Schönbrunn Palace, elegant former summer residence of the Imperial Family, is one of Austria's premier tourist spots. The entire grounds can be seen from Gloriette, a hill overlooking the site. Tour the ornately decorated palace or visit the carriage museum and the palace theater. Stroll though the Baroque gardens and walkways and see the fountains, the faux Roman ruins, the zoo and tropical greenhouse.
St. Stephen's Cathedral is said to be the soul of Vienna. Its origins are Romanesque in styling but the structure has been reconstructed through the centuries and its detailing incorporates later Gothic and Baroque elements as well. The frieze above the Giants' Gateway depicts human and animal figures in scenes from the Last Judgment, which was a popular theme during the late Romanesque period. The hallmark of the richly decorated interior is Anton Pilgram's Pulpit, a Gothic creation depicting the Four Fathers of the Church.
The Imperial Apartments are a long succession of rooms located on a first floor wing in the palace, and include those occupied by Emperor Franz Joseph and Empress Elisabeth. The sacred and secular treasures collected over the centuries by the Habsburg family are displayed in 21 of the rooms and include a 10th-century crown, court tableware crafted in the finest gold, silver and porcelain, along with portraits of the royals.
Not in a central location and all the better for it. Protruding from the Donaupark in the east of the city, the tower offers a marvelous view across the Danube to city center. Walk around the viewing platform or take a 360-degree ride in the revolving restaurant; dining on the move at 150m is not for everyone, but it's a good idea to reserve a table anyway. If this sort of thing is for you, there's bungee jumping from the top in the summer.
The Vienna State Opera House is central to Viennese life and was a symbol of resurgence following World War II. Its rich history includes the first performance of Mozart's "Don Giovanni." The post-war reconstruction features a neo-Renaissance façade and auditorium, and a stage built with state-of-the-art technology. Highlights include the marble Grand Staircase and the Tea Room, as well as tapestries and paintings that depict scenes from famous operas and sculptures of famous composers and conductors.
Built between 1872 and 1883, this neo-gothic designed building is the seat of Vienna's mayor and local government. Irregular public events are held in the building, but it's in the square and park in front of the building that the main public activities take place: the famous Christmas market, ice skating in the winter, festivals, markets and concerts through the rest of the year.
The Museum of Fine Arts is one of the best in Europe. Over the centuries, the Habsburgs assembled a diverse collection of great art from around the world. Acquisitions by such Old Masters as Dürer, Rubens, Rembrandt, Raphael, Vermeer, Titian, and Velasquez are the hallmark of the collection that also includes treasures from Oriental, Greek, Roman and Egyptian antiquity. With almost two miles of corridors, allow more than a day to view the collections.
The palace and gardens were built as the summer residence of Prince Eugene of Savoy, the military commander who helped defeat the Turks in the 17th century. The complex consists of two palaces, the Upper and Lower Belvedere, linked by a three-tiered formal French garden. The upper palace is the more elaborate of the two and is used for festive occasions. The lower palace served as the Prince's living quarters. Both are elaborately decorated and house works by world-renowned artists.
The star of films like "The Third Man," "Before Sunrise" and "The Living Daylights," this Ferris wheel is Vienna's international icon. Built in 1897 to commemorate Kaiser Franz Josef's silver jubilee, it's no longer very big as far as big-wheels go, but it looks great and oozes charm and romance.
The world's oldest zoo and bang up-to-date today. A fantastic day out with an incredible range of animals in modern, state-of-the-art enclosures. External enclosures include a great new rhino park, and indoors you'll find a rainforest house, a desert house, aquarium, terrarium and a polarium. Good play areas for the children and plenty of reasonably priced refreshments.