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Vienna city guide


In the many grand coffee houses of Vienna, you can still watch the light from sparkling chandeliers ricochet off gleaming gilt while forking in mouthfuls of flaky strudel – much as Europe’s glitterati used to. But the Austrian capital has transported its old-school glamour into the 21st century remarkably well, combining grandiose architecture with some fabulous boutique shopping – it's not dubbed the City of Dreams for nothing.

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Turn your city break into a microadventure 

Vienna: Wild swimming in the New Danube 

Travel with a dry bag of simple camping gear, and a wetsuit if you’re not so hardy. Fly to Vienna. The City Airport Train connects the airport with the city, non-stop, in only 16 minutes. Then head for the New Danube (Neue Donau) channel of the river. This is one mile's walk west from Wien Stadlau station which you get to by taking the R train in the direction of Raasdorf Bahnhof from Vienna's central station (Hauptbahnhof). 

It’s calm, pleasant swimming. If you’re not a fan of seeking out wild camping spots, then there’s a regular campground too. The campground is in the Danube- Recreational Zone (Nationalpark Lobau, Alte Donau, Donauinsel) which has 40km of river bank. If you'd prefer to just use the campground as a base and swim in the river from there, you can get there easily. Bus stop “Kleehäufel” is directly at the campsite, S-Bahn S7 City Train Station “Lobau” is nearby. 

The river bank is wooded, with small secluded beaches. It feels far from the bustle of the city. 

Level of Difficulty: Hard - swimming down a river and wild camping are both a bit challenging. 

What to pack: Warm clothes (check the weather forecast!), woolly hat, headtorch, raingear, sleeping bag, mat and bivvy bag, waterproof bag to stow the gear in, towrope to pull the bag behind you, shoes such as Vibram Five Fingers for swimming in, swimming costume - a wetsuit would be an asset too if you can squeeze it into your pack. 

Best time to go: late summer when the river is at its warmest.

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Arguably one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, Vienna is a must for anyone who appreciates stunning architecture and fabulous settings.  Tourists come to Vienna to experience its famed beauty, its idyllic setting on the River Danube and its vast green spaces that make up over half of the city. We’re not lying when we say Vienna is one of the most architecturally stunning cities in the world. And everywhere you look you’ll see remnants of an imperial past, from imposing Baroque squares to Art Nouveau edifices and, of course, those famous palaces.


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Shopping


As the weather warms, Vienna cranks things up a notch musically at Vienna Blues Spring, a month-long festival of concerts held at venues across the city in April. Expect an eclectic line up skipping from classic blues to rock and soul. www.viennabluesspring.org


Nothing could be more Viennese than a coffee house - the best place to warm up in winter. Bypass obvious choices in favour of old-school Café Hawelka, a wonderfully dark, moody number, with wood-panelled, picture-plastered walls. An artists' haunt since the 1930s, Warhol and Hundertwasser used to hang out here.

Sightseeing


Wander past the fountains and Classical muses to reach the ornate Lower Belvedere gallery, which is showcasing the exhibition "Cubism, Constructivism, Form Art" from 10 March to 19 June. Masters of abstraction like Picasso and Georges Braque feature. www.belvedere.at


Housed in a grand former Hapsburg palace, the Albertina's world-class art collection includes Picasso and Monet originals. The gallery shows Vienna-inspired works by Hans Robert Pippal from 22 January to 28 March.

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