Explore: Vienna

Date Posted: 13/01/2013

With its magnificent buildings, waltzes and dancing white horses, why not take your group on a Viennese whirl?

Essential Sights

St Stephen’s Cathedral: The symbol of Vienna for eight centuries is one of Austria’s finest Gothic buildings. Severely damaged by fire during World War Two, it was rebuilt in just seven years. The interior, with 18 alters, is filled with art treasures and it’s worth climbing the 343 steps of the south tower for panoramic views over the cityscape. Alternatively opt for the lift in the north tower, which houses the huge Pummerin bell that is only rung at New Year. The cathedral’s catacombs are also open to visitors.

The MuseumsQuartier: Known as MQ for short, it’s among the ten largest cultural complexes in the world. A contrast of historic and modern architecture, including the old imperial stables and riding school (pictured), its galleries, museums and theatres provide a changing programme of arts and entertainment to suit all tastes, plus there are shops and places to eat and drink.

Vienna’s big wheel: This 200 foot high attraction was among the many locations featured in the cult 1949 film adaptation of Graham Greene’s novel The Third Man. Situated in the Prater amusement park, it was erected in 1896 by the English engineer Walter Basset. Group visitors can stroll around the historic park, enjoying the different rides and food and drink outlets, or take a guided behind the scenes tour.

Food & Drink

Vienna is home of the Wiener schnitzel, fried veal escalope, and one of the most famous schnitzel restaurants is Figlmuller, which has its flagship branch on the busy Wollzeile shopping and restaurant street and takes bookings from group travel organisers.

Viennese coffee houses, with their rich wooden interiors, are an institution and Hotel Sacher opposite the Opera House is the birthplace of the rich chocolate cake Sachertorte. For an inexpensive snack there are hot dog stands around the city.

Vienna is the world’s only capital city with an appreciable wine-growing industry. You can recognise a heuriger, or wine tavern, by a sprig of pine hanging outside and enjoy a glass of Riesling, Veltliner or other local wine.

Where to Stay
  • Das Tyrol is a small and stylish luxury hotel situated on Vienna’s longest shopping street the Mariahilfer Strasse.
  • The four-star Radisson Blu is within walking distance of St. Stephen’s Cathedral and the Imperial Hofburg Palace.
  • With 122 rooms the Hotel Mercure Wien City combines a central location with modern facilities.
Best for Groups

For more than seven centuries the great empire of the Habsburgs was ruled from the vast Hofburg Imperial Palace and the sumptuous private rooms and state apartments now display the family’s passion for art and beautiful objects. A self-guided visit can be overwhelming and a private group tour will cover the highlights and can include topics not available on public tours. Themed group visits include state banquets past and present and stories of everyday imperial life. Exclusive evening visits are also available.

Snowy white Lipizzaner stallions, which are actually born black, are synonymous with the Spanish Riding School. If your visit doesn’t coincide with one of the gala monthly dressage performances you can still watch the magnificent horses being put through their paces to music in the same indoor riding arena decorated with chandeliers. Combined tickets are available for the morning exercise session and afternoon stable visit and special guided tours are available for groups.

Experience a musical Viennese evening on a Danube dinner cruise, which run from May to October. Recreating the atmosphere of a wine tavern, the trips include a buffet and foot-tapping live music as the boat glides along the river and provides passengers with a different view of the beautiful city.

Live Like a Local

Whilst the MuseumsQuartier is a popular attraction many visitors don’t venture further into the central Neubau or 7th district where it’s situated. This creative and newly fashionable hub is a world away from the main historic highlights and in the cobbled Spittelberg area where many former homes now house attractive small boutiques and art galleries.

The Viennese relax on 13-mile Donauinsel, or Danube Island, a short subway trip from the city centre and reached by a bridge or rope ferry. Actually part of Vienna’s flood protection system, the green island has cafes, restaurants, watersports and even ‘beaches’ and is a lovely place for a leisurely stroll.

Fact File

Journey time: 2hrs 15mins to Vienna International Airport.
Currency: Euro.
Best time to go: Vienna is a year-round destination with a mild, continental climate. The coldest month is January when temperatures dip below freezing.

For further group travel information visit www.vienna.info.

Pictured: The famous Spanish Riding School in Vienna (Photo credit: Rene van Bakelrille / Spanish Riding School).

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