The appropriate place to start a tour of Vienna would be the Vienna Opera House. Not only because Vienna is where Mozart spent his most productive years and some of the most classical operas of any era, debuted here, but because the beauty of the opera house is unparalleled, in my mind.
My daughter and I took in a modern day version of Mozart‘s ‘La Clemenza Di Tito.’ Modernized bizarre stage sets and costuming were upstaged by singing that would have made Mozart proud.
Another Viennese traditional must is trying to eat a plate sized wiener schnitzel (flattened and deep fried veal) at the famed Figlmueller restaurant where people line up for hours for the opportunity. My son had a bit more success than I did.
My daughter was not a big fan of wiener schnitzel so we tried out the other hot spot where people (mostly women) stand in line for hours to indulge in the chocolate bittersweet decadence of a piece of the world famous Sacher Torte at the cafe in the Hotel Sacher. Very fancy!
Like most European large cities I have visited, Vienna is easily walkable. The Old town here is more of a tourist trap than other Old Towns, but still appealing for the first time visitor with all these highlights in a concentrated area. And other must sees, like the Belvedere Museum (great Klimt exhibit); Grinzing Wine region (try the local reds); and the Schonbrunn Castle are easily accessible via the always available tram system.
Once again, it is a castle that caught and kept my greatest attention, while in Vienna. The grounds at Schonbrunn Castle are reminiscent of Versailles in their vastness. It is this vastness, teamed with the symmetry achieved in the gardens, sculptures and the grand castle itself that amazes me, all dating back to the 16th century.
What stands out: the architecture throughout Vienna is of a classic European style, similar to Paris, where the buildings are all a muted color, very unlike the vibrant colors used in other European cities like Prague. But it works. The muted facings allow the ornate detailing, sculptures green spaces to come to the forefront. So look closely, past the gray tones and see the real beauty of Viennese architecture.