What are the five best things to see and do in Vienna?

Joseph Reaney

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 December 4, 2012
    Joseph Reaney answered the question: Joseph Reaney

    What is the best way to see Vienna in one day?

    Vienna is far too large to see in one day, but 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, 2012
    Joseph Reaney answered the question: Joseph Reaney

    What are the five best museums in Vienna?

    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, 2012
    Joseph Reaney answered the question: Joseph Reaney

    What is the best thing to bring home from Vienna?

    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.
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  • On September 5, 2012
    Joseph Reaney answered the question: Joseph Reaney

    What are the five best Viennese food experiences?

    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, 2012
    Joseph Reaney answered the question: Joseph Reaney

    Where is the best nightlife in Vienna?

    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, 2012
    Joseph Reaney answered the question: Joseph Reaney

    What is the best way to see Vienna in one day?

    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, 2012
    Joseph Reaney answered the question: Joseph Reaney

    Where is the best shopping in Vienna?

    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, 2012
    Joseph Reaney answered the question: Joseph Reaney

    What are the five best things to do with kids in Vienna?

    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, 2012
    Joseph Reaney answered the question: Joseph Reaney

    What are the five best things to see and do in Vienna?

    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 July 16, 2012
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    Where are the five best places to eat in Vienna?

    Vienna has been called the culinary capital of Central Europe. From cutting edge eateries with fine dining to coffee houses serving fresh pastries, you’ll find it in the Austrian capital. Here are Forbes Travel Guide’s editors’ pick for the best places to eat in Vienna:
     
    1. Steirereck. The best restaurant in Vienna, and one of the top dining experiences in the world, Steirereck is run by head chef Heinz Reitbauer and serves up some incredibly inventive and exquisite dishes. Forbes Travel Guide editors recommend the wild boar’s head with Purple Haze carrots, pineapple and buckwheat.
     
    2. Esterházykeller. The best budget eatery in the city, this historic restaurant (originally opened in 1683) serves up traditional Austrian cuisine, from meat-heavy mains to sweet desserts.
     
    3. Kim Kocht. If you’ve had your fill of schnitzel, then head to Kim Kocht for something completely different — a fusion of Asian cuisine cooked to your personal preferences. Kim Kocht creates an outstanding Peking duck.
     
    4. Wienbotschaft. Unique among the city’s gourmet restaurants, Weinbotschaft serves only 100% organic dishes. Although this inevitably means options are limited, everything on the menu is superb quality.
     
    5. Fabios. Probably the best Italian restaurant in the city, this gourmet eatery also serves up cuisine from around the Mediterranean. The price-to-quality ratio also makes this one of Vienna’s best deals.
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