The Ringstrasse

The centre of Vienna is a compact area crammed with majestic buildings, stately palaces, buildings and churches, and parks. The best way to (quickly) soak it all up is to jump in a tram and do a lap of the Ringstrasse (ring) – the series of roads running in a circle around the centre of Vienna. In the middle is St Stephens Cathedral, with its massive spire and grand interior.


Very big, very fancy palace

The Schloss Schönbrunn, the baroque palace that was Marie Antoinette’s home as a child, is a microcosm of Vienna — touching on many of the things for which the city is famed. You can learn about its royal inhabitants, its baroque exterior and the rococo excesses of its interior.

You can visit the room Napoleon is said to have slept in when he inhabited the palace in 1805 and 1809, and the famed Spiegelsaal (Hall of Mirrors) where Mozart performed when he was just six years old. Outside, there’s some spectacular gardens and the world’s oldest zoo (founded 1752).


Get the go around

If you’re looking for a high vantage point for a few crafty photos, then head out to the Prater amusement park and climb on board the Riesenrad (ferris wheel).

This ferris wheel is not just a thrill ride — actually, it’s not much of a thrill at all, unless you’re scared of heights, rickety old structures or the combination of both — it’s a 65m tall symbol of Vienna, a movie star (see The Living Daylights, The Third Man and Before Sunrise) and a history lesson as well. Built in 1897 to mark the Golden Jubilee of Emperor Franz Josef I, the structure was damaged by bombs in World War II but rose triumphantly from the ashes to rotate once more, thus symbolising the reconstruction of Vienna.


Get yourself some culture

You’d need to live in Vienna for a good few months to have enough time to soak up the extent of the museums, galleries and music on offer in Vienna. The city is home to world-class ballet and orchestras – and best of all they do standing room tickets for as cheap as €5.

This really is the place to soak up a memorable evening of high-art, even if it’s not normally your cup of tea. As for the museums and galleries, unless you’ve got ages, pick a couple from the plethora and do them in-depth.