What’s New in Germany, Hungary, and Austria for 2013

By Rick Steves Modified: February 28, 2013 at 1:21 pm •  Published: February 28, 2013
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Little Hungary can’t compete in size with Germany, but its capital, Budapest, has its fair share of changes. Riverboats operated by the transit authority now connect strategic locations throughout the city. Although not as quick or convenient as Budapest’s subway or trams, the boats are a romantic, cheap alternative to pricey riverboat cruises on the Danube. Up on Castle Hill, the Royal Wine House has closed (at least temporarily), but the nearby House of Hungarian Wines has reopened, offering a survey of Hungary’s wine-growing regions. But the best place to sample local wines is in the company of locals--try any of the trendy wine bars opening up around town (such as DiVino, in front of St. Istvan's Basilica, on the Pest side of the Danube).

The news from Austria is all about Vienna. At St. Stephen’s Cathedral, visitors can ride an elevator up to the newly opened Cathedral Treasury. The substantial treasures of the cathedral had been ignored in the nearby (and outmoded) cathedral museum, so they’ve been moved into the church, filling a space high above the nave on the west portal wall.

The Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna is reopening its Kunstkammer (Cabinet of Wonders) exhibit to show off the lavish curiosities the Habsburg emperors gathered to impress their friends and enemies. Meanwhile, in the upstairs gallery known as the Gemaldegalerie, curators have been busily rearranging the paintings.

Vienna’s most impressive and crowded palace, Schonbrunn, now has an online ticketing system. It’s possible to avoid the admission lines there by reserving a timed-entry ticket at the palace’s website in advance (www.schoenbrunn.at).

            Vienna’s train stations will be in disarray for the next few years, as the city rebuilds its central station and remodels several others. The wonderful Westbahnhof (West Station) has already been beautifully renovated--with the 1950s shell now filled with a modern mall of services, shops, and eateries. It’s all part of Europe’s steady investment in its infrastructure, a commitment that will benefit all travelers to Germany, Hungary, and Austria in 2013.

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Rick Steves (www.ricksteves.com) writes European travel guidebooks and hosts travel shows on public television and public radio. Email him at rick@ricksteves.com and follow his blog on Facebook.



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