Vienna: A Young Traveller’s Guide
Vienna, Austria, is a beautiful city with a colorful history, it is a cultural center especially for Classical and operatic music and the arts. As the former capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, there are countless Imperial monuments and palaces, many spectacular museums and ornate churches and cathedrals. It is a city of many concerts, a city of dignity and pride. This colorful city has always been one of my favorite destination.
Wiener Riesenrad is a giant Ferris wheel that is located in the Wurstelprater amusement park in Prater, one of the city’s many parks. A ride on this majestic wheel costs just €8 euros (or about $10 US dollars or £6.50 British pounds sterling), but exploring the park and surrounding area is free and gives you a great feel for the city.
For the Classical Music Enthusiast
Vienna is well-known for its Classical and operatic musical heritage. Vienna saw the development and popularity of the “great master composers,” C.P.E. Bach, Gluck, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, and Salieri; and they led the way to the Romantic period of Schubert and others. Vienna is very orientated to this musical tradition.
One of the main attractions in Vienna is the Mozarthaus, the composer’s former residence on Domgasse that is now a museum and small concert venue; it’s most certainly worth the €8 ($10.40, £6.50) student price! Mozart-themed places and events are all over Vienna, and there is a chain of souvenir shops called Mostly Mozart (that sells Mozart chocolates). The Mozart statue at the Hofburg Palace that is a must-see due to the music note made of flowers in front of it, cafés and restaurants named after him, and the Mozart/Strauss concert at the Kursalon that has reasonably priced tickets and many performance options. Haydn, Schubert, Strauss, and Beethoven also have houses/museums dedicated to them throughout the city-there is no lack of Classical music here!
The Wiener Staatsoper, the Vienna State Opera house offers tours for under €5 ($6.50, £4). It’s a beautiful place that is home to some of the world’s best operas and ballets (and the Vienna Philharmonic takes its musicians from its orchestra!). Nearby is the Haus der Musik, the House of Music is a unique museum that has exhibits on the Vienna Philharmonic, the city’s most famous composers, and other multimedia musical topics-for just €9 ($12, £7), this place offers so much that you can’t get anywhere else in the world.
For the History, Art, and Architecture Enthusiasts
If you’re a history or architecture buff, the massive Hofburg Palace will knock your socks off. Not only is it right near some awesome restaurants and Viennese cafés, but it beautiful and enormous. You can tour the Imperial Apartments and the Schatzkammer, the treasury, which hold the Imperial jewels of the Habsburg dynasty. Also check out the Austrian National Library and its four museums and the Spanish Riding School which is home to the famous Lipizzan horses.
There are the Ringstraße (Ringstrassa or Ring Street) twin museums commissioned by the Emperor in order to shelter the formidable art collection of the Habsburg dynasty.
The first is the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Museum of Art History, is one of the richest and massive museums of art in the world. It houses many 18th century paintings by the old masters, collections of Renaissance and Baroque art, and superb Egyptian, Greek, and Roman antiquities collections.
The second is the Naturhistorisches Museum Wien, the Museum of Natural History of Attractions in Vienna, another of the most important and enormous museums of Europe, it is truly spectacular.
Be careful with the admission prices at the Hofburg and museums area complex because hitting so many places will add up. But spend unhurried time in each major museum and observe some of the treasures of our human existence.
For something free, the Burggarten and Volksgarten (parks) on the premises are really nice places to unwind from all of your sightseeing.
The Museumsquartier, Museum Quarter, is a section of the city that is one of my favorites. There you will find the MUMOK and Kunsthalle Wien (for modern art), Leopold Museum (for Austrian art), and Architekturzentrum Wien (for architecture and urban design). The Museum of Applied Arts (the MAK) is also pretty cool to see, and it’s free on Tuesday evenings!