Vienna is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Vienna was the capital of the Hapsburg Empire, which included parts of what is now Germany and Hungary, so the city is dotted with rococo and baroque castles, palaces, and cathedrals, elegant gardens, and a treasure-trove of fine art collections.
But the real soul of Vienna is its music. Several of the Hapsburg emperors were great music lovers and patrons and helped to create a cultural tradition of classical music and opera that produced geniuses such as Haydn, Mozart, and Strauss. That rich legacy of fine music lives on today--concerts of all types of music can be seen every night of the week. Before you take in an opera, you can visit the Schonbrunn Palace, the Sigmund Freud House, or Schubert's Birthplace. There are endless historical sites in the city to explore.
After music and art, Austrians take food, especially coffee and pastries, very seriously. Vienna is dotted with cafes where you can linger over coffee mit schlag (with whipped cream) and one of the dizzyingly delicious types of Viennese pastries. Any chocolate lover would thrill to sample the Sacher torte, invented by the chef-owner of the Hotel Sacher, which still has the best torte in town.
Despite its eyes on the past, Vienna is by no means a stodgy, staid city. There is a vibrant nightlife, centered in the wine taverns of the Grinzing district, where light, fruity white wines grown in the famous Vienna Woods are served. Or visit the old-fashioned amusement park, the Prater, which has one of the world's largest Ferris wheels. Outside the city you will find the old market town of Klosterneuburg and the beach town on the Danube called the Gansehaufel. Vienna's charm reaches through its old, cobbled streets to its magical parks and palaces, cafes and cathedrals. The city resounds with music and history making a visit to Vienna an unforgettable adventure.