Because cruise travel brings me to many of my destinations, I often have just a half day to explore a city before we head on our way to the next port of call on an itinerary.
So, I must make the best use of my time.
This was the case during my Viking Cruise down the Danube River.
In Vienna, we had an overnight call, so we enjoyed a little more time. Even so, spending fewer than 24 hours in such a magnificent and historic city is not nearly enough to do all that it offers. (That is why I like cruising as a way to get a sample to determine whether a place deserves a return for a full multi-day adventure.)
Here are five top things to do when you are making a quick stopover in Vienna, Austria.
5. Attend a concert. On our Viking Cruise, we chose a classical concert excursion on the evening of our arrival. It was a great treat to hear a sampling of the music of Mozart and Strauss in the world capital of music.
The concert was of moderate length and in a smaller venue, but you could find numerous options for concerts offered throughout the city.
Check websites like ViennaConcerts.com for a full schedule of classical events and operas.
Check out the Holocaust Memorial and the pedestrian street and shopping mecca Graben. Both are within close proximity of the amazing St. Stephen's Cathedral, a Gothic marvel. The entire area is packed with churches, museums, quaint cafes and decadent sweet shops, all interconnected among enchanting stone streets and alleyways.
If you like going it alone, you can rent a bike or grab one from you river boat if it supplies them and set out on well-marked routes that lead right from the Danube canal all the way to the city center, with many things to see on the way (Vienna Opera House, Parliament and the city park with the giant Ferris wheel.
2. Get a taste of Vienna. Stop at a sidewalk stand for a traditional sausage, hot dog or a Kasekrainer, a smoked sausage consisting of 10 to 20 percent cheese. Scope out a bistro for schnitzel, dumplings and soup, or find a pastry shop to snap up some strudel.
Schonbrunn Palace, an impressive Baroque structure, is filled with priceless decor, and tours allow visitors to go through up to 40 of the 1,441 rooms and into the vast, beautiful gardens.
Of note: U.S. President John Kennedy and Soviet Premier Nikita Kruschev met for a summit in 1961 at Schonbrunn Palace.
You see, there is much history and flavor to explore in Vienna. If you are only there for a short stay, pick something you'll enjoy, and dive right in. You can always go back for more.