Head to Vienna this autumn, the City of Music, and indulge in its stunning architecture, excellent art scene and some palatial lodgings.
With the summer tourists well and truly gone, the autumn is an excellent time to visit Vienna and have some space to explore one of Europe’s most stunning cities. The former main capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire wears its history proudly. From imposing Baroque masterpieces to the the grand buildings that line the 19th century Ringstraße (the ring road that bounds the Old Town) there is no shortage of magnificent architectural delights.
Called the City of Music by many, the city’s cultural history matches the buildings that form a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with Schubert, Schönberg and Strauss (both father and son) born in the city. It is not just those who can call it their birthplace that steeps Vienna in music, and luminaries including Beethoven, Brahms, Hadyn and Mozart were all drawn here to compose some of their most famous works.
A taste of this rich musical tradition is a must for any visit, so head to the Musikverein to listen to the world-renowned Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, or, if you prefer opera get the best seats you can at the Wiener Staatsoper (the Vienna state opera), though a good tip is to avoid the more well-known Mozart operas and try something new or rarely-staged to see the very best performers.
As any tradition demands, it is one that is not held static in time and from live Jazz at Porgy and Bess, to a proper night dancing to Indie-Electro at Flex till the early hours, the spectrum to cover all tastes will not disappoint.
It isn’t just music that has the power to uplift and the city’s Museum Quarter, the Museumsquartier, is an art lover’s paradise, with the Leopold Museum showcasing some of the very best from Schiele and Klimt and the Kunsthalle Wien and the Museum of Modern Art, MUMOK, close by. There is much to see so pick a favourite and take your time, and spend a moment in the area just to stroll and sit and people watch. For those looking to not only appreciate but to buy, Georg Kargl Fine Arts houses a number of striking pieces in a light-filled basement space on the hip Schleifmühlgasse in the 4th district where you’ll find numerous other contemporary galleries to help you find something to adorn your walls back home.
For the finest of dining, the modern Austrian offerings at Heinz Reitbauer’s Steirereck truly stand out from the crowd. Housed in a massive glass cube the interiors are sleek but softer, with warm woods mixed with concrete and the ubiquitous starched white linen. Owned by the same family for generations the modern has certainly been injected with the latest generation and when it made the World’s Top 10 Restaurants 2017 they picked out the Char in beeswax with yellow carrot, pollen and sour-cream as the dish to try.
For places to stay you cannot go wrong with the Ritz-Carlton on Schubertring, but another exquisite alternative is Palais Coburg, whose Imperial Suites have been brought up to date, though still retain a definite, gilded grandeur. Their Coburg Suite stretches to nearly 130 square metres, so there is plenty of room to relax after hitting the Old Town streets, the museums, the opera and maybe a club. Amenities include a spa with not just saunas but Turkish baths, plus the 2-Michelin-starred restaurant Silvio Nickol.
This autumn make a cultural expedition to rival any in Europe. Be moved and stirred by some of the best music and art in the world as you walk Vienna’s streets – and take in a city which was certainly a fitting seat for a sprawling old world empire.
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