Trip Coach: August 7, 2007
Robert Fisher, editor of 'Fodor's Vienna to Salzburg,' answered your questions on Austria.
Robert Fisher: Raindrops on roses. And whiskers on kittens. Bright copper kettles, and...need I say more? Yes, lots more: glttering Baroque churches, breathtaking Alpine mountains, sugar-coma desserts in Vienna coffeehouses, and Mozart, Mozart, Mozart! Austria remains one of Europe's most dazzling destinations, one that has us all culturally connected--after all, this is the country that gave us not only Beethoven, Schubert, and Brahms, but the "Blue Danube," psychoanalysis, the Vienna Boys' Choir, The Merry Widow, apple strudel, the Vienna New Year's Day concert, and Der Schwartzenegger. And these six degrees of separation grew even closer in 2006 when Vienna and Salzburg co-hosted a year-long celebration to honor the 250th birthday of Mozart, Austria's most famous home boy. Like most travelers, I love to savour the white-gloved, champagne gemütlichkeit of once-imperial Austria. But the "hills are alive" not just with the Sound of Music sites but the sounds of bulldozers, as a spate of new concert halls and art galleries help bring this grande dame of a country into the 21st century.
As the editor of Fodor's Vienna to Salzburg, I'm here to help you with questions and advisos about all things Austrian, so for the next hour at least, let's set our pulse to the three-quarters beat of a Strauss waltz.
Denver, Colo.: I'm traveling to Vienna August 22-30, 2007. What are the best places to stay in the center of the city that cost under $150 per night? What side trips are the best from Vienna and which tour companies are the best to book these side trips with?
Robert Fisher: Shhhhhh....Vienna is still one of the most affordable cities in the world, if you know where to look. Hotel options range from the grand palais on the Ringstasse (a not particularly pretty street, sorry to say) to tiny pensions once favored by Mozart (he worked on the Abduction from the Seraglio while housed up in the Pension Nossek, still a bargain option). As for our faves, we are also musically inclined, and recommend two places in your price range within the shadow of Vienna's magnificent and centrally located Opera House. The first, the Romischer Kaiser, looks like a piece of Viennese whipped-cream cake, with its blush-pink stone facade and white marble trim. The guest book here is littered with famous names like Mozart, Lizst, Wagner, Brucker, and Grieg, and, happily, the perfume of history still pervades many areas of the hotel, what with burnished wood trim, chandeliers, tie-back curtains, and the "Louis-Louis" breakfast room. A few of the baths have gone Versace, and these extra gilded touches push up the prices a bit beyond your level, although they say they have doubles starting at about $140 dollars. Just a block south is a less expensive option, the Zur Wiener Staatsoper, which is reputed to be one of the Viennese settings in John Irving's Hotel New Hampshire. A grand, oversize palais exterior--replete with two stone "atlantes" torsos--in best Ringstrasse style--greet you, while inside, things are considerably calmer, with small rooms (but high ceilings), all charmed up with cute fabrics and wallpapers. Prices here are about 111 to 140 euros. Unfortunately, there is no air-conditioning. There are many other lower-priced options around, so you shouldn't ever have a problem landing a bargain-priced (relatively speaking) room. As for side trips from Vienna, why not try a bevy of castles, ranging from the Brothers Grimm-worthy one on the banks of the Danube known as the Burg Kreuzenstein (only 18 miles northwest of the city; kreuzenstein.com) to the three in Modling, some 12 miles southwest of the city, including the Burg Liechtenstein and the Schloss Laxenburg (schloss-laxenburg.at). Other handy daytrips are offered by Cityrama Sightseeing and Vienna Sightseeing Tours. But my best recommendation is just beyond the city limits: the heavenly "heurige" wine-towns of Vienna's suburbs, including Stammersdorf, Grinzing, Sievering, Nussdorf, and Neustift (tram lines easily get you here from the city center). Go to the Weingut Renprecht tavern in Grinzing or the Mayer am Pfarrplatz in Nussdorf (where Beethoven used to hang out). The decors are spectacular--you will feel you're in the set for an operetta and the towns are hyper-charming, too.
Redondo Beach, Calif.: I would like a guided tour of Viennese waltz balls during the season. Please recommend some tour companies. Thank you.
Budget Travel Real Deals
- From $1,249
- From $1,008
- From $129
- From $1,285
- From $126
- From $179
- From $1,075
- From $1,125
- From $994