Vienna's historic heart is circled by the Ringstrasse – a boulevard dotted with opulent landmarks like the Vienna State Opera house. Once you cross over, you'll find more to ogle – from the imperial Hofburg Palace to the sprawling square of the Heldenplatz. Nearby is St Stephen's Cathedral, an epic monument to the Gothic and Romanesque, and you'll also want to explore the shops and cafes of the vast promenade, the Graben.
Contrasting with the luxurious landmarks of the Ringstrasse and Innerstadt, the small district of Josefstadt can seem more low key. But that's part of its charm, because this is the Vienna of the locals – full of charming cafes and bars where students and older residents mingle. It’s a pleasure to simply amble among the handsome townhouses, though there's also the bona fide tourist attraction of Piaristenkirsche Church, a Baroque marvel.
One reason so many flock to the Landstrasse district is the Belvedere, whose handsome Baroque walls contain world-famous masterpieces by Klimt and Schiele. It's close by another vast palace, the Palais Schwarzenberg. One of Landstrasse's other sights is as quirky as the Belvedere and Schwarzenberg are grand – the multicoloured, patchwork, children's drawing-like façade of the Hundertwasserhaus apartment complex, which looks almost like an hallucination made real.
Snug within the waterways of the Danube, Leopoldstadt is an island within Vienna. It's where you can stroll among the chestnut trees of Wiener Prater park, where you'll also find the Wiener Riesenrad, an iconic Ferris wheel that's been turning since 1897, and famously featured in classic film noir, The Third Man. In the heart of the old Jewish Quarter, the Karmelitermarkt has food stalls to make everyone's mouth water.
Landmarks abound in the Wieden district of Austria's capital – the standout being St Charles's Church (or Karlskirche), which, with its ornate dome and sculptures of saints, is one of the world's most stunning religious buildings. If the sightseeing makes you peckish, head for the Naschmarkt, which dates back to the 16th Century and attracts thousands every day with stalls selling everything from Middle Eastern spices to traditional Austrian crepes.
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