Welcome to Vienna
The opening line of The Third Man asserts, "I never knew the old Vienna before the war, with its Strauss music, its glamour and easy charm..." But now, with the war itself dissolving from living memory like snow in Spring, Vienna has recaptured that old charm, glamour and music and repackaged it for a new century.
Named the best place to live in Europe for its beauty, its green credentials and its high standard of living, Vienna pulls off the rare trick of seducing its visitors with history whilst functioning elegantly as a modern city. Its old coffee house tradition has never waned- the Viennese still view these grand old cafes as an extension of their homes, a place to meet friends, discuss matters of importance and induct children into the idea of civilised conversation over cake. No one ever suggests take-out coffee in Vienna, it would be as bizarre as a beach fisherman in Barbados wrapping his fresh catch in newspaper.
Culture runs through this sophisticated city like gold through rock, and unlike many European cities, which have come to resemble each other with their bland architectural cliches and global branding, Vienna stands alone in its bold elegance. The home of Klimt, Egon Schiele, Freud, Mahler and the Art Nouveau architect Otto Wagner, this great city of the mind has subtly adapted to modern expectations, with its Museum Quarter, its modern hotels and edgy 21st century boutiques and bars. But a timeless Vienna exists alongside the changes- the city of the Habsburgs, Mozart, the waltz, the opera, the grand Catholic churches and shining horse-drawn carriages is still here; preserved somewhere outside of time.
The Hofburg Palace
The Opera House
25 Hours Hotel Dachboden
Blaue Bar, Hotel Sacher
Hotel Am Schottenfeld
READWaiting For Sunrise- William Boyd
The Morning Gift- Eva Ibbotson
Embers- Sandor Marai
The Third Man
Offenbach: Tales of Hoffmann
Strauss: Best of Waltzes and Polkas- Weiner Philharmoniker
Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man
Don't plan to do anything on a Sunday if it doesn't involve museums- everything will be closed.
If you want to ride the Giant Ferris Wheel made famous in The Third Man, plan to spend an afternoon there- it's in The Prater, an amusement park a couple of miles from the city.
Get a Vienna Card which permits free travel for 72 hours and discounted entry into hundreds of major museums and attractions.
If you want to see a specific ballet or opera during your stay, book in advance- 10 000 seats are sold out in the city's concert halls each evening.
If you're not staying long, book a guided tour. Guides are immensely knowledgeable, and will tailor tours to your interests, including art, architecture, food, and Habsburg history.
Districts 1-9, 15 and 20 are short-parking zones, which are only open throughout the day and are limited to two-hour stays. A lot of parking tickets are pre-paid – whereby you fill in your time once you have parked, and pay accordingly. This can be done in advance at tobacconists.
Vienna has a lot of multi-storey car parks that are exempt from the short-term parking zones. They may charge more for this reason though, and can be up to €2 higher than street parking fees.
Vienna has a famously efficient and prolific public transport system. With trams, U-bahn, trains and buses, and a ticket to validate trips on all of them, it is easy to get around the city. A single ticket is €2, but 24-hour tickets and 48-hour tickets are sold for €6.70 and €11.70 respectively. Weekly tickets can be bought for €15. All tickets can be bought from any station or tobacconist.
Pedal Power delivers bicycles to the hotel or address you are staying at, while CityBike has rental stations throughout Inner Vienna, where bikes can be obtained by credit card alongside a €1 registration fee. The Tourist Information Centre is based at City Hall, Vienna