Five things you should do in Vienna this weekend

Vienna is full of events, places to visit and great new restaurants to try out. If you are overwhelmed with the possibilities or just wondering where you can find a cool English-speaking event, here are some ideas.

Five things you should do in Vienna this weekend
ImPulsTanz Festival in Vienna is one of the larger contemporary dance and performance events in Europe (ImPulsTanz Festival / © Ambra Vernuccio)

ImPulsTanz Festival

This week, one of the largest European festivals of contemporary dance and performance promotes events at various locations in Vienna. The Vollmond opening act takes place through the weekend at the Burgtheater, with tickets starting at €8.

On Sunday, events from 11 am to 9pm include panel discussions for choreography, workshops, and dance presentations.

ImPulsTanz was created in 1984 by cultural manager Karl Regensburger and the world-famous dancer and choreographer Ismael Ivo.

The annual performance programme features more than 50 productions at the city’s principal venues, over 200 workshops and research projects and is considered one of the most important festivals of contemporary dance and performance worldwide.

Check out more here.

Go for a walk in Schönbrunn

Sometimes you live in a beautiful city and end up not frequenting some of its more touristic places. Since the weather should be dry with mild temperatures, it’s an excellent opportunity to (re)visit the Schönbrunn Palace. There are so many different attractions that, probably, you don’t even know all.

You might visit the palace itself, with its beautiful 18th-century interiors, or go for a walk in the endless gardens and visit the Gloriette and its stunning view, the Palm House, the zoo, get lost in the maze or even go for a swim at the public pool.

Check out more here.

Vienna’s Rathausplatz

Summer is when Vienna’s Rathausplatz comes to live with Europe’s largest culture and culinary festival. The open-air cinema brings opera, pop, classical, dance, musical concerts and more.

At the same time, the park’s area turns into a gastronomy festival with food trucks of local and international dishes.

The festival happens until September 4th. This Friday, you can watch 2Cellos At Sydney Opera House, tomorrow B.B. King: Live At Montreux, and on Sunday, Jules Massenet’s opera Werther. The open cinema starts after sunset, so from 9pm onwards.

Before that, on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, from 5 pm to 7 pm, there is a live DJ playing music, and on Fridays, there is the children’s opera festival, with “age-appropriate opera adaptations and popular children’s music production” with free admission starting at 5 pm.

Check out more here.

English-speaking Stand Up Comedy at Cafe Votiv

Cafe Votiv in Vienna’s first district holds a weekly Stand Up Comedy Open Mic every Saturday, starting at 8 pm.

You can see some talented old and new comedians try their new material out – entrance is free, but donations are recommended.

Check out more here.

Try out the Forest Rope Park in Kahlenberg

If you are looking for some adrenaline, then it’s worth it to try out the climbing area of Kahlenberg during the summer holidays. There are almost 20 courses with three difficulty levels so that you can climb up to 20 metres high. All while enjoying the beautiful views over Vienna.

You can find courses suitable even for small children, with paths rising only 35 centimetres. Weekend adult tickets cost €30 and the prices for children depend on their height.

Check out more here.

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The six most spectacular train trips in Austria

With its mountain peaks and crystal-clear lakes, Austria has more than its fair share of stunning scenery to fall in love with. And travelling by train can give you the chance to take the views in properly without any distractions. Here are Austria's most scenic train routes.

The six most spectacular train trips in Austria

Semmering rail line in winter

You’ll get epic views whether you travel in summer or winter, but the snow adds to the romanticism. Photo by Miroslav Volek on flickr.

Semmering Railway
Built between 1848 and 1854, the 41-kilometre-long Semmerling line was made a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site in 1998 and it’s easy to see why: it runs through some jaw-droppingly beautiful scenery between the mountain towns of Semmering and Gloggnitz. It was a huge technical achievement for its time, not least because of the hefty gradient of the line. It was also the first European mountain railway to have a standard gauge track.

You’ll see glorious mountains, obviously, plus huge viaducts – 16 of them, if you’re counting – and 15 tunnels, including one whopping 1,430-metre-long one, and over 100 bridges, as well as plenty of lush forests and deep valleys.

Mariazeller Bahn

Clear skies are made for scenic train rides. Photo by flightlog on Flickr

Mariazell Railway
Remember we mentioned gauges above? Well, the Mariazell Railway is a narrow-gauge route – built like that because it was a difficult terrain for trains to cross. Running from St Pölten in Lower Austria to Mariazell in Styria, at 84km-long, it’s Austria’s longest narrow-gauge line.

The mountain section (Bergstrecke) of the line is the most picturesque. Get on at Laubenbachmühle where this starts and enjoy the train’s climb to its peak of 892m above sea level in Gösing where you’ll have gorgeous panoramic views and a glimpse of the 1,893-metre-high Ötscher mountain. Stay on board to see viaducts, reservoirs and deep gorges, in particular glimpses of the wild Erlauf gorge.

Want to really make the most of those views? Book a panorama carriage, which gives you super-comfy seats and unobstructed views of the scenery unfolding as the train trundles along.

Perfect peaks and lush valleys await. Photo by Schnitzel_bank on Flickr

Arlberg Railway

The Arlberg raiway is one of Europe’s highest – it climbs to 1,310 metres above sea level at its highest point. It goes up at a fair tilt, too and is one of the steepest passenger lines out there.

Connecting Innsbruck and Bludenz (on the Swiss border), it’s the only east-west mountain line in Austria. Visual delights include the Tyrolean Trisanna Bridge near the hilltop castle Wiesberg, snow-peaked mountains, the 6.6-mile-long Arlberg tunnel, and verdant valleys and forests at the Arlsberg pass  – go at sunset/sunrise and look to your right for the best views.

Schafberg Railway

There are – unsurprisingly – a lot of steep railways in Austria and this one is no exception. This is the steepest steam cog-railway in the country and has been running between St Wolfgang in Salzkammergut up to the 1,783-metre Schafberg mountain since 1893.  

It’s a gorgeous journey up the mountain with the views getting better and better the higher you go. At the top, you’ll have (weather-permitting) clear views over Salzkammergut’s glittering lakes, as well as the soaring peaks of neighbouring mountain ranges, such as the Höllengebirge.

Tauern Railway
If you’re heading to Venice by train, then this is the most scenic route to take and it’s worth the trip in its own right, too. You’ll pass stunning valleys and gorges as the line winds its way up the High Tauern mountain range of the Central Eastern Alps.

The best views are on the right-hand side of the train when you’re heading in this direction, so try to get a window seat if you can.

Are you even in Austria if your train doesn’t pass a field of cows? Photo by Schnitzel_bank on Flickr.

Zillertal Railway
There’s always something rather romantic about travelling by steam train and the traditional Zillertal locomotive with its wooden carriages is no exception. It putters gently by the side of the Ziller river along the 32-kilometre stretch between the towns of Jenbach and Mayrhofen, giving you ample opportunity to take in the views as you pass picture-perfect villages and gorgeous valleys surrounded by mountains. 

If you’ve got your heart set on the romanticism of steam trains, make sure you check which train you’re getting as the steam-powered engine doesn’t run as frequently as the faster diesel one. If you haven’t pre-booked, get there early to make sure you get a seat as it can get very busy.