Let's face it, Austria is not the sort of place Jews tend to go to as a holiday. Where once there were around 190,000 before the Second World war, there are now no more than 16,000. Many Jews fled the Nazi persecution but well over 65,000 also perished in the death camps.
At its capital is Vienna, a place where Jews prospered before the war and as the capital of Austria offers much charm and like nearby Germany, Jews today should not feel they cannot visit it. After all, Jews are living there today and Vienna offers a wealth of sites and sounds for Jews to see and hear.
So come to Vienna with an open mind, reflect on its past and open your eyes to what there is to do now.
The essential Jewish stuff to do:
Visit the Jewish Museum
This modern museum tells the story of Viennese Jews through a fascinating mix of permanent and temporary exhibitions - plus a viewable storage area offers a glimpse of those archived items not on display in the main museum.
Top Tip: The museum’s Teitelbaum café is worth a visit for some great coffee and, as it points out, "the best bagels in Vienna".
Address: Dorotheerg. 11 A-1010 Vienna
Tel: 43 1 535 04 31
Formerly part of the city’s Jewish area, the main point of interest is the Holocaust memorial, created by British designer Rachel Whiteread. A museum focusing on medieval Jewry is also located here.
Top Tip: Combine a visit to Judenplatz with a visit to the other jewish attractions as they are all close together.
How to get there: Take the U3 line to Herrengasse Underground station or catch bus 1A, 2A or 3A.
Go to a Viennese shul
The main synagogue building is also home to the offices of the Vienna Jewish community and the Chief Rabbi.
Top Tip: Take your passport with you - security is very tight and you’ll need to show it, whether you’re attending a service or you just want to see the shul, in order to get in.
Address: Seitenstettengasse 4, Vienna
Other popular things to do:
Take a trip to the Schonbrunn Palace
One of Vienna’s most popular attractions, this lavish palace has been a tourist attraction since 1860, shortly after the end of the Austrian monarchy. Choose from either the tour through 22 rooms of the palace or, for the more ambitious, the tour through 40 rooms, both with detailed audio accompaniment.
Top Tip: Be sure to round off your trip with a visit to the stunning floral displays in the palace gardens.
How to get there: The palace is a short walk from Schonbrunn Underground station, on Line U4.
Spend a few hours at the Prater
This massive theme park has more than enough rides, sideshows and other entertainments to keep the whole family amused, but its star attraction is the famous Riesenrad - the giant Ferris wheel which was a focal point of the classic Orson Welles film the Third Man and provided the blueprint for the London Eye. Superb views of the city guaranteed!
Top Tip: Go in the evening if you visit Vienna in the summer - the park stays open late. And allow 45 mins-1hr to do the Prater wheel - the ride lasts about half an hour and you may have to queue for a pod.
Address: Hauptallee, Vienna 1020, Austria
Have a cup of Viennese coffee. Vienna is famous for its coffee houses and for a real blast from the past head over to Hawelka, just off the main shopping street. Service is speedy, the coffee is great and while it might not look as though it’s been renovated for about 100 years, that’s just part of its charm.
Top Tip: The entrance is so small it’s easy to miss - but ask any local and they’ll be able to tell you straight away how to get there - that’s how famous this place is!
Address: Dorotheergasse 6, Vienna 1010
Tel: 43 1 512 8230
Go to Vienna Zoo
As well as the usual array of big cats, elephants and primates, a whole host of unusual creatures can be seen here, from red pandas to bison, porcupines and jackals.
Top Tip: Try and see at least one of the many animal feeding sessions open to the public during the day - check the website (www.zoovienna.at) for times.
Address: Schönbrunner Tiergarten Ges.m.b.H.
Maxingstraße 13 b Vienna 1130
Tel: 8779 2940
Enjoy some Viennese cake
With its fondness for cakes, pastries and all kinds of other sweet treats, Vienna is not a city for the diet-conscious. However, if you’re going to indulge just once then there’s no better place to do so than at the Hotel Sacher, home of the famous Sacher Torte (a very rich chocolate cake).
Top Tip: As well as sampling Sacher Torte in their dining room, you can also buy whole cakes (in varying sizes) to take home, or alternatively have them shipped to relatives overseas.
Address: Philharmonikerstraße 4, Vienna 1010
Tel.: 43 1 51 456 0
Walk round the Stadtpark
Not only is this a pleasant place to stroll through, the Stadtpark is also home to Vienna’s famous golden Johann Strauss statue. Look out, too for the tribute to famous Austrian artist Hans Makart, as well as attractive flower gardens and greenery.
Top Tip: If you go in the summer, head for the park’s Café Maierei, where live music is often performed.
How to get there: Take the U4 line to Stadtpark Underground station.
Pick up some Viennese bargains
The main shopping streets in the town centre are Kartnerstrasse and Graben, which intersect and play host to everything from upmarket department stores to chocolate shops and cafes.
Top Tip: Keep your eye out for good quality Austrian clothing, including Geiger jackets and coats - well-made, stylish and should last you a good few years.
How to get there: If you’re centrally located, the quickest way to reach Kartnerstrasse is to walk! Otherwise, take the U1 line to Karlsplatz or Schwedenplatz Underground station.