Nestled on the Danube riverside, a holiday in Vienna is beyond beautiful. Historically it’s where a few talents you might have heard of such as Mozart and Beethoven resided. Today, the ever popular Vienna Philharmonic is one of the city’s many orchestras to keep Vienna’s musical heart beating.
A picture of elegance, and boasting architecture spanning over 1000 years, the grand buildings that line the cobbled streets provide the perfect backdrop for shopping, sightseeing or romance.
Vienna has a vibrant art heritage. Art Nouveau has been a major influence in the city, with plenty of decorative details to spot. Romantic art lovers can smooch next to The Kiss, Gustav Klimt’s masterpiece. It can be found in the world’s largest Klimt collection at the Belvedere, a grand palace complex that is now one of the nation’s leading art galleries.
Austria’s heritage is shown best at Schönbrunn Palace. The sculpted gardens are the main attraction – and there’s a fair comparison to Versailles. With gardens, fountains, vineyards and even a maze to explore – it’s easy to lose a day in this stunning and free to visit location.
The palace may have been built as a summer residence, but winter travellers don’t miss out, as the Christmas market provides festive cheer. The many stalls at the Christmas market offer traditional handicrafts, toys and decorations. Pair with a glass of mulled wine and gift shopping here is simple.
Free spirits may be drawn to Donauinsel, an island in the middle of the Danube. At the end of June nearly 3,000,000 visitors flock there for the annual Donauinselfest, Europe’s largest free open air festival. However, there’s fun to be found all year round. With roller skating, bars and beaches all available, a Vienna city break isn’t to be missed.
Historic City Centre
Whilst each of Vienna’s 23 districts has plenty to offer, the very heart of the city is home to some of Austria’s most beautiful buildings. First, you can take a tram around the central Ringstrasse to see why UNESCO declared it a World Heritage site in 2001. Stop off at Stephansdom to admire its distinctive multi-coloured tiled roof, lovingly restored to its former glory after damage from the Second World War. The city centre leaves you spoilt for choice for historic landmarks. The Rathaus, the State Opera and the Albertina are all within walking distance. We would recommend to stroll between them and enjoy the stylish gardens found along the way.
Vienna’s largest park, the Prater, can be found in the old Jewish district of Leopoldstadt. Follow the park’s very own miniature steam railway and you will find the amusement park. Open between March and October, the range of rides is perfect for both families and thrill seekers. Next, experience a breathtaking view of the city from one of its most famous landmarks by riding the Reisenrad. Made famous by Orson Welles in vintage British thriller, The Third Man, this giant Ferris wheel cannot be missed.
The largest market in Vienna, the Naschmarkt, brings together food and tourists from all over the world. Browse the stalls and stop off to eat and drink along the way. If hunger strikes, the Naschmarkt showcases the best of multi-cultural food in the city, just as popular with the locals as it is with the tourists. Whether you go for traditional Austrian cuisine or something totally out there like Korean Kimchi, it’s a flavour and food journey. Once the market traders have packed up for the day, live bands and DJs keep the atmosphere electric.
Delve into your inner psyche when visiting the home of Sigmund Freud, father of psychoanalysis. The museum dedicated to his life and work displays letters and notes written by the psychology pioneer himself. Animal enthusiasts will go wild for the Schönbrunn Zoo, the world’s oldest zoo still in existence. Filled with rare and exotic wildlife, the newborn panda twins will capture your heart. For a more refined experience, the Spanish Riding School’s performing white horses are a tradition rooted in skill and discipline. Book in advance to be sure of a ringside seat.
If you’re wondering when the best time to visit Vienna is, look at arriving during spring or autumn. The balmy temperatures around these months make it the ideal time for a break in Vienna. Pack light as there’s less chance of rain to ruin your trip, so you can expect sunny and milder days whilst you’re out and about.
With the shoulder season in Vienna beginning in April, you’ll be glad to know that the weather stays dry up until May. Get used to a good eight hours of sunlight per day and temperatures rising to 20°C, and take advantage of these warmer months by exploring the city on foot.
As you’d imagine, Vienna welcomes a lot of visitors when summer hits, so don’t be surprised if it’s busy between June and August. With lots of sun and big crowds, the city turns into a hive of music and celebration. Don’t miss the world-famous Vienna Jazz Festival that starts on 9th June and continues until 10th July, complete with loads of live music and performances from more than 50 local and international acts. There’s also the ImPulsTanz Festival from 13th July to 13th August where the city opens its theatres to host an international dance festival.
Another busy time for the capital city is mid-November when the hint of Christmas spreads through the streets. This is the best time to treat yourself as the busy run up to the festive period includes Christmas Markets popping up beside the streets, along with special concerts.
If you want to fit in some culture, the winter season also brings the New Year's Concert by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. If you just fancy some freezing cold fun then head to the outdoor ice skating rink, which is open from January to mid-March.
Prepare to indulge your sweet tooth, as Viennese cakes are some of the world’s most delicious. Coffee houses and cafes are essential to the Viennese way of life, so choose from delights including apple strudel or pistachio marzipan flavoured Mozart balls. You can also dine like royalty with a slice of sachertorte, a rich chocolate cake thought to have been created especially for Prince Wenzel von Metternich. However, be sure to save room for dinner or miss out on Austrian’s favourite dish, breadcrumbed fried veal, known as schnitzel. In the mood for something lighter? Be prepared to be surprised by the wide variety of vegetarian and vegan-friendly restaurants reinterpreting Viennese cuisine.
Any guide about a Germanic country must mention beer. Austrians are proud of their brewing heritage so we recommend trying some of the local specialities on tap. Light coloured hoppy beers such as Pils are popular, but the Austrian appetite for beer makes sure there are plenty of options. Austrian wine may not be as well-known as its European counterparts, but it has a dedicated following. When summer comes to a close, the traditional wine taverns begin to offer a taste of seasonal sturm. Austria’s semi-fermented wine, sturm is known for its fresh and moreish taste.
Vienna is a bucket list destination for culture vultures and foodies alike. Bags packed and hungry for your slice of sachertorte? Flights from London to Vienna are only around 2 hours long, so you can arrive refreshed and with plenty of time to explore all of the sights. Booking is made even easier with easyJet holidays, and our combined flights and hotels are the best way to save money and hassle.
If skiing is more up your street, try reading our destination guide on Salzburg to discover more about this mountain-side city.