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Set in the heart of Central Europe, Vienna has always attracted visitors for its imperial treasures and outstanding cultural heritage. It has endless attractions and sites of architectural, cultural and historic importance and each of the city's districts offer something different.
Largely undamaged by World War II, the Ringstrasse is one of Europe's great boulevards. It boasts magnificent edifices created for cultural and political institutions, but also elegant parks and traditional coffee houses. In the neighbouring Landrasse you will find Vienna's greatest baroque buildings: Belvedere Palace and Karlskirsche. The monumental architecture of both palace and church have justly made the city renowned for its splendid late-flowering of the style.
In the centre of the city lies in Innere Stadt, home to the city's top attractions of St. Stephen's Cathedral and the impressive imperial palace of the Hofburg, These are the highlights of Vienna's ancient and historic heart, but everywhere in the Innere Stadt you will encounter the entire palette of architectural styles and curiosities.
Alsergrund, to the north of the city, is a residential area dotted with palaces, churches and other places of interest, offering a traditional insight into this beautiful city, The district's most notable attraction is the home of the late Sigmund Freud, who lived in the area for 47 years.
Read more on this destination in the AA Citypack Guide to Vienna.
Must-see attractions in Vienna
Schönbrunn Palace - Schönbrunn is a cold, if imposing, palace, which was designed to show how many rooms a great monarch could afford. Yet Maria Theresa made it a cheerful home for her twelve surviving children. Built between 1744 and 1749, it features vast corridors of gilded and crimson displays, paired with works of art and ceiling frescoes celebrating the Hasbergs. In the grounds there is also a zoo and museum. Palace open Apr-Jun, Sep & Oct daily: 8.30am-5pm & Nov-Mar daily: 8.30am-4pm.
Stephensdom - St Stephen's Cathedral has been the spiritual focus of the Viennese people since the Middle Ages - its huge 'Pummerin Bell' rings in the New Year. The great South Tower is affectionately known as the Steffl, meaning 'Little Steve'. Its striking yellow, green and black tiled roof is representative of the Habsburg double-headed eagle. South Tower open daily: 9am-5.30pm & the Church, Treasury and Belltower Mon-Sat: 9am-11.30am & 1pm-4.40pm, Sun: 1pm-4.30pm.
Karlskirche - St Charle's Church is one of Europe's finest baroque buildings. The symbolism in the two exotic columns at the front, fashioned on Trojan's Column in Rome, illustrates Habsburg secular power and spiritual legitimacy. Be sure to access the cupola to see the ceiling fresco up close and get a panoramic view of the city. Open Mon-Sat 9am-6pm & Sun 12pm-5:45pm.
Narrenturm - You may find it bizarre or gruesome but you won't forget a visit to this 18th century, circular Fools' Tower, now home to a museum. Be prepared for its gruesome medical chamber of horrors. Built in 1784, each of its five floors featured 28 cells for mental patients and was an aslyum up until 1866, although not everyone who was locked up here was mad. Open Sep-Jul: Wed 3pm-6pm, Thu 8am-11am & first Sat of the month 10am-1p.
Hofburg Palace - It is said that the Habsburgs never finished their great projects; the Hofburg (their former imperial residence) is a famous example of their unfinished business. It houses secular and sacred treasuries containing the crowns of the Holy Roman Empire and the Empire of Austria, and is home to the Vienna Boys' Choir and the dancing horses of the Spanish Riding School. State Apartments open daily: 9am-5pm, Treasury open Wed-Mon: 10am-6pm, Riding School open for performances on Sundays at 11am (reservations are needed).
Freud Museum - Some of the 20th century's most influential ideas came from the tennant of No.5, Berggasse 19. Whether you think of Freud as a genius or as a cantankerous authoritarian, it is interesting to see the place where his work began. Visitors can explore the lecture hall, library, research centre and the museum's wonderful art collection. Open Jul-Sep daily: 9am-5pm & Oct-Jun: 9am-6pm.
Belvedere Palace - After St. Stephen's Cathedral, the restored Belvedere Palace is Vienna's most important landmark. It was built in the early 18th century for Prince Eugene of savoy, the most successful general in Austria's history. Split into Upper and Lower Belvedere, the palace complex is comprised of two seperate palaces plus museums, stables, fragrant alpine gardens and the Orangery, displaying vast collections of art. Open daily: 10am-6pm (9pm on Wednesdays), Stables open daily 10am-noon & Alpine Garden Apr-Jun: 10am-6pm.
Albertina - Louis Montoyer built this gallery between 1801 and 1804 to house the magnificent collection of drawings, engravings and artworks assembled by Duke Albert of Saschen-Teschen. It's one of the world's largest graphic collections and holds over one million items. In the ground floor area, the Albertina houses the Austrian Film Museum. Open daily: 10am-6pm (9pm on Wednesdays).
Jewish Quarter - The historic Jewish Quarter of Vienna has two focal points, the old temple in Seitenstettengasse and the new Holocaust Memorial on Judenplatz. Today's Jewish community is in the Second District (Leopoldstadt), north-east of the Danube Canal. The Stadttempl is the only place of Jewish worship that survived the Nazi pogroms in Vienna and across the street from it is the oldest existing church in the city, the Ruprechtskirsche. Stadttempl open for guided tours Mon & Thu at 11.30am or 2pm. Ruprechtskirsche open Mon-Fri: 10am-12pm, Mon & Wed: 3pm-5pm, Fri: 10am-1pm.
Kahlenburg - If you've had enough of culture and need some fresh air, visit the hills north of the city. You can drink a glass of wine in one of the villages and still see some fine architecture on the way. The area lies in the north-eastern foothills of the Eastern Alps and offers spectacular views of Vienna. Visit Heiligenstadt, the oldest of Vienna's wine-growing villages, famous for the Heiligenstadt Testament that Beethoven wrote in his lodgings here. Testament Museum open Tue-Sun: 10am-1pm & 2pm-6pm.