Vienna Waits For You.

The Christmas Markets of Vienna, Austria are as stunning at the city itself. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

December 3, 2014
Before dawn, Viking River Cruises’ Viking Baldur silently came alongside in Vienna, Austria. Which is a bit of a misnomer; ships can’t actually come alongside in Vienna simply because the Danube doesn’t run through the historic city center. Instead, they dock further out, near what could best be termed ‘Modern Vienna.’

Three Vikings, side-by-side in Vienna. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Three Vikings, side-by-side in Vienna. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Vienna is a bit like Paris or New York: you can spend weeks here admiring just the museums and never scratch any of the city’s other charms, like it’s historic cafes, opera houses, grand hotels and notable monuments like the Wiener Riesenrad (literally the ‘Viennese giant wheel’) – a Ferris wheel that has adorned the Prater since 1897.
Of course, it being December, our explorations would be focused solely on Vienna’s magnificent Christmas Markets. There’s over a dozen in all, and you’d need to spend days here to even have a hope of scratching the surface.

How do you get to Vienna? You can take a bus tour...or come with Viking's guides as they show you how to use the Viennese U-Bahn system! Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

How do you get to Vienna? You can take a bus tour…or come with Viking’s guides as they show you how to use the Viennese U-Bahn system! Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Viking gives guests plenty of choices here in Vienna, though. For first-time visitors, a comprehensive city tour is offered along the Ringstrasse, the ring road that encircles historic Vienna. This is coupled with a walking tour of Vienna’s major city sights, and the option to return to the cozy Viking Baldur for lunch or to return via one of the continuously-running shuttle busses that pick up passengers from the Schwedenplatz.

The Gothic interior of St. Stephen's Cathedral - less than half an hour away from the ship if you take the subway. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

The Gothic interior of St. Stephen’s Cathedral – less than half an hour away from the ship if you take the subway. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

If you’ve been here before – or are up for a bit of adventure – Viking offers a tremendous excursion that I wish would catch on with more river cruise lines. From the ship, they’ll walk you approximately 600 feet to the Reichsbrucke – or Reichs Bridge, where you’ll ascend a set of stairs and walk along a pedestrian path inset into the bridge deck. From there, you’ll be guided to the Vorgartenstrasse U-Bahn subway stop. Total walking distance: perhaps 10 minutes.
Then, you’ll be shown how to purchas

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