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A Guide to Vienna
Vienna is no stranger to illustrious residents; the likes of Wolfgang Mozart, Gustav Klimt and Sigmund Freud have all called the Austrian capital their home at one point. Artistic and intellectual credentials aren’t Vienna’s only showpiece though. The city is a beauty, from its Baroque buildings and extravagant imperial palaces to its stately streets and vibrant public spaces. Feast on crunchy schnitzel and crisp strudel, wander through the stalls of open-air markets, picnic in verdant gardens, and marvel at the treasures inside any one of the world-class museums or galleries. Catch an orchestral performance of a symphony from Schubert, Strauss or Beethoven and be quick to learn why Vienna has earned itself the title City of Music.
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Getting Around Vienna
Vienna’s public transport system is excellent. The network is called Wiener Linien and covers five underground train lines, tram routes and bus services. Many connections operate during the night, too. Single trip tickets are available, in addition to 24-hour, 72-hour and weekly passes. Be sure to always buy a ticket even when you don’t see a ticket barrier, as plain-clothes ticket inspectors frequent many services, are hard to pinpoint and issue fines on-the-spot. Cycling is also a popular way of getting around Vienna and there is a public bike rental system, Citybike Vienna, as well as a number of independent operators.
Travel Tips for Vienna
- Jaywalking isn’t a thing in Vienna. Locals tend to wait for their turn to cross the road and tourists that make the dash across busy lanes of traffic may earn disapproving stares - and even a fine.
- Make reservations at restaurants if possible, or arrive at the more famous coffee houses before 12pm to nab a table.
- Many restaurants don’t accept credit cards so be sure to keep some cash on you when heading out to eat. ATMs can be tricky to find so don’t rely on making the mid-meal dash for cash.
- The city nearly grinds to a complete halt on Sundays and public holidays. Most shops close for trading so stock up on supplies to get you through the weekend.
- Vienna’s tap water comes straight from the mountains and is perfectly safe to drink.
The Best Time to Visit Vienna
As with other major destinations in Europe, summer is peak tourist season for Vienna. Many local Viennese escape the city during summer though and so the streets can become dominated by tourists. Summer is a beautiful time to book cheap flights for travel to Vienna, as hotel prices may be slightly lower and there are so many things to do - relaxing in the parks, attending one of the huge cultural festivals, or nabbing a seat at one of the riverfront cafes. The shoulder seasons - March to May and September to November - bring chillier temperatures and fewer tourists. For those happy to brave the frost and cold, winter is a magical time to visit Vienna. The city is almost deserted of other travellers and the city puts on a spellbinding festive display with Christmas markets, lights and decorations.
Getting to Vienna International Airport (VIE)
Vienna International Airport (VIE) is located in Schwechat, 18 kilometres southeast of the city centre. Travellers just-landed from their cheap Vienna flight can hop aboard the City Airport Train (CAT) and reach Wien Mitte in less than 16 minutes. A one-way fare is less than $20NZD. Another option is taking the express train S7, which runs between the airport and Floridsdorf. This journey can take up to 40 minutes, and the service runs daily between 5am to midnight. There are also a number of bus routes linking the Vienna International Airport with various parts of the city.
Things to do in Vienna
Ride the Wiener Riesenrad
There's no doubt that Vienna is beautiful from the street level, but gain appreciation for its good looks from above by stepping into one of the viewing gondolas of Wiener Riesenrad, the 65-metre tall Ferris wheel at Prater amusement park. From the crest of the wheel, visitors will be treated to a sweeping panorama of Vienna’s cityscape. An adult ticket is 10 EUR.
The glory and power of the royal Hapsburg dynasty becomes evident upon visiting Schönbrunn Palace. Once used as the Hapsburg’s summer residence, Schönbrunn Palace boasts an astounding 1,441 rooms and 300-year old gardens. Visitors to the palace can purchase tickets for several tour variations - encompassing different apartments, rooms and attractions - and tickets are available to see the Gloriette, the Privy Garden and the Maze. The Palace park is also home to Tiergarten Schönbrunn, the former royal menagerie that happens to be the oldest zoo in the world. There are more than 8000 animals from 734 species, from polar bears and giant anteaters to giraffes, pandas and koalas.
Vienna’s Ringstrasse has to be a contender for one of the world’s most beautiful boulevards. It is the address of many of the city’s landmarks, including Hofburg Palace, Natural History Museum and Vienna State Opera. Ringstrasse is 5.3 kilometres long and a leisurely stroll around its circuit takes about one hour. A tram can quickly ferry you between museums or sights, and there are gorgeous parks and cafes to stop off in when your feet need a break from pavement-pounding.