Vienna lies on the shore of the Danube River in a valley protected by the foothills of the Alps. The city is organized into 23 districts, which (roughly) spiral clockwise around the first district, the old city limits. Most of the city's landmarks are located inside the Ringstrasse, a grand boulevard that replaced the city wall. However, there are compelling reasons to travel farther afield: To the northwest, near the Kahlenberg Mountain in the Vienna Woods, the 19th district is the place to find vineyards and Heurigen, as well as stunning views of the city; Schönbrunn Palace, once the country home of the Hapsburgs, is to the west of the city center, in the 14th district.
WHEN TO GO
In the main, Vienna has a very temperate climate, apart from when the temperature spikes into the 90s in July and August, and the bitterly cold winters (with the advantages of picturesque snow). Be prepared to spend lots of time outside—the Austrians just bundle up and order another mug of Glühwein (mulled wine). September, October, and late spring are particularly lovely, and with cultural events in full swing, these are often the best times to go.
HOW TO GET THERE
Austrian Airlines flies direct to Schwechat airport from New York's JFK, Washington's Dulles, and Chicago's O'Hare, while Delta operates a direct service out of Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson www.viennaairport.com. Taxis to anywhere inside the first nine districts are generally €30 (about $40). The comfortable City Airport Train (CAT) travels to Wien Mitte (Central Station) every half hour; the ride takes 16 minutes and tickets cost €8 (about $10.50). Airport buses cost €6 (about $8) and make various stops in the city.
Vienna has an outstanding public transportation system, the Wiener Linien, which includes the U-bahn (subway), trams, and buses. Single-ride tickets (which include transfers) are available at subway stations for €1.50 (about $2) and on trams and buses for €2 ($3). Passes for 24 and 72 hours cost €5 ($7) and €12 ($17); a weeklong pass costs €12.50 ($17.75). The subway runs from 5 am until 12:30 am., and regular trams and buses run from 5 am to midnight (there's also an overnight tram). Taxis are available and affordable—look for them at stands or simply hail one from the street. Drivers complain that the city is built for pedestrians and cyclists—which is great for tourists, and since parking is restricted and expensive, and the one-way streets will drive you crazy, renting a car is a bad idea. The well-placed Citybike terminals are a flexible and inexpensive way to rent wheels for city cycling: Rent one with a credit card (MasterCard or Visa) and return it to any of the 50 stations. The first hour is free (!); a second hour will cost you €1 (about $1.30); and a daylong Citybike card is a mere €2 ($3).
The information center at Albertinaplatz at the corner of Maysedergasse is open 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily (www.vienna.info).View Austria Factsheet