By Jo Caird
Known for its world-class music and opera, Austria’s biggest city also hits the right notes with its standard of living, architectural grandeur and thousands of green spaces.
Vienna has ranked first for quality of living for international employees for the past nine years in an index by human resources consulting firm Mercer, while the Economist Intelligence Unit put the Austrian capital at the top of its Global Liveability Index this year too. A secure environment and a broad range of cultural amenities make the Austrian capital an attractive place to live.
Commuting with ease
Vienna’s extensive public transport system is efficient and easy to use. Tickets are valid across buses, trains, trams and underground lines, and season passes include an annual ticket for €365 — a modest price by western European standards. The underground runs all night at weekends.
Connections with major European financial centres are excellent, including multiple daily departures to London, Zurich and Frankfurt from Vienna international airport.
The city’s historic centre, including the opulent mansions on the leafy, horseshoe-shaped Ringstrasse boulevard, has held Unesco World Heritage status since 2001. Built as part of a huge land sell-off in the mid-19th century by Emperor Franz Josef, the architecture of the Ringstrasse is a unique and eclectic blend of classical, gothic, renaissance and baroque styles.
Some of these mansions are now being converted to high-end apartments. The Palais Schottenring development — a renovation of an 1872 building originally designed by noted Ringstrasse architect Wilhelm Fraenkel — is due to be completed by the end of this year.
Classical music capital
The Ringstrasse is home to several of Vienna’s most illustrious cultural institutions. There is a different opera or ballet performance almost every day of the week at the Vienna State Opera, one of the world’s leading opera houses, and the jewel box-like Musikverein concert hall regularly hosts the Vienna Philharmonic orchestra alongside international orchestras and ensembles.
Greenest of credentials
There are about 2,000 parks in Vienna, from tiny courtyard gardens to the Danube-Auen National Park, a flood plain of the river Danube, covering more than 9,300 hectares on the city’s eastern edge. All those parks equate to 120 square metres of green space per Vienna resident, making it one of the greenest cities in the world.
The Prater, a 600-hectare park just outside the city centre, is popular with walkers, runners and cyclists. Outdoor swimming enthusiasts can dip into the Stadionbad, a 50m public pool that is open between April and September.
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