Spend your days marvelling at historical buildings, or soaking up the cafe culture!
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, which relates the unusual life story of Empress Elisabeth (Sissi), and the Schatzkammer, 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, the final resting place of most of the Habsburg elite (their hearts and organs reside elsewhere).
The prominent latticework spire of Stephansdom, 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.
When it comes to classical works of art, nothing comes close to the Museum of Fine Arts. It houses a huge range of art amassed by the Habsburgs.
The Belvedere Palace consists of two main buildings. One is the Oberes Belvedere & Österreichische Galerie, where you’ll find instantly recognisable works, such as Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss.
Albrecht Dürer’s Hare and a few Michelangelos are joined by superbly curated modern exhibitions at the Albertina.
The Sigmund Freud Museum is the former home of the father of psychoanalysis, while the Wien Museum provides a snapshot of the city’s history, and contains a handsome art collection.