Vienna is truly unique: only in the Austrian capital does it seem as if the 19th century never ended. Mozart’s music and waltzes are still the big hits, played by prestigious orchestras in sumptuous palaces and halls. The elegant cafés are always full but never rowdy. Sissi, the empress made immortal by a famous film saga, seems to pop up before you from one moment to the next. The beautiful blue Danube continues to flow, placid and inexorable.
This magical fairytale atmosphere reaches its climax at Christmas time, when the traditional Christmas markets open and young and old alike flock to the atmospheric ice-skating rink in the heart of the old town.
Imperial Vienna will not disappoint your expectations, but what tourists are generally unprepared for is the modernity of Vienna: trendy clubs make the Austrian capital a must-visit destination for electronic music lovers, trendy cafés vie for clientele with historic cafés, and public transport is highly efficient.
Whether it’s the nostalgic charm or the exciting dynamism of this city that brings you here, our online guide to Vienna will help you experience the holiday of your dreams.
One could fill an entire weekend just visiting the royal palaces of the Habsburg court. If you’re short on time, concentrate on the two most opulent: Hofburg, the Imperial Palace, and Schönbrunn Palace, the summer residence (perhaps with a stop at the zoo); to these you can add Belvedere Castle and the Rathaus, a town hall with sumptuous rooms.
It’s hard not to notice the neo-Gothic St Stephen’s Cathedral on the central Stephanplatz: its towers and spires soar high into the Vienna sky and the roof is decorated with thousands of coloured tiles forming two iconic images of the city and nation.
For a complete change of atmosphere, take in the vibrancy of the Naschmarkt and flea market, stroll through the picturesque Spittelberg district or get your fill of art and culture in the Museum Quarter.
Discover the 10 must-see sights of Vienna on our Things to do in Vienna page.
One of the symbols of Vienna is the Giant Wheel in the Prater: a ride on the romantic Wiener Riesenrad is a thrilling experience not to be missed.
For an authentic Viennese experience, step into one of the city’s historic cafés, but know in advance that in front of such mouth-watering cakes, you should forget your diet and good intentions.
Whether or not you are a fan of symphony concerts and operas, during a holiday in Vienna, don’t miss the opportunity to attend a classical music concert. The exclusive locations in which they are performed, such as castles, imperial palaces or historical cafés, will enhance the magic created by the music.
If you have some time, treat yourself to a cruise on the Danube, Europe’s most romantic river, which inspired Johann Strauss’ famous waltz.
Active holidaymakers will find fascinating cycling and hiking routes in and around Vienna, including the famous Ringstrasse cycle path; if you come in winter you can try your hand at sports such as ice skating and curling.
For more ideas on what to do on your holiday visit the Vienna Tours and Activities page.
Hotels in the centre of Vienna tend to be expensive, which is a bit of a surprise for tourists who want to organise their own holiday. Fear not: there are solutions to suit all budgets, fromluxury hotels in the Innere Stadt and the Ringstrasse to budget hotels in the neighbouring districts.
Don’t disdain quality hotels and B&Bs just because they are located in the suburbs: public transport in Vienna works very well, so getting to the centre is quick and easy.
For more in-depth advice on how to choose the best area, visit Where to stay in Vienna.
The following are the most popular tickets and tours in Vienna that we recommend you don't miss.
City Card allow you to save on public transport and / or on the entrances to the main tourist attractions.