Vienna, Austria

Guide for the rail traveller

Information

CurrencyEuro
Local languageGerman
Country Austria

Introduction

Austria’s convenient, central position within mainland Europe makes it an excellent gateway for European travelers. Located in eastern Austria along the Danube, Vienna is Austria’s political, financial and administrative capital. For centuries it was the seat of the Habsburg Empire, and today’s Vienna (Wien) is a city full of tradition and rich in architectural, artistic and musical heritage.

Vienna is split into twenty-three districts (Bezirke). The majority of the top tourist attractions lie within the first district, which was formally protected by the city walls, though nowadays it is circumvented by the Ringstrasse instead. Districts two through to nine are just as rich in treasures to discover, including some magnificent boutiques, galleries, theatres and palaces.

The Viennese are renowned for their impeccable taste in music and gourmet foods as well as a particular attachment to old-fashioned traditions and pride in their gorgeous surroundings. Vienna’s location means that a cruise along the Danube, a tour through the Vienna Woods or a train-ride to the Austrian Alps are all within reach for a magnificent day excursion.

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Things to do

The heart of Vienna is the Innerestadt and at its center point is the Graben; a large square and home to many shops and cafes. At the square’s eastern end is the commanding Stephansdom (St Stephen’s Cathedral).

The Imperial Palace or Hofburg is an immense and vast complex incorporating many buildings and courtyards as well as a number of museums and a chapel. One of the most impressive attractions here is the Schatzkammer (Imperial Treasury). In this opulent display of the power and wealth of this once great empire you can view the crown jewels as well as the crown of the Holy Roman Empire, which is over one thousand years old!

The Schloss Belvedere (Belvedere Palace) consists of two separate buildings one at the foot of a hill the other on top overlooking the city. On the Tram D line, the Oberes Belvedere houses an art collection, which includes the world famous painting by Klimt, ‘The Kiss’.

Schloss Schoenbrunn (Schoenbrunn Palace) often compared to France’s Versailles is a majestic golden-yellow palace where many rooms are open to the public. The surrounding gardens are magnificent; in fact the whole site is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The grounds also boast the world’s oldest Zoo (Tiergarten). Such illustrious figures as Maria Theresa and Napoleon inhabited this baroque Palace and a six-year-old Mozart once played here!

For something completely different the Prater is an enormous park and fairground site and the location of one of Vienna’s world famous sights - the old Riesenrad (giant ferris wheel). (Take S/U-Bahn to Praterstern). Alternatively wander through the Naschmarkt (Produce Market) or the Flohmarkt (Flea Market) located in the sixth district.

Just wandering along the Ringstrasse will take you past some of this city’s most beautiful buildings, including the Staatsoper (State Opera House), the Parlament (Parliament), and the Rathaus (City Hall) as well as two of Vienna’s museums, the Naturhistorisches Museum (Natural History Museum) and the Kunsthistorishes Museum (Museum of Fine Arts). The latter of these contains an enviable art collection including work by Raphael, Rembrandt and Rubens.

Local transport

Vienna’s efficient public transport network includes the trams, U-Bahn, S-Bahn (commuter rail) and bus service. Tickets can be purchased from tobacconists, at vending machines and in the underground. Choices for tickets include the one or three-day network pass and an eight-day strip ticket. The best option however is the Vienna Card covering unlimited transport on the entire network as well as reduced entrance to many attractions, and discounts at many shops, restaurants, cafes and wine taverns!

Day trips

A twenty-minute train ride from Vienna South station (Suedbahnhof) lies Baden. Situated on the edge of the Vienna Woods and surrounded by some wonderful greenery this is a famous health resort boasting fifteen ancient thermal water springs. Further attractions include Casino Baden, the wonderful city rose garden Doblhoff Park as well as some charming specialty shops scattered throughout the central pedestranized zones.

Alternatively the picturesque fortress city of Salzburg is just over three hours away from Vienna Westbahnhof. The birthplace of Mozart it is now home to a museum in his honor as well as the largest completely preserved fortress in Europe, known as the Hohensalzburg fortress. Reach it by either taking the cable car or enduring the strenuous climb to the top where stunning views await you.

Recommended places and events to visit in Vienna

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