Vienna tours and excursions
Vienna Walks (tel: +43 1 774 8901; viennawalks.com) offers tours, ranging from ‘The Third man- in the Footsteps of a Film Classic’, which scouts out the locations of the famous film, to tours of the homes of Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert. Other tours focus on a historical period, Jewish life in Vienna, or the underground city of crypts and wine cellars. Vienna With Love (tel: +43 699 8173 2635; www.verliebtinwien.at) also offers walks in English, including Art Nouveau architecture, Medieval quarters and hidden courtyards, or the Imperial Palace. Tours are between 90 minutes and two hours, and there is a minimum of three walkers per group, although individual tours can be pre-arranged.
Vienna Sightseeing Tours (tel: +43 1 712 46 83; www.viennasightseeingtours.com) offers a three- hour ‘Historical City Tour', which includes a visit to Schönbrunn Palace. The Hop On Hop Off bus tours cover all of Vienna’s most popular sights, including the State Opera, St. Stephen’s Cathedral and Hofburg Palace. They come with audio guides in 16 languages.
The DDSG Blue Danube Schiffahrt GmbH offers several cruises on the River Danube. Most are available only from mid-April to mid-October, but The Danube Round Trip is available year-round. There are two routes, the ‘green Vienna’ route, departing from Schedenplatz and the ‘modern Vienna’ route departing from Reichsbrücke. There is also an evening sightseeing round trip from Schwedenplatz; it runs from June-early October. Each tour lasts 70 to 100 minutes.Tel: +431 588 80
Pedal Power (tel: +43 1 729 7234; www.pedalpower.at) provides three to four-hour bicycle tours departing from in front of the Vienna Opera, twice daily from May to September. Sights include KunstHausWien, St Stephen's Cathedral and the Risengrad (Ferris Wheel). The Vienna Ring Tram (tel: +43 1 712 46 83; www.viennasightseeing.at/vienna-ring-tram) is a sightseeing tour on a classic yellow tram. The round trip takes 25 minutes. A romantic, albeit expensive way for visitors to see the city, is by a traditional Fiaker (horse-drawn carriage). These are available for hire at Stephansplatz, Petersplatz, Albertinaplatz and Burgtheater/ Volksgarten. The prices and lengths of the ride must be negotiated in advance.Tel: Pedal Power: +43 1 729 7234; The Vienna Ring Tram: +43 1 712 46 83
Founded in 831 and situated on the north bank of the River Danube, approximately halfway between Vienna and Linz, lies Melk, an attractive town with a stunning baroque abbey. As well as being one of the oldest settlements in Austria, it also offers a stunning variety of architectural styles, ranging from gothic facades to the Art Nouveau. Benedictine Melk Abbey sits atop an escarpment, commanding a large stretch of the river valley. It is a physical testament to the power and authority of both the Babenbergs, who built it over 1,000 years ago, and the Benedictine monks, who have occupied it since 1089. It contains a museum, a restaurant and a park and garden pavilion. Even those who do not have time to visit the abbey cannot fail to miss it as they approach Vienna by rail or road from the west.
Between Krems an der Donau and Melk, the River Danube winds through one of the most beautiful areas of Austria. A variety of outdoor activities are available on this stretch, including watersports, hiking, cycling, boat cruises and wine-tasting tours. The Danube Bike Path follows the river on both banks. There are bike hire points in most villages along the valley, including Spitz, where bicycles can be rented direct from the train station. Trains to Melk, Pöcham and Ybbs depart from Westbahnhof, while trains to Krems and Spitz depart from Franz Josef Bahnhof.Tel: +43 2713 300 6060
Krems an der Donau
Along the River Danube, to the west of Vienna, lies Krems, a pretty, 1,000-year-old town surrounded by vineyards. Don't miss the ancient buildings on Landstraße, including the 16th-century town hall. Above Landstrasse, narrow streets and small squares show the structure of the original town. Both the Piaristenkirche and the Museum Krems celebrate the work of medieval artist Johann Martin Schmidt. The 15th-century Steiner Tor gateway marks the end of Stein. At the other end of Landstraße, is the town's Kunst Halle Krems, a major arts venue. Trains leave Vienna Franz Josef Bahnhof for Krems every hour (journey time - 1 hour 15 minutes).Tel: +43 2732 82676