but most sections are open to visitors. The complex includes the Spanish Riding School, where the famous Lippizan horses are put through their paces in balletic displays. For a double dose of schmaltz, the Spanish Riding School is teaming up on a few selected dates until June 2014 with the Vienna Boys' Choir.
The baroque Belvedere palace, just outside the city centre with sweeping views over Vienna, houses an impressive art collection from Vienna in its fin-de-siecle heyday. It includes the famed Gustav Klimt painting The Kiss, which you can also see reproduced on countless scarves, packs of cards and lighters in souvenir shops around the city.
A 15-minute taxi ride from the centre, or a cheaper tram, brings you to the Schoenbrunn Palace estate. Originally planned as a palatial hunting lodge in the 17th century, the site includes extensive gardens and Europe's oldest zoo. In December, it also hosts - you guessed it - a Christmas market.
Back in the city centre, the MuseumsQuartier is a complex of mostly modern art museums built around the former imperial stables. Cafes spill out into the large outdoor courtyard and the area has a lively yet laid-back feel - think Pompidou Centre minus the street artists.
Among the plethora of museums in the city, the Kunsthistorisches Museum, with its extensive Habsburg painting collections of Venetian, Flemish, Dutch and German masterpieces stands out. Until Jan. 12, it is also home to an exhibition of 141 paintings by the late British figurative painter Lucian Freud, many of them on rare loan from private collections. It is the first time Sigmund Freud's grandson has had a show in Vienna and it is likely to be the last time for several years that such a collection is brought together.
For a glimpse of the more recent history of "Red Vienna", the nickname of the socialist-governed city between the two world wars, check out some of the more extravagant social housing that was built during the period - for example the giant Karl Marx-Hof in Heiligenstadt, where revolutionaries of the 1934 February uprising barricaded themselves against artillery fire. A more recent example