Priceless art, world class cuisine, glorious architecture and a rich music history. Welcome to Vienna.
If there is one ring to rule them all, then in Europe it must be Vienna’s Ringstrasse. While many will argue that the grandeur of the Champs-Élysées can not be rivalled anywhere in the world, its hordes of tourists and crass retail make the Paris centerpiece an underwhelming experience.
By contrast, the Ringstrasse has altogether more charm. A sophisticated marvel of modern civic planning, design and architecture, the Ringstrasse is unmatched in beauty and drama.
With a small tributary running through the city centre, the Donau (Danube river) is a popular place to hang out, especially during the summer months where there are a number of beach bars to enjoy (try Tel Aviv Beach Bar).
A man-made island separates the Donau just to the north of the city, forming a 21-kilometre stretch of parkland from where you can swim. Alte Donau (Old Danube) has picturesque swimming and barbecuing spots.
The seventh district is the epitome of cool; it’s an edgy place with an abundance of small independent boutique shops, bars and restaurants.
Enjoying the local wine during spring and summer is a true Viennese experience.
It helps that the wine often costs less than $3 a glass and is unlikely to give you a headache the next day, especially if consumed with some of the traditional food on offer.
Early last century, Vienna was home to some of the most avant-garde artists and architects in history.
The MuseumsQuartier – 60,000 square metres in fact – is where world-class museums lie within walking distance of each other.
In the winter months it doubles as a Christmas market, while in the summer, it’s a meeting place for the city’s youth, where on any night of the week you will find people sitting around talking and relaxing.
Check out Leopold Museum’s exhibition of Viennese Art Noveau, led by its huge collection of Klimt. It also doubles as a wicked hip hop bar on weekends.
For a day trip drive west out of the inner city to the Church of St. Leopold, also known as the Kirche am Steinhof. An Art Nouveau masterpiece, it was designed by Otto Wagner and built between 1904 and 1907 as part of a reformist psychiatric hospital.
Everything about it is considered: from the chandeliers with handles that enabled them to be pulled down and cleaned easily, to heaters and ventilation conceived for comfort and hygiene, and pews with rounded edges that wouldn’t hurt patients should they bump into them. But it also has walls made from white Carrara marble, colourful glass mosaics designed by Moser, avant-garde angels by Othmar Schimkowitz and a copper dome doused in gold foil.
There are so many beautiful boutique hotels in Vienna. The fabulously quirky 24hours Hotel is an amazing place to base yourself – a riot of colour and vintage and clever ideas, this could be one of the quirkiest sleeps you’ll ever have. If you have a taste for the finer things in life a stay at the luxe Hotel Sacher may be more your cup of tea.