Step Through Time In Vienna, City of Dreams

by Annie Bierbower

Don't let it fool you. Vienna will enrapture you instantly but there's many more layers under the initial appeal. As the largest city and capital of Austria, it is a prominent and flourishing cultural, economic and political center. But, this progressive city lies under a veil of baroque architecture, operas, museum, and art.

Hofburg Palace, Vienna, Austria.
Hofburg Palace, Vienna, Austria

Music isn't just something playing on the radio or found on street corners here. Music is Vienna's legacy, the pulse of the city. Mozart, Beethoven, and Brahms all spent time working and performing here and helped it earn the nickname City of Music. It has also been called the City of Dreams since it is the birthplace of Sigmund Freud, the world's first psychoanalyst. Vienna has managed to perfectly intertwine its strong and beautiful artistic culture into a modern metropolis of 1.7 million people. It was named the world's most livable city by a 2005 survey and has established itself as a host for many international organizations such as the United Nations.

Geography & Climate

Located at the eastern reaches of the Alps in Northeastern Austria, it is a short trip to Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary. The climate offers warm summers, cold winters, and typically heavy snowfall between January and March blanketing the streets and buildings in white.

Music, Architecture, & Culture

Take a step into history and fantasy with one of around 200 balls that take place in Vienna every year. It is one of the last cities in the world that can truly claim a thriving ball circuit. They feature nearly a dozen live orchestras. Banquet halls hundreds of years old come alive with dancing and live orchestras. One of the most popular locations is the Hofburg Palace at Heldenplatz. The immaculate structure was home to the imperial Habsburg family which ruled Austria for hundreds of years. The monarchy influenced many things from politics to food during their reign. As if the estate wasn't enough, be sure to visit the Schatzkammer, or treasure chamber. The collection of crowns, jewels, and clothing is spectacular and seems endless as it stretches through several sparkling galleries.

Austrian Parliament Building

Austrian Parliament Building

The allure of Vienna's architecture doesn't stop at imperial estates and treasure chambers. The City Center is actually a UNESCO World Heritage Site, filled with gardens, a baroque castle, monuments, parks, and more incredible buildings. The city continues to bring its past and present together through these structures. Recent projects have actually combined the new with the old bringing modernity to centuries old structures.


Make sure to enjoy some of Vienna's delicious cuisine while taking in the sites. Local favorites include wiener schnitzel which is breaded veal cooked to a golden brown then served with cranberry sauce. Tafelspitz was a favorite of the imperial family and still is a popular dish. It is a second breakfast or brunch that includes thin cuts of boiled beef. Many dishes stem from the cuisine of the Imperial days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. But dive into the to meatier side of things with the famous Vienna sausage that can be found in many street corner stands.

Study Abroad

If you want a big experience but with a more personalized feel the Institute for Global Education may be your perfect program. They only accept 20 students per term but participants will live in international dormitories with around 400 students from Austria and other European countries. Students can choose between the International Business program or the other Arts and Culture focus. Enjoy the relaxation and security of a more inclusive program. IGE will provide you with everything from airport pick-up to weekly dinner gathering with the other students.

Looking to learn German? Where better to learn it than in one of the most beautiful cities in the world while studying at the oldest university in the German speaking world? The Center for Study Abroad (CSA), which focuses on providing lower cost programs, offers a program to the University of Vienna focusing solely on German language. Any level of German speaker, or non-speaker, can either start their studies from scratch or take their skills from intermediate to expert. Credits are transferable and students have the option of single or twin dormitory living.