Vienna - Austria
Austria flaunts its heritage in exuberant fashion. Vienna has jewel-box palaces and Mozart melodies. The sparkling Alps and problems like Maria naturally still have their place in Austria’s heart, but dig deeper and you’ll discover Stone Age settlements, Roman archaeological sites and medieval festivals. In the country where Mozart composed and Strauss taught the world to twirl, you won’t need to search hard for culture – it waltzes right up to you. Vienna is definitely one of the cities you can explore endlessly, due to the abundance of cultural heritage, historical places, outstanding architecture, unique atmosphere, great coffee, schnitzels and strudels, and of course, classical music. Besides outstanding views, Vienna offers wonderful smells and sounds. Getting Around: Purchase a Vienna Card on arrival (approx 20 Euro). It is Austria’s best selling visitor card giving you 72 hours unlimited travel on the subway, bus and tram as well as 210 discounts and special concessions throughout the city in a number of museums, exhibitions, tours, cafes and shops. Besides metro, trams, buses, taxis and bicycles, there is one specific means of transportation you won’t miss in Vienna: plenty of horse-drawn carriages. They are organized in lines in the most popular central places, waiting for their turn to make a city round. Because most of Vienna’s attractions are so compact it’s very easy to do a self guided walking tour starting at the State Opera House and ending at Burggarten Park. The actual walk is 1.6 miles, taking around one hour but allow 5-6 hours for sightseeing on the way. The walk takes in the Albertina Museum, former home of Maria Christina, the only one of Marie Antoinette siblings who was allowed to marry for love, Kärntner Strasse, a very busy pedestrian street lined with great shops and places to eat, St Stephens Church, and Mozart’s Vienna Home (although Salzburg is most well known for being where Mozart was born and lived, he also lived in Vienna), the Spanish Riding School and Hofburg Palace overlooking Burggarten Park. Another attraction is Hundertwasser House, an apartment house designed by a famous Austrian artist and architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser. It’s one of Vienna’s most visited buildings. Though rather controversial, Hundertwasser’s creation is brave and bright, in a way, reminiscent of Antonio Gaudi’s heritage. No strict rules or monotony, but a creative freedom and interesting philosophy instead. The roof of the house is covered with earth and grass, and large trees grow from inside the rooms, right from the windows. Hundertwasser house contains 52 apartments, 4 offices, a number of terraces, and a total of 250 trees and bushes. Vienna is famous for its cafes and confectionaries. Check out legendary "Demel" a famous pastry shop and chocolatier, founded in 1786 and moved to its current location in 1857 where it is still located in its original building. Apfelstrudels or Nussbeugels, hot milk or any variety of coffee, the aromas are so tempting that you just find yourself indulging in coffee and sweets. A tour of Vienna is not complete without a visit to the Vienna State Opera house which is as magnificent outside as it is inside. Its history dates back to the mid-19th century. There are two ways to see the world famous opera house. One way is to participate in the tours organised by professional guides inside the Opera and see the building, listen the history, go up on the stage and visit the main hall. The other way, of course, is to get yourself a ticket and attend an evening performance (September-June). Seating tickets are sold in Vienna from exactly two months ahead of the date of the performance and range from € 10, (some of those have limited or no view) to € 240. Generally speaking, the cheaper seats sell faster than the expensive ones, but beware of seats at the rear of side boxes which only have a view if you stand on the narrow platform in front of your raised seat! Almost 600 standing room tickets at € 3, and € 4, are sold 90 minutes before the performance starts . If you want to stand right behind someone who paid €150 for the seat, you'll have to queue much earlier. If you just want to get in to listen and to see the public rooms at less than half the price of a guided tour, you have a good chance of getting a ticket without queuing for long. The Schönbrunn Palace (Schloss Schönbrunn) is a little bit out of the city, but it's worth the trip. It's very easy to get there with the metro but choose a nice day, without rain, so that you can enjoy not only the palace itself, but also the surrounding park. The entrance to the park is free, you have to pay only if you want to see palace's interior. The interior of the palace is really amazing and the information provided by the audioguide very good and accurate. You can then go out and walk and get lost inside the park or walk up the up hill and enjoy the palace view from the Gloriette. There is also the oldest zoo (Tiergarten) in the world in the palace grounds and a magnificent glass and iron building with tropical trees and plants. For an in-depth experience of Schönbrunn, try to cover palace, gardens, palm house and the zoo on a day. This is busy, but feasible. If you are intending to visit Vienna around this time of the year, you must not miss the Vienna Christmas Market. The Christmas Markets began in the late Middle Ages in what is now Germany. The markets are held outdoors and all the vendors have wooden stalls and sell food, drinks, Christmas items and crafts. There are also performances of traditional singing and dancing. Austrian Airlines team up with Air New Zealand and Thai Airways to offer earlybird fares to Vienna from $2089.00, on sale until 8 November. From Vienna they fly on to 60 destinations in Europe for the additional cost of government taxes. Call us for unbiased advice, expertise and experience PLUS we are now an AA Smartfuel retailer so swipe your card and save on your fuel.