Vienna is a great city destination for all travellers with limited time because the majority of its greatest attractions and landmarks can be visited in just two or three days. Vienna’s appealing architecture abounds with diverse styles, encompassing Gothic, Baroque, Secessionist and other significant movements, while its beautiful gardens are dotted with monuments and busts of worldwide famous composers, musicians, royal members and other distinguished personalities. Vienna also boasts a collection of numerous distinctive museums that even much larger city destinations wouldn’t be ashamed of, over 1700 bridges and spectacular fountains and memorials.
How to get around in Vienna
To get around in Vienna easily, practically everything that a traveller should know is the location of the Ringstrasse (Ring Road), which circles the centre of the city, flanked by the river Danube on the east. The majority of the city’s attractions is located within the Ringstrasse and slightly outside of it. It used to be the city’s defensive walls where the Vienna’s main boulevard is presently located. It was dismantled during the Franz Joseph I’s reign because it proved the insufficient protection against the invaders (Napoleon I) in the 19th century. Once disassembled, various spectacular cultural and official landmarks were erected along the Ringstrasse, such as the Rathaus (City Hall), Burghtheater (the theatre that used to be reserved for the aristocrats and the royalty), worldwide famous Viennese Opera House, Volkstheater (the citizens’ theatre), Parliament, etc.
The centre of Vienna is dominated by two architectural and historical landmarks – the Gothic Stephansdom (or St. Stephen’s Cathedral), which is located in the very centre, and the Hofburg, the Imperial palace that was used by the Habsburgs from 1276 until 1918, when the dynasty fell at the end of the WWI along with the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The centre of Vienna is mostly pedestrianised, and attractions within and around the Ringstrasse are within walking distance from one another. However, since the streets tend to bend frequently, it would be wise to carry the city map in order to navigate through the centre without wasting time. Although it is possible to explore the centre by walking, the best way to explore it effectively is to combine walking with the public transport - metro within and bus and tram networks along the Ringstrasse.
How to make the most of your money in Vienna
The official currency in Vienna and Austria is Euro (€); various money exchange offices are to be found within the Ringstrasse (specifically along the Graben and around the Stephansdom), but you should avoid them due to high commission rates (at least when U.S. Dollars are concerned). Banks offer much more favourable rates, but keep in mind their limited working hours (up to 3 or 4 pm during working days).
The centre of Vienna abounds with restaurants, cafes and stores, but budget travellers should seek out restaurants, bakeries and other eateries at nearby Josefstadt and Alsergrund districts. Vienna is a paradise for shopaholics, but for especially engaging shopping, there are tours to the nearby Designer Outlet - Parndorf - which can be reached in less than an hour by bus that departs from the city centre.
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Biggest tourist attractions in Vienna
Besides above-mentioned top tourist attractions, the inner side of the Ringstrasse presents beautiful churches such as Peterskirche and Michaelerkirche. You can also visit the Albertina Museum with the largest and most significant graphical collections worldwide, as well as Schatzkammer – the imperial treasury museum next to the Hofburg. Just outside of the Ringstrasse are Votivkirche and Karlskirche churches, the Museum Quartier, Stadtpark with the memorial to Johann Strauss – the creator of the waltz, Volksgarten and Burggarten gardens, Rathausplatz, etc.
Other points of interest are Prater, the oasis of greenery and amusement park to the other side of the Danube, Hundertwasserhaus – a unique architectural landmark that is somewhat sidelined from the main tourist areas but worth the effort, and the Danube Tower, with the rotating restaurant on its top.
Schonbrunn Palace (U4 metro line) used to be yet another Imperial residence, and today it is a museum that displays the royalty’s way of living. Splendid encircling gardens are another highlight, especially during spring and summer.
Belvedere is a famous palace of Vienna (trams D, 18 and O, and bus 69A), where various paintings, sculptures and other works of art are displayed. The palace also boasts exceptional gardens.
Getting throughout Vienna from point A to point B is easy and efficient, primarily due to the well organized public transport, the metro network in particular. Metros depart at regular intervals and usually reach the centre within 20 minutes, or half an hour at most. Anyone intending to attend certain events (concerts, theatre performances, etc.), visit multiple museums and sights, and dine in the restaurants should consider purchasing the Vienna Card, which provides certain discounts. Most convenient tourist info centre is located at Albertinaplatz, near the Hofburg.
Visit Vienna in any Season!
The best time to enjoy Vienna’s gardens and parks is during spring and summer, while on Christmas and New Year holidays, the city is magnificently decorated.
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