Vienna City Break by Bridget Keevil

As with any city break when time is at a premium, it is always best to have a plan.  Plan where you want to go and what you want to see at the same time as booking your break, and then you know that you can fit it all in.  This is even more important with somewhere like Vienna, when if you leave the planning until you get there you more than likely will be disappointed.

Vienna is a city of imperial splendour, of magnificent buildings and fine art, of waltzes and coffee houses, of classical music and culinary delights and is also home to the Spanish Riding School.  It is a cosy, compact city that is best explored on foot, although there are places worth visiting a short taxi ride or tram ride away.  There are ever changing exhibitions in the numerous museums and galleries, so it is always worth choosing your dates depending on your preferences.  And what better than to have a private guide take you to where you would like to go, and see what you would like to see.  When you give us your likes and dislikes, we can tailor a half day or full day tour that suits you and only you.

This may include the infamous Spanish Riding School.  There are only two performances each week, and only some months of the year so if this is one of the reasons you want to visit Vienna it is imperative that you go when the performance is on, and that you buy a ticket well in advance.  If you wait until you get there, you won’t be seeing the performance.  If a performance is not what you are after, you may like to visit during the mid-week exercise training sessions – again though, you need to book the ticket in advance.  Or you may like the guided backstage tour – fantastic opportunity to see and hear about the Lipizzaner horses and their history.

The Kunsthistorisches Museum (or KHM for short) is Vienna’s grandest museum and houses an immense collection of Old Masters as well as Egyptian and Roman art and a spectacular array of jewellery.  Skip the queues by pre purchasing your ticket here too – and ask your guide to show you the pieces that will interest you during your tour if you can.  Unless of course you have enough time to spend the whole day there, which you could quite easily do.  There is so much to see.

The Schonbrunn Palace was the magnificent summer residence of the Habsburgs, and is only twenty minutes by underground from the city.  It has extensive grounds, as well as housing the Vienna Zoo.  It is especially fabulous lit up in the evening – how about having dinner at the Restaurant Residenz followed by the Palace Orchestra performing a selection of Mozart and Strauss.

You will certainly not go hungry in Vienna, with its plethora of coffee houses and restaurants.  The Hotel Sacher is the home of the world famous sachertorte, although Café Demel claims to have the original chef.  Both will offer snacks or meals that will leave you confused with what to choose.  There are many restaurants to suit all tastes and budgets – if you have a particular one in which you would like to dine, let us make you a reservation before you go.

If music is your guilty pleasure, you will be spoiled for choice.  Vienna has two opera houses, concert halls as well as palaces and larger churches that regularly host recitals and performances.  The Vienna Boys Choir sing mass on Sundays in the Hofburg Palace Chapel, although cannot be seen.  On Fridays in May, June, September and October they perform a concert in the Augarten Hall in their boarding school.  All of these need pre booked tickets to avoid disappointment.

Vienna is one of those cities that you will turn a corner and there will another building or coffee house or park that will catch your eye.  Waltzing in the streets is not unusual – in fact on New Years Eve it is the first thing that the packed city centre will do to one of the famous works by Strauss that can be heard all around.  It is a friendly, compact city that will leave you wanting to come back again and again.