Visit Vienna for a weekend to remember
With its rich architectural history and its culture of balls and opera nights, it’s certainly strange that Vienna is still something of a forgotten gem when it comes to selecting a venue for a special weekend break.
In some respects, that is no bad thing, as you can enjoy all that this magnificent city has to offer without feeling part of a herd of tourists, a sensation that is all too familiar when visiting the more obvious locations such as Paris, Milan or Rome.
Here, we take a look at where to stay and what to do in this iconic city. Give it a try, chances are, you will find that a weekend is just not enough and will soon be planning a repeat visit.
Where to stay
There is no shortage of luxury hotels, and if you are only there for a couple of nights, you might as well treat yourself to one of the best.
Hotel Sacher is a family run facility that has been welcoming the elite for almost 150 years, counting President Kennedy and Queen Elizabeth II among its most famous guests. Yet that doesn’t mean it is a stuffy place where you have to speak in hushed tones. The atmosphere is a great combination of cool meeting culture. It is also ideally placed, just to the rear of the Vienna State Opera House.
If it is imperial splendour you are looking for, the Hotel Imperial was formerly the private residence of Duke Philipp of Württemberg and Duchess Marie Therese, before being converted into a hotel in the 1870s. The interior is exactly what you would expect from the 19th century Viennese style. Ornate marble, an outrageously wide Royal Staircase and enormous crystal chandeliers wherever you look.
Another super high end hotel that is well worth a visit is The Ritz-Carlton Vienna. Set within four historic palaces three minutes’ walk from Vienna State Opera, this five star establishment blends traditional sophistication with modern luxury. The Ritz-Carlton is widely regarded as Vienna’s leading luxury hotel, with travel comparison website HotelsCombined describing the accommodation here as “capturing the very essence of Vienna”.
What to do
When it comes to luxury and sophistication, there are two things you simply cannot miss in Vienna: A night at the opera and a traditional Viennese ball.
For the former, look no further than the beautiful Vienna State Opera House, which dominates the Ringstrasse, slap bang in the centre of the city. Whether you are a devotee or you have never been before, you are guaranteed a unique experience you will never forget. The opera is enormously popular, so avoid disappointment by purchasing tickets in advance from a website like viennaoperatickets.com.
The other unmissable experience is to channel your inner Jane Austin (or Mr Darcy) by attending one of Vienna’s famous balls. Visit during carnival season, between January and March, and there will be a choice of quite literally hundreds, but even at other times of the year, there will always be a ball happening somewhere.
With a few exceptions, they are open to the public, and the general practice is that you pay an entry fee with proceeds being donated to charity, so you will be doing something towards a good cause, too. Dress to impress, that means a dinner jacket for the gentlemen and a ballgown for the ladies.