St Charles Cathedral, Vienna
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St Charles Cathedral, Vienna

© 123rf.com / Herbert Kratky

Vienna travel guide

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Vienna Local time

Vienna is a city that will surprise you. It’s a place where the romantic strains of Mozart mingle with hip-hop beats, where stylish, cutting-edge bars sit opposite coffee houses frequented by grand dames and their miniature dogs; and where traditional delicacies from Naschmarkt stalls are sampled alongside modern and experimental cuisine.

The city today is a beguiling mix of old and new, perhaps best illustrated by the innovative Museums Quartier cultural district. Here the courtyard of the old Spanish riding stables, featuring Vienna’s largest baroque facade, have been transformed into a dizzying example of contemporary museum architecture. Exquisite furnishings, stunning avant-garde works and pre-historic relics are just some of the cultural gems in residence.

For most, Vienna is classical music, imperial history and monumental architecture; for others, it is forever linked with The Third Man and its haunting Harry Lime Theme.

This is a city of art and thought. It's where Klimt crafted The Kiss and where The Secession movement marked a new age of painting. Ideas were forged here in a white-hot crucible of modernity; culture was transformed in an age of reason and thought.

But the city is not just about these ‘classic experiences’. Visitors to Vienna today will notice that something powerful is occurring in the Austrian capital: it’s alive. New buildings are everywhere: Zaha Hadid’s Wiener Wirtschaftsuniversitat library is a stunning new sight on the skyline, as is the DC Tower (Austria’s tallest building) which has the luxury Melia Hotel halfway up it.

Vienna is cool right now and - whisper it - it’s even challenging Berlin. Visit Vienna Design Week or Waves Festival, both in September, and you will no longer think Vienna is fuddy-duddy. Hip bands, fashion designers and architects are flooding the city. Edgy bars where artists and students hang out are energising. This is a city that has a rich past, but it’s one that’s going places too.

Visa and passport information is updated regularly and is correct at the time of publishing. You should verify critical travel information independently with the relevant embassy before you travel.