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Fun amid elegance. That's the best of Vienna.
CNN Insider Guides are thoroughly checked for accuracy. Given the fluid nature of the travel industry, however, some listings may fall out of date before guides can be updated. The best practice is to confirm current information on official websites before making plans to visit any business or attraction.
(CNN)The best of Vienna shows off a versatile city with more to offer than most people think.
Vienna's elegance and tradition find their greatest expression in the Inner City, or more formally, the First District.
Its three square kilometers are full of stunning architecture, highlighted by palaces, museums, theaters and churches.
Most tourists stay in this small area to see the best of Vienna, then leave town thinking that's all there is.
Pity, those people miss out on seeing what Vienna is really about by not exploring the outer districts.
There's the Naschmarkt (snack market) where Viennese go to eat.
There's the Seventh District with its huge shopping street and Bohemian flair, funky coffeehouses and local designers.
The Nineteenth District showcases a strong wine culture with vineyards inside the city limits.
After a day of touring the city, all-night partying awaits in pubs, bars, restaurants and dance clubs.
Hotel Imperial You can live like a prince at the Hotel Imperial.
The building was originally constructed in 1863 as the Vienna residence of the Prince of Württemberg.
The stately palace on the magnificent Ring Boulevard was turned into the Hotel Imperial in 1873.
It's still a best of Vienna hotel pick.
Hotel Imperial Vienna, Kaerntner Ring 16, Vienna A-1015 Austria; +43 1 501 100
The Ritz-Carlton Vienna
Opened in 2012, the Ritz-Carlton Vienna is the groups' first hotel in Austria.
It sits among stiff competition on the Ring Boulevard, which is dusted with one five-star hotel after another.
However, the rooftop terrace Atmosphere is a hotspot for the local Viennese to enjoy a spectacular view of the city.
The Hot Dog is the result of designer Mandarina Brausewetter's dream of producing streetwear to buy.
The trained graphic designer rose to fame in the graffiti scene.
Now she puts her designs on T-shirts, skirts and other articles of clothing that she makes in the back of her store.
The Hot Dogs, Zollergasse 12; +43 1 236 8814
With the tagline "fashion democracy," useabrand encourages its shoppers to design their own clothes.
Its website allows users to pick the color, material and cut.
Once a month designs are voted on by users and the winner is then produced and sold online and in the useabrand store.
useabrand; Zollergasse 15; +43 1 699 11 47 8004
The First District contains almost all of the best of Vienna's "must sees."
It's small enough to walk everywhere.
St. Stephen's Cathedral
Vienna's most photogenic cathedral.
St. Stephen's Cathedral is the iconic image of Vienna and an excellent display of Gothic architecture.
It dominates the center of the city.
Its colorful roof is covered with 230,000 tiles that form a mosaic of the double-headed eagle representing Austria's former imperial family, the Habsburgs.
Inside there's an elevator that goes to the top of the cathedral for nice views of the city.
St. Stephen's Cathedral, Stephansplatz 3, Vienna A-1010 Austria;
The Hofburg Imperial Palace
The art of history.
The Hofburg Imperial Palace has 20 different tours that inform visitors about Austrian history.
The most impressive is the Spanish Riding School, where white Lipizzaner horses perform to Strauss' "The Blue Danube."
Tickets purchased in advance are necessary.
The Imperial Treasury boasts imperial crowns, jewels and a "unicorn" horn.
However, the best tour is the Imperial Apartments Sisi Museum, with a refreshing honesty about the past Austrian Empress.
Imperial Palace, Hofburg, Vienna 1010 Austria;
Vienna Ring Boulevard
Lined with the most stunning architecture in the city, the 5,200-meter-long Vienna Ring Boulevard was created from 1860-1890 when the old city walls were torn down.
Best of Vienna architecture includes the neo-classic Parliament, Gothic City Hall and State Opera, which received such criticism from the Viennese upon its opening that one of the head architects committed suicide.
The Ring is lined with so many beautiful buildings that the city runs a Vienna Ring Tram.
It starts at Schwedenplatz and informs riders of the highlights en route during its 23-minute circuit.
Vienna Ring Tram, Schwedenplatz, Vienna Austria;
Rococo at its fullest.
The exquisite baroque summer residence of the former imperial family, Schönbrunn Palace is located outside the First District.
A 30- or 60-minute tour gets you access to the living quarters of the ruling family, with excellent examples of Rococo interior design.
The large baroque garden is filled with wonders such as the world's oldest zoo and a public pool where the chic set cool off.