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Vienna is a gorgeous city steeped in centuries of history, elegant boulevards and impressive museums, not to mention fabulous culinary offerings that will leave you hungry for more. Here’s how to maximize your time in this beloved capital.

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Hofburg Imperial Palace

Day 1: Historic highlights

Begin your tour in the center of the old city at Hofburg Imperial Palace, which served as the head of the Hapsburg Empire for more than seven centuries, until after the end of World War I. Visit these three museum attractions and discover what daily life was like in the court: Stand in awe of the Imperial Apartments, take in the tasteful Sisi Museum and admire the Silver Collection, showcasing a comprehensive collection of Imperial objects.

If you hang out around the Spanish Riding School at 10am each morning, you can see the world-renowned Lipizzaner Stallions, known throughout the world for their equestrian ballet. Arrange tickets beforehand so you can ooh and aah as they practice their morning routines.

By now you’re probably hungry. Grab a table outside the Café Sacher Wien, creator of the famous Sachertorte, and watch as all of Viennese society waltzes by. In the afternoon, visit St. Stephen’s Cathedral, one of Vienna’s most famous sights in the heart of city. Built in 1147, it stands at over 447 feet high and for centuries maintained its reputation as the highest building in all of Europe. If you dare you to climb the 343 tower steps, the reward is exquisite rooftop views. While you’re in the neighborhood, stop at Trzesniewski, famous for its little open-faced sandwiches. At night, visit a Vienne Heuringer, a traditional Viennese wine tavern. Vienna is the world’s only major city producing its own wines and its fantastic varietals are to be savored and enjoyed. When you see a bunch of pine branches and the word “Ausg’steckt” written on a board, you know you’ve come to the right place.

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Dstrikt Steakhouse at the Ritz-Carlton Vienna

Day 2: The royal treatment

Make plans to visit the impressive 18th-century Schonbrunn Palace, the summer home of Empress Maria Theresa and the most popular site in all of Austria (easy to reach via subway, tram or bus.) It’s huge—like more than 1,400 rooms. You can tour the imperial apartments, magnificent state rooms, lovely gardens and the Museum of Carriages. You might think the estate resembles the Palace of Versailles in Paris and you would be right. Once European royalty saw Versailles, they had to keep up with the monarchs and have a palace just like it. For something a little more contemporary, browse the Belvedere Palace featuring the world’s largest collection of art from Gustav Klimt, renowned painter of the “The Kiss” and “Woman of Gold.” True, you will see Klimt’s work reproduced on every imaginable souvenir throughout Austria, but admiring the 30 plus originals up close is even more spectacular.

For dinner, try Dstrikt Steakhouse at the Ritz-Carlton for a taste of authentic Austrian beef. Gigantic cuts of steak, coupled with green organic leaves is divine. Don’t stop until you’ve enjoyed the Baked Alaska! In the late evening, head to Gürtel Ring Road for pulsating electronic music. The setting is the arches beneath the elevated subways and it goes into the wee hours.

ALSO: There’s nothing Freudian about using your Orbitz Rewards to earn hotel discounts!

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Melk Abbey

Day 3: Lots to wine about  

Take a Wachau Valley wine tasting tour (many companies offer them). The region is known for its lush apricots, grapes and white wines. The truly adventurous can also pedal the Austrian countryside via bike tour. Along the way, see sloping vineyards, Gothic churches and medieval towns. Learn more about the area’s history at UNESCO-sites like Durnstein and taste the region’s best wines in an intimate wine cellar. Between May and September, most day trips also include a romantic cruise down the Danube River between the villages of Spitz and Melk to see Melk Abbey, the thousand-year old Benedictine Abbey.

No visit to Vienna is complete without seeing a performance of the world renowned Vienna Opera. Visit to see what’s playing. Vienna is also famous for its coffee house culture, where animated discussions of politics and art have gone on for centuries. Café Central is another recommended hot spot where a cup of coffee and Viennese torte are calling your name.


Tagged: Europe

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