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Vienna is steeped in music, art, and history, making it a perfect destination for culture vultures. From enjoying its centuries-old passion for classical music at concerts to exploring its art museums and discovering its celebrated coffeehouses, here’s how to experience the Austrian capital’s cultural offerings.
Vienna’s museums brim with classical, imperial-era, and modern art. Topping the agenda is the Art History Museum (Kunsthistorisches Museum), with works by Rubens, Rembrandt, and Bruegel, as well as ancient and classical treasures. Other institutions include Belvedere Palace, whose collections include masterpieces such as Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss and pieces by Monet and Van Gogh. Explore on a tour to benefit from a guide’s commentary, or save precious vacation time by prebooking admission tickets online.
The Austrian capital’s rich musical heritage lies in the great 18th- and early 19th-century composers—Mozart, Beethoven, and Strauss—who all lived in the city. The result is a rolling program of concerts staged in Vienna’s Hapsburg-era venues, with some including dinner and musicians in period costume. Popular options range from Mozart recitals at the State Opera House and Musikverein to wider classical concerts at the city’s churches.
The Spanish Riding School is entwined in Vienna’s history, having been established as a horse-and-rider-training school by Austria’s Hapsburg rulers in the 1500s. Its stables and arena lie within Hofburg Palace, and its stars are its dressage-performing, white Lipizzaner stallions. Watch a demonstration by booking a ticket, or get a behind-the-scenes look on a tour of the school.
Coffeehouses and Vienna have gone hand in hand since the 16th century, serving not only as places to enjoy top-notch coffee and the city’s famously rich cakes, but as meeting places for great artists and writers. Tap into the tradition on a tasting tour of some celebrated cafés, or broaden your sights to include Vienna’s other culinary delights—such as chocolate and wine.
Vienna had one of Europe’s largest Jewish populations for centuries until the Nazis decimated it; today the city again boasts a vibrant Jewish community. Discover this key strand of its culture on walking tours around the historical Jewish quarter, seeing everything from ornate synagogues to memorials that mark the Holocaust as a guide explains the city’s deep-seated Jewish heritage.