Dozens of beautiful buildings and a whole lot of delicious coffee.
That’s how I would describe Vienna in one sentence. [ Slightly kidding. ] As first glance, Austria and Germany have quite a bit in common, such as the national language and mouthwatering cuisine. However, Vienna has its own unique charm. From the coffee houses to the museums to the opera houses to the wine bars to the palaces, Vienna casts a spell on you and leaves you begging to return for more.
Accommodation: Airbnb near the Josefstadt neighborhood, which is just outside the city center. For a stay of three days or longer [ which I highly recommend ], purchase a 72-hour Vienna card, which allows unlimited public transportation use for three days.
Pretty cool: The Habsburgs, the former Austrian royal family, expanded their empire through Europe over many centuries. Vienna is home to many of the family’s palaces, most of which have been repurposed as museums. It’s worth a trip to Schloss Schönbrunn, one of the Habsburgs’ summer residences, where you will wander the perfectly manicured gardens and take in one heck of a city view.
Don’t miss it: Spend an afternoon hopping around popular coffee houses such as Demel Cafe Central, Cafe Leopold Hawelka and Café Sacher. The latter is home to the original Sacher Torte. Once fully dosed up on coffee and cake, enjoy an authentic Viennese meal at Figlmüller. Make a reservation in advance to avoid missing the famously-delicious wiener schnitzel. Finally, end the evening at Dachboden, a trendy rooftop cocktail lounge in the 25 Hours Hotel. It offers spectacular views of the city, in addition to an array of Austrian wine. You may even catch a wine or music festival below in Weghuberpark, a small park sandwiched between the hotel and Trautson Palace.
Wish I had more time for: Austria is developing a reputation for its wine. I wish I had taken a vineyard tour and tasting, specifically a tour where you bike to and from each location. I also hoped to visit Schloss Belvedere, another one of the Habsburgs’ beautiful palaces.
Must try food/drink: Coffee, cake and schnitzel. Repeat daily. Dine at Joseph Brot for breakfast, which is well-known in Austria for its fresh-baked bread. Locals and guide books may suggest the Naschmarkt for lunch, but personally, I disagree with the recommendation. This food market is primarily vendors selling olives, seafood, sweets, produce and souvenirs. Definitely wander through it, but choose another place to dine.
Here’s a hint: We frequently stumbled upon outdoor festivals in Vienna, such as a local wine festival and a kid-friendly carnival. The wine festival is how we really discovered Austrian culture and Viennese wine, so I encourage you to shake up your original plans when presented with spontaneous opportunities. Also, I recommend wandering around the city and taking in the architecture. Like Budapest, the buildings are absolutely beautiful [ both day and night]. Take a free walking tour to ensure you see the best of the city!
[ Next stop ]: Purchased the Sound of Music on iTunes to watch on the train ride to Salzburg, Austria.
Visited Vienna before? Share your recommendations, tips and experiences in the comments below.
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[ Follow the adventure to Salzburg ]