Wien, or Vienna in English, has been the capital city of Austria for almost a century, having been the first city of the Habsburg Empire for over 600 years before that. The city centre has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its cultural and historical importance, and the mighty Donau (Danube River) flows through the its heart.
In the present day, the city is a vibrant central European hub, full of chic eateries, trendy nightclubs and an active arts scene. Alongside all of this sits the very clear legacy of the city’s past as an imperial metropolis, in the form of ornate and imposing palaces, meticulously maintained parks and numerous monuments.
To learn more about this rich history and to admire the spoils of rule from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, visit the Hofburg Imperial Palace. In the same complex, the Albertina offers a fabulous, world-renowned collection of art, while the MuseumsQuartier is a busy gathering place for cultural events.
The Innere Stadt, which is bound by the Danube on one side and the Ringstraße (Circling Street) on the others, is also home to a number of other cultural hotspots. Admire the splendid Rathaus (Vienna City Hall) and Vienna State Opera, or while away an afternoon at the excellent Naturhistorisches Museum (Natural History Museum).
Native Viennese artist Gustav Klimt is adored here, and his masterpieces are on show in some top galleries, including the Burgtheater, the Museum of Art History (Kusthistorisches Museum) and the Belvedere. If you’re visiting the city with people who are a little too young for art appreciation, then a visit to the Schönbrunn Palace to see the world's oldest zoo offers a fun alternative.
The importance of Vienna as a melting pot for musicians, groundbreaking thinkers and fantastic artists down through the years is difficult to overstate: Beethoven, Schubert, Mozart, Strauss and Hayden all lived here, as did Sigmund Freud and the aforementioned Gustav Klimt. Many of these stellar names can be honoured with a visit to their final resting places in the Central Cemetery.