It is a well known fact that the Viennese are obsessed with death. Passing on to the other side is not merely acknowledged, it is celebrated. Massive headstones and garish monuments mark out the deceased who had means or enjoyed fame, so it quite rightly follows that Vienna should have one of the most extravagant cemeteries anywhere. Zentralfriedhof is so huge that it has its own internal bus route.
It is possible to reach the cemetery in the venerable 11th district by taking either the 18/71 tram or S-Bahn, the latter having its own dedicated stop. Most people ride the 71 from Schwarzenbergplatz in the inner city, immortalised by the fictional investigator Bernie Gunther in A German Requiem. The route is synonymous with the graveyard, and has been serving it for so long that there is even a euphemism among the older Viennese: ‘er hat den 71er genommen’ (he’s taken the 71) is the same as saying ‘he’s passed away’.
Quite apart from the fact that some of Europe’s most famous, er, dead people are lying here, its enormous size ensures that a chance to reflect on being, or merely sitting in quiet contemplation, is guaranteed. An excellent idea for a warm summer’s afternoon if you fancy parking yourself on a bench and reading for ages. One of Vienna’s nicest Jugendstil churches stands proudly at the centre. Expect to spend upwards of two hours exploring. Admission is nominally € 2, but I have never paid. Some useful further information can be found here.