Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner. Facebook Messenger An icon of the facebook messenger app logo. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Facebook Messenger An icon of the Twitter app logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. WhatsApp Messenger An icon of the Whatsapp messenger app logo. Email An icon of an mail envelope. Copy link A decentered black square over a white square.

Vienna – now or never

Discover pirouettes, caprioles and Wiener Schnitzel as you waltz round imperial and contemporary Vienna
Discover pirouettes, caprioles and Wiener Schnitzel as you waltz round imperial and contemporary Vienna

I had never travelled on the infamous Edinburgh trams before and little did I know I would experience more tram journeys than speciality cakes on my recent trip to Vienna.

I was joining Jet2 City breaks on their inaugural flight from Edinburgh to Vienna. Operating on Fridays and Mondays, the flights are perfect for weekend or mid-week breaks with times that work well with travel to and from home. Hence I found myself on my first tram on the 20-minute journey from Haymarket to the airport before boarding the two-and-a-half-hour Jet2 flight to Vienna.

Vienna, the capital city of Austria, has a population of 1.8million and was recently voted the best city to live for quality of life. It boasts a really low crime rate and is surrounded by some of the world’s most beautiful architecture, ranging from the middle ages to the Baroque period.

It is bathed in green space with more than 2,000 parks and is also a mecca of culture with hundreds of museums and art galleries. Known to many as the city of music, it’s not surprising that more famous composers have lived here than any other city.

Vienna’s Cultural History Museum
Vienna’s Cultural History Museum

Nowadays all types of music and concerts are performed here with the city’s concert halls and stages showcasing a whole range of music with end-to-end festivals the whole year.

We stayed at the family-run three-star Hotel Donauwalzer, named after the waltz of the blue Danube. The rooms on the top floor of the hotel are themed around traditional Viennese attractions including the horse and carriage room, the music room and snow globe room, full of quirky artefacts and decor in keeping with the theme.

We had purchased a Vienna travel card for just 26 euros which allowed us unlimited travel across all transport networks in Vienna for 72 hours. This was excellent value for money as I lost count of the number of tram journeys we experienced over our weekend, including some when we inadvertently got the tram going in the wrong direction!

One evening we dined at the recently opened restaurant Salonplafond in the Museum of Applied Arts (MAK). Plafond, meaning ceiling, is in the restaurant name because of the spectacular dining room ceiling. The food was delicious, all beautifully presented with the emphasis on producing simple, non-fussy dishes using the highest quality seasonal produce.

The following morning after a beautiful breakfast we joined the hotel’s dance class to learn how to waltz. It was a bit of lighthearted fun and in no time we were spinning around the dancefloor, chanting 1,2,3 at a fairly fast pace.

Our next excursion was to the famous Spanish Riding School of Vienna with a guided tour of the stables. The stables are home to 70 beautiful stallions all having undergone around 14 years of training to reach the standard required to perform the famous Lipizzan ballet. We watched in awe the live performance in the baroque ambiance of the Imperial Palace admiring riding skills of the highest order, from pirouettes to caprioles, all accompanied by classical Viennese music.

Riding skills of the highest order on display at the Imperial Palace
Riding skills of the highest order on display at the Imperial Palace

For lunch we dined at the elegant Grand Ferdinand Restaurant, a beautiful new hotel with an infinity rooftop pool. I had to try the traditional Austrian speciality “Wiener Schnitzel” – thin, breaded and panfried cutlet made from veal served with parsley potatoes and lingonberries while my fellow diner enjoyed the unusual and not to everyone’s taste, roasted kidneys with mustard sauce, rice and green peas. We washed this down with a light, crisp white wine from Vienna’s own vineyards situated just on the outskirts of the city.

After our hearty lunch we joined our guide Alexa for a city tour, focusing on imperial and contemporary Vienna. It is the connection between the imperial and the modern that makes Vienna so unique today, having undergone profound changes over the past century and transforming itself from ostentatious imperial capital to a modern centre for contemporary art.

Walking tours are a fabulous introduction to the city and we learned fascinating stories of Vienna’s history, culture and politics as we walked, taking in iconic landmarks such as St Stephen’s Cathedral, the Hofburg Imperial Palace and the Opera House.

Michaelertor archway with Hofburg Imperial Palace in the background
Michaelertor archway with Hofburg Imperial Palace in the background

That evening we had an early dinner at the Garten Restaurant Bar adjacent to an urban gardening project before passing by the Vienna State Opera. Selected opera and ballet performances from the opera house are broadcast live on a giant screen outside the Opera House so audiences can enjoy them in a relaxed atmosphere in the open with free admission.

We were lucky to have tickets for the Wolfgang Requiem concert at St. Charles’s Church. This stunning church is one of the most outstanding baroque churches in Vienna. Its ambience offers a feeling of sombreness, yet it is also spiritually uplifting – making it an ideal location to host grand presentations such as Mozart’s Requiem.

The concert is performed by singers from the Salzburg concert society and the Orchestra 176 (on period instruments). Altogether there are more than 40 musicians playing under the grand dome of this magnificent building.

The following morning we visited the Museums Quartier which is one of the ten largest cultural quarters in the world. It combines institutions of different art fields, restaurants, cafes and shops in an area of over 640,000sqft in a post-modern ambiance – a combination of baroque buildings and modern architecture.

We toured the Leopold Museum which is a unique treasure-trove of Viennese art nouveau, the Vienna Workshop and of the Expressionist period. It houses the world’s largest Egon Schiele collection (famous for The Kiss painting) and an extensive selection of works by Gustav Klimt, the founder of the Vienna Secession movement.

The Leopold Museum houses the world’s largest Egon Schiele collection
The Leopold Museum houses the world’s largest Egon Schiele collection

In need of refreshments after a morning of culture we headed to one of the many Viennese coffee houses, Cafe Sperl. Coffee is a way of life in Vienna and the city boasts in excess of 830 coffeehouses! Café Sperl is like stepping back in time, rumour has it Adolf Hitler dined here in his student days.

The décor is very traditional with dark wood panelling, newspapers on sticks and even a yellow stained ceiling from years of cigarette smoke. We enjoyed our coffees with delicious apfelstude (apple strudel) while a pianist entertained us.

Entering Café Sperl is like stepping back in time
Entering Café Sperl is like stepping back in time

Finally, we travelled 20 minutes by tram to the world famous giant Ferris Wheel. This has been a cultural and architectural landmark of Vienna for more than 100 years and is an ideal place to view the city from 200ft above the ground.

Our cabin, resembling an old fashioned railway carriage, had large picture windows offering unparalleled views across the city, the larger Prater amusement park and the vast parkland with blossoming trees and open spaces.

The world famous giant Ferris Wheel at Prater Park
The world famous giant Ferris Wheel at Prater Park

We were sad to leave the sunshine, the incredibly clean streets, the wonderful buildings and friendly people.

With Jet2’s flights from Scotland, why not arrange a trip to the famous Christmas markets where Vienna’s prettiest squares are transformed into magical Christmas markets?

Vienna’s slogan is Now or Never, so maybe now is the time to visit; I guarantee you will never regret it.

TRAVEL FACTS

Jet2.com offers friendly low fares, great flight times, and a generous 22kg baggage allowance to Vienna from Edinburgh Airport with flights operating twice weekly from April to January.

Fares start at £41 one way including taxes. Jet2CityBreaks to the Hotel Donauwalzer, Vienna, start from £195 per person for three nights’ bed and breakfast accommodation, departing from Edinburgh on June 17.

Price includes a 22kg baggage allowance and return transfers.
To book flights visit www.jet2.com or for city breaks visit www.jet2citybreaks.com or call free on 0800 408 0778.