Climate and temperature
Vienna has a mild continental climate. Even if the occasional winter day is icy and some days in high summer can bring sweltering heat to the palaces of the old city, most days of the year the weather matches the residents of the city: friendly, mild and moderate in every respect.
Shops are usually open Mon - Fri from 9.00 am - 6.30 pm, Sat until 5.00 pm or 6.00 pm; some shopping centres are open until 8.00 pm or 9.00 from Mon-Fri.
Shopping is available on Sundays and holidays at the large railway stations, at the airport and in the museum shops.
Restaurants and hot food
Most restaurants in the city centre are open daily. Hot food is generally offered from 11.00 am - 2.00 pm and from 6.00 pm - 10.00 pm. Many restaurants also serve hot food throughout the day. Some restaurants, often outside the city centre, are closed on one day each week, sometimes on Sundays as well. Night-owls can silence late or even early hunger pangs at a typical Viennese sausage stand.
Sights and Attractions
The Wachau Valley is a stretch of the Danube River between Melk and Krems in Lower Austria. It has been peopled since prehistoric times. How do we know this? Because its surrounding mountains contains traces of millennia of civilization, from agricultural use to architecture including villages, castles and monasteries, particularly dating from medieval times. Melk Abbey is rich in art and history and is a good place to start. Another way to see the area is by boat cruise down the Danube, seeing the many villages unfold as you round each bend in the river.
In 2002, UNESCO listed it as a World Heritage Cultural Landscape so it must be good.
Melk Abbey (German: Stift Melk) was originally a palace, and it shows. Located on the bank of the Danube River between Salzburg and Vienna, Melk Abbey stands crowned by towers and resplendent in a golden hue.
The impressive Baroque ensemble at Melk was built in 1702-1736 by architect Jakob Prandtauer. Especially noteworthy is the church with magnificent frescoes by Johann Michael Rottmayr and the library containing countless medieval manuscripts.
The monastic community of Melk is over 900 years old and black-robed Benedictine monks still stroll amidst the marble sculptures and frescoed walls. It is now also a prestigious coed monastery school with more than 700 students.
Walk in the footsteps of the Habsburgs, visit the splendid baroque Schönbrunn and Belvedere Palaces, or stroll along the magnificent Ring Boulevard and take a look at the heart of the former vast Habsburg Empire, the Imperial Palace. Get a sense of the luster and glory of the old empire by visiting St. Stephen’s Cathedral, the Spanish Riding School, and the Giant Ferris Wheel at the Prater, as well as the sarcophagi in the Imperial Vault.
St. Stephen's Cathedral
Austria's most eminent Gothic edifice, houses a wealth of art treasures, some of which can only be seen during a guided tour:
The red-marble sepulcher of Emperor Frederick III, sculpted from 1467 to 1513 by Niclas Gerhaert van Leyden; the pulpit, a work from 1514-15 by Anton Pilgram (who put his own relief portrait underneath it as his signature); the Altarpiece of Wiener Neustadt (Wiener Neustädter Altar), a Gothic winged altar from 1447 - and the tomb of Prince Eugene of Savoy, dating from 1754.
The world-famous waxworks museum Madame Tussauds is a highlight in the Vienna Prater.
71 wax figures can be seen at Madame Tussauds on Riesenradplatz in Vienna's Prater. Emperor Franz Joseph and his wife Sisi, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Falco, Maria Theresia and Gustav Klimt are just some of the local personalities and historic people to be seen on 2,000 m² of exhibition space (spread over three floors). In specially created interactive settings, you can also take an intelligence test against Albert Einstein, conduct the "Blue Danube" waltz with Johann Strauß or try to beat football legend Hans Krankl in a penalty shoot-out.
International celebrities are also heavily represented: Johnny Depp, Nicole Kidman, Robert Pattinson, Angelina Jolie and Michael Jackson "represent" the show business industry. Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela represent world politics.
The wax figures of Madame Tussauds have fascinated people for more than 150 years.
The new luxury shopping area in Vienna’s Old City offers exclusive flagship stores of Louis Vuitton, Emporio Armani, Miu Miu, and Roberto Cavalli - and soon to be joined by Prada and Yves Saint Laurent, Miu Miu, Etro, Vivienne Westwood Shop Vienna.
One of the most exclusive shopping districts in the city is being created in the heart of the 1st district, on the extension of the elegant Kohlmarkt. The "Goldenes Quartier", or Golden Quarter, promises luxury shopping pleasure in a historic ambience on around 11,500 m2.
The new luxury shopping area lies between Tuchlauben, Bognergasse and Am Hof. The elegant flagship stores of international designer labels can be found here: Emporio Armani, Louis Vuitton, Miu Miu, Roberto Cavalli, Brioni, Mulberry and Etro.
A Vivienne Westwood outlet opened on the edge of this exclusive area in September 2012 on Tuchlauben. In addition to the eccentric designer's wide range of fashion lines, the shop also offers the custom-tailored couture normally only seen at the main shop in London.
Shopping at the palace
Viennese palaces once served as city residences for noble families. Today they are home to numerous interesting shops, particularly in the historic city centre.
The term palace was originally used to describe a noble residence that, as opposed to a castle, was neither fortified nor in a rural setting. In Vienna, where the Habsburg family resided for centuries, numerous noble families from all over the empire settled in the capital to be near the Hofburg. After World War II many of the palaces were sold by their original owners. Today they house government ministries, embassies, museums and shops.
The concentration of palaces is particularly high in the 1st district of the city’s old town. The Ferstel Palace takes centre stage on the expansive Freyung square. Architect Heinrich Ferstel, who also designed the city’s Ringstrasse Boulevard, drew his inspiration from the Venetian-Florentine Trecento style. The palace’s arcade houses shops selling antique and jewellery, interior design studios, and one of Vienna’s premiere chocolatiers, Xocolat. The Harrach Palace next door features house wares retailers and art galleries.
There are also breathtaking palaces to be seen in the pedestrian zones along Kohlmarkt, Graben and Kärtner Strasse. The Dorotheum Palace, built on the site of the former Dorotheerkloster convent, has been the seat of the internationally renowned Dorotheum auction house since 1901. A few doors down is the Dietrichstein Palace, which is home to the Doblinger music shop, one of Europe’s largest purveyors of sheet music.