Coffee and Culture from Vienna on the Danube
Vienna is a highlight of any Danube River cruise in Europe. River ships from all the major river cruise lines including AMAWaterways, Avalon, Grand Circle, Tauck, Uniworld, and Viking all have Danube River cruises with stopovers in Vienna.
Prior to World War I, Vienna was the capital of the powerful Habsburg Empire. Today Vienna's glory is in her past, but the city is still a marvelous place to visit. Most of the grand palaces and buildings are from the 17th century, but they have been well-preserved or substantially renovated. River ship passengers spend the day in Vienna, touring via bus, subway, and on foot. In the evening, a wonderful concert in one of the old palaces is usually available as an optional excursion. Be sure to take time to enjoy a Viennese coffee house and some of the city's highlights in your free time.
The historic center of the city of Vienna is on the UNESCO World Heritage list.
Belvedere Palace has a magnificent view of the rest of Vienna and is a good place to start your tour of Vienna.
Belvedere Palace was the home of Price Eugene of Savoy, who conquered the Turks. The palace is an art museum today and has beautiful grounds.
Belvedere Palace in Vienna and its Baroque Gardens
The 400-foot steeple in the distance is St. Stephan's Cathedral in old town Vienna. No other tall buildings are allowed nearby.
Belvedere Palace - Lower Palace and View of Old Town Vienna
A closer look at St. Stephan's Cathedral from Belvedere Palace.
Vienna Opera House
The Vienna Opera House is one of the most famouse operas in the world. It has been beautifully rebuilt since the World War II bombings of Vienna.
The Vienna Opera House has almost 300 shows per year, and the opera schedule varies each day. It's a busy place! If you just want a peek at an opera, the Vienna Opera House has standing room tickets available 80 minutes before show time.
St. Stephan's Cathedral - Vienna, Austria
St. Stephan's is the massive Gothic cathedral of Vienna.
The current church is the third to stand on this spot in Vienna. The second church survived the bombings of Vienna in World War II, but fire destroyed the roof near the end of the war during fierce fighting between the Nazis and the Russians. People in Vienna adore this old cathedral, and the roof was redone in its original glory by 1952. The beautiful ceramic tiles are decorative and are "owned" by donors who contributed to the renovation.
The church square surrounding St. Stephan's is quite lively, with lots of vendors. It is a fun place to people watch or as a meeting place for tour groups.
Plague Monument in Vienna, Austria
Vienna's location on the Danube made it a travel hub during the seventeenth century. However, river ships brought plague-bearing rats. In addition, the city did not have an effective way of disposing of garbage, which exacerbated the situation.
People did not understand that plague came from fleas on these rats. They thought it was a punishment from God, so they tried to bribe God with ornate monuments such as this one, which was designed to thank God.
This monument was built by Emperor Leopold in about 1690.
Hofburg Palace in Vienna, Austria
The massive Hofburg Palace dominates the old town area of Vienna. It was constructed over 600 years--from the 13th to the 20th century.
This view of the Imperial Apartments of the Hofburg Palace and the grand entry facade was taken from Michaelerplatz, one of the many squares of Vienna.
Schonbrunn Palace in Vienna, Austria
Schonbrunn Palace in Vienna is Austria's Versailles. It is about 4 miles from the center of Vienna, but can be reached easily via tram.
Schonbrunn was the Hapsburg's summer residence. It has over 1400 rooms, of which 40 are open to the public. The exterior is baroque, and the interior is rococco. Schonbrunn is a great example of how the royals lived in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. The Palace and Gardens of Schonbrunn became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996.
Mexican Cathedral in Vienna, Austria
This church is nicknamed the "Mexican" cathedral to celebrate Austria's close ties with Mexico. It was just a block from where the Viking Spirit was docked on the Danube River.