Day 1 in Vienna
Arrive at the train station in Vienna and proceed to your hotel. Should you desire, we offer private transfers where a representative will meet you at the train station and transfer you to your hotel. (Click on Hotel Transportation in the Booking Process.) Check into your hotel and enjoy lunch; or savor the true flavor of Vienna in the chandelier-lit splendor of a nearby kaffeehaus. Every afternoon around 3pm the coffee and pastry ritual of 'Kaffeejause' takes place across the city.
Afterwards, we recommend that you get acquainted with the city by choosing an optional tour such as 'Vienna Hop on Hop Off, ' showcasing the main sights of the Austrian capital along three routes or relax aboard the 'Grand Danube River Cruise'.
As night falls, take a horse-drawn Fiaker carriage from Stephansplatz to clip-clop through the stately Innerestadt; then dine on classics like wiener schnitzel or Tafelspitz (boiled beef with horseradish) at Sacher Hotel Restaurant. For dessert, do not miss the legendary Sachertorte, a rich chocolate cake with a layer of apricot jam.
Day 2 in Vienna
Wake up early today and head for St. Stephan's Cathedral, Vienna's 12th century Gothic basilica, crowned by a 450 foot steeple. Climb the spiral steps of the South Tower for an amazing panoramic view of the city. Following your tour of the cathedral, stroll up the pedestrian only Kärntnerstrasse, the main shopping street, towards Staatsoper. This elegant and imposing building is Austria's leading opera house and presents some of the world's greatest music (often from famous Austrian composers).
This afternoon you may want to visit the Hofburg Palace, the winter palace of the Habsburgs. The complex is so vast that you are not likely to see it all in one day so try to visit the main attractions, including the Albertina, Augustinerkirche, Kaiserappartments (Imperial Apartments) and the magnificent Schatzkammer (Imperial Treasury), home of the Habsburg jewels, including the crowns of the Holy Roman and Austrian empires as well as the greatest treasure, the Imperial Crown, dating from 962.
Now is a good time to stop for coffee and a snack before visiting the Spanische Reitschule, the Spanish Riding school, where the famed Lipizzaner stallions have been performing for four centuries, and the Burgkapelle, home of the Vienna Boys' Choir. (With careful planning you may be able to see a performance). Following a busy day of sightseeing, hop a streetcar for a ride around the entire Ringstrasse, the circle of tree lined boulevards that enclose the old city of Vienna and whose monumental buildings reflect the imperial splendor of days gone by.
Day 3 in Vienna
Begin your day at the Schönbrunn Palace, the stunning summer palace of the Habsburgs where you will want to see the State Apartments, followed by the Gloriette, the marble summerhouse and the palace's Imperial Gardens. Afterwards, take a break at Tiroler House (west of Gloriette). This was the favorite retreat of the Empress Elilsabeth, but is nowadays a small restaurant and café.
After lunch, plan to spend the afternoon at Kumsthistorisches Museum, housing the world's largest collection of Bruegels, along with the works of old masters such as Dürer, Rubens, and Rembrandt. Alternatively, explore the many attractions on display within the MuseumsQuartier Complex, notably the Kunsthalle Wien, the Leopold Museum, featuring the largest collection of works by Egon Schiele and MUMOK.
On your final night in Vienna, dress up and head to the Staatsoper to enjoy the sound of music (perhaps Mozart or Strauss) and to see the world's most renowned opera stars perform, accompanied by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. Or make your way to the Prater where you can enjoy an exceptional panorama over the city at night from the top of the iconic Riesenrad ferris wheel. Dine at one of the many open air cafes that line the park then leisurely stroll along the abundant tree lined paths before saying 'Auf Wiedersehen' to Vienna.
Additional Days in Vienna
Should you be able to spend additional days in Vienna then a visit to the Belvedere Palace, southeast of Karlsplatz, is a must. Sitting on the slope of a hill with panoramic views of Vienna, this baroque palace features beautifully landscaped gardens and priceless art, including Gustav Klimt's shimmering masterpiece, 'The Kiss'.
Afterwards, we suggest you head to Naschmarkt in the 6th district where you can have a bite to eat and explore the famous open-air market where Viennese merchants have operated since the Middle Ages. Nearby, visit the Secession Building, the shrine of the Jugendstil (art nouveau) movement as well as the dazzling edifice of Otto Wagner's majolica-adorned mansion.
For evening entertainment there is nothing more Viennese than Heurigen Hopping in the Vienna Woods. Heurigen are rustic wine taverns that celebrate the arrival of each year's new wine (heurig) by placing a pine branch over the door. The Viennese rush to the taverns to drink the new local wines, feast on country buffets and enjoy live folk music. Grinzing is the most visited town for those wanting to spend a night at a heurigen.
For those looking to get out of the city, we recommend our optional day trip to 'Wachau' in the magnificent Danube Valley (listed Unesco World Cultural Heritage). The tour includes a visit of the impressive Melk Abbey before passing by the medieval village of Durnstein and the charming town of Krems. The beautiful 'Salzkammergut' lake district and Salzburg, birthplace of Mozart, are also great choices so be sure to check our optional sightseeing tours for availability and prices.
Your Last Day in Vienna
Depart your hotel for the airport for your return home. We recommend that you purchase a private transfer, if so a representative will meet you at the hotel, in time to take you to the airport for your flight out.