Sightseeing in Vienna
Vienna is a cultural hub in more ways than one. The capital of Austria, which was the birthplace of such diverse icons from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe to Sigmund Freud to Arnold Schwarzenegger, is certainly rich in culture, but its 1,900-year history makes it even more interesting. Modern Vienna is a mixture of old Habsburg-era architecture and modern venues.
Hofburg Palace (Photo by Mike Woolley)
The House of Habsburg ruled Austria for more than 700 years. Some of the family’s medieval homes and castles still exist to this day, and one of the most enduring is the Hofburg Palace (Michaelerkuppel A-1010 Vienna, +43 1 533 75 70, website), which was the home of the Habsburgs until 1918, right at the end of World War I. The enormous complex is home to two museums and the Imperial Apartments, allowing the visitor to catch a glimpse of palatial lifestyle in the Middle Ages.
Imperial history is even further honored at the Schönbrunn Palace (Schönbrunner Schlossstrasse 47, 1130 Vienna, +43 1 811 13 239, website), which had its beginnings as a summer residence for the imperial family. The Schönbrunn grounds eventually evolved from a hunting lodge during the 1600s to a palatial domain. It was named a World Cultural Heritage Site in 1996, a tribute to its longevity and its legend. It is also one of the most visited sites in Vienna.
Schönbrunn Palace (Photo by Steve Montgomery)
Seeing the city
Tourists can get a breathtaking view of the entire city with a visit to the Danube Tower (Donauturmstrasse 4, A-1223 Vienna, +43 1 263 35 72, website). This 352-meter structure is called “the concrete needle” and is certainly a wonder. Visitors can take in a beautiful panoramic view of the city in its rotating café or its famous observation deck. Opening in 1964, it has become a dominant part of the Viennese skyline.
St. Stephen’s Cathedral
One of the most famous landmarks in Vienna is St. Stephen’s Cathedral (Stephansplatz 3, 1010 Vienna, +43 1 51552 3526, website). This is a functioning church, and has been since it was built in the 12th century. This medieval structure is a prime example of Gothic architecture, having been restructured in 1359. Although it is still a church, guided tours are available. The South and North Towers offer a view of the city, and the church bells usher Austria into each New Year.
St. Stephen’s Cathedral (Photo by Wugging Gavagai)
An afternoon of fun
There are many theme parks in the world, but few hold the heritage of the Prater (Prater 123, 1020 Vienna, +43 1 729 20 00, website). You can visit this site for an afternoon of fun and activities, riding the different rides and experiencing the various attractions. The Giant Ferris wheel, built in 1896, is a stunning ride and one of the most famous in the Prater. Its diameter of about 60 meters ranks it as one of the biggest Ferris wheels in the world. However, the park has more than enough rides to last a lifetime, and the Giant Ferris Wheel is just the beginning.
Prater (Photo by fortysix_vie)
The Lipizzaner breed of horses are surely a delight to the avid equestrian, and the Spanish Riding School (Michaelerplatz 1, A-1010 Vienna, +43 1 533 90 31, website) is certainly the place to go for such an equestrian treat. For over 400 years, these horses adorned in white have been part of an elaborate horse ballet, and these stallions certainly have proven to be some of the most captivating in the city. A visit to this venue certainly deserves to be on the agenda of any journey to Vienna.
Spanish Riding School (Photo by Ellen Williams)
Touring made easy
The Vienna Card makes touring Vienna easier and more convenient. Not only does this card offer discounts to many venues, but it also gives the tourist unlimited free transportation for 72 hours to various points within the city. It is valid for four days, certainly enough time to visit many of the excellent attractions in Vienna. You can order the Vienna Card at the airport, train stations, or online.
Indeed, any trip to this magical city, famous for its music and sights, is sure to be a delight to anyone who wishes to take in medieval European culture. Travelling to Vienna is like going back in time, celebrating both the imperial and the modern.
- Address: Michaelerkuppel A-1010 Vienna
- Tel: +43 1 533 75 70
- Opening hours: September to June—9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; July and August—9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
- Ticket prices published on website
- Address: Schönbrunner Schlossstrasse 47, 1130 Vienna
- Tel: +43 1 811 13 239
- Opening hours: April 1st to June 30th and September 1st to October 31st —8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.; July 1st to August 31st—8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m; November 1st to March 31st—8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Ticket prices published on website
- Address: Donauturmstrasse 4, A-1223 Vienna
- Tel: +43 1 263 35 72
- Opening hours: Observation deck—Monday to Sunday 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Restaurant—Monday to Sunday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 11 p.m.; Café—Monday to Sunday 10 a.m. to 11 p.m
- Cost: adults—5.90€; children—4.30€
St. Stephen’s Cathedral
- Address: Stephansplatz 3, 1010 Vienna
- Tel: +43 1 51552 3526
- Opening hours: Monday to Saturday 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Sunday and public holidays 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.
- Guided tours: Monday to Saturday 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Sunday and public holidays 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
- Cost: one adult and one child 14 years old and below—14.50€; seniors 60 years old and above—12€; students—12€
- Address: Prater 123, 1020 Vienna
- Tel: +43 1 729 20 00
- Opening hours: 24 hours a day; opening hours for rides vary
Spanish Riding School
- Address: Michaelerplatz 1, A-1010 Vienna
- Tel: +43 1 533 90 31
- Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Fridays during performance 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
- Closed Mondays except in May, June, September and October
- Varying ticket prices published on website
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