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The Emerald Experience > River and city guides > City Guide: The Best Things to See and Do in Vienna

City Guide: The Best Things to See and Do in Vienna

The cultural heart of Europe, shaped by an incomparable artistic and intellectual legacy.

Dissected by the winding Danube River, Vienna has long been a centre for artistic and cultural excellence. The Austrian capital is historically renowned for its contribution to theatre, opera, classical music and the fine arts – and this rich culture is still sewn into the streets and waterways of the city. 

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Vienna has been a site of continuous habitation for more than 2,500 years, with changing architectural standards and styles creating a unique and eclectic atmosphere. The city proudly boasts some of the world’s foremost examples of Baroque, Rococo, Romanesque, Classicist and Modern architecture – creating one of Europe’s most beautiful and captivating capitals.

The Danube River was a major factor for the Celts, the city’s earliest known habitants, choosing modern day Vienna as a settlement in 500BC. The city was then strengthened by the resident Roman army in 15BC against the threat of Germanic tribes to the north.
Vienna’s golden period occurred between 1483 and 1806, when it grew to become the de facto capital of the Holy Roman Empire and the world’s cultural heart. Best known for its contribution to classical music; Vienna was home to the likes of Mozart, Beethoven, Haydn and Schubert in this period. 
Today, Vienna remains one of the wealthiest and most prosperous regions within the European Union, and one of the continent’s most alluring tourist destinations. A walk or cruise through Vienna offers an incredible insight into the past, perfect for spending a few hours or days exploring.

Historic Centre

A city rich with so much history, the centre of Vienna provides exceptional views and settings whichever way you face. To take it all in, a stroll through the historic centre is an absolute must. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the centre is awash with Baroque castles, lush gardens, ancient buildings and poignant monuments.  

Schönbrunn Palace

The former imperial summer residence, the impressive Schönbrunn Palace  houses 1,441 rooms in a stunning Baroque building. With over 300 years of history between its walls, the building is one of the most important cultural monuments in the whole of Austria. 
Perhaps the highlight of the palace is the selection of 32 stunning sculptures in the Schönbrunn Garden – representing 32 different deities and virtues. 

Zoo Vienna

Officially known as Tiergarten Schönbrunn, the Viennese zoo is located in the gardens of the Schönbrunn Palace and remains the oldest zoo in the world. Still hugely popular today, the zoo has hit the headlines over the centuries – not least when it became the home of the first elephant born in captivity in 1906.

Hofburg Palace

The Hofburg Palace is the former imperial palace of Austria, located in the centre of Vienna. Still serving as the residence and workplace of the President of Austria, the site has been home to figures of politics and monarchy for almost 600 years. 
The hugely impressive building includes the Austrian National Library, the Natural History Museum, a centre for congress, a theatre and a Spanish Riding School. 
The approach to the palace is dominated by a huge stature of the Archduke Charles on horseback. 


One of the largest parks in the city, Stadtpark is dedicated to Vienna’s greatest musical triumphs. With busts of Schubert, Bruckner and Lehár dotted throughout the park, it also plays host to the beautifully finished statue of Johann Strauss. 

Fast Facts

With a rich history and far-reaching cultural impact, Vienna is the owner of many interesting titles and accomplishments. 
-    The population of Vienna is 1.82 million people
-    Vienna is home to 14 Universities
-    The city offers the world’s best quality of living, according to Mercer
-    In fact, the entire city centre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site
-    Vienna is home to the world’s oldest zoo
-    And the world’s oldest carousel
-    Famous people to have been born in Vienna include Johann Strauss, Maria von Trapp and Marie Antoinette 
-    Vienna has earned the nicknames ‘City of Dreams’ and ‘City of Music’
-    It is the only capital city to produce its own wine
-    Pez sweets and the snow globe were both invented in Vienna

Enjoy an exclusive viennese concert

Enjoy an exclusive viennese concert


While in Vienna with Emerald Waterways, why not enjoy a night at one of Vienna's beautiful concert halls and experience a private concert?
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