (unofficial) home of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. You can buy standing tickets three weeks in advance at the box office to hear this world-class orchestra.

Lipizzaner Museum & Spanish Riding School

The famous Lipizzaner stallions strut their stuff in the Spanish Riding School (Tel 533 90 31- 0; http://www.srs.at/; 01, Michaelerplatz 1; standing room €20-28, seats €35-165) near the Hofburg. Ask in the adjacent museum about seats. Same-day tickets can be bought for training sessions (tickets €12; h10am-noon Tue-Sat Feb-Jun & Sep-Dec).

Vienna Boys’ Choir

The Wiener Sängerknaben perform weekly at the Burgkapelle (Music Chapel; Tel 533 99 27; whmk@chello.at; 01, Hofburg, Rennweg 1; standing free, seats €5-29; hperformances 9.15am Sun mid-Sep–Jun). Tickets are available on Friday and from 8.15am Sunday before performances. The group also performs regularly in the Musikverein (above); check http://www.wsk.at/jart/prj3/wsk_website/main.jart for more information.

Clubbing

Flex (Tel 533 75 25; http://flex.at/flex_frontend/; 01, Danube Canal/Augartenbrücke) Time after time this uninhibited shrine to music (it has one of the best sound systems in Europe) puts on great live shows and features the top DJs from Vienna and abroad. Each night is a different theme, with Crazy on Tuesday and London Calling on Wednesday among the most popular.

Roxy (http://www.sunshine.at/neu/index.php?l=clubshow&id=1&menu=club&act=1; 04, Operngasse 24; hWed- Sun) Often leading the way, or at least keeping pace, with Vienna’s progressive clubbing scene. Its tiny dance floor is therefore regularly bursting at the seams. The sounds range from jazz to world music.

Volksgarten (Tel 532 42 41; http://www.volksgarten.at/; 01, Burgring 1) In the middle of the park of the same name, this place is very popular. There’s modern dance and an atmospheric 1950s-style salon that was once a former Walzer Dancing venue. Friday and Saturday are the big nights, although it’s open other evenings, too.

Gay & Lesbian Venues

Rosa Lila Villa (Tel 586 81 50; 06, Linke Wienzeile 102) The leading venue of Vienna’s gay scene is this pink-and-purple information centre with a popular bar and restaurant.

Why Not? (Tel 535 11 58; http://www.why-not.at/; 01, Tiefer Graben 22; hFri & Sat) A popular gay bar/disco for like-minded people.

Vienna’s main shopping street is Mariahilfer Strasse, near the MuseumsQuartier, but the best window-shopping to be had is in the back alleyways of the Innere Stadt, where stores selling designer labels and overpriced jewellery are a dime a dozen.

A perfect souvenir from Vienna, which unfortunately won’t last long, is the city’s favourite sweet, the Manner Schnitten (wafers filled with hazelnut cream). Get the real thing from Manner (Tel 513 70 18; 01, Stephansplatz 7).

Underground (U-Bahn), tram, suburban train (S-Bahn) and bus routes are outlined in the free tourist office map.

All advance-purchase tickets must be slotted into the validation machines at the entrance to U-Bahn stations or on trams and buses. Singles cost €1.70 from automatic machines before you board, or €2.20 on board.

Stunden-Netzkarte (daily passes) cost €5.70 (valid 24 hours from first use); threeday passes €14 (valid for 72 hours); weekly passes €14 (valid Monday to Sunday).

You’ll need a Visa, MasterCard or JCB credit card, or a Tourist Card available from Royal Tours (Tel 710 4606; 01, Herrengasse 1-3;card €2; h9am-11.30am & 1-6pm) to use Vienna’s cheap city bikes (Tel 0810- 500 500; http://www.citybikewien.at/; 1st hr free, 2nd hr €1, 3rd hr €2, per hr thereafter €4). Check the website for locations.