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Like a well-bred grande dame, Vienna doesn't rush about, and neither should you. We suggest sauntering through its stately streets and marveling at its Baroque palaces, but don't forget to leave time to dream an afternoon away at a cozy Kaffeehaus.
If You Have 3 Days
Begin with an organized sightseeing tour, which will describe the highlights. Plan to spend time at the Stephansdom and a full afternoon at Schönbrunn Palace. Reserve the second day for art, tackling the Kunsthistoriches Museum after breakfast; then, for lunch and afternoon enjoyment head for the MuseumsQuartier, which comprises several major modern art collections. If your tastes tend to the grand and royal, visit instead the Old Master drawings at the Albertina Museum and the Belvedere Palace. Do as the Viennese do, and fill in any gaps with stops at cafés, reserving evenings for relaxing over music or wine. On the third day, head for the Spanische Reitschule and watch the Lipizzaners prance through morning training. While you're in the neighborhood, view the sparkling imperial jewels in the Imperial Treasury, the Schatzkammer, and the glitzy Silberkammer, the museum of court silver and tableware, and take in one of Vienna's most spectacular Baroque settings, the Grand Hall of the Hofbibliothek. For a total contrast either spend the morning viewing the vegetables and vendors on Naschmarkt (the biggest and most attractive food market) and having lunch at one of the many eateries there (don't overlook the superb Jugendstil buildings on the north side of the market) and then grab a city bike and head out to the Prater amusement park in the afternoon for a ride on the giant Ferris wheel, then cycle along the Danube and end the day in a wine restaurant on the outskirts, perhaps in Stammersdorf, Sievering, or Nussdorf.
If You Have 5 Days
Spend your first three days as outlined above. On your fourth day, get better acquainted with the 1st District—the heart of the city. Treasures here range from Roman ruins to the residences of Mozart and Beethoven, the Mozarthaus and the Pasqualatihaus; then, slightly afield, the Freud Haus (in the 9th District) or the oddball Hundertwasserhaus (in the 3rd). Put it all in contemporary perspective with a tour of the Staatsoper, the State Opera. On the fifth day, fill in some of the blanks by taking a walk to the Secession Building with Gustav Klimt's Beethoven Frieze. If you're still game for museums, head for any one of the less-usual offerings, such as the Jewish Museum, the Haus der Musik, or the Ephesus Museum in the Hofburg, or visit the city's historical museum, Wien Museum Karlsplatz; by now, you'll have acquired a good concept of the city and its background, so the exhibits will make more sense. Cap the day by visiting the Kaisergruft under the Kapuzinerkirche to view the tombs of the Habsburgs responsible for so much of Vienna.
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