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Frommer's Vienna day by day

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Vienna, Austria is so rich with cultural treasures, so replete with sights and wonders, that visitors are often bewildered by the task of planning a visit. Which of nearly 100 museums to visit? Which of countless theatres and concert halls? With an endless number of celebrated restaurants, cafes, lively taverns, bakeries serving famous pastries, which should one choose? Which classic walks should one take, which suburban palaces and gardens to visit, which of sixteen large and famous parks to stroll?

Frommer's Vienna day by day guidebook solves these conundrums. Its author, Margaret Childs, has lived in Vienna for 18 years. The author of a complete guide to Austria, and of various online guides to Vienna and Salzburg, she has also written for numerous travel magazines, and her knowledge of Austria's capital is awesome.

This portable, tautly-written guidebook contains:

- Itineraries that explore the best of Vienna in one, two, or three days plus thematic tours for to romantics, art fans, architectural enthusiasts, families, film buffs and music lovers.
- Walking tours of the city's best-loved neighborhoods like the Stephansdom District, The Belvedere, Schottenring.
- Hundreds of evocative photos
- Bulleted maps that show you how to get from place to place and a handy fold-out map that comes in a reclosable, attached plastic waller
- Opinionated reviews of hotels, restaurants, shopping, and nightlife for all budgets
- Exact pricing so there’s never any guessing.

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14 FAVORITE MOMENTS

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Belvedere Gardens.

14 Favorite Moments

Like a catchy waltz tune, Vienna makes my heart beat faster. Much more than music and museums, this stately city is constantly reinventing itself. Modern art and vibrant nightlife are as much part of the Vienna of today as the grand concert halls and baroque architecture of its imperial heyday. Amid the pomp and splendor of its stately parks and palaces drifts an air of romance and easy living—a seductive charm at once relaxing yet compelling.

❶ Nibble your way through the culinary world of the Naschmarkt. On any weekday the stalls of the giant Naschmarkt are brimming with fresh fruit and vegetables, spices, meats, cheeses, olives, nuts, and baked goods. There are plenty of cafes and restaurants to grab a full meal, but it can be even more fun to sample as you go. On Saturdays a sprawling flea market promises all kinds of treasures—just get there early, as the best stuff goes fast. See p 17, ❸.

Crack the code of the coffee menu at a legendary Viennese Kaffeehäuser. Viennese coffee houses range from basic, boho, and nicotine-stained to the sophisticated fin-de-siècle grandeur of my favorite, Café Sperl. Many have long literary associations. Coffee-drinking is virtually an art form in Vienna: choose a Melange (coffee with frothy milk); a kleiner or grosser Brauner (large or small coffee with cream); an Einspänner (mocha with whipped cream); a Fiaker (mocha with brandy) . . . the list goes on. See “The Best Dining,” p 109.

 

1 THE BEST FULL-DAY, TWO & THREE-DAY TOURS

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Vienna’s fiaker (horse and buggy) horses.The Best in One DayWhere better to start exploring Vienna than at its historic heart? On this tour you can soak up the architecture and lifestyle of imperial Vienna; admire the Stephansdom (St. Stephen’s Cathedral and national emblem of Austria); discover the best schnitzels in town; dabble in Vienna’s musical identity; and eat at one of the finest restaurants in the world . . . all in a single day. START: Hofburg (U-Bahn 3 Herrengasse).❶ ★★★ Hofburg. Home to the powerful Habsburg dynasty, which ruled Austria for 6 centuries, the grandiose Hofburg buildings provide a remarkable record of Vienna’s imperial lifestyle and architecture at the end of the 19th century. Don’t be put off by the daunting tally of 18 wings, 19 courtyards, and 2,600 rooms. This rambling complex has been neatly packaged into clusters of manageable attractions. The Sisi Museum vividly portrays the moving life of Vienna’s beloved empress, Elisabeth of Bavaria (1837–98). With a collection of her personal effects and accessories, such as gloves and a parasol, visitors get an intimate picture of the empress. There is also a room dedicated to the details of her assassination. The Imperial Apartments include the study, waiting room, and audience room of Sisi’s husband, the Emperor Franz Joseph I (1848–1916). Make sure you don’t miss the Schatzkammer (located in the Treasury, p 30), a glittering hoard of Habsburg jewels amassed over more than a millennium, and the celebrated Spanische Reitschule (Spanish Riding School), where magnificent Lipizzaner stallions perform dance-like exercises and formations. Audio guides for adults and kids are included in the price. 1–4 hr. Hofburg. www.hofburg-wien.at. U-Bahn 3 (Herrengasse). See p 28–31, 44 ❻.

 

2 THE BEST SPECIAL-INTEREST TOURS: Imperial Vienna, Jugenstil Vienna, City of Music, Vienna with Children, Jewish Vienna, The "Third Man" in Vienna, Ringenstasse. Bobo Vienna

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Borromeo—the patron saint of Karlskirche.Imperial ViennaThe Hofburg, residence of the mighty Habsburg dynasty for over 600 years, should be on every visitor’s itinerary. Originally a medieval castle, it was extended by each successive emperor to demonstrate the power and riches of the Habsburgs, until it effectively became a “city within a city.” The resulting labyrinthine complex, and the astounding treasures within it, established Vienna’s reputation worldwide as a place of unrivalled elegance, wealth, and splendor. START: Michaelerplatz (U-Bahn 3 Herrengasse).❶ ★ Michaelerplatz. Layer upon layer of history has been unearthed in Michaelerplatz—the monumental square adjacent to the Hofburg—and Roman remains and medieval foundations have been excavated at its center. Then there’s the grandly colonnaded Michaelertrakt (St. Michael’s Wing) and Michaelertor (St. Michael’s Gate) entrances to the Hofburg, both added by Emperor Franz Joseph in 1893. The fountains on the outer limits of the main gateway (see below) symbolize Habsburg power both on land and at sea. The gigantic copper-clad cupola above the Michaelertor looks especially striking (and photogenic) from Kohlmarkt. The Michaelerkirche opposite, was once the parish church of the Imperial Court. Also in the square, Loos Haus (designed by Adolf Loos) broke architectural boundaries in 1912 with its functional design and unadorned green marble facade (p 34, ❼).

 

3 THE BEST NEIGHBORHOOD WALKS: Stephansdom, Belvedere, Schottenring & Alsergrund, The Museum Quarter

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The controversial Haas Haus, in the heart of the UNESCO–protected old city.Stephansdom QuarterThis is a walk to suit the whole family. It takes you right to the historic heart of Vienna, to the foundations of ancient Roman Vindobona, and to some of the city’s oldest inns and churches. Explore the atmospheric maze of medieval alleyways surrounding Stephansdom, and enjoy the chichi shops of the Graben—as well as the best apple strudel in town. START: Stephansdom (U-Bahn 1/3 Stephansplatz).❶ ★★★ Stephansdom. See p 11, ❸.❷ ★★ Haas Haus. Created by Hans Hollein in the 1980s, this curvaceous building of polished granite, concrete, and glass, which houses a boutique hotel on the 6th and 7th floors, is one of Vienna’s most controversial pieces of modern architecture. Love it or hate it, it offers tremendous views of the Stephansdom from the rooftop bar (6th floor) and restaurant (7th floor). Stock-im-Eisenplatz. U-Bahn 1/3 (Stephansplatz).❸ ★★ Graben. This broad, pedestrianized shopping street was once the town moat, hence the name Graben (ditch). It later became a marketplace and is now one of the city’s finest boulevards. All the buildings date from the baroque, 19th-century, or Belle Epoque eras, and many still bear their K.u.K. (Kaiserlich und Königlich—Imperial and Royal) warrant. The exuberant baroque Pestsäule (Plague Column) in the middle of the street was erected to commemorate Vienna’s deliverance from the plague of 1679. Graben. U-Bahn 1/3 (Stephansplatz).

 

4 THE BEST SHOPPING

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Postcards from Hundertwasserhaus.

Shopping Best Bets

Most Trendy Interior Design

★★★ Stilwerk, Praterstrasse 1 (p 86)

Best for Gourmands

★★★ Meinl am Graben, Graben 19 (p 88)

Best Austrian Designs

★★ Lila, Kirchengasse 7 (p 87)

Best Boutique for Fashionistas

★★ Mode Mühlbauer, Seilergasse 5 & 10 (p 87)

Best Hot-Date Lingerie

★★ Lingerie at Steffl, Kärntner Strasse 19 (p 87)

Best for Chocoholics

★★★ Xocolat, Freyung 2 (Im Passage) (p 89)

Best Quirky Gifts

★★★ MAK Design Shop, Stubenring 5 (p 92)

Best Picnic Supplies

★★★ Naschmarkt, Naschmarkt (p 88)

Most Unusual Shop

★★★ phil, Gumpendorferstrasse 10–12 (p 86)

Most Trendy Concept Store

★★ Kauf Dich Glücklich, Kirchengasse 09 (p 88)

Best for Sleek Porcelain

★★★ Feine Dinge, Margaretenstrasse 35 (p 86)

Best for Maps & Travel Guides

★★ Freytag & Berndt, Kohlmarkt 9 (p 85)

Best Deconstructed sandwiches

 

5 THE GREAT OUTDOORS

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Cooling off near the Karlsplatz fountain.

Stadtpark

Just outside the Ringstrasse, the “City Park” was once open ground outside the city walls. Flanking the Vienna River (Wienfluss), it was laid out in English landscape style in 1862. With expansive lawns, shaded areas, a playground, and a duck pond, it is a popular and tranquil destination just on the fringe of the inner city, for both tourists and locals. START: Stadtpark entrance (U-Bahn 4, Stadtpark).

The Kursalon is the place to hear Strauss waltzes.

❶ ★★★ Stadtpark entrance. The main entrance (off Johannesgasse) is flanked by magnificent Jugendstil portals of carved stone. The chase scene through the sewers at the end of The Third Man movie—one of the most famous in the history of cinema—was produced along the Wienfluss under the bridge here. See p 50.

❷ ★ Statuary. Scattered around the park you’ll find busts commemorating some of the many musicians and artists associated with Vienna—Schubert, Bruckner, and Lehár are here, together with landscape painter Emil Schindler (1842–92) and the hugely influential artist, designer, and “magician of colors,” Hans Makart (1840–84). The park’s most famous tenant, however, is Johann Strauss II. The rather gaudy, gilded statue of the “King of the Waltz” playing his violin near the Kursalon is, without doubt, Vienna’s most famous (and much photographed) statue.

 

6 THE BEST DINING

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The swanky, modern Steirereck im Stadtpark.

Dining Best Bets

Café Sperl is one of the oldest and most popular coffeehouses in town.

Most Eccentric Loos

★★★ Steirereck im Stadtpark, Am Stadtpark (p 121)

Best for Carnivores

★★ The Brickmakers Pub & Kitchen, Zieglergasse 42 (p 116)

Best for Afternoon Tea & Cake

★★★ Demel, Kohlmarkt 14 (p 117)

Best Tafelspitz

★★ Plachutta, Wollzeile 38 (p 121)

Best Neighborhood Italian

★ Disco Volante, Gumpendorferstrasse 98 (p 117)

Best Boho Cafe

★★★ Hawelka, Dorotheergasse 6 (p 118)

Best Meal with a View

★★★ Le Loft, Sofitel Hotel, Praterstrasse 1 (p 119)

Most Traditional Coffeehouse

★★★ Café Sperl, Gumpendorferstrasse 11 (p 117)

Best Fish

★★ Umarfisch, Naschmarkt 76–79 (p 122)

Best Ice Cream

★★★ Eis Greissler, Rotenturmstrasse 14 (p 117)

Best Asian Cuisine

★★★ Mochi, Praterstrasse 15 (p 120)

Best Brunch

 

7 THE BEST NIGHTLIFE

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An evening stroll along Graben Street.

Nightlife Best Bets

Meinl’s beautiful but relaxed wine bar.

Best for Party Animals

★★ passage, Babenburgerpassage, Burgring 1 (p 131)

Best Jazz Club

★★ Porgy & Bess, Riemergasse 11 (p 132)

Best Dinner Club

★★★ Albertina Passage, Opernring/Operngasse (p 132)

Most Creative Cocktails

★★★ Tür7, Buchfeldgasse 7 (p 130)

Best Beer

★ 1516 Brewing Company, Schwarzenbergstrasse 2 (p 130)

Best Gay Bar

★★ Mango Bar, Laimgrubengasse 3 (p 132)

Best Wines

★★ Meinl’s Weinbar, Graben 19 (entrance at Näglergasse 8) (p 129)

Best Dance Club

★★ Grelle Forelle, Spittelauer Lände 12 (p 131)

Best Cocktail Lounge

★★ Roberto American Bar, Bauernmarkt 11–13 (p 130)

Best Dressed Crowd

★★ Motto, Rüdigergasse 1 (p 129)

Best for Romance

★★★ Ritz-Carlton Rooftop Bar, Schubertring 5 (p 129)

Best People-Watching

★★★ Volksgarten, Burgring 1 (p 132)

 

8 THE BEST ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

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Mozart souvenirs.

Arts & Entertainment Best Bets

You’ll find the best acoustics at Musikverein.

Best Acoustics

★★★ Musikverein, Karlsplatz/Bösendorferstrasse 12 (p 137)

Best Jazz Joint

★★★ Porgy & Bess, Riemergasse 11 (p 139)

Best Show for Kids

★★ Lilarum Puppet Theater, Göllnergasse 8 (p 140)

Best “Jungle” in Town

★★ Dschungel Wien, Museumsplatz 1 (p 140)

Best Modern Dance

★★★ Tanzquartier Wien, Museums Quartier (p 138)

The Hottest Ticket in Town

★★★ Staatsoper, Opernring 2 (p 139)

Best Ecclesiastical Sounds

★★ Augustinerkirche, Augustinerstrasse 3 (p 137)

Best Retro Cinema

★★★ Burgkino, Opernring 19 (p 138)

Best Public Viewing

Film Festival Rathausplatz, Rathausplatz (p 138)

Best Chance of Getting Standing-Room Tickets

★★ Volksoper, Währingerstrasse 78 (p 139)

Best Ballet

★★★ Das Wiener Staatsballett, Staatsoper, Opernring 2 (p 138)

 

9 THE BEST LODGING

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Do & Co’s delightful Onyx Bar.

Lodging Best Bets

The Sacher is Vienna’s most historic hotel.

Best Urban Luxury

★★★ Sofitel Vienna Stephansdom, Praterstrasse 1 (p 154)

Best “Beach” Hotel

★★ Strand Hotel Alte Donau, Wagramerstrasse 51 (p 154)

Best Boutique Hotel

★★★ Altstadt, Kirchengasse 41 (p 148)

Best for a Romantic Getaway

★★★ Hollmann Beletage, Köllnerhofgasse 6 (p 150)

Best Spa Hotel

★★ The Ring, Kärtner Ring 8 (p 153)

Best See-and-be-Seen Hotel

★★★ Park Hyatt, Am Hof 2 (p 152)

Best for Families

★★ 25hours Hotel, Lerchenfelderstrasse 1–3 (p 148)

Most Historic Hotel (also Best for Chocolate Cake)

★★★ Sacher, Philharmonikerstrasse 4 (p 153)

Biggest Splurge

★★★ Palais Coburg Residenz, Coburgbastei 4 (p 152)

Best for Design Buffs

★★★ Hotel Daniel, Landstrasser Gürtel 5 (p 151)

Most Eccentric Decor

★★ Kuchlmasterei, Obere Weissgerberstrasse 6 (p 152)

 

THE SAVVY TRAVELER

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Vienna underground.

Before You Go

Government Tourist Offices

In the U.S.: 120 West 45th St., 9th floor, New York, NY 10036 (☎ 1 212 944 6880); 6520 Platt Avenue, # 561 West Hills, California, CA 91307-3218 (☎ 1 818 999 4030). In Canada: 2 Bloor Street West, # 400 Toronto, ON, M4W 3E2 (☎ 1 416 967 4867). In the U.K. & Ireland: 9–11 Richmond Buildings, London, W1D 3HF (☎ 020 7440 3830 or 0845 101 1818). In Australia: 1st floor, 36 Carrington Street, Sydney NSW 2000 (☎ 02 9299 3621). Wherever you live, the best place for information is the official website of Vienna Tourism at www.vienna.info.

The Best Times to Go

The best time to visit is from May to October. May, when the lilac and chestnut trees are in bloom, marks the start of Heuriger season (wine taverns connected to vineyards). June to August, when the days are long and hot, is ideal for lazy afternoons in Vienna’s extensive parks; for swimming and sunbathing at the city’s beaches; and for river trips and watersports on the Danube. However, Vienna can get very crowded at the height of summer, especially during school vacations. September marks the start of the theater season as all the major venues launch their new programs and, in October, the city’s new wines vineyards are toasted in the city bars and country Heurigen. Another popular time is Christmas, when snow has often fallen, festive decorations and lights illuminate the city, and the streets are filled with stalls selling roasted chestnuts, hot punch, and Glühwein (mulled wine). Many visitors come to shop at the Christmas markets or to enjoy the city’s celebrated New Year’s Eve festivities. Whenever you choose to visit, there’s always a superb choice of theater and music, and over 80 museums to provide entertainment for all the family, whatever the weather.

 

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