City of waltzes and Habsburg glory, Vienna still charms with elegant architecture, thriving arts, and lush gardens. Witness the Ringstrasse, sip local vintages in the wine district, and explore the UNESCO World Heritage Site Schoenbrunn Palace. Plus, you’ll enjoy ample leisure time to make discoveries on your own in this enchanting city.
- It's Included:
- Bus transportation from Budapest to Vienna
- Accommodations for 5 nights in Vienna
- 9 meals—5 breakfasts, 2 lunches, and 2 dinners
- 4 small group activities
- Services of our own resident OAT Trip Leader, who speaks English and the native language
- All transfers
After breakfast, we’ll ride from Budapest to Vienna. En route, we’ll pause for a visit at Pannonhalma Abbey, one of Hungary’s oldest historic sites. Dating from AD 966, the hilltop abbey is home to a Gothic Basilica with a 13th-century crypt, a library boasting 360,000 volumes, including the oldest Hungarian text, and a botanical garden with hundreds of tree and bush species. After lunch at a local restaurant, we continue to Vienna, arriving this afternoon. After check-in at our hotel, we enjoy an orientation walk led by our Trip Leader. The balance of the day is at leisure.
Dinner is on your own this evening.
After breakfast, our Vienna city tour features the Ringstrasse, probably the greatest achievement of the Emperor Franz Joseph. This boulevard encircling the Innen Stadt was mapped out in the 1860s along the ramparts Joseph II had begun clearing 80 years prior. The Neo-Classical buildings along the Ringstrasse bring together all the greatest architectural styles in an exuberant celebration of all that seemed possible during the Industrial Revolution. Then, we'll see another side of Vienna with a stop at the Naschmarkt for lunch together. A spectacular multicultural marketplace that dates back to the 16th century, Naschmarkt is located along and above the Wien River. Stalls and vendors offering everything from exotic fruits and vegetables to sidewalk art here. There are also galleries, coffeehouses, and restaurants poking out of narrow alleyways. It’s a lively, fun setting for our lunch together.
Explore the market at your own leisure or begin your independent discoveries of Vienna this afternoon. This evening, dinner is on your own
This morning, we explore the expansive summer estate of Habsburg royalty, Schoenbrunn Palace (whose name means “beautiful spring”). Featuring 1,400 rooms, meticulously maintained gardens, and an architectural legacy that stretches back to the 17th century, the palace is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Our visit includes a tour of palace highlights and free time to spend exploring the palace’s stunning park and gardens.
After lunch on your own, the afternoon is at leisure. Make discoveries at your own pace in the city that served as home and inspiration to some of the world’s greatest artists, thinkers, and musicians. You’ll see statues of Strauss, Mozart, Beethoven, and Mahler throughout the city, monuments to the integral nature of music in Viennese life. The numerous performances of the Vienna State Opera House are the constant talk of the town, and its performers are treated like celebrities. The strains of waltz music emanate from the many cafes, and when the weather agrees, the entertainment moves outdoors to the sidewalks.
We gather this evening for dinner together with local vintages in the Grinzing wine district at an authentic Heurigen restaurant. The Heurigen tradition began when Emperor Joseph II passed a law stating that small local winemakers were allowed to serve their vintages and food to members of the public so long as they sold only wine of their own making. Many people then opened the gardens of their own homes and small estates, and visiting one of these establishments became a traditional outing for the city dwellers. It's a rich tradition that is maintained today. After dinner, we return by motorcoach to our hotel, pausing at 1,500-foot-high Kahlenberg Mountain for city views at night.
The day is free to relax or explore on your own. You may want to stroll through the old Jewish Quarter and see the only Viennese synagogue to have survived 1938’s Kristallnacht, or visit the magnificent Hofburg Palace. This imposing palace was home to Austria’s Habsburg rulers since the 13th century. It’s an awe-inspiring, sprawling complex of buildings that originally served as a fortress (complete with drawbridge). Over the years, various Habsburgs added many touches, often Baroque in style.
Or, join us for our optional Wachau Valley tour. Enjoy the stunning scenery of one of the most beautiful parts of the Danube, the Wachau Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site consisting of a landscape of sculpted hills and medieval towns built along the river. Our first stop will be Melk, home to the 900-year-old Baroque Melk Abbey. After lunch in Melk, we hike in lush Spitz, a village of vineyards and hills, one of which is so famous for its prodigious wine grapes that it’s known as “The Hill of a Thousand Buckets.” We'll also cruise to the picturesque city of Durnstein, known for its rocky terrain and the medieval castle overlooking the town proper. In the late twelfth century, Britain’s King Richard the Lionheart was held captive in this castle by Duke Leopold V. We enjoy a walking tour here before returning to Vienna.
We spend a final day at leisure for discoveries on our own. You might explore St. Stephen’s Cathedral, whose stately spire has overlooked the city since the days of the Turkish attacks in 1683. With its Romanesque facade, Gothic tower, and Baroque altars, the cathedral embodies the Viennese art of balancing several great architectural styles in a single structure. Or, experience a light-hearted local favorite with a visit to famous Prater Park. This old-fashioned amusement park was given to the Austrian people by the Emperor Franz Joseph as a place to have fun. You’ll enjoy a thrilling ride on the Riesenrad, the park’s giant Ferris wheel. Built in 1897, it is one of the oldest and largest in the world, and became internationally recognized after the famous ride of Orson Welles and Joseph Cotton in the classic film The Third Man.
We toast our adventure with a Farewell Drink tonight before we enjoy dinner together in a local restaurant.
After breakfast, we are transferred to the airport for your flight home.