HAVE breakfast on the eighth-floor balcony of the Grand Ferdinand hotel (grand ferdinand.com) on the Schubertring. This building was once the headquarters of the Austrian secret service. Somewhere, there will be a room where captured Soviet spies were force-fed strudel until they talked, but I filled up on bircher muesli – yogurt, oats and berries –which is as close as locals come to health food.
After an ultra-strong Viennese coffee, I took a super-charged stroll along the Ringstrasse past the Opera House (wiener-staatsoper.at) towards the Albertina art gallery (albertina.at), with a lift at one end and a butterfly house at the back. Its collection includes works by Monet, Matisse, Picasso and Renoir.
AFTER a hectic morning, you’ll need to rest your legs just around the corner at the Sacher Hotel (sacher. com), home of the famous chocolate concoction sachertorte, created by Franz Sacher in 1832.
Suitably refreshed, you could decide to take on one more palace. Schonbrunn (schoenbrunn.at/en/), the grandest Viennese palace of all, sits in rolling parkland that features ornamental lakes and Roman remains, and is open all year.
The locals’ favourite palace is the Belvedere (belvedere.at/en), easily reached on the regular tram from the Ringstrasse. Another world heritage site, this elegant Baroque palace with astonishing interiors is set on a hillside amid beautiful gardens. Inside are white marble halls, fabulous state rooms and 24 Klimt works, including his most famous of all, The Kiss. What better way to seal your trip?
Rooms at the Grand Ferdinand (grand ferdinand.com) cost from about £150 (R2 600) a night. For more details on visiting Vienna, go to wien. info.