The first impression of Vienna, Austria’s capital, is acceptance and diversity!

The tourist brochures proudly list the historic highlights, natural wonders and cultural activities, not shy to include Europe’s biggest AIDS fundraiser ‘The Lifeball’.

Wedged in between East and West, Austria established itself as an international political meeting point over centuries. Its diplomatic attitude has its roots far back in history, bringing together conflicted parties through the use of diplomacy. To say ‘NO’ is rude, Austrians always say ‘WE WILL SEE’.

While Salzburg, its slightly more conservative sister city and birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, maintains its strict tradition, proudly showing it to tourists worldwide.

 

VIENNA – THE WORLD’S MOST LIVEABLE CITY

As the world’s most liveable city for six years in a row, it’s easy to understand why. The pace is relaxed and friendly, more so, it seems welcoming. The people of Vienna are proud. Their buildings and businesses in the historic centre have preserved their heritage. A pharmacy that is over 500 years old, renovated to the finest details and still continues to trade. A Co-worker space offering artists opportunity to develop their business – creating the quirkiest items you can imagine – such as hand-sewn postcards. The Russian Barber showcases his heritage, adding to Viennas diverse cultural flavour.

Always embracing the new and conserving the old, a stimulating combination that has transformed Vienna over the last 20 years!  From public art installations to music festivals, the cultural yearly calendar attracts all ages. The city’s tolerance is reflected by the hugely popular new traffic signs that feature straight, gay and lesbian couples. The sheer diversity of the capital means one thing for gay and lesbian visitors in particular – the chance to be themselves.

In actual fact, the Austrian capital is one of the most tolerant and gay friendly cities anywhere in Europe. Gay and lesbian events are supported by the city council, and weeks before the Rainbow Parade gets under way the capital’s trams are decked out with rainbow flags. “Over the past few decades Vienna has changed massively for the better,” noted Holger “Miss Candy” Thor, who is Austria’s best-known drag queen. “Gays and lesbians have a high standing in society, and people have a completely open approach to the subject, in the truest sense of the word. The days of having to hide away are long gone.”

For Food and Wine lovers

Vienna produces around 2.4 million litres of wine per year. The Viennese Wine and its agriculture is an important part of the city’s history and lifestyle. In actual fact, the wine growing culture was introduced by the Romans nearly 2000 years ago. The vineyards are not far from the city and it’s a lovely experience to enjoy a glass of local wine overlooking the city.

Wineries and Breweries, traditional and modern Coffee Houses and European cuisine on every corner coupled with quality and hospitality, will leave you with wanting more.

The City’s History

From military grounds to showpiece boulevard: Vienna’s Ringstraße is celebrating it’s 150th anniversary in 2015. The city’s main artery represents traditional meeting contemporary, it’s a treasure trove of architectural details, from sculptures and decoration on mansion facades to the design of stairwells and entrances.

The Vienna Prater, an amusement park is the host of the city’s famous Giant Ferris Wheel and oasis of greenery wrapped into one. The Prater has been described as one of the ten best city parks worldwide, covering an astonishing 6 million square metres in area.

City Guide and Expert Alexa Brauner’s Top 3 Things to Do in Vienna:

1. Visit a museum, especially the Kunsthistorische Museum (khm.at) to see the imperial art collection! Must sees: Brueghel, Velazques, Rubens, Titian.

2. Try Vienna’s delights: Coffee and cake, wine, Schnitzel. For the coffee house I recommend Prückel, Landtmann, Café Sperl. Sample a Schnitzel or Tafelspitz at Plachutta Gasthaus zur Oper. Go to a Heuriger (wine tavern) for dinner and have a glass of Viennese wine (e.g. Wiener Gemischter Satz or Grüner Veltliner). My favorites are Mayer am Pfarrplatz, Wieninger and Christ.

3. Check out Vienna’s 2015’s Highlight: Ringstraße, (Ring Boulevard), which will celebrate 150 years in 2015. You can walk it or do it with a city bike for free. There you will find lots of interesting palaces, coffee houses, museums, and theatres.

 

Travel tips

Buy a ViennaCard, which grants you more than 210 discounts at museums and sights and unlimited free travel by underground, bus and tram   www.wien.info

 

Food & wine

Try those traditional Restaurants:

Cobenzl Winery (Enjoy local wine at the outskirts of Vienna, overlooking the city) weingutcobenzl.at

Ottakringer Brewery (Taste Austria’s own brew)  ottakringer.at

Schweizerhaus (There is no other place to taste the traditional Pork, walking distance from the Prata)  schweizerhaus.at

Palmenhaus Situated right on the famous Ringstraße, this modern restaurant offers live music, local wine and excellent food  palmenhaus.at

Restaurant Oben (Great restaurant in the heart of Vienna)  oben.at

 

Accommodation

25hours Hotel, part of the 25hour chain, this hotel’s theme is based around circuses 25hours-hotels.com

Hotel Altstadt.  The individually designed rooms, amazing artwork displayed including works from Andy Warhol and located in the heart of old Vienna. To live, sleep and enjoy Vienna in one of its historic buildings itself is an absolute must when visiting. altstadt.at

 

WITH OVER 1.5 MILLION VISITORS PER YEAR, SALZBURG IS NOT A HIDDEN GEM.

Music, Food, History and the Outdoors

Salzburg is located on the German border, with views of the Eastern Alps and a population of just above 145,000. It’s known as the birthplace of Mozart and setting for the film “The Sound of Music”. It is simply a town that stimulates your senses from wanting to climb that mountain, to eating a meal in an  historic restaurant dating back to 803 – or to discover the fascinating musical history of  Mozart

The Sound Of Music

A long time favourite of the LGBT community, and its Singalong incarnation was originally created for London’s Gay and Lesbian Film Festival in 1999.

The story of the ‘von Trapp’ family has fascinated the entire world since the film version of “The Sound of Music” aired in 1965. When production began in Salzburg in 1964 nobody dreamed that this movie would become famous throughout the world. The leading actress, Julie Andrews, had recently made her successful debut in the Hollywood classic “Mary Poppins” and seemed predestined to play the part of a nanny.

300,000 visitors per year come to see where the Sound Of Music was filmed – a small percentage compared to the overall visitor numbers. Mozart is still the main drawcard, reflected on every corner of this beautiful medieval town.

Traditional Accommodation

It is easy to be transferred back in time on so many levels. The many traditional accommodation options are the first choices. Villa Trapp, which became the new home of  the von Trapp Family (Sound of Music). The villa has been tastefully renovated, the rooms named after each family member. The many black and white photographs of the family throughout the house constantly remind you of their presence. villa-trapp.com

Schloss Fuschl Resort & Spa, is part of Salzburg’s lake district, a 20 min drive through rolling hills, grazing cows and traditional Austrian houses with their dark wooden roofs.  Arriving at Schloss Fuschl, named after lake Fuschl you are immediately transferred back in time: A quiet and sophisticated setting for the rich and famous, or for the ones looking for a special occasion – rooms start from Euro 240 per night and go to above Euro 3000 for a 2 bedroom cottage by the lake, perfect for honeymoons or a group of friends to celebrate something special – a private sauna in your ensuite – is not the typical set up you see every day.

Schloss Leopoldskron is not open to the public and just recently launched their hotel business in early 2014. The library comes with a hidden staircase – the walls are covered with authentic artwork.  It once offered the largest collection of paintings Salzburg had ever known, including works of artists such as Rembrandt and Rubens.

Schloss Leopoldskron has been dubbed the “Sound of Music” palace for more reasons than its outdoor movie scenes, one of the main rooms of the palace, the Venetian Room on the first floor, was completely replicated in order to be used as a film setting. The magnificent handcrafted, gold wall panels and mirrors served as a model for the ballroom scene in the film. It was also the backdrop for the private performance of the marionette
theatre. schloss.leopoldskron.com

The Oldest Restaurant in Europe

Salzburg has maintained a conservative attitude, but always with a smile. Perhaps based on the importance to keep the past alive and to celebrate talents such as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.  St Peter Stiftskeller is the oldest restaurant in Central Europe and has a very long history with 1200 years of tradition. Established in 803, St Peter Stiftskeller celebrates this with regular concerts, while enjoying a traditional menu as it was served during Mozart’s time.  stpeter-stiftskeller.at/

 

Discover History with your local City Guide

As you walk through the old city, hire a city guide. The amount of historical locations in Salzburg, the customs and traditions and its people along with plenty of unique and special places is overwhelming.

Why are so many people enchanted by Salzburg? Is it because of the music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, the baroque architecture from the times of the archbishops, the spirit lifting Salzburg Festival or do the Salzburg culinary highlights like Salzburger Nockerln draw the visitors? Maybe it is the mixture of 1000 years of history with contemporary attractions that makes this city such a hit.

See the beautiful flowers of the Mirabell Gardens, spoil yourself with a shopping spree in Getreidegasse, visit Mozart’s birthplace, marvel at the magnificent baroque style churches and enjoy the buzz of the city with a cool beer or cup of good coffee.

salzburg-experience.at

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