Vienna is famous, of course, as the home of the Strausses, and, appropriately, the waltz. It was also the capital of the Holy Roman Empire for many years and still reflects the power and wealth of these times in its elegant architecture. Below is my list of the best things to do while in Vienna.
1. Visit the Hofburg — This vast complex of buildings in the center of the Altstadt was the residence of Holy Roman Emperors and their families and courts. This epitomizes the classic winter palace.
2. Marvel at the Stephansdom — The huge church dominates the main square along the pedestrian-only Kartnerstrasse and its distinctive tiled roof and tall steeple can be seen from all over the city.
3. Shop and People-watch on Kartnerstrasse — This lengthy pedestrian thoroughfare offers a variety of shops and restaurants, and is crowded throughout the day and evening.
4. Indulge in Sacher Torte — The bakery in the lobby of the Hotel Sacher produces this world-famous pastry, and visitors, especially chocolate lovers, must give it a try while in Vienna.
5. Visit Schonbrunn Palace — Located in the outskirts of Vienna, this summer palace is modeled after Versailles. The gardens, with their fountains and gloriette are delightful to stroll. Be sure to attend the strudel demonstration, where you will be rewarded with a piece of the delicious pastry.
6. Stroll the Grounds and Museum at Belvedere Palace — Another grand residence, this beautiful mansion is just outside the city center and contains a museum of Austrian history.
7. Have a Sausage at a Wurselstand — These stands are ubiquitous and offer a large variety of types of Viennese sausage. Watch a local order one before you attempt it yourself, especially if you don’t speak German very well.
8. Attend a Mozart Concert at the Musikverein — A Mozart concert is a must while in Vienna. Vendors selling tickets can be found in Stephansplatz, or you can make a reservation prior to your arrival, or speak to the concierge at your hotel. The best venue is Golden Hall (the Musikverein) which is world-renowned for its incredible acoustics.
9. Stroll Through Stadtpark — This delightful city park is located just outside the inner ring and contains statues of numerous Austrian notables, along with pleasant flower gardens and shaded walkways.
10. Make a Day Trip to Bratislava — The capital of Slovakia is only about 50 miles east of Vienna and makes a great excursion. Its compact and charming Old Town is wonderful to stroll, and it doesn’t yet have the crowds that other cities endure.
11. Explore Unusual Architecture at Hundertwasserhaus — This strange apartment complex sits just outside the inner ring and attracts numerous onlookers because of its colorful, undulating walls and vegetation growing from various parts of the building.
12. Check Out the Kapuzinerkirche — This fairly nondescript church, St Mary of the Angels, is the final resting place for many of the Hapsburgs, the ruling family of the Holy Roman Empire.
13. Get Away From It All in the Vienna Woods — This beloved region, south of Vienna, is a favorite escape for city residents. There are numerous recreational activities available here.