Posts tagged ‘kunsthistorisches’

June 28, 2011

Why Vienna should be on your must-see list

Rock climbing on Bunker Tower in Vienna

An old WWII bunker tower has been transformed into a rock-climbing attraction in Vienna. (Julia Pelish photo)

[This story was published in the Toronto Star on June 15, 2011. I broke up a stay in Paris with three nights in Vienna in May and the sophisticated Austrian capital ended up becoming my favourite European city.]

VIENNA — Staid, conservative and beautiful in that European way are the perceptions of Vienna, the former seat of the Austro-Hungarian Empire known for its classical music, ballgowns and coffeehouses. It’s also a focal point for the modern art movement that began at the turn of the 20th century and that experimental, free-form thinking continues to impact the city in ways far beyond just its design aesthetic.

In his novella “The Third Man,” Graham Greene described Vienna as a “smashed, dreary city” after World War II. It had been divided by the Allies for about a decade. Sixty years later, it’s a bright, friendly place with a flourishing tourism industry.

May 20, 2011

5 Vienna travel tips

St Stephens Cathedral in Vienna

The 137-metre spire of St. Stephen's Cathedral towers over the old city in Vienna.

VIENNA — The capital of Austria is one gorgeous, well-managed place and it’s easy to get around here. You don’t have to be a seasoned traveler to find Vienna comfortable and accommodating. Here are some tips for your trip that may make it more enjoyable than you expect:

  1. Explore the old and new city. Like just about every European city, Vienna features a beautiful historic centre with spectacular architecture and a towering church spire looming over everything. Still, to really see what makes it special, you’ll want to get away from the crowds outside of St. Stephen’s Cathedral and beyond the Ring Road, which circles the old city. The new part of Vienna is filled with cool stores, innovative restaurants and fantastic bars. Check out Schon Schön, Max and Bar a.m.
  2. Save on transit. Vienna has an expansive and diverse public transit system that includes an underground Metro, buses and streetcar/tram system. There’s a quirk that says you have to pay 2.20 euros if you buy your ticket on a tram or bus, but if you purchase an advance ticket it’s only 1.80 euros. You can get those advance tickets at “Vorverkauf” (“advance tickets”) kiosks in the Metro stations and at some tram stops. Also, if you’re traveling on the transit system for only one or two stops, you can buy a “half-price ticket” for just 1.10 euros. Visitors can purchase unlimited-travel passes for a number of time periods; for 24 hours it costs 5.70 euros and for 72 hours it’s 13.60 euros, and you can even get an eight-day ticket (27.20 euros). Thing is, Vienna is so easy to walk — and walking is always the best way to see a city — that you may not need to take transit more than twice a day, if at all, meaning you can stick to the advance tickets and save, or simply opt to stay on foot. When you want to travel to the outskirts of the city, you can purchase a 24-hour pass that can get you to Schönbrunn Palace and Grinzing in one day.
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