Long, long before there was a Starbucks in Vienna there was a thriving coffee-house culture, where musicians (such as Beethoven and Mozart) would play, and writers and poets – and ordinary Viennese folk – would meet to drink coffee, eat Gebaeck (pastry), read newspapers and debate the issues of the day.
If some of these coffee houses with red plush and glittering chandeliers resemble palaces, they are nothing compared to the real palaces in Vienna. Austria’s stately capital city was centre of the Habsburg Empire for more than 600 years and boasts the Hofburg (winter palace), Schönbrunn (summer palace) and the Spanish Riding School where the Lipizzaner horses live.
The top museums to visit are the Kunsthistorisches Museum (has the world’s fourth-largest art collection); the Belvedere (once a palace, boasts collections by Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele); and the Sigmund Freud Museum on Berggasse 19. The Naturhistorische Museum is said to be the finest natural history museum in the world.
Cheap flights to Vienna land at Vienna International. Book early and book often; between food and drink and music and culture and history, one visit to Vienna will not be enough.
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Vienna has four seasons with cold winters and warm summers. Rainfall is light with only nine or so days of rain or snow a month. November through February are the coldest months with temperatures dropping to -5 or so in January and December. Summer is from Easter to mid-October and can be quite hot and sticky. July and August are the warmest months with temperatures reaching the mid-20s. The fohn, a warm wind from Italy over the Alps, is known for making tempers flare.
Vienna’s high season is April through October with July and August the peak months. The winter sports season is also busy, and many Austrians visit the city for the Christmas, New Year, and Easter holidays. Advance reservations are a must during the peak seasons.
The weather in June and September make them perfect months for visiting, but they are still quite crowded.
In late spring to early summer and late autumn to early winter the weather is still pleasant enough for travel, and there is less demand for restaurant tables and hotel accommodations. Hotel rooms are also less expensive during the off season.