Vienna, Austria

With its monumental palaces, gilded opera houses and stately boulevards Vienna feels like an imperial capital still looking for its long-lost empire. The city’s high-brow arts scene remains unparalleled and its legendary cafés, once the haunt of Freud and Trotsky, still draw in the intellectuals for a rich Franziskaner or powerful Kapuziner – as well as people simply mesmerised by the cake trolleys. Yet among the dreamy nostalgia a new wave of stylish restaurants and cool bars is springing up and filling the Austrian capital with a energetic lease of life.

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Do Go/Don’t go

Summer is inevitably busy and while winter can by bitingly cold, the days are often clear and there are always the excellent Christmas markets in December. Spring and autumn are perhaps the best seasons to visit Vienna, but avoid September when there are usually many conferences are in town.

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Getting there

  • Planes

    Schwechat airport is 12 miles from the centre and linked by the CAT train every 30 minutes (€11; www.cityairporttrain.at). A taxi into town will cost at least €30. Some budget airlines fly to Bratislava in Slovakia 65 kilometres away and connected to Vienna by a 90-minute coach ride.
  • Boats

    The Twin City Liner links Vienna with Bratislava in Slovakia further down the Danube. The trip between the world’s closest capitals takes 75 minutes, costs from €20 and has departures from Bratislava to Schwedenplatz from 12 noon–10.30pm (www.twincityliner.com).
  • Trains

    Trains head in different directions from Vienna’s three stations: Franz-Josefs-Bahnhof (north), Westbahnhof (west) and Südbahnhof (south and east). You can travel to Vienna on the Orient Express – the real one, not the Poirot reconstruction – check www.seat61.com for details.
  • Automobiles

    A car is not necessary in Vienna; especially as parking can be an absolute nightmare.
  • Taxis

    There are plenty of ranks although you can also flag down taxis in the street. If you get your hotel to order a cab for you specify if you want a regular taxi or a hotel limo service.

Boutique hotels in Vienna