The Capital of Austria, Vienna has majestic monuments and palaces, elegant avenues, splendid museums and much more… Here are just a few of the many reasons to fall in love with this city.
When you enter the courtyard, the palace looks like a painting, with its yellow bricks and green shutter. It was formerly the imperial summer residence; about 100 years ago the Empress Elisabeth, famously called “Sisi”, used to frequent the palace. The audio-guide tour is fascinating, allowing you to discover some of the 1,414 rooms which constitute the palace. The interior is luxurious, filled with paintings and elaborate furniture, provoking vivid images of life back in the 1850s.
The best way to discover the gardens and the Gloriette is by foot, but you can also enjoy a delightful horse-drawn carriage ride or take a mini-train ride. From the Gloriette, you get an amazing panoramic view of the main palace and of the city of Vienna.
Before you leave, I highly recommend a visit to the lovely Imperial bakery where you can watch the “Apple Strudel Show”, a live demonstration by the bakers hard at work preparing the famous pastry. You will learn how original Viennese apple strudel is made while you enjoy a delicious slice for yourself!
Visit Schönbrunn Palace on Travel Department's Vienna City Break
Shopping in Mariahilfer Straße
Mariahilfer Straße is the longest shopping street in Vienna. The nicest part of the street starts at the Museumsquartier and stretches to the Westbahnhof (about 30 mins walk). A lively and mostly pedestrianised street, this is the perfect place to go if you're looking for gifts or souvenirs, or if you just want to walk along and browse the shops as the locals do. If you get hungry, you'll find plenty of restaurants, fast food outlets and cafés along the way. Shops can become crowded on Saturdays or during Christmas time, but as the street is relatively wide it rarely feels too busy.
If you have the chance to go to Austria during the Christmas season, you will certainly come across some of their magical Christmas Markets. There are about 25 different markets to choose from in Vienna, including two of my favourites:
Schönbrunn Palace Christmas Market - The market here is majestic, with a huge Christmas tree placed right at the centre. Here you will find handmade Christmas decorations, among other local gifts and crafts. If you start to get cold, you can drink a local Glühwein (mulled wine) and eat Kasespatzle, a kind of homemade pasta tossed with onion and Emmental cheese.
Spittelberg Christmas Market - Though much smaller than the market at Schönbrunn Palace, Spittelberg market is also far less touristic and a lovely place to browse market stalls. Situated in amongst the small streets next to the Volkstheater, you can also enjoy nearby shops and historic buildings while you soak up the area's wonderful atmosphere.
Visit these beautiful markets on Travel Department's "Vienna Christmas Markets" Holiday
Vienna State Opera
On a visit to the majestic Opera House, you will come to understand why Vienna is often referred to as the "City of Music". Guided tours are held almost every day, offering the chance to enter the beautiful Tea Salon, the impressive Marble Hall and, if there is no rehearsal, you can even go onto the stage! The Opera House hosts about 70 productions per year, has a capacity of more than 2,200 people, and employs over 1,000 staff on a full-time basis.
You cannot leave Vienna without experiencing one of its vintage coffeehouses, a real institution in Viennese culture. Enjoy some piano music at the Café Central, eat a slice of the Original Sacher-Torte (chocolate cake coated with apricot jam) in Café Sacher, and watch authentic cake baking and decorating in the famous pastry shop, Demel.