A short five-hour flight from Dubai, the Austrian capital makes for the perfect short city-break. Whether it’s for a dose of culture, shopping, or fabulous food, it’s all here. Here’s my pick of Vienna must-dos:
- Be a culture vulture: A true, classical culture capital, Vienna probably has more museums per square kilometre than any other city. From travelling exhibitions of all-time greats like Pablo Picasso and Frida kahlo, to showcases of Austrian artists, there is something for everyone. A good place to start is the MuseumQuarter, a contemporary open-air complex housing some of the city’s best museums, such as the Leopold Museum and the Museum of Modern art. lots of trendy bars and restaurants add to the edgy vibe here.
Vienna is probably best-known for its musical legacy, so make sure to keep an evening free to catch a classical music concert at one of the many venues across town, most notable of which is the opera house. Concert season starts in September.
- Wake up and…: Coffee houses are something of
a Vienna institution, with different styles – from the historical, dating back to the 17thcentury, to the über-modern – dotting practically every street corner. And there are a variety of coffees to match! Discover the whole gamut with G tour’s eight- hour coffeehouse tour, where a passionate guide will talk you through the history of Viennese coffeehouses – they were a traditional hub for artists and thinkers – and the staggering variety of coffees as you walk from one landmark café to another.
- Soak up the history: Vienna’s top attraction is Schonbrunn palace, which is located on the outskirts of the city. The royal family’s winter residence, or the Imperial palace, is right in the city centre, and houses – aside from museums and libraries – the Spanish horse riding school, where you can catch classical style performances by the famous Lippizaner stallions, in the baroque winter riding school premises.
- Shop up a storm: The Kartner ring is a horse- shoe shaped pedestrian street packed with top designer labels, souvenir shops and local boutiques – as well as street artists selling local art. Do not miss the flagship Swarovski store, which is as much of a tourist attraction as it is a shopping destination, with its stunning designer-driven window displays and contemporary decor. The family-run company is a strong patron of the creative arts, so you will find several designer collaborations, as well as a mind-boggling array of crystal products – from home decor products to jewellery – at reasonable prices.
- Tantalise your tastebuds: One of the best ways to discover Vienna’s culinary tapestry is with a gastro tour at the city’s biggest market, the Naschmarket. A leisurely stroll through the market, equipped with a tasting spoon that is provided at the start of the guided tour, will dazzle
your senses with fresh – often organic
– seasonal produce from local farmers; cheeses; meats; and more herbs and spices than you can shake your spoon at! There is a healthy mix of local and global food products – from Arabic mezze items to Asian condiments and everything in between – which offers a window into the cosmopolitan nature of modern Vienna. www.gtqurs.at.
Having whetted your appetite, sit down for a relaxed lunch at Tewa Restaurant, located in a bustling lane inside the market. It serves up deliciously hearty international cuisine with a Middle Eastern twist, based on an organic, farm- to-fork ethos. Some other restaurants that you try include Halle restaurant in the MuseumQuarter (see Be a Culture Vulture), for delicious Italian; and the gourmet Restaurant Steirereck located at Stadtpark, a lovely city-centre park, for modern interpretations of Austrian cuisine using the freshest ingredients.
- Indulge youself: No self-respecting city break is complete without a little spa luxury, now is it? Vienna has plenty of pampering to offer. For a truly indulgent treat, head to the Sacher Spa in the iconic Sacher Hotel. This luxe retreat in the heart of the city offers a variety of treatments in an inviting, cocooning environment, with caring service to match. Its signature Time to Chocolate body treatments draw from the nourishing effects of cocoa, but if you’re looking for an organic facial treatment, then the St Barths facials are perfect. Using the exclusive Ligne St Barths products that contain active ingredients from Caribbean plants, fruits and flowers, a tailor-made facial in which the therapist decides exactly what your requirements are after a detailed analysis, will leave your skin visibly softer and plumper for days afterwards.