Vienna: Musical Traditions and Contemporary Art - June 20, 2019 - Atlas Obscura Trips

Vienna, Austria

Vienna: Musical Traditions and Contemporary Art

Join us in the City of Music for an immersive visual and auditory exploration of its abundant artistic treasures, both historical and contemporary.

This trip is best for people who are...

  • Curious about Vienna’s music, art, and hidden corners.
  • Ready to walk 3 to 5 miles a day, in and around the city center.
  • Eager to make the most of each day—when you’re going backstage at the opera, dining in its conservatory, and seeing an evening performance all in one day, you’ve got to cover a lot of ground.

Vienna has always been a center for the arts—home to several of Mozart's first operas, Klimt's home studio, and some of the world's leading musical ensembles. On this trip, we've dedicated our attention to the city's rich artistic culture, from its historic coffee houses, host to centuries of creative gatherings, to its finest museums and musical venues. But we're also giving you an inside look, behind the scenes of the Vienna State Opera, and introducing you to new ways of interpreting world-renowned masterpieces.

This trip is limited to a small group of 12 travelers.


  • The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra: We’ll celebrate the start of our time together with an open-air concert at Schönbrunn Palace Park, a highlight of the Viennese concert calendar, followed the next morning by a guided tour of where this world-famous orchestra was founded.
  • Artistic Masterpieces, Then and Now: We'll see great works by Rembrandt, Raphael, Velázquez, and Titian, visit the former studio of Gustav Klimt, and explore the MuseumsQuartier, one of the largest districts for contemporary art in the world.
  • Behind the Scenes of the Vienna State Opera: We’ll take a guided, special access tour of one of the world's most famous opera houses, and the largest repertory company, the Vienna State Opera. In the evening, we'll dine in the conservatory before being treated to Aida by Giuseppe Verdi.


Nadja von Buseck is a scholar of history with a focus on art, and has traveled extensively both professionally and personally. Nadja, who grew up Salzburg, Austria, studied art in various forms at universities in Vienna and abroad. Today she is somewhat nomadic, splitting her time between the inspiration of Berlin and the calm of the Austrian Alps. She is excited to share with travelers the many lively, diverse, and special experiences that Vienna has to offer.


Please email us at or call us at (646) 961-4857 with any questions about the itinerary, logistics, and payment.

Day 1
Arrival, Welcome & Open-Air Concert
  • Today, arrive in proper Viennese style! In the afternoon, we'll welcome you to join us for an optional tour through the city's historic coffee houses to observe traditional Viennese coffee house culture, follow the spirit of celebrated writers and artists, and learn how these treasures are part of today's society.
  • Afterward, take some free time to rest at the hotel before the group meets up for our welcome dinner and evening concert.
  • Our first dinner together will take place at the Plachutta family's head restaurant, within walking distance of the imperial Schönbrunn Palace, the concert venue. Offering regional and seasonal homemade dishes, the restaurant is best known for a Viennese classic, Tafelspitz-Küche, a beef dish that once graced royal tables. By tradition, beef is still cut into more pieces in today's Vienna than anywhere else in the world, and the Plachutta family has made it their business to revive and cultivate this culinary heritage. 
  • The open-air concert of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra in Schönbrunn Palace Park is a highlight of the Viennese concert calendar. The philharmonic is composed of members of the Vienna State Opera Orchestra and is considered one of the best in the world. In the dreamlike setting of Schönbrunn Palace (built in its present form in the 18th century as a summer residence for Empress Maria Theresa), the music will whisk you off your feet.
  • Afterward, feel free to explore the local nightlife or head back to the hotel for a good night's sleep. 
Larisa Birta/Unsplash
Day 2
Imperial Masterpieces & Classic Baroque
  • This morning, we'll have a guided visit through the Haus der Musik, an interactive museum in the heart of Vienna and the founding site of the Vienna Philharmonic. The building was home to the apartment of composer and conductor Otto Nicolai when he founded the orchestra in 1842. 
  • We'll then enjoy lunch at a legendary local spot, PalmenhausIn 1822, a 420-foot-long greenhouse was erected in the castle garden, with a rear wall that is actually part of the old city wall. In 1901, it was reincarnated in Art Nouveau style. Designed by Friedrich Ohmann, the Palm House remains one of the most beautiful steel and glass constructions of its time. Once the emperor's private entertainment venue, it's now an independent institution.
  • In the afternoon, we'll see imperial masterpieces in the magnificent Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna, including works by Rubens, Rembrandt, Raphael, Velázquez, Titian, and Dürer, as well as the largest Bruegel collection in the world and the famous Cellini Salt Cellar. We'll also explore the work through the novel Old Masters by the acclaimed Austrian novelist, playwright and poet Thomas Bernhard, which takes place in the museum itself. (We recommend reading the novel before our visit.)
  • Later, we'll relax at BräunderhofBernhard’s favorite traditional coffee house. From here, feel free to wander and have dinner before we reconvene for this evening's classical concert—Vivaldi's Le quattro stagioni (The Four Seasons)—in the Karlskirche, an outstanding baroque church.
Jiuguang Wang
Day 3
Vienna State Opera
  • This morning after breakfast, we'll take a private tour through Musikverein, one of the most beautiful concert halls in the world and a jewel of the Viennese Ringstrasse period that is renowned for its acoustic qualities. 
  • Afterwards, enjoy some free time and take lunch on your own.
  • In the afternoon, we'll meet for a behind-the-scenes tour of the world's largest repertory company, the Vienna State Opera. This special tour will reveal many things unseen by regular operagoers. We'll learn about the history of the opera house, its architecture, and daily operations. From the foyer, we'll take a staircase through the state rooms to the auditorium, with a view of the stage. 
  • Before returning for the evening's opera, we'll dine at one of the city's finest restaurants, Rote Bar Restaurant Sacher. Either the chef himself or the staff of the house will welcome and introduce us to the history of the hotel and restaurant, which has a view of the opera house. Be sure to leave room for dessert—the house specialty is the original Sachertorte.
  • The Vienna State Opera is one of the most famous opera houses in the world, and opened on May 25, 1869, with a premiere of Mozart's Don Giovanni. We'll end our day in the same seats as that very first audience, swept up in the opera Aida by Giuseppe Verdi, featuring Marco Armiliato, Ekaterina Gubanova, Elena Guseva, Gregory Kunde, and Simone Piazzola. 
Day 4
Gustav Klimt & Visual Art
  • Our final day together kicks off with a special excursion to the home of the Wiener Secession, also known as the Union of Austrian Artists. This art movement was formed in 1897, and its first president was painter Gustav Klimt. The house was built in 1898 and remains a groundbreaking exhibition space for contemporary art. 
  • For lunch, we'll head to the nearby Naschmarkt, the largest city market in Vienna, dating back to the 18th century. There will be lots of snacks and foods to choose from, both locally sourced and from around the world.
  • In the afternoon, we'll visit Klimt's Villa. From 1911 until his death in 1918, Klimt created some of his most important works in his studio in the Feldmühlgasse neighborhood, then a ground-floor garden house. In 1923 it was converted into a neo-baroque villa. 
  • We'll continue to explore Vienna's extraordinary visual art at the Leopold Museum, in the MuseumsQuartier, one of the largest contemporary art and culture districts in the world. The museum houses the most important collection of works by Egon Schiele and masterpieces by Klimt. It is Vienna's best representation of the fabled “Fin de siècle Vienna” and the birth of Modernism. Afterward, we encourage you to wander and discover the area's fine art, architecture, music, fashion, theater, dance, literature, children’s culture, street art, design, and photography. 
  • For our final evening together, we'll enjoy a picnic in a local park, accompanied by a violinist. We can look back on the phenomenal music and art we witnessed together.
Alisa Anton/Unsplash
Day 5
Farewell & Departure
  • This morning, depart for flights home, or extend your stay to explore more on your own. We encourage you to spend more time in Vienna or visit nearby cities such as Salzburg, Bratislava, and Budapest. We're always happy to provide suggestions for additional things to do and see.
  • Until the next adventure!
The Fine Print


  • Four nights in a boutique hotel throughout the trip. (Private rooms are available for a single supplement of $460. Otherwise we’ll work to place singles of the same gender together.)
  • The price of your trip includes three dinners and two lunches.
  • An experienced guide accompanying you throughout the trip, in addition to special guests along the way.
  • Admission to all proposed activities, performances, sites, and events.
  • A great group of fellow Atlas Obscura fans, excited to explore all that the city has to offer!


Our tour begins in Vienna at 5 p.m. on Thursday, June 20, when we meet for our first dinner. If you'd like to join the optional coffee house tour, you should plan to meet your guide around 1 p.m. For flights or other transport in and out of Vienna, we recommend arriving by midday on Thursday and departing anytime in the morning on Monday, June 24. We strongly encourage you to extend your trip either before or after the official tour to give yourself time to explore some of Vienna's classic sights on your own and visit nearby cities such as Salzburg, Austria (three-hour drive), Budapest, Hungary (three-hour drive or train ride), and Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia (one hour by train or car).


Itineraries are subject to change; if any of the activities or attractions mentioned here are somehow unavailable, we will always do our best to replace it with another activity or location of significant interest and value.


Travelers should be reasonably fit and feel comfortable walking three to five miles over the course of each day. We will be traveling mainly by foot and public transport throughout Vienna, and taking several museum tours that require standing for long periods of time.


You will be charged a nonrefundable $500 deposit to hold your space. The final payment of $1,840 is due by March 26, 2019. All reservations will be final after this date and subject to our cancellation policy. By submitting your deposit, you agree to the Terms & Conditions. For travelers wishing to have single accommodations during the trip, an additional $460 will be included in the final balance due.


  • Flights or other transportation to and from Vienna, Austria.
  • Airport transfers.
  • Travel insurance (recommended).
  • Food and drink outside of Atlas Obscura offerings, including breakfasts, one dinner, one lunch, and any alcoholic beverages.
  • Personal expenses.
  • If applicable, applying for an Austrian visa (not required for U.S. or E.U. citizens).

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