A storybook cityscape of colorful baroque buildings, imperial enclaves, castles, Art Nouveau structures and cobblestone streets, Vienna has swimmable beaches, green spaces and museums galore. Even better, it boasts a wine region right inside its city limits. Renowned for its living room–like coffeehouses, and a food culture that deifies delicate cakes and pastries as much as robust sausages and meats, it also brandishes top-notch contemporary-style Michelin-starred outposts. Called the City of Music for its interactions with some of history’s most famed composers, including Mozart, Haydn, Schubert and Beethoven, Vienna still draws crowds for performances by the beloved Vienna Boys’ Choir and productions at the spectacular State
Opera House. Proudly upholding centuries of royal tradition, the city continues to host hundreds of formal dances each year (formal attire and waltzing skills are de rigueur). Even the capital city’s youngest denizens learn to waltz, ensuring this legacy will continue. Ever edgy beneath its fancy surface, Vienna has a history of renegade artists, philosophers, musicians, writers and designers, and cannily continues to meld innovation with rituals from the past and hip thinking with charming convention.
by Becca Hensley
CINDERELLA TIME Ball season in Vienna runs November through February, and it’s not just the Viennese who attend. Bespoke ball packages for the prestigious Opera Ball, slated for February 28, 2019, can be procured from premier travel agents (such as Smolka Tours, Tauck Tours or Avanti Destinations), and may include ball tickets, waltzing lessons and after-ball activities. Private waltzing tutorials are also available at Elmayer Dance School. smolkatours.com, tauck. com, avantidestinations.com
REGAL SHOPPING Showing a coat of arms with the Imperial double-headed eagle, shops designated to be royal purveyors to the court were highly regarded during the Habsburg reign. Today, many of these stores still bear the emblem and sell quality goods from jewels to chandeliers to shoes for discerning shoppers. Take a guided shopping tour to the top princely emporiums with ShoppingWith Lucie, or book individually at stores such as J & L Lobmeyr, Scheer, Demel or AE Köchert. shoppingwithlucie.com
GOURMET GAMBOL Distinctly local Viennese cuisine runs the gamut from elegant to hearty. Wienerschnitzel (a light, airy fried cutlet), Apfelstrudel (layered apple tart), Tafelspitz (boiled beef), Kaiserschmarrn (sweet, shredded pancakes served with fruit compotes) and Liptauer (a creamy spread) are just some foods you’ll want to taste. Join Culinary Sightseeing, a foodie favorite, for a customized insider tour to places not regularly opened to the public. culinarysightseeing.com
WINE DOWN As one of Austria’s most significant wine regions, Vienna holds myriad characteristic wine taverns called heurigen . Casual and affordable, they’re a lovely way to explore the local fruit of the vine. But beneath the city, Palais Coburg boasts a collection of wine valued at more than $26m. Visit this wine archive of more than 60,000 bottles on an elite guided tour through the subterranean cellars. Enjoy medieval architecture while tasting rare Austrian wines. palais-coburg.com