With its intriguing blend of imperial tradition and contemporary creativity, the Austrian capital has established itself as a leading European destination. Vienna is perhaps unusual in its identity as it is not only the capital of Austria, but also one of its nine federal states. The city offers a combination of bustling city living and beautiful parkland; divided into 23 districts, (and divided by the beautiful Danube River) woods, parks and gardens account for approximately half its area, creating the perfect blend of the energetic and the sublime.
Vienna International Airport operates directs flights to 177 destinations in 69 countries, and air travellers can reach the city centre in just 16 minutes aboard the City Airport Train (CAT) making it the perfect destination for business meetings and conferences, romantic trips away and family holidays. With over 400 hotels, 7,400 bars and restaurants and more than 100 museums, galleries and public exhibitions, and a thrilling annual calendar, a trip to Vienna is sure to inspire, amaze and captivate the spirit again and again.
Imperial Romance and World-Class Art
Vienna owes its universal appeal to its combination of Imperial nostalgia and a creative cultural scene, cultivating its traditions whilst simultaneously adopting the latest trends. Architecture dating from Imperial times has left its mark on the city; stunning facades, particularly from the Baroque, Ringstrasse and Art Nouveau periods, were built on such a grand scale and so painstakingly preserved it is easy to forget that this is the capital of just a small republic.
Yet it is not only the city’s architecture that has an influence on its beauty – Vienna also boasts world class museums and galleries, resulting in a rich artistic legacy. The Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien (Museum of Fine Arts) houses the world’s largest collection of paintings by Bruegel, whilst the world’s largest collection of works by Gustav Klimt (including The Kiss) and the precious works of Egon Schiele are exhibited at the Belvedere and the Leopold Museum in the MuseumsQuartier. The MuseumsQuartier, a cultural attraction of international standing located in the city centre, opened in 2001; this complex, built around the former Imperial Stables, houses five museums and a number of attractive restaurants and cafés.
Close to the State Opera House, the Albertina houses the world’s largest collection of graphic art, spanning 60,000 drawings, some million prints and an extensive collection of photographic and architectural material. And now visitors can further enhance their museum experience by enjoying delicious cuisine in the Albertina’s Do & Co restaurant after attending one of the exhibitions.
City of Music – Traditional & Modern
Vienna is undoubtedly a city of music and the arts. Boasting 50 theatres, including four opera houses and several stage musical theatres, the Viennese calendar is packed with renowned drama, music and dance festivals, making Vienna one of Europe’s leading centres for culture.
No other city has been home to so many composers of international success. Some, such as Schubert, Strauss, Schoenberg and Berg, were born in Vienna, whilst others, including Mozart, Beethoven and Mahler, chose to make it their home, a legacy that can be explored at the Vienna Symphony Orchestra (undoubtedly one of the world’s finest) or at the Theater an der Wien, Volksoper and Kammeroper theatres. A concert performed by the Vienna Boys’ Choir is a must for any music lover; first established in the Middle Ages, the choir’s new state-of-the-art concert hall, MuTh, is located in the Augarten Park, and visitors can enjoy numerous performances throughout the year.
However, music in Vienna is not merely limited to classical. A unique and inspiring way to enjoy music can be found at the House of Music, an interactive discovery museum located in the 1st District. Visitors become virtual conductors and composers as they explore a new way to listen and learn about sound. And of course, in 2015 the whole world will look to Vienna when it proudly hosts the 60th Eurovision Song Contest, welcoming the finest musical acts from across Europe and celebrating strong cultural relations.
150 years of the Ringstrasse
From military grounds to showpiece boulevard: Vienna’s Ringstrasse celebrates the 150th anniversary of its opening in 2015. Its magnificent late 19th Century mansions and public buildings have made it an impressive procession of Vienna’s best sights.
The history of the Ringstrasse begins on 20 December 1857, when Emperor Franz Joseph ordered the fortifications surrounding Vienna’s city centre to be demolished, and for a boulevard complete with showpiece buildings to be constructed on the grounds in front of the old walls and towers which had previously been used by the military. The biggest public construction project in Vienna’s history, the Ringstrasse formed a link between the city centre – dominated by the Imperial residence and the palaces of the aristocracy – with the surrounding districts inhabited by the middle and lower classes. At the same time, this huge development met the demands created by a rapidly growing population. Finally, the construction of the Ringstrasse marked the transformation of the capital from the historic residence of the Habsburg monarchy to a European metropolis.
About 800 buildings line the boulevard today, and Ringstrasse provides the backdrop for various large-scale events throughout the year. Highlights include the world-famous New Year’s Concert by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra at the Musikverein, the Music Film Festival on Rathausplatz in summer and live opera broadcasts on the big screen outside the Vienna State Opera. In September Rathausplatz hosts the biggest prize in equestrian sport when the Global Champions Tour comes to Rathausplatz for the Vienna Masters. The square also sets the stage for Vienna Ice World from January to March when it is transformed into an ice skater’s paradise.
Vienna will celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Ringstrasse with numerous events in 2015.
First Class Accommodation in the First District
The best luxurious accommodation in Vienna is found in the heart of the city. You’ll find exclusive hotels especially along the Ringstrasse, where many elegant former palaces can be found. It is here in the 1st district that discerning visitors can find a wealth of five star accommodations, including the Grand Hotel Wien (the first luxury hotel to open in Vienna), the Bristol and the Marriott Vienna, in addition to the Imperial, the Sacher Wien, the Le Méridien and the Palais Coburg Residenz. The Ritz-Carlton took up residence in several refurbished Ringstrasse mansions in 2012, and was joined in 2013 by the Palais Hansen Kempinski Vienna which likewise occupies a traditional building on the same street. The new Hotel Park Hyatt Vienna opened in a painstakingly restored historicist property in the first district in 2014.
The Sofitel Vienna Stephansdom is located on the left bank of the Danube Canal in a spectacular high-rise designed by star French architect Jean Nouvel. And the Meliá Vienna (opened February 2014) has moved into Austria’s tallest building, the 250 metre, Dominique Perrault-designed DC Tower 1 in the 22nd district. The hotel restaurant and the bar on the top two floors promise truly breathtaking views of the city below.
Since spring 2014 visitors to the city have had the opportunity to stay in an outstanding imperial setting. An apartment in the east wing of Schönbrunn Palace has now been converted into a 167 square metre suitefollowing a carefully-monitored refurbishment project. In addition to Maria-Theresia chandeliers, stucco work and imperial damask in the style of the Habsburg’s former imperial summer residence, the Schloss Schönbrunn Suite offers stunning views of the Schönbrunner Schlosspark and Neptune fountain.
Vienna’s attractions go beyond the traditional. Anyone looking for high-end international designer fashion will find what they are looking for at Firis, Chegini, Sterngasse 4 and Amicis, where gems from Dries van Noten, Jil Sander, Tom Ford, Givenchy, Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga, Stella McCartney, Chloé and countless other designers line the racks. A number of up-and-coming Viennese designers also have stores in the First District; highlights include couturiers Michel Mayer and Schella Kann, accessory specialist Robert Horn, and luxury shoemaker Ludwig Reiter. Traditional hat maker Mühlbauer has some of high society’s biggest names on its books including A-list celebrities such as Madonna, Brad Pitt, Lady Gaga and Kate Moss.
But bespoke Viennese handcraftsmanship with an A-list following is just one side of the story – all of the world’s most sought-after luxury brands have set up shop in the Austrian capital. Top international labels such as Chanel, Cartier, Gucci, Burberry, Dolce & Gabbana, Hermès, Giorgio Armani and Tiffany have made a name for themselves in exclusive shopping streets of the historic First District, and Kohlmarkt and Graben in particular. Completed in summer 2014, the Goldenes Quartier adjoining Kohlmarkt and Graben is a welcome addition to Vienna’s burgeoning luxury shopping scene. Located in a complex of historic buildings linking Tuchlauben and Am Hof, the development brings an additional 11,550 square metres of luxury store space to the capital and brands including Alexander McQueen, Bottega Veneta, Brioni, Emporio Armani, Etro, Louis Vuitton (with Europe’s second largest LV Maison), Miu Miu, Mulberry, Pomellato, Prada (with its largest store in Europe. )
Viennese cuisine is revered across the world. With an emphasis on time-honoured traditions, complemented by modern ideas of innovation, visitors can get a taste of Vienna whether dining in the city’s top restaurants or authentic bars.
The capital’s dedication to outstanding cuisine is evident, with nine restaurants acknowledged by the Michelin Guide. Two of Vienna’s restaurants boast two stars each; Steirereck in the Stadtpark is synonymous with a modern and gourmet approach to Viennese cuisine, and this world-class restaurant was awarded two stars by the Michelin Guide and holds 16th place in the ‘World’s 50 Best Restaurants’ 2014 awards. The Silvio Nickol Gourmet-Restaurant at the Palais Coburg also picked up two Michelin stars; with one of the best wine lists in Europe and a menu dedicated to enthralling the senses, guests are taken on a gastronomic journey of incredible proportions.
In Vienna, luxury manifests itself in simple everyday pleasure such as a trip to one of the capital’s coffee houses – Vienna’s coffee house culture was included in the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list in 2011. The city’s coffee houses are the ideal place to take time out for yourself, catch up with old friends, or simply browse through the papers. There are around 150 of these luxurious places in Vienna, complete with marble tables, Thonet bentwood chairs and waiters in black tie. And finally, for those who wish to sample local flavours, the legendary food store and delicatessen Meinl am Graben in the 1st District carries a full range of gourmet products for travellers to take home and savour long after their trip has ended.
Vienna – the City of Wine
Wine is an integral part of Vienna – just like St. Stephen’s Cathedral, Schönbrunn Palace and the Vienna Boys’ Choir. Vienna is the only world capital to produce significant quantities of wine within the city limits, and wine cultivation is one of its hallmarks. But there is more to Viennese wine than that – it is an economic factor, a defining element of the urban image, a contribution to the urban ecosystem but also to people’s wellbeing – for both the Viennese and the guests to this city. For years wine was almost only associated with theheuriger, the typical Viennese wine tavern, but in the meantime it has almost become a household word. Vienna is becoming ever more established as a wine-growing region; each year Viennese wine is the central focus of numerous events and has become a fixture in many wine bars, wine shops and inns of the city. In short: Viennese wine is readily available and can be enjoyed at many spots in the city.
Traditionally, Viennese wine is drunk at the heuriger. Today’s wine tavern law goes back to an ordinance issued by Emperor Josef II in the year 1784 –it allowed wine growers to serve wine produced in their own vineyards. A place where the Viennese heuriger wine is offered can be recognised by the “Ausg’steckt” sign and the fir branch which also indicates that the tavern is open. These two symbols also guarantee that only self-produced Viennese wines are served here. The relaxed atmosphere, the gardens on the edge of town, the good wine and the tasty delicacies make the heuriger a popular destination for a diverse public.
Vienna is the perfect setting for special occasions. The Liechtenstein City Palace of Old Town is a particularly stand out venue; following a major restoration project, this High Baroque mansion has been restored to its former glory and now tells an architectural story spanning centuries with its intricate stucco ceilings, Neo-Rococo interiors, priceless silk wall hangings, original furnishings and beautiful parquet flooring designed by Michael Thonet. The magnificent state rooms can be hired for special events – the absolute highlight is the opulent ball room on the second floor.
The Tempel, the innovative glass venue that sits on the roof of the DO & CO Hotel Vienna, can be hired for parties of up to 12, providing a unique and intimate meeting space framed by panoramic views of St. Stephen’s Cathedral. Art Lovers can enjoy after-hours access to the Albertina Museum before your refined evening concluded with sparkling wine and canapés at the Imperial state rooms, whilst the Palais Daun-Kinsky, built in the early 1700s, is the perfect choice for those seeking a wedding venue of epically romantic proportions; catering for between 20 and 180 guests with in-house catering, stand out features include frescoed ceilings, mirrored walls and the grand staircase – the most intricate example of Baroque architecture.
And when the time finally comes to leave the city, what better way to travel to the airport than by limousine. Part of Vienna International Airport’s VIP package, this exclusive service also includes check-in at a priority VIP terminal as well as use of a private salon, baggage service and individual transfer to the aircraft. The VIP service is also available to incoming guests.
The Vienna Tourist Board is always of service, providing such information as city maps, hotel guides, museum directories, monthly calendars of events, gastronomy tips and other useful information, all available in a variety of languages. The central Tourist Information Office of the Vienna Tourist Board is located just behind the Vienna State Opera at Albertinaplatz (corner of Maysedergasse, 1010 Vienna. ) In addition to general information and assistance in obtaining hotel accommodations, this information centre also offers entrance tickets, last minute tickets for cultural events, and free Wi-Fi, daily from nine am until seven pm.
The Vienna Card is the ideal option for ardent sightseers. Costing just EUR 18.90 for the 48-hour card or EUR 21.90 for the 72-hour card, it is rover ticket guaranteeing not only unlimited public travel but also a number of intriguing discounts, including over 210 price reductions and special deals, from discounted museum admission to shopping offers. The card is available for purchase from a number of Vienna hotels, the Tourist Information office, various travel agencies and public transportation sales desks and online.
Tel: +43-1-211 14-0