Vienna tourist information
Vienna is the capital of Austria as well as being a province in
itself. It is the largest city in Austria, bi devided by the beautiful
River Danube, and is only 40 km from the borders of the Czech Republic.
It is a large and sprawling city but much of its sights are contained
within a small area bordered by the Danube canal, and a semicircle of
elegant boulevards, the Ringstrasse, from which roads radiate to other
parts of Vienna. Outside the ring, Vienna is not unlike other capital
cities, however, the Ring itself and the city within this Ring are
astonishingly unique. This is due to Vienna's importance within the old
Austro-Hungarian Empire. Here you will find grand and elegant baroque
masterpieces of architecture and town planning. Perhaps for the first
sightseeing trip you make in Vienna it would be best to take a standard
sightseeing tour around the city. The public transport system is
excellent or take a traditional horse-drawn carriage, a 'Fiaker'.
Because there is so much of interest to see in Vienna, it is impossible
to cover it all unless you plan to stay for some time. Remember to stop
for coffee every so often, impressive cafes include, Cafe Demel, Cafe
Central and Cafe Imperial. Vienna is divided into 23 districts. The
inner town, the first district, is the most important. It is surrounded
by the Ringstrasse. Each section of the Ringstrasse has a different
The one in the very centre of the city is the Opern Ring, the others are
the Schotten, the Karl Lueger, the Dr. Karl Renner, the Burg, the
Kaerntner, the Schubert, the Park, and the Stueben Ring. These take in
two-thirds of the Old Vienna.
The other third is bounded by the Franz Joseph Kai along the Danube
Canal. The Opera House, a magnificent structure, is located where the
Kaerntnerstrasse, the main shopping district meets the Opern Ring.
It was rebuilt after extensive war damage and reopened in 1955. The
building was designed by the famous Austrian architect van der Null.
Another must is a visit to the National Library, one of the largest in
the world. this contains a collection of papyri comprising 81,000 items,
1,200,000 printed books and a fabulous collection of manuscripts. The
oldest known part of an illustrated Christian Bible is here too, as well
as many other interesting early books and manuscripts. There is a music
collection containing 19,000 volumes of printed music and 12,000 music
manuscripts, a huge library and a collection of autographs.
Other places of interest to the tourist in Vienna are the Kapuziner
church in whose crypt lie 144 Habsburgs (12 were emperors and 15
empresses), the House of Parliament and the University of Vienna. Nearby
are the Minoriten Church, the Chancellery and the Votive Church. There
are also countless art galleries, museums and parks. 50 percent of
Vienna is green - not the ecological kind but parkland. Take in, too, a
visit to some of the houses where well known composers have lived, like
Mozart, Beethoven, Strauss Jr and the house of Sigmund Freud where you
can see the very couch where his patients gave him the material to base
his theory upon.
But Vienna is no playboy city. The busy capital of Austria and a
province in itself, it lies on both sides of the Danube.It is large and sprawling, but
most sights and tourist attractions are contained in a small area
bounded by the Danube Canal and a semicircle of elegant boulevards, the
famous Ringstrasse, from which roads radiate to other parts of Vienna
like spokes from a hub.
Outside the Ring, Vienna resembles many another capital; but the Ring
itself and the city within it are unique. Grandiose baroque masterpieces
reflect the might of the old Austro-Hungarian Empire. Yet they are
conceived with such a rare sense of beauty and love of fine
craftsmanship that even the most florid decoration or pompous pose seems
simply an overflow of exuberance.
And the astonishing becomos normal. So vast is the Hofburg complex of
buildings that there is little surprise when a street passes through a
covercd courtyard with a painted ceiling; nor do red plush balcony-rails
and crystal chandeliers inside the palace seem incongruous with white
Lipizzaner stallions performing elaborate figures and movements beneath
A splendid view of the city can be obtained from the tower of the Gothic
St Stephen's Cathedral, rebuilt with much skill after wartime
Among Vienna's many important or attractive buildings, most of them
fairly close together, are the Burg Theatre; the Kunsthistorisches and
Albertina Museums, with their fine art collections; and the Hofburg,
which contains, as well as the Chapel where the Boys' Choir sings, and
the Spanish Riding School, the magnificent royal apartments, crown
jewels, and art treasures; together with the Opera House, Parliament,
Rathaus (City Hall), and University.
But these and other Viennese buildings are best viewed from ground
level, so that the many dignified, passionate, or pious statues that so
often crown their parapets can be seen gesturing to the heavens, their
words left to the imagination. No self-respecting Viennese skyline is
complete without a spirited horse, a fine figure in flowing robes, or at
the very least an angel. Throughout Vienna carved angels froth over
balconies, flutter past facades, and alight on fountains - they are
almost as numerous as London pigeons.
The principal shopping streets in Vienna are Karntnerstrasse, Graben,
and Kolhmarkt (all near St Stephen's), and Mariahilferstrasse from near
the Ring to beyond the Westbahnhof. Good buys are antiques, Dirndls,
Lederhosen, and leather goods of all sorts, petit point, Augarten
porcelain, woodcarving, and many other kinds of Austrian craftwork.
Sachers will post their famous Sachertorten to any address.
many restaurants with every price and almost every variety of cuisine.
Most are excellent value. The beer-cellars usually have much character
and serve good, reasonably priced l food. Viennese coffee in its many
forms ~ is invariably delicious, and a thriving I cafe-life is a
Viennese tradition. The patisseries are famous. Sachertorte is
probably the best known of many succulent cakes and pastries. In summer,
open-air restaurants in the Vienna Woods, although not always cheap, are
a special feature.
There is always something entertaining to do in and around Vienna. The
splendid Schonbrunn Palace (about i g min. from the Ring by tram) is a
breathtaking reminder of Vienna's past glories. The Prater amusement
park between the Danube and the Danube Canal offers light relief. And a
trip on a Danube water-bus can provide a refreshing change.
Weather in Vienna (in degrees Fahrenheit):