Vienna’s contribution to the arts is exceptional: in music alone, the Habsburg capital has been home to Beethoven, Mozart, Haydn, Schubert and Strauss. But Vienna was also home to other pioneers, such as Sigmund Freud, Gustav Klimt and Otto Wagner, and superb collections of fine and decorative arts, acquired and commissioned by the Habsburgs during their 500-year rule. This new residential-style tour explores the history, music and culture of the city in depth, from the beginnings of the Habsburg Empire through its classical period and into its troubled 20th century.
The exceptional art collections of the Habsburgs, including the Imperial Treasury, the Kunsthistorisches, Leopold and Albertina museums
Three performances, including the State Opera, the Konzerthaus, and the Musikverein
Private visit to the Liechtenstein Garden Palace, one of Europe’s largest and finest private collections of Old Masters
Day trips along the Danube to Bratislava and Melk Abbey and its fine wine region
Vienna’s other museums, from the Museum of Musical Instruments, to house museums devoted to Beethoven and Schubert, the Third Man Museum, and Gustav Klimt’s villa
Days 1–4: Arrive and explore Habsburg Vienna. Cruise up the Danube to Melk Abbey and enjoy a performance at the Vienna State Opera.
Days 5–8: Explore classical Vienna, including Klosterneuberg, house museums devoted to Beethoven and Schubert, the Upper Belvedere Palace and Esterhazy Palace at Eisenstadt, where Haydn lived and worked. Enjoy another fine performance at the Vienna Konzerthaus.
Days 9–12: Discover Vienna in the 20th century, including Gustav Klimt’s atelier and Vienna’s renowned Jugendstil architecture. Day trip to Bratislava and the striking contemporary art of its Danubiana Museum. Performance at the Vienna Musikverein and private visit of the Liechtenstein Garden Palace.
The tour begins and ends at our hotel in central Vienna. Qatar Airways and Emirates offer direct flights between Vienna and most Australian cities. Contact us for quotes and bookings.
Included meals are shown with the symbols B, L and D.
Friday 16 April: Arrival
The tour begins this afternoon at the hotel, where we gather to get to know each other before taking a walking of central Vienna, ending with dinner in a local, family-owned restaurant. Overnight Vienna. (D)
Saturday 17 April: Habsburg Vienna
The Habsburgs became the leaders of the Holy Roman Empire in the 1400s, and then of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the 19th century. The ways they expressed their power and magnificence transformed across this period, and the results of their building programs continue to define the centre of Vienna. This morning, after a talk in the hotel, we explore the Habsburg city centre on foot, including a visit to St Stephen’s Cathedral, where many Habsburgs are entombed, and the Imperial Treasury, which houses masterpieces of decorative arts, including the imperial regalia. After a welcome lunch, we visit the Albertina Museum, which has an excellent permanent collection of modern masters and hosts well-regarded temporary exhibitions. Evening at leisure. (B, L)
Sunday 18 April: Vienna Museums
– State Opera
Vienna’s museums have phenomenal collections, many of which have developed from the Habsburg period. This morning, after a talk in the hotel, we visit the Kunsthistorisches Museum, one of Europe’s finest collections of Old Masters. Its many highlights include works by Caravaggio, Breugel and Velázquez. After free time for lunch, we then visit the nearby Weltmuseum, an ethnology museum with cultural artefacts from around the world, and the fine Museum of Musical Instruments. Returning to the hotel, there is time to relax before we attend a performance at the Vienna State Opera. (B)
Performance details Venue: Vienna State Opera
Monday 19 April: Klosterneuburg and the Upper Belvedere
The building programs of the Habsburgs celebrated Austria’s past while leaving testaments to the lavish lifestyle of one of Europe’s great families. This morning we visit Klosterneuburg, an abbey established in the 12th century, which houses one of the most exceptional pieces of medieval smithing – one of the three surviving altarpieces by Nicholas of Verdun. After touring the monastery, including the Imperial Apartments, we return to Vienna for a lunch break, followed by a visit to the Upper Belvedere Palace. The palace is one of the most impressive 18th-century palaces in Vienna and its collection covers works from the Baroque, through to Biedermeier and Secessionist masterpieces, including Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss. Return to hotel, with time to rest before attending a performance at the Konzerthaus. (B)
Performance details Venue: Konzerthaus or similar
Tuesday 20 April: Melk Abbey and the Wachau Valley
This morning we travel by boat along the Danube through the scenic Wachau valley. The natural beauty of the valley, along with the importance of the terraced vineyards in the development of wine making in central Europe, have seen it listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. On arrival in Spitz, we enjoy lunch and a wine tasting together, to sample the region’s specialities. In the afternoon, we visit the spectacularly situated Melk Abbey, a Benedictine institution established in the 11th century and rebuilt in the Baroque to honour the house of Babenberg, Austria’s first ruling dynasty. Return to the hotel by coach; evening at leisure. (B, L)
Wednesday 21 April: Musical Vienna
The list of great composers and musicians who lived and worked in Vienna is testament to the city’s vital role in music history. Today we explore this history, starting with a visit to the Central Cemetery, where, among others, Beethoven, Brahms, Schubert and the Strausses are interred. We then continue our tour to the house in which Schubert was born, now a house-museum dedicated to the composer, and to the Beethoven Museum in Heiligenstadt. In the afternoon, after a break for lunch in the city centre, we have a guided tour of the Musikverein. Returning to the hotel, the evening is at leisure. (B)
Thursday 22 April: Eastern Austria and Haydn
Eastern Austria was one of the favourite places of repose for the nobility. Today we explore this region by coach, first visiting Schloss Hof, a hunting lodge transformed by Prince Eugene of Savoy that was later bought by Empress Maria Theresa and transformed into an elegant retreat from city life. After our visit, we enjoy lunch at a typical Austrian tavern, before continuing our journey to Eisenstadt to visit Esterházy Palace. The palace was the summer residence of one of Hungary’s pre-eminent noble families, who employed Haydn as their Kapellmeister, nurturing the career of the increasingly celebrated composer. On our return to Vienna, we stop to visit the Bergkirche in Eisenstadt, where Haydn’s body has been laid to rest since 1932, and his head since 1954. Evening at leisure. (B)
Friday 23 April: Jugendstil Vienna
At the turn of the 20th century, Vienna was a cosmopolitan city bursting with new ideas, yet its art academies were notoriously conservative. Today we explore the art and architecture of a new generation who broke with tradition and laid the foundations for a style that would sweep across Europe. In the morning, we take a walking tour of Jugendstil Vienna, seeing some of the radical changes in architecture made by Otto Wagner, followed by a visit to the Museum of Applied Arts. In the afternoon, we explore Jugendstil on the then perimeters of Vienna, including a visit to Gustav Klimt’s atelier. Returning to the hotel, the evening is at leisure. (B)
Saturday 24 April: Modern Vienna
After the Great War, which brought about the end of Habsburg rule, Vienna has had a chequered history. We begin today by exploring the city’s modern past at Red Vienna, a small but fascinating museum focusing on the development of social democracy in 1920s and 1930s in the formerly autocratic state. We then take a walking tour of central Vienna to uncover the rich history of the post-war period, when Vienna was on the point of contact between Soviet and Western worlds, ending at the Third Man museum. After lunch together, we visit the Leopold Museum, Vienna’s premier collection of modern Austrian art. Returning to the hotel, there is time to relax before we attend a performance at the Musikverein. (B, L)
Performance details Venue: Vienna Musikverein or similar
Sunday 25 April: Bratislava
Bratislava is much less visited than its neighbouring capitals, and consequently retains the charms of a less-touristed city. This morning, we cruise down the Danube to Bratislava, where we take a guided tour of the city, exploring its history, from its time as the temporary capital of Hungary (when Budapest was part of the Ottoman Empire), to its modern transformation as the capital of Slovakia following the ‘Velvet Divorce’ from the Czech Republic. In the afternoon, we visit one of the region’s best new art galleries: the Danubiana Museum of Modern Art. The museum on the Danube takes full advantage of its views, and showcases an international modern art collection. Returning to Vienna by coach, the evening is at leisure. (B)
Monday 26 April: Liechtenstein Garden Palace
This morning we have a private guided visit of the Liechtenstein Garden Palace. The neo-classical palace was designed for the Prince of Liechtenstein and has especially well-preserved interiors from the early 1800s, as well as part of the family’s private collection of Old Masters – including works by Rubens, van Dyck and Frans Hals. The afternoon is at leisure, before we meet in the early evening for a farewell dinner together. (B, D)
Tuesday 27 April: Departure
The tour ends this morning in the hotel. Please check your individual travel arrangements for your onward journey. (B)
A former art museum director and curator, with expertise in the arts and music throughout Europe, the USA and Australia.
Christopher Menz is a former art museum director and curator and has been leading cultural tours in Europe, the United States and Australia since 2013. He has expertise and interest in the visual arts and music.
Christopher has a BA (Hons) from Flinders University. He is a former director of the Art Gallery of South Australia. Before that he was a curator, specialising in decorative arts, and worked at the National Gallery of Australia, Art Gallery of South Australia, and National Gallery of Victoria. He has published and lectured extensively on Australian and European decorative arts, notably on the design work of William Morris, and curated numerous exhibitions. Christopher is based in Melbourne where he is an art consultant and valuer, and Development Consultant for Australian Book Review.
Christopher has led cultural tours to Germany, England, the United States, as well as in Australia. He has also been a tour leader on European river cruises.
We asked Christopher, what do you think clients get from travelling with you?
“It is always a great thrill to be able to introduce clients to new experiences and to places they might otherwise not have visited or not have visited recently. I always hope to give tour guests something that adds to the experiences of the places, cities, museums and art galleries, and performances that they would not get if travelling alone.”
The 4-star Intercontinental Hotel in Vienna offers comfortable, modern rooms with views across the city. It is in a central, but quiet, location, allowing you to enjoy the city at your doorstep. www.ihg.com
What is included in the tour price?
Unless otherwise stated in the itinerary, our tours include the following:
Any flights mentioned in the itinerary that take place during a tour
Land travel by private air-conditioned coach. Where appropriate, taxis or public transport are also used for short distance travel on some tours
All accommodation in hotels or apartments as stated in the itinerary
Breakfasts, lunches and dinners specifically stated as included in the itinerary
Drinks at welcome and farewell meals. Other meals may not have drinks included
Background talks on tour, site notes and online resources
Services of tour leader throughout tour
All entrance fees to sites mentioned in the itinerary
Local guides at some sites
Tips for drivers, local guides and restaurants for included meals
Costs involved in obtaining visas for countries visited, where required and when stated as included
Tours begin either at the arrival airport or the first hotel, depending on the itinerary. If you have booked your international flights with Academy Travel and arrive before the tour commences, we will provide airport to hotel transfers to the closest main city on your arrival, and to the closest airport at the end of the tour. These may be either individual or group transfers.
What is not included in the tour price?
Our tours do not include the following:
Return international/domestic air travel unless those flights take place during the tour
Special taxes and airport levies that can only be paid in cash at the destination. We will advise you of these charges (if any) before you depart
Travel insurance. We require all participants to have comprehensive travel insurance. A typical policy for one of our tours will cost from $160 upwards, depending on your age, pre-existing medical conditions, the countries you are visiting and the overall length of your trip
Lunches and dinners not specifically mentioned as included in the itinerary
Personal expenses such as laundry and phone calls
Costs associated with any activity mentioned as “optional” in the itinerary, or any suggested free time activity