To read my full Vienna city guide click here
The imperial city of Vienna is one of the absolute jewels in Europe's crown. It's a land of pristine streets, picturesque palaces, and architectural wonders. Having spent time as the capital not only of Vienna, but also the Austro-Hungarian Empire, The Habsborg Empire, and The Holy Roman Empire it's a pretty important city. Vienna is probably most famous for its musical heritage with the likes of Beethoven, Mozart, Schubert, Strauss and Brahms all hailing from this magnificent city. This place is so good the entire city centre is a UNESCO World Heritage area, and rightly so.
The real stars of Vienna are the huge ornate palaces with some of the most magnificent gardens you'll ever see. Right in the centre of the city you'll find Belvedere Palace, which doubles up as the Belvedere Museum. The art work inside is of the highest standard with the likes of Monet and Van Gogh on show, but these pale in comparison to the buildings themselves, and the gardens in particular. The Marble Hall in the Lower Belevedere building is one of the best you'll ever see, and this isn't even the main palace. For that you have to move towards the edge of the city to find Schonbrunn Palace. This is probably the most impressive palace I've ever seen, and it took us a whole day to visit it all. There's a maze, a zoo, sculptures, water features, and that's before you've even set foot inside. In total there's 1500 rooms, so you aren't getting in them all, but those you do see are glorious, with all the opulence and luxury you'd expect from a Habsburg Palace.
Not all the artwork is in palaces, some of it is in buildings that used to be palaces, like the Kunsthistorisches museum, which is almost as difficult to spell as it is to pronounce. In here you'll find work by masters like Caravaggio, Rubens, Titan, Raphael, and Rembrandt, and yet again they are in the kind of building Vienna specialises in, a huge palace. Only this time the art matches the beauty of the building. Oh and if all that wasn't enough it also contains one of the best selections of Egyptian history you'll ever find, so you can see all the sarcophagi you'll ever need.
I've never found so many brewpubs all in the same city as I did in Vienna, they're just everywhere, and they are all amazing. Not only that but these guys love their steins, which is a good excuse to drink twice as much. Virtually every pub is unique, and most have brilliant beer gardens, I'd particularly recommend 7Stern Brau and 1516 Brewing Company. The real star of the show though when it comes to bars barely serves any beer. It's a bar called Loft Bar, and it has the best views I've ever seen from any bar anywhere in the world. You just have to go see it at sunset.
Cathedrals, Churches and Crypts
The Vienna skyline is dominated by St Stephen's cathedral, whose tiled roof is pretty exceptional, while the massive domed Karlskirche has all the glorious excess we've come to expect from Baroque buildings. The star of the show though is The Imperial Crypt. Here lie 150 members of the Habsburg family including 40 emperors and empresses. The tombs are fittingly ornate for one of Europe's great families, and the Capuchan Monks keep exceptionally good care of them. If you enjoy something a little macabre this wont let you down.
You can tick off two capitals in one go
I wouldn't usually suggest leaving Vienna as it's beautiful, and there's loads to do, but I do enjoy ticking off European capitals, so with Bratislava only an hour away it'd be a shame not to tick one more off the bucket list. Thankfully the Slovakian capital is much easier to do in a day than its Austrian neighbour so you'll have no trouble at all getting to know its gorgeous Old Town, and you can even catch a boat trip back down the Danube if you're not in a rush.
Vienna really is a city that should be on everyone's bucket list. It's a proper city which feels like it's been designed around it's big attractions making them easy to find, and easy to see. Even if you only went to see the palaces you could fill up 2-3 days, and there's so much more to do than that. To read my full guide to Vienna just click here.