Walking around the city
In the heart of modern Europe, Vienna preserves its imperial character. One of the most central parts of the city is Saint Stephen’s square (Stephanplatz) with the homonym gothic sanctuary. It is worth the trouble if you have time to climb the 342 steps of the southern tower in order to enjoy the view and admire its bell, Pummerin, as the Viennese call it. This church bell was manufactured by the cannon balls from the Turkish siege in Vienna (1683), in 1711. It tolls in special occasions such as Christmas, Easter, New Year and on Saint Stephen’s name day.
Walking along Kärtnerstrasse, you will not only have the opportunity to shop but also breathe some of the atmosphere of a different era, when the city used to dance with Strauss’s violin. You will reach the Opera house and the so called Ring that forms the historic centre. From there you can board on a tram and enjoy the ride or walk through the wide streets that are full of trees. On this route you will encounter the Viennese Town Hall, the twin museums of Natural History and the History of Art and between them the monument of Empress Mary Therese. On the opposite site you will see the National Library, the winter Palace, Hofburg (today the seat f the government) and the famous Spanish Imperial Riding School (Sapnische Hofreitschule).
Worth Visiting – Sights
1. Palaces and Parks
- Surely you will have heard of Schönbrunn Palace, which is the summer Palace. It was built after the original in Versailles, France. The oldest zoo of the world is a part of the imperial resident’s garden. The summer Palace garden conceals many small sights, such as the house with the palms (Palmenhaus) which is the biggest in Europe. In case you like labyrinths there is one in the garden, as well as a Japanese garden. Line U4 of the underground takes you there.
- The Belvedere palace and park, in baroque style, were shaped in the 18th century from Prince Eugene, who became known in history for his contribution against the Ottoman attacks. Inside the park you will admire thousands of domestic and exotic flowers and plants. The palace’s premises operate as a museum and hosts seasonal exhibitions, but its pride is the biggest collection worldwide of Klimt’s work.
- The Museum of History of Art hosts the imperial collection of works of art and one of the biggest collections worldwide. Important works of Rubens, Rembrandt, Dürer, Tizian are housed here.
- Across the street you can see its twin, the Museum of Natural History.
- In Albertina you will admire important paintings of Dürer and Klimt. The contemporary works of Monet and Picasso are also included. Apart from the permanent collections of the museum some seasonal exhibitions are being housed as well.
- The Museumsquartier is lodged in the old imperial stables, the headquarters of many exhibitions and happenings. Many different cultures and civilizations are housed in here.
- The museum of Modern Art, known as MUMOK, dedicated in the revolutionary period the 60s. Next to it, the Leopoldsmuseum, the house of expressionism works of art. Moreover from its windows you will enjoy a unique panoramic view. The current exhibitions of the international artistic scene are housed in the Kunsthalle, the art chamber. It is worth tasting the coffee at the Museumsquartier as well as the Center of Architecture that is lodged there.
3. Discovering Vienna
- Near Schwedenplatz you will find some stairs that will lead you to the old Greek quarter, where the Saint Trinity church and the characteristic road “Greeks’ street” are located.
- To monument for the holocaust from World War II is in Judenplatz, the Jews’ square, near the Am Hof square.
- An important building of the city is the extraordinary and multicolored Hundertwasserhaus, which was designed by the homonym artist.
- Prater with its enormous Wheel constitutes one of the supreme symbols of the city, along with Saint Stephen church.
- In case you are planning to travel to Vienna around Christmas you will experience the city’s transformation from a European city to a fairy tale setting. You will discover the Christmas markets (Christkindlmarkt) in many corners of the city. Some of the most famous are that of the Town Hall, Schönbrunn, Am Hof and Spittelberg. Equivalent markets are found in spring and before the catholic Easter.
Food and Coffee
In Vienna the coffee has a tradition with an imperial aroma. Visit the central Café Landmann on Ring (the ring that embraces the old city centre). From its establishment in 1873 it has been the hangout of the Viennese intellectuals, such as Sigmund Freud, as well as of the artistic world, such as Marlene Dietrich.
Kleines Café in Franziskanerplatz transmits a bohemian atmosphere in its small interior. In the summertime the frequent costumers make a journey back in time inside the medieval setting of the square.
One of the most famous cafes of the Viennese culture is the Cafe Altwien (Bäckerstraße 9) in the heart of centre, only a few minutes from Saint Stephen’s metropolis. It is also recommended for its cuisine that offers sausages and goulash.
Almost next to it you will find the restaurant Figlmuller. Renowned for its Schnitzel it gathers the lovers of the imperial Viennese culture and good domestic wine.
After a few minutes walking you will reach Griechenbeisel, metaphorically: the Greeks’ hangout place, Am Fleischmarkt, where traditional Viennese dishes are served. They say that it is the oldest restaurant of the city since it exists since 1447.
If you prefer eating your dinner with a view, then the restaurant that is found on Danube’s Tower (Donauturm) will satisfy you by providing a panoramic view of the entire city.
Means of Transport
Vienna has a complete network of public transport, if you prefer to travel by bus, tram or metro. There are also some transportation means at night, but with less frequent schedules. You will almost never need a taxi, because public transportation reaches even in the most distant parts of the city.
We recommend choosing the 24, 48 or 72-hour cards instead of buying one way tickets.
Single Ticket : 1,80€
24 Hours Ticket: 5,70€
48 Hours Ticket: 10€
3 Days Ticket: 13,60€
7 Days Ticket: 14€
From September 2010 five underground lines will be operating 24 hours a day, Fridays, Saturdays and the days before every holiday.
For those who love shopping therapy, Mariahilferstrasse, is the biggest commercial street of the city, where you will find all kinds of people and all kinds of budgets. Kärtnerstrasse, Karynthion’s street, is a street full of haute couture and elegant jewelry. But even if you do not have the right budget for these shops you can evade in the reasonable prices shops that are not a minority in this street.
[Editor: Konstantina Zoehrer]