Palaces, Concerts and Cathedrals in Imperial Vienna

Vienna is right up there with the great European cities of Paris, Rome and London for history and may be in a league of its own for palaces. It seems everywhere you turn there is another palace, cathedral or concert hall that would be the prize asset of almost any global city

The trick is to not let them tire you out – walking around so many places (especially the giant palaces) can be a exhausting. So, I’d recommend 4 tips to make you get the most out of a couple of days here:
  1. Be selective in which sites you go for. I found the Schönbrunner Place for its magnificent grounds and main building; Saint Stephen’s Cathedral for its views from the towers, the Hofburg for wandering in and nearby; and the Karlskirche for its magnificent interior and evening concerts the highlights and for a first timer I’d go with them. All have wow factor
  2. Buy a ticket for one of the concerts. There is nothing quite like a live event, in this case of classical music, in an atmospheric venue. I went to listen to Vivaldi’s 4 seasons in the Karlskirche and it was absolutely fantastic (€12 – €48 and very easy to buy just outside the venue / online).  They were also advertising for similar concerts in Saint Stephen’s Cathedral, and I’m sure you can find them in other venues. The dress code is fairly easy for these events – I was told smart casual and to avoid flip flops / shorts, but several people were wearing them. Should last around 1.5hours – 2hours
  3. Take a wander around a slightly different part of Vienna for a mini break from the grandness! I walked along the Danube Danube and Alte Donau river areas, which were gorgeous and gave a view of what a more suburban setting in Vienna looks like (Das Bootshaus was a great restaurant along there as well)
  4. For where to stay. It’s probably easiest to base yourself anything within or just next to the Innere Stadt ring of the city (fairly obvious when you see it in a map), just for ease of walking to a few of the highlighted places. But, the subway system is super easy and Ubers are widely available so I don’t think it really matters where you stay

Salzburg and its Festung Hohensalzburg Fortress

Salzburg is very pretty with its pedestrianised Altstadt alongside the fast-flowing Salzach River, the mountains in the distance and, of course, the Festung Hohensalzburg Fortress looming over.  Its certainly worth a visit  and should be included in a week-long itinerary for Austria, but, and I’m being a little brutal on the comparison here, it is also quite similar to various other European cities so doesn’t particularly have the unique factor.  As I say, certainly worth a visit, but, if in the area, I would prioritise the magnificent palaces and concerts of Vienna (see Palaces, Concerts and Cathedrals in Imperial Vienna), the beer halls and nearby Neuschwanstein Castle castle of Munich (see Munich Christmas Markets, Beer Halls and visiting Neuschwanstein Castle), Prague “The City of a Hundred Spires” (see The spires of Prague and a day trip to Karlstejn Castle) and even Ljubliana with stunning Lake Bled nearby (seeWandering Ljubljana’s Old Town and Castle) ahead of it


One top tip for Salzburg – be sure to enjoy one of the Festungskonzerte (fortress concerts) in the Festung Hohensalzburg Fortress.  Something just magical about listening to Mozart in that setting, but need to book ahead

Skiing in Kitzbuhel

Kitzbuhel is one of Europe’s premier ski resorts and boasts, alongside its 185km / 115miles of ski runs, the legendary Kaiser run which is a staggering 8.3km / 5.2miles long, one of the world’s longest continuous runs from a chairlift and is part of the renowned Hahnenkamm-Rennen annual downhill race.  For sure enjoy the slopes, but its also a very pleasant place to be for non-skiers.  For example, I went with my family all of whom are are non skiers, and they loved the town which is a wonderful combination of pretty and sophisticated (the Austrians, of course, do this effortlessly).  You also have the options of heading up on some of the cable cars for the experience of the restaurants at the top and the views across the mountains.  I would in particular recommend the Kitzbuheler Hornbahn Cable Car which has sensational panoramic views from the 1996m / 6550ft Kitzbuheler Horn