What you need to know about Vienna
Few cities offer such a variety of cultural delights as Vienna – if you’re a lover of art, music, European history and architecture, Austria’s capital city is truly a feast for the senses. Many visitors start in the Museums Quartier, to soak up some of the treasures in the beautiful white halls of the Leopold Museum, or the extraordinary graphic art at the Albertina.
Once you’ve exhausted all that culture, you’ll discover that Vienna is a wonderful city for strolling the historic streets or the stunning Stephansdom, or people-watching from one of the city’s many coffee houses. Everything about Vienna oozes elegance, charm and prosperity – it’s a city to be explored and absorbed at your leisure.
The best food and drink
Dining out is a favourite pastime in Vienna, and you’ll find plenty of great restaurants serving quality cuisine from around the world – traditional Austrian of course, but also plenty from dishes from France, Serbia, Hungary and the Czech Republic. Many of the city’s best restaurants and bars are concentrated in the area north of Stephansplatz, so it’s worth taking a stroll around to see what cuisine takes your fancy, and where all the locals seem to be hanging out. If you’d rather take a picnic to one of Vienna’s lovely parks – the Stadtpark or the Volksgarten are both gorgeous - head to the Nashmarkt near the Karlsplatz U-Bahn stop. You’ll find one of the best food markets in Europe, with hundreds of stall selling breads, cheeses, meats and fruit. For late-night drinkers and clubbers, the city’s best live music bars can be found under the railway arches around Josefstadtersrasse.
Getting around the city
Vienna is a lovely city to explore, and there are plenty of easy ways to get around. For longer distances, use Vienna’s overground (S-Bahn) and underground (U-Bahn) train network – it’s fast and efficient, and the U-Bahn runs all night at weekend. If you prefer to travel above ground, Vienna’s trams give you the benefit of a lovely view, but they only run until around midnight. Buses are great for commuter routes, but there are fewer services at weekends. For more active visitors, Vienna is a wonderful city for cycling, with dedicated cycle lanes, a City Bike service and free bike carriage on some U-Bahn and S-Bahn trains. Taxis are safe, reliable and relatively cheap, so a good way to get home late at night.
The best events and festivals
If you love museums, you need to visit Vienna on the first Saturday in October, when the Lange Nacht Der Museen opens the doors to all the city’s 80 museums for the price of one ticket, which includes travel on public transport too. It’s a wonderful event, but you’ll probably only manage to see a handful! In July and August, the Rathausplatz shows free screenings of operas and operettas, with great street food and outdoor bars too. January and February is the season for traditional Viennese balls – over 300 are hosted in total, so you may want to practice your Viennese Waltz!