Travel: Oh Vienna!

Beautiful landmarks, a rich history and easy access are among the many reasons why Vienna is worth a visit, writes Alyson Gray

My trips abroad tend usually end up consisting of a lot of sightseeing, a lot of history and an inordinate amount of walking, traipsing between historic sites in shoes which were not made for doing laps of a city every day for a week. Vienna was no exception.

Few cities manage to marry the old and the new quite like Vienna; whether you’re there to expand your historic knowledge, appreciate the arts, shop or enjoy the nightlife; the Austrian capital has something for everyone.

Many forget the importance this city once held; its grand architecture and magnificent palaces hit you almost immediately, making it apparent why Vienna was once the centre of Europe. For culture and history buffs, Vienna’s main sites are undoubtedly the Hofburg palace; the Museumsquartier; the Schloss Schonbrunn (the Summer Palace); and the Staatsoper, Vienna’s opera house. Each site offers regular tours with student-priced tickets; but for those on a budget, even the grounds of these locations are a necessity.

If you can only do one tour, make it that of the Summer Palace. Its history, architecture and decor are a must see. However, be there early, as during the summer months the queues are incredibly long. After viewing the palace, its grounds offer beautiful gardens, a large maze and labyrinth and Cafe Gloriette – where you can try some Viennese dishes, and more importantly, some of Vienna’s famous cakes.

On days when you’ve heard enough about Vienna’s long history, a trip to the world’s oldest zoo is recommended. Located just outside the city, it is easily reached by any of Vienna’s regular and efficient public transport options. Vienna is also home to one of the earliest ferris wheels in the Prater amusement park. This is also a great place to stop off for something to eat and drink, especially as not ordering beer seems to insult the restaurant staff.

Staying within the city centre is ideal, but even if you find yourself on the outskirts, transportation is made easy with an abundance of tramlines, underground train systems and bus routes, with one ticket serving all. Vienna’s International Airport, which Aer Lingus regularly fly in to, is also serviced by train and bus.

There’s a certain feeling you get in Vienna which is impossible to describe, it assures you that you are somewhere special, in a place that feels European but is unlike any other European city. Even though my memories of Vienna are tainted with flashbacks of daily 10k walks and blistering feet, I would move there in the morning – but not before buying better shoes.