The city’s very name provokes images of elegance, fine music, wide boulevards, Baroque architecture and a rich tapestry of people who were drawn here from all corners of Europe.
For 200 years until the First World War, Vienna was the cultural centre of Europe and many of the showpiece buildings, galleries, aristocratic palaces and magnificent churches you see today were built to reflect its imperial status. The city’s most iconic monument is the breathtaking Saint Stephen’s Cathedral, whose striking multi-coloured roof and huge Gothic South Tower dominate the skyline.
There’s also the colossal Hofburg, the former royal court that is now home to a collection of museums, the Crown Jewels and the Spanish Riding School, and where the Vienna Boys’ Choir performs. Then there are the lavish Imperial Apartments and an outstanding collection of relics of the Holy Roman Empire, including, allegedly, the sabre of Charlemagne himself. The Kunsthistorisches Museum, which contains the world’s fourth-largest collection of paintings, is just across the road.
This morning we’ll tour the city with a local guide who’ll offer insights into why Vienna is one of Europe’s great capitals – it was the seat of the Habsburg emperors and played host to some of the world’s finest classical composers, including Beethoven, Brahms, Mozart and, of course, a whole family of Strausses.
Later, after lunch on board, we'll take the short drive to explore Schönbrunn Palace - one of the most popular sights in Vienna. We'll experience the opulence of the Habsburg dynasty and explore the stunning architecture, richly furnished rooms and expansive garden of this UNESCO World Heritage site.
While the palace was commissioned in the 17th century by Emperor Leopold I, it was Empress Marie Theresa who transformed it into the Palace we see today. On the imperial tour, we'll see the grandeur of Austria's imperial history, walking in the footsteps of Empress Maria Theresa and Emperor Franz Joseph. Adorned with exquisite furniture, elaborate chandeliers, and intricate wall hangings, these rooms offer a glimpse into the extravagant lifestyle of the Habsburg dynasty. Don't miss the portraits in the Great Gallery, the exotic influences of the 'Chinese Cabinets', and the impressive Hall of Ceremonies.
This evening we’ve arranged what is truly the ‘icing on the cake’: After a spectacular Captain's dinner, we’ll enjoy a classical recital. No visit to Vienna is complete without a live musical experience, to hear this exquisite music played in the city of its creation makes a wonderful finale to the day. Later this evening, we’ll begin the final journey to Budapest.
+ Included experience – Guided tour of Vienna, afternoon visit to Schönbrunn Palace & live classical recital