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A statue of an angel overlooks the Ringstrasse in Vienna

An art nouveau angel atop the Post Office Savings Bank gazes out on the Ringstrasse.

A Vienna Waltz

Article by Marion Hume 09.01.2016 Photographed by Toni Anzenberger

When you ask insiders for advice about visiting their city, you’re looking for the latest hot spots. But ask the Viennese what’s new in their stately town, and they’ll express a fondness for the older, gentler side of Austria’s capital. Of course, Vienna has its modern side. But if time is short, I advise plunging into the history of the city where Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert were once the new boys in town, and where even today, every schoolchild knows how to waltz.


Café Central What could be more wonderful than sipping an espresso in this centrally located institution, knowing that intellectuals like Leon Trotsky, Sigmund Freud and Alfred Adler all enjoyed a cup here, too? Herrengasse 14, 1010

Café Hawelka In Vienna, café life is officially recognized as high culture. UNESCO added Viennese coffeehouses to its Intangible Cultural Heritage list in 2011 — and the artistic atmosphere and legendary clientele of this storied spot make this a prime example of the form. Dorotheergasse 6, 1010

Café Landtmann This old-school Ringstrasse meeting place is as historic as they come. Ask your tuxedo-clad waiter for a “Sacher” — and don’t think that ordering this world-famous cake marks you as a tourist. The confection, invented nearly 200 years ago for Prince Wenzel von Metternich, is a favorite of Austrians, too. Universitätsring 4, 1010

Cafe in Vienna with crowd sipping espressos

At Café Sperl, generations meet for coffee and conversation. Gumpendorfer Str. 11, 1060


Belvedere Palace and Museum

Images of Gustav Klimt’s “The Kiss” are everywhere you go in Vienna — on scarves, umbrellas, even snow globes. Come here to see the original gilded masterpiece, depicting the artist and Emilie Flöge, his fashion designer girlfriend. Prinz Eugen-Straße 27, 1030

Palais Ephrussi

One of the Ringstrasse’s most poignant edifices, whose wealthy former occupants lost almost everything as Europe fell to the Nazis. One of the few possessions they managed to retrieve later gave its name to an international best-seller, “The Hare with Amber Eyes.”

Kunsthistorisches Museum

This domed Ringstrasse landmark houses artworks from seven millennia, from ancient Egypt to the not-to-be-missed Old Masters. Maria-Theresien-Platz, 1010

Secession Building

At the turn of the 19th century, architects started to boldly depart from the prevailing neoclassic style. The “golden cabbage”-topped Secession Building, completed in 1898, is as jaw-dropping inside as it is out, thanks to Gustav Klimt’s “Beethoven Frieze.” Friedrichstraße 12, 1010

Hundertwasser House

Just over 30 years old, this multicolored apartment block, faced with jumbled windows and lush terraces, is one of Vienna’s most intriguing sites. Whisper when you pass by, because there are people living their day-to-day lives inside. Kegelgasse 36-38, 1030

The Third Man Museum

For some, the essence of Vienna is forever captured in 1949’s “The Third Man,” set in the ruins of postwar Vienna. At the museum, you can see the zither on which Anton Karas composed and recorded the film’s theme, and sit in the screening room to watch a sequence from the movie. Preßgasse 25, 1040 

Horse drawn carriage rides along a city street in Vienna

Vienna's Hofburg Passage provides an elegant pathway for pedestrians and horses alike.



To follow the lead of Vienna’s chicly minimalist women, head to this menswear bespoke shop for a shirt fitted to perfection (order some custom-made pajamas, too). Augustiner St. 7


Commission a precise pair of footwear from these exacting experts, once the exclusive shoemaker to the Habsburg rulers. If a mannish flat is not your taste, note the handbags, which are the opposite of designer “it” bags — quiet, classic and timeless. Bräunerstrasse 4

Werkstätte Carl Auböck

Carl Auböck, a central figure in Austrian modernism, was known for his polished brass; the fourth Carl continues the tradition today. If your luggage can take the weight, consider an iconic brass Auböck egg as the most stylish souvenir. Bernardgasse 23

J. & L. Lobmeyr

For something a bit flashier, head to this opulent storefront, where the famed glassware company creates chiffon-thin stemware and coveted chandeliers — including those hanging in New York’s Metropolitan Opera. Luckily, they ship. Kammerstrasse 26


Far easier on your luggage are the cakes and candies from this confectionary, which Empress Sisi favored for its dainty candied violets. They are still packaged to suit royalty. Kohlmarkt 14



Vienna State Opera

The center of Viennese musical life, this majestic opera house on the Ringstrasse comes alive in September, when the assembly returns from its summer break. Opernring 2, 1010

Central Cemetery

Rest your feet and book a horse-drawn carriage to pay your respects at the graves of Beethoven, Schubert, Strauss (father and son), Salieri, Mozart and Brahms. Simmeringer Hauptstraße 234, 1110


Although there’s not much to see aside from unfurnished rooms, serious fans of Mozart will find the site where the composer and his family lived while he wrote “The Marriage of Figaro” is well worth a visit. Domgasse 5


Sheet music makes a charming souvenir; Vienna has several stores selling new and vintage varieties. Start here, especially if you fancy seeing Gustav Mahler’s notes on paper. Dorotheergasse 10

Plan Your Visit to Vienna

  • Vienna

    Location Vienna, Austria

    Experience A five-star hotel set in four historic 19th century palaces.

    • Luxury urban retreat at The Ritz-Carlton Spa
    • Viennese Charm meets Contemporary Luxury