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Say hello to Vienna: Exploring Austria’s culture capital with world-class museums, coffee houses and more

VIENNA — If Wiener schnitzel, fairytale palaces and elevated coffee culture are some of the things that come to mind when you think of Vienna – you wouldn’t be wrong.

The Austrian capital, home to nearly two million people, is an explosion of imperial grandeur and a city packed with great opera houses and museums.

But by the same token, it also has a modern city vibe with walkable streets, an efficient metro system, and top-notch rail access to European gateways.

And the best part is? If you’re short on time, you can easily experience every facet of this walkable city in just a few days.

Vienna’s allure goes far beyond its fabled one-of-a-kind coffee houses and 100+ museums. As you wander the city, you discover a perfect celebration of the city’s past and present through delicious food and beautiful Baroque buildings with plenty to do indoors and out.

Touted as Europe’s cultural capital and built high and mighty on the riches of the 600-year Habsburg Empire, it’s no surprise that Vienna boasts a long and colourful history shaped by a profusion of palaces, architectural marvels, unrivalled art and legacy music.

Top this with expansive parks and gardens sprawling along the banks of the Danube and over 1600 kilometres of cycling routes, Vienna (‘Wien’ in German) is a city on the move, and it’s easy to see the attraction.

Say hello to Vienna: Exploring Austria’s culture capital with world-class museums, coffee houses and more

Upper Belvedere (credit WienTourismus – Christian Stemper)


While home to a treasure trove of world-class museums and galleries, opting for some lesser-known hidden gems is just as exciting and worth visiting, minus the crowds.

Off the beaten path is The Theatre Museum which showcases the magic of the stage through a diversity of theatre genres and features ever-changing exhibitions that draw on the museum’s extensive archives.

At the same time, the MAK (Museum of Applied Arts) combines past and future design, art and architecture located in the MuseumsQuartier, a vibrant hub for Vienna’s largest contemporary art district.

While there, make your lunch stop at MAK’s in-house restaurant, Salonplafond, a perfect eatery featuring an inventive take on Austrian cuisine. The Wiener schnitzel and white asparagus is a can’t-miss!

Not be overshadowed are Vienna’s two notable palaces, both significant attractions. Be prepared to be overwhelmed by the sheer opulence and grandeur that will take you back in time.

Belvedere Palace, a magnificent Baroque palace once home to royalty, marks an extraordinary 300-year milestone this year. It consists of two complexes (Upper and Lower Belvedere), Palace Stables and the Orangery.

While strolling around the impressively landscaped grounds, you can admire the sculptures, tiered gardens and wrought iron gates.

Today it houses some of Austria’s most valuable art collections, including Gustav Klimt’s most well-known work, The Kiss.

The other not-to-be-missed palace is the stunning former summer residence from the Habsburg era, Schoenbrunn Palace (translated as ‘beautiful spring’).

Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and for a good reason, the Rococo-style 1,441-room palace boasts grand rooms and expansive gardens complete with a maze.

Say hello to Vienna: Exploring Austria’s culture capital with world-class museums, coffee houses and more

Schloss Schönbrunn / Schoenbrunn Palace

Another of the absolute best things to do in Vienna is to catch an intricate ballet performance of the world-famous Lipizzaner stallions at The Spanish Riding School.

Say hello to Vienna: Exploring Austria’s culture capital with world-class museums, coffee houses and more

Spanish Riding School, Lipizzaner (photo credit WienTourismus – Paul Bauer)

Or meander through J.& L. Lobmeyr, a six-generation family glassware and chandelier company that once supplied the imperial House of Habsburg. This year they celebrate their 200th milestone.


When ready for a break from culture-tripping and some outdoor activity, head to the Tiergarten Schonbrunn Zoo -another checklist item (spoiler alert – it’s incredible!).

Spread across a 17-hectare site with over 7,000 species of animals, the Schönbrunn Zoo, known for its imperial charm, is notably the oldest in the world and sits on the summer palace grounds.

Not only can you see penguins, orangutans and African elephants here, not to be outshined are the natural star attraction: the giant pandas, Yang Yang and Yuan Yuan.

Say hello to Vienna: Exploring Austria’s culture capital with world-class museums, coffee houses and more

Schonbrunn Zoo’s Yang Yang and Yuan Yuan


Coffee aficionados will rejoice thanks to the numerous one-of-a-kind coffeehouses that share a place in Viennese history. For locals, it’s about more than just the coffee.

Among the many well-known Viennese coffeehouses is the Gerstner, a family coffee house established in 1847.

Spread over an impressive three-storey building with beautiful opulent parlour rooms, it’s a perfect setting to duck into, sip a melange (similar to a caffè latte) and enjoy a slice of Vienna’s celebrated three-layered chocolate cake, Sachertorte.


While Vienna may not initially spring to mind when you think of wineries, it’s actually the only city in the world where vineyards flourish within the city’s borders.

September marks the arrival of harvest season, and the city’s locals flock to the vineyards and heurigers. Viennese heurigers in the wine-making region are legendary wine taverns serving up local wine and homemade food.

An excursion to the tradition-steeped Mayer am Pfarrplatz winery is a heuriger with a remarkable past; it was where Ludwig van Beethoven once lived.

With great views, good wine, and a hearty meal, visiting a Viennese heuriger is the perfect local combination experience. Prost!

Say hello to Vienna: Exploring Austria’s culture capital with world-class museums, coffee houses and more

Stammersdorf vineyards (photo credit WienTourismus – Paul Bauer)


Undoubtedly, Vienna will forever be linked to music.

For over 250 years, it’s celebrated and enjoyed its reputation as the world’s City of Music and no wonder. Europe’s greatest composers, including Beethoven, Mozart, Schubert, and Strauss, lived and worked in Vienna.

Hang out in the central square (Stephansplatz) near the imposing St. Stephen’s Cathedral and within minutes, a young person dressed in 18th-century garb will hand you a flyer advertising classical music concerts.

Experiencing a classical concert or opera is an unmissable thing to do. After all, it is Vienna.

The Orangery Schonbrunn offers year-round musical events and performances, and, along with your concert ticket, you can purchase a dinner package with a three-course traditional Viennese dinner at a nearby restaurant.

Orangery Schonbrunn Concert Hall (photo credit Travelweek)


Say hello to Vienna: Exploring Austria’s culture capital with world-class museums, coffee houses and more

Hotel Beethoven, Vienna

Centrally located, the chic hotel built in a 1902 historic building is family-run by owner Barbara Ludwig today.

With a connection to Vienna’s culture and influential Viennese personalities, each of the six floors is designed to reflect original reproductions and limited editions of whimsical historical wallpaper, stage sets and playbills, photographs and Beethoven himself.

The cozy breakfast room earns top marks for its expansive tasty buffet.

And right off the lobby is the Ludwig Bar, where apart from enjoying a drink from a hand-picked cocktail menu by day, by night, it transforms into a dinner club with music.

Beethoven would have approved.


Say hello to Vienna: Exploring Austria’s culture capital with world-class museums, coffee houses and more

Elisabeth Wolf, founder, Artissimi Tours and Travel


Founded in 2015 by Elisabeth Wolf, Artissimi Tours and Travel offers expertly curated tours and experiences in Vienna, ranging from gallery walks in and around Vienna to artist workshops with programming from individuals to groups of up to 100.

The agency’s team provides flexible guides in several languages and will work with advisors to create that unique client experience.





The Vienna City Card, available in increments of 24/48/72 hours, provides the perfect access to the city’s public transit system and discounts on museums and attractions.

Travel advisors looking to enhance their Vienna product knowledge can become Vienna specialists via the Vienna Tourism Organization e-learning program.

For additional resources related to Vienna, advisors can visit

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