If you’re classical music fans, European history buffs or art and architecture aficionados, a trip to Vienna will be your personal recipe for bliss. The city quite possibly possesses the biggest cache of cultural treats of any city in Europe. It’s filled with gorgeous paintings and era-defining architecture from the Gothic, Baroque and Art Nouveau periods. And the city that gave the world Mozart and Beethoven remains a center for soul-stirring musical performances.
When you need a break from absorbing so much culture, you can chill out at one of Vienna’s famous coffee houses or dine on scrumptious local specialties like schnitzel and light and refreshing Austrian wines.
Before You Go: Need-to-know info
Flight time: 8 1/2 hours from NYC
When To Go: Vienna at its best
Best weather: Late spring and early fall are the periods that show off Vienna to its best effect — average highs are in the mid-60s and the air is crisp. The city can get uncomfortably hot in July and August, and very cold (30 degrees is typical) in the winter, although it has a picturesque “winter wonderland” feel around the holidays.
Best prices: The winter months after the holidays (January, February, early March) will be the most affordable times to visit.
What To Do
Feast your eyes: At the Hofburg Complex you’ll find a collection of museums containing treasures of the Hapsburg era, as well as breathtaking architecture. At the more modest Vienna Museum you can delve into the city’s rich history, and if you tire of pre-20th century work pay a visit to the Museumsquartier grouping of modern and contemporary museums, or the MAK museum of applied and contemporary art.
Feast your ears: Vienna is world-renowned for the heavenly music composed and performed within its city limits. Each Sunday morning you can hear the Vienna Boys Choir perform at the Hofburg Complex, and a trip to the Vienna State Opera is a necessity. A wide range of operas are performed in the stunning Baroque opera house, and if you find German opera frightening, not to worry — they also perform the work of more accessible Italian composers like Giuseppe Verdi and Giacomo Puccini. At the Haus der Musik (House of Music) museum you can learn more about the city’s musical past and try your hand at composing and conducting, via cool interactive features.
Travel on two wheels: Scenic bicycle paths traverse the city and bikes rentals are inexpensive and widely available. Vienna is a compact city, so you can reach almost anyplace you want to go in thirty minutes or less by bike. When you need a break you can ditch your bike outside one of the city’s many coffeehouses for a jolt of caffeine, or a cafe for a glass of quaffable Austrian wine like Gruner Veltliner.