On September 5, 2012Joseph Reaney answered the question:It may not be the country’s capital, but Zurich has more to see and do than any other Swiss city. Here are the Forbes Travel Guide editors’ tips for the five best things to see and do in Zurich:
1. Explore the Fraumünster. A Gothic church dating back more than 1,000 years, Fraumünster is one of the highlights of the Old Town. Along with its tower visible for miles and wonderful frescoes, the church is famous for its five large stained glass windows, installed by modernist master Marc Chagall in 1970.
2. Learn about Dadaism. The Dada art movement – conceived as a “protest against the madness of the times” – started in 1916 in the Cabaret Voltaire nightclub on Spiegelgasse. Today, the former cabaret it is filled with exhibitions, a bar and a small library.
3. Head into nature. In Zurich, nature is never too far away. Head to Lake Zurich for a boat trip, hike up the Uetliberg mountain for a panoramic view of the city, or go in search of diverse wildlife in the Sihl Forest.
4. Visit the Kunsthaus. Zurich has more than a dozen art museums, but the most significant of these is the simply titled Kunsthaus (Art House). It’s famous for its collection that includes works by the 18th-century Swiss painter Henry Fuseli and the 20th-century Swiss sculptor Alberto Giacometti.
5. Catch a show. Zurich has a full and varied cultural calendar, so every visit will offer different events. For a guaranteed high-quality show, visit the Opera House (for opera and ballet), the Tonhall Orchester (for classical concerts) or the Schauspielhaus (for traditional theatrical productions).
On September 5, 2012Joseph Reaney answered the question:Vienna is home to a wealth of wonderful museums, whether focused on grand ideals or specific niches. Here are Forbes Travel Guide’s editors’ five favorite Vienna museums:
1. The Sigmund Freud Museum. Located in the former practice and apartment of the pioneering psychoanalyst, this is the place to learn all about Freud through thousands of displayed artifacts, photos, books and documents.
2. Funeral Museum. It may sound like an odd attraction, but any anthropologist will tell you there’s a lot to be learnt from a culture’s burial customs – so these thousands of exhibits related to local funerals, burial rites and funerary art throughout history will tell you all you need to know about the Viennese.
3. Albertina. This enormous museum is home to one of the best art collections in the world, with more than a million old master prints, 65,000 drawings, graphical works, photos and architectural drawings. Expect masterpieces by the likes of Chagall, Klimt, Miró, Monet, Munch and Toulouse-Lautrec.
4. Schnapps Museum. More of a distillery tour than a museum exhibition – although it is home to a number of displays of historic production utensils, furniture and recipes – this living and breathing building is still busy producing such tipples as William Pear Brandy, Absinthe Mata Hari and Wiener Blut Liqueur.
5. Mozart’s Birthplace. You don’t have to be a classical music aficionado to find an in-depth exhibition about the origins of Mozart fascinating. Filled with his childhood belongings, including his first violin and viola, a pair of early keyboards and a lock of his hair, it offers a valuable insight into a musical prodigy.
On September 5, 2012Joseph Reaney answered the question:To remember your time in Vienna, you’ll want to pick some interesting souvenirs to take home with you. Here are Forbes Travel Guide’s editors’ favorite things to bring home from Vienna:
1. Gustav Klimt print. His signature painting ‘The Kiss’ may appear on all sorts of tourist trinkets in the city, but that doesn’t change the fact that Gustav Klimt was an exceptional modern artist. Celebrate his work by taking home a print of one of Klimt’s innovative Symbolist paintings.
2. Manner wafers. These famous hazelnut-cream-filled wafers have been made in Vienna since 1898 and are loved around the world; you’ll find unique variations at the Manner Store on Stephansplatz.
3. Some Mozart music. Few visitors to Vienna leave the city without a newfound appreciation of the genius of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart — so spread the word at home with some recorded renditions or sheet music.
4. Sacher-torte. It’s Vienna’s greatest culinary gift to the world, so why not pick up an original Sacher-Torte from the Café Sacher to take home?
5. Third Man memorabilia. If you’re a film buff you’ll already know that the 1940s film noir The Third Man — perhaps the greatest British movie of all time — is set in Vienna, and you can still find interesting memorabilia on sale here today.
On September 5, 2012Joseph Reaney answered the question:Vienna has a long and varied culinary heritage. Here are Forbes Travel Guide’s editors’ five Vienna food experiences you simply have to sample:
1. Wiener Schnitzel. The clue’s in the name: these tasty veal escalopes — pounded thin, coated in bread crumbs and fried — are a genuine Viennese specialty. Enjoy it with a squeeze of lemon juice and the potato salad the always come on the side.
2. Tafelspitz. A mouth-watering local delicacy, the most typical Tafelspitz is a big pot of beef stewed in broth with root vegetables and spices, then served up with minced apples and horseradish.
3. Street sausages. The traditional fast food here is the humble sausage, and you can buy hot ones at ‘Würstelstands’ throughout the city. Forbes Travel Guide editors heartily recommend the super tasty Wiener Würstel (AKA Frankfurter).
4. Sacher-Torte. Arguably the world’s most famous chocolate cake, Sacher-Torte — a soft fluffy chocolate cake with a thin layer of apricot jam under the chocolate icing — was invented by Franz Sacher in 1832. While it can be enjoyed at any eatery in the city, you can’t get any more authentic than the original Café Sacher.
5. Kaiserschmarrn. First prepared for Austrian Emperor Francis Josef I, this popular dessert is torn up pieces of caramelized pancake, sprinkled with sugar and served with hot plum compote.
On September 5, 2012Joseph Reaney answered the question:Vienna may be best known for its café culture, but the Austrian capital also has its fair share of traditional beer taverns, swanky wine bars and contemporary cocktail joints, with the highest concentration of them in a cobblestoned corner of the city known as ‘The Bermuda Triangle.’
The city is also home to some world-class nightclubs, from pop and disco clubs like Volksgarten and U4 to indie rock and electro-havens like Flex and Chelsea. However, the real draw of Vienna after dark is the live music scene: not only the underground venues like Jazzland and Tunnel but the grand classical music venues like the Konzerthaus and the Musikverein. For an unforgettable evening, try a nighttime classical concert in a dramatic church setting or even in the open-air.
On September 5, 2012Joseph Reaney answered the question:Vienna is far too large to see in one day, if you start early, finish late and are happy to do plenty of walking, Forbes Travel Guide editors say you can take in most of the Altstadt (Old Town).
Start your day inside St. Stephen’s Cathedral in the heart of the city: a 12th century house of God with one of the most beautiful interiors in Vienna. Climb the high south tower for a spectacular panoramic view of the city, then come back to earth for a quick bakery breakfast in Stefansplatz.
From here, head south through the shopping district to see the imposing Staatsoper — Austria’s leading opera house and a prime example of French Renaissance-style architecture — then head across the Burggarten to take in the Hofburg Palace Complex. The winter palace of the all-powerful Hapsburgs (Habsburg in Vienna) is far too large to see in one day, so choose between the Kaiserappartments (Imperial Apartments) and the stunning Schatzkammer (Imperial Treasury). If you want to spend a little longer here, you can also visit the Augustinerkirche (Augustinian Church). Regardless, you can then break for lunch in the nearby Café Tirolerhof on Führichgasse.
In the afternoon, take in some more Old Town sights, like the spectacular Jesuit Church and the magnificent Burgtheater, or you can head just outside Vienna to experience the MuseumsQuartier and its plethora of fantastic exhibitions. Either way, finish the day back in the heart of the Old Town, with an authentic meal at the historic Esterházykeller, a quiet cocktail in the upmarket Dino’s and, if you still have energy, a long night of dancing in Volksgarten Disco.
On September 5, 2012Joseph Reaney answered the question:From designer fashions to Christmas gifts, Vienna has spectacular stores and boutiques to suit every shopper. Here are a few of Forbes Travel Guide’s editors’ favorite shops in Vienna:
Fashion. Vienna’s main shopping street is Mariahilfer Strasse (or ‘Mahü’, as it is affectionately dubbed by locals), and this is home to a number of major department stores and small fashion boutiques. But other fashion shopping options include Ringstrassen-Galerien – home to upmarket clothing, shoes and jewelry — and the nearby Steffl department store, which is ideal for all your designer brands.
Souvenirs. It may seem like most city souvenir shops sell the same stuff — tacky t-shirts, novelty mugs and bottles of Mozart chocolate liqueur. But there are more authentic options out there. For example, you can head to one of the capital’s many flea markets for some Austrian antiques, or explore the districts of Wieden and Margareten for some contemporary Viennese style in the form of funky homeware.
Markets. Vienna is famous for its markets: not only for the permanent stalls to be found in places like the historic and sprawling Naschmarkt but also for the temporary markets (from arts and crafts to fruit and veg) that pop up in the city’s major squares throughout the year. Come late in the year to experience the renowned Viennese Christmas Markets — and take home some stunning gifts.
On September 5, 2012Joseph Reaney answered the question:Vienna has a wide and eclectic range of child-friendly attractions. Here are Forbes Travel Guide’s editors’ five kid-friendly picks for what to do in Vienna:
1. Play and discover. Vienna’s ZOOM Kindermuseum is one of the best kids’ museums in the world, offering hands-on, child-powered fun while also surreptitiously teaching them a thing or two about the world.
2. Hop on a rollercoaster. Head to the northwest corner of Prater public park and you’ll come across Wurstelprater – a family-friendly amusement park that boasts rollercoasters, carousels and a Ferris wheel.
3. Head up the Donauturm. One sure way to entertain kids is with a trip in a high-speed elevator. Visit this 252-metre-high observation tower beside the river and ride the elevator to the top in less than a minute for stunning views of the city and the opportunity to dine in a revolving restaurant.
4. Take a ride in a carriage. It may be touristy, but a ride through Vienna in one of the city’s traditional horse-drawn ‘fiaker’ carriages is an experience the kids will not soon forget.
5. Visit the zoo. Vienna is home to the oldest zoo in the world, the Tiergarten Schönbrunn and it’s the perfect family destination. You’ll find all the usual suspects, including elephants, sharks, big cats, and polar bears, but the undoubted highlights are the zoo’s three adorable giant pandas: Yang Yang, Long Hui and their offspring Fu Hu.
On September 5, 2012Joseph Reaney answered the question:Vienna is one of the world’s great cultural capitals, so there are countless things to see and do. Here are Forbes Travel Guide’s editors’ five favorite things to see and do while in Vienna:
1. Explore the Museumsquartier. As one of the largest cultural districts in the world, Vienna’s Museumsquartier has a collection of collections that could fill several days in any tourist schedule. But if you’re short on time, focus on the contemporary art galleries – the Leopold Museum and the MUMOK.
2. Attend a Viennese ball. If you’re visiting the capital during ‘the season’, which runs from January until early March, slip on your finest togs and spend an evening Viennese waltzing in one of the city’s spectacular ballrooms.
3. Stroll through a cemetery. It may sound like an odd tourist haunt, but the city’s gigantic Zentralfriedhof is more a relaxing park than a cemetery, and the perfect place to escape from the city. The 19th century graveyard also happens to be the final resting place of musical maestros Beethoven, Brahms and Schubert.
4. Visit Schönbrunn Palace. The first-seen façade of Schönbrunn can often disappoint visitors, but head around to the south side for a far more impressive sight – then head inside to be swept off your feet. You should also spend time within the palace’s lovely Tyrolean gardens, with its pristine lawns, hills and follies.
5. Walk around the zoo. Vienna’s Schönbrunn Zoo was opened in 1752, making it the oldest public zoo in the world – and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Two-and-a-half centuries later it remains one of Europe’s finest animal attractions.
On September 5, 2012Joseph Reaney answered the question:Stockholm is a completely different experience depending on when you visit, yet every season has its charms.
The summer period between June and August can be surprisingly warm, with temperatures up to the mid-20s (high 70s Fahrenheit), so this is the ideal time for sightseeing. The warm weather is ideal for strolling the city’s streets, enjoying live concerts in its many parks, taking a swim in the sea and hopping on an island cruise. And with the sun visible almost all day long (it tends to disappear for around an hour each night, although the sky still remains light), you can enjoy all this anytime you like.
The winter period, meanwhile, is quite different. It’s almost always dark (the sun appears for just a couple of hours) and bitterly cold (average temperature of minus three), it can be depressing for some. However, the snow-covered Old Town looks just beautiful at this time of year, and the city’s Christmas markets are some of the best in Europe. So as long as you wrap up warm and take a flask full of cocoa with you, a winter tour around the city can be immensely enjoyable.
Spring and autumn, meanwhile, are the quietest times to visit, mainly because both seasons can be quite rainy and are therefore not particularly popular with tourists. However, in a city with as much nature as Stockholm, watching the flowers bloom or the trees change color can also be lots of fun — and you might feel as though you have the Swedish capital all to yourself.
On September 5, 2012Joseph Reaney answered the question:Stockholm is full of vacation memories just waiting to be bought, packaged and shipped home. Here are our Forbes Travel Guide’s editors’ favorite things to bring home from Stockholm:
1. Clogs. Take a look (or just a listen) around and you’ll soon see that huge numbers of Stockholmers are wearing clogs — and that’s because the city is famous for its clip-clopping footwear. You’ll find them sold throughout the capital, and in more fashionable (and comfortable) forms than you probably imagined.
2. Dala Horse. Known as ‘Dalahäst’ in Swedish, this traditional carved, gaily painted equine statuette is not only a beautiful, traditional toy but also a national symbol, making it the perfect Stockholm memento.
3. Tobacco. It may seem like an unusual souvenir, but chewing tobacco is incredibly popular in Scandinavia, and Sweden is one of the best places in the world to pick some up. The city is also renowned for its pipe tobacco, in case you happen to know a pipe smoker.
4. Housewares. Sweden is famous for its cool designer pieces for the home, and there are outlets across the city selling innovative designs of almost anything you can image. Pieces by Sagaform and Kosta Boda are particularly stunning.
5. Björn Borg fashion. For fans of the dashing Swedish tennis player, it may disappoint you to learn that the Björn Borg Concept Store does not sell memorabilia about the tennis great. However, it is named after the Swedish maestro, and is renowned for selling the country’s most popular design of underwear.
On September 5, 2012Joseph Reaney answered the question:The Swedish capital has a unique culinary heritage that splits opinions – for some, the traditional fare is a culinary tour de force, while for others it’s a bit limited. But you’ll never know until you try. Once you’ve sampled the local spirit called akvavit, here are Forbes Travel Guide’s editors’ five favorite food experiences:
1. Meatballs. It’s a cliché, but the fact is that the Swedes make meatballs like nobody else. You can pick up a plate of the things, served with mashed potatoes, lingonberry-jam and pickled gherkins, almost anywhere — and it’s one of the few traditional dishes that is almost universally liked.
2. Pickled herring. There’s no denying that it’s an acquired taste, but you can’t leave Sweden without sampling the traditional pickled herring — usually served with boiled and seasoned potatoes.
3. Gravlax. You’ll find salmon on every Stockholm menu, served variably grilled, baked and boiled, but the most traditional way to eat it is in the form of ‘gravlax’ — raw salmon, cured in salt, sugar and dill and served on crisp bread.
4. Berries. The Swedes love berries, so don’t leave the country’s capital without knocking back a handful of blueberries, lingonberries and cloudberries. You can even head north to pick your own.
5. Swedish pancake. Don’t miss out on the local pancakes. More like the French crepe than the American pancake, this breakfast treats are served with jam as a dessert with a variety of savory fillings.
On September 5, 2012Joseph Reaney answered the question:Whatever you like to drink, Stockholm has you covered. From historic beer halls like Pelikan, to the inexpensive beer and cider bars of Götgatan, to the trendy and pricey permanent Icebar Stockholm in Vasaplan, there are plenty of drinking options.
The fun doesn’t stop when the bars close either, as Stockholm is also filled with late-night clubs and music venues. With most of the after-dark action centered around the nightlife district of Stureplan, head here for everything from enormous mega-clubs like Sturecompagniet and the popular Spy Bar to elegant spots like Ambassadeur, which is divided into three venues that offer different music and décor. There are also great live music venues like Debaser Medis and Hornstull Strand dotted throughout this part of town.
On September 5, 2012Joseph Reaney answered the question:Stockholm has more than enough attractions to fill a week. But if you only have a single day to experience the Swedish capital, there are a few attractions that Forbes Travel Guide editors recommend you move to the top of your list.
Spend your morning wandering the small winding streets of Gamla Stan (Old Town) — one of the best-preserved medieval city centers in the world. You can enjoy breakfast in a cozy Stortorget café, shop in the area’s many handicraft and antiques shops and, most of all, take in a selection of tourist sights, from the elegant Stockholm Palace to the medieval Riddarholmen Church.
Depending on the weather, spend your afternoon either enjoying the city from the water on a sightseeing boat or exploring the most intact 17th century ship on earth at the Vasa Museum.
When (or if) the sun goes down, head to the spectacular Restaurant Mathias Dahlgren for the finest gourmet meal in Sweden, then spend your evening discovering the many bars and clubs of the nearby Stureplan district. Finally, end your night with a sobering dip in the bracing Baltic Sea — or perhaps just your hotel pool.
On September 5, 2012Joseph Reaney answered the question:Whether you’re a fan of designer fashion or modern furniture, you’ll find it in Stockholm. Here are the areas Forbes Travel Guide editors’ top picks for the best shopping in Stockholm.
Stockholm’s premier fashion shopping street is the pedestrian-only Drottninggatan, where you can find everything from big name brands to second-hand stores. However, there are also big shopping malls and department stores dotted around the city, including Nordiska Kompaniet (which boasts popular international brands), Store Stockholm (which specializes in small Swedish designers) and PUB (which has a heady mix of both — and is the city’s oldest department store).
Head to any city center stand and you’ll find cheesy souvenirs varying from Viking statues to cuddly reindeers. But the best souvenir to pick up in Stockholm is designer housewares. You’ll find them at stores like DesignTorget, Room and Asplund, which selling truly innovative, useful and stylish things for the home. Forbes Travel Guide editors recommend hand-blown glassware by chic designer label Kosta Boda.
Hötorget (Hay Market) square is one of the city’s most popular shopping hubs, with an outdoor market selling hot food, books, flowers and arts and crafts, plus an indoor market selling fresh produce. However, Stockholm has other great city market options, including Östermalmshallen (a historic hall selling meat and fish, cheese and sweets) and the minimalistically titled ‘Street’ – where designers and artists sell their handcrafts. At Christmas, you’ll also find a festive market in Stortorget Square.