Once famous for being the home of the Hapsburgs and the Austro-Hungarian empire, today, Vienna is still one of Europe’s great capitals and offers visitors world-class museums, shopping and stunning architecture. Let Vacations by Marriott help plan your itinerary and show you how to spend four great days in Vienna.
Day One: You touch down at Vienna International Airport at mid-day, clear customs and head toward your selected hotel: the historic Imperial Riding School Renaissance Vienna Hotel. Once a military riding school dating back to the mid-19th century, the hotel is an absolute classic, and is located near the center of the city. You rest up a bit in your room before taking a walk to Belvedere Palace, where you’re initially struck by the Baroque architecture and the sprawling gardens. Once inside, you set about exploring the vast collection of aristocratic art, admiring works by Monet, van Gogh and Klimt and whetting your appetite for more museums and exploration in this place of vast intellectual and artistic legacy. And speaking of appetites, you’re pleased to find Salm Braeu nearby, which serves a variety of traditional dishes along with great Austrian beers brewed right on-site. The Chicken Schnitzel is good, and you wash it down with “Vienna Red” before returning to the hotel. Your trip is off to a wonderful start.
Day Two: This morning you have breakfast at the hotel before making your way to the Imperial Treasury Museum at Hofburg Palace. The museum features a veritable treasure trove of historical artifacts. You get a glimpse of the Austrian holy lance and sword, and then feast your eyes on the gleaming imperial crown, its gold façade studded with immaculately wrought jewels like white opal, red zircon, and brilliant garnet. You eventually tear yourself away from the museum, and a few minutes later are strolling the stalls of Naschmarkt. The food here is fresh and a real treat, and the market boasts the distinctly European feel you sought when you chose to visit Vienna. And in the evening, you take your seat in the Kursalon as the music of Wolfgang Mozart and Johann Strauss is brought to life. You enjoy the waltzes and rhythms the Strauss brothers made their own, and the dignified concertos and arias from Mozart's repertoire. As the evening crescendos, you marvel at the accompanying opera singers and ballet soloists. Stunning!
Day Three: Vienna’s Schönbrunn Palace has been described as an “opulent masterpiece,” and is the former residence of the Habsburg monarchs. The palace transports you back to the days of Imperial Austria, and your tour includes state rooms and private apartments, along with 18th-century stylings from the time of Maria Theresia – the only female ruler of the Habsburg dominions. From the palace, you head five kilometers (three miles) across the city for soup and sandwiches at the quaint Pane e Café, which is located just steps from Kunsthistorisches Museum. You’ve been excited to visit the Kunstkammer, which is a new wing in the museum and features a unique collection of bronze statuettes, bizarre ivory, Goldsmith works, sculptures and artifacts made from a wide range of exotic and uncommon materials. You also run across antiquities from the Roman, Greek and Egyptian empires, and marvel at the collection of paintings by Vermeer, Rembrandt, Raphael, and Caravaggio in the Picture Gallery.
Day Four: It’s your last full day in Austria, and this morning you’ll depart Vienna for a tour of the Wachau region and Danube Valley. You’re picked up at the hotel, and are excited to explore the magnificent countryside. You travel through charming old villages and vineyards, and past centuries-old castles, including the famous Dürnstein Castle - where King Richard the Lionheart was imprisoned while awaiting ransom from England. You eventually board a boat to cruise along the Danube, where it seems that history comes alive before your eyes. Among other sights, you admire the picture-perfect Benedictine Abbey in Melk - a pearl of Austrian baroque architecture perched atop a hill overlooking the river. The scenery is amazing, and you take it all in, snapping pictures and thoroughly enjoying the day before returning to the city. Tomorrow you’ll check out of the Imperial Riding School after a wonderful stay. The history, architecture, food and drink, arts and culture have all delighted every sense, and are not soon to be forgotten.
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