Welcome to Vienna

Guide to Vienna, Austria
"In those first 14 years of the 20th century, Vienna, more than anywhere else, was the fulminating, bewitching crucible where the modern world was invented..." William Boyd

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.


Guide to Vienna, AustriaGuide to Vienna, Austria


The Hofburg Palace

The Hofburg Palace is a lavish, baroque hymn to Imperial majesty, clearly built with no notion that the Habsburg Empire could be finite. more
Michaelerkuppel, 1010 Vienna Herrengasse Burgring

The Opera House

Swarming with ticket sellers dressed uncomfortably in frock coats and powdered wigs, the Viennese Opera was built in 1869 more
Opernring 2, 1010 1010 Vienna 01 5131513 Karlsplatz Karntner Ring, Oper

Museum Quarter

This spacious area houses several of Vienna's most significant museums, and offers a peacefully modern breathing space amidst all the wild Baroque and frantic Rococo of the surrounding streets. more
Museumsplatz 1, 1070 Vienna MuseumsQuartier Volkstheater


Cafe Sperl

The glorious cafes of Vienna are hard to choose between, but for an authentic coffee house that serves more locals than tourists, visit Cafe Sperl. more
Gumpendorfer Strasse 11 Vienna Kettenbruckengasse

Cafe Dreschler

There is something of the Weimar Republic in this Terence Conran-designed take on a traditional coffee house, more
Linke Wienzelle 22 Vienna Kettenbruckengasse


The fabulous Naschmarkt has over 120 stands selling food and drink; and it's the sort of food that makes you want to buy huge bags of gleaming vegetables and packets of searing spices more
Linke Wienzeile, 1040 Vienna Kettenbruckenstrasse

Guide to Vienna, AustriaGuide to Vienna, Austria


Cafe Phil

Drinking here means that someone could buy the chair from under you. more
Gumpendorfer Strasse 10-12 Vienna Kettenbruckengasse

25 Hours Hotel Dachboden

If Barbie's pool party was hosted by the cast of Mad Men, it might look a little like this bar, which sprawls across the top floor of the stylish 25 Hours Hotel. more
Lerchenfelderstrasse 1-3 1070 Vienna Auerspergstrasse Strassenbahnen

Blaue Bar, Hotel Sacher

The elegant bar in the beautiful Hotel Sacher is not for the light of wallet, but for a little taste of Old Vienna, you may want to sink into its padded blue velvet sofas and feel immediately like the subject of a 19th century painting. Everything about this classically designed hotel preserves the best decorative aspects of the city's past like a humidor, and the bar's blue brocade walls and glittering chandeliers are the ideal precursor to a night at the Opera across the road. It will be very expensive; but the experience will be - just- worth it. more
Philharmoniker Strasse 4 Vienna Karlsplatz KarntnerRing



This is the closest it's possible to get to living in Vienna, without moving there. Three young Viennese architects are turning empty shops into hotel rooms, aiming to create 'horizontal hotels' more
Favoritenstrasse 17/3-5 1040 Vienna Taubstummengasse

Hotel Am Schottenfeld

Mid-price 4 star city hotels all tend to resemble the dull, jet-lagged dream of a weary businessman. But the small Falkensteiner chain correctly promises 'city hotels with character.' more
Schottenfeldgasse 74 1070 Vienna Burggasse/Stadthalle Schottenfeldgasse

Grand Hotel Wein

It is indeed grand, in the secure, old-Europe sense that suggests a snowy walk followed by sachertorte in the candlelit salon more
Kaerntner Ring 9 1010 Vienna Karlsplatz

Guide to Vienna, Austria

In The Mood


Waiting For Sunrise- William Boyd

The Morning Gift- Eva Ibbotson

Embers- Sandor Marai



Before Sunrise

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.

Getting Around


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  

More Austria

Holidays in Vienna

Imperial Drama and Fairytale Charm

Waterfalls and Waltzes

A Viennese Whirl and a Dab of Cologne

Mountains, Castles and Forests