I was not expecting Vienna to be this amazing. It really took me by surprise, blew me out of the water, how much I ended up loving Vienna. Although it is a small city, it is densely packed with museums, concert houses, beautiful architecture, and historical cafes. You will never run out of things to do but you won’t feel like you will be in a hurry to do everything either. Once I’ve stepped into the city, I just felt like taking my time and relaxing. It’s exactly like Billy Joel’s “Vienna.” That is probably the theme song to my trip here.
My favorite part about the city is all the cafés where famous historical people used to spend their time there.
Cafe Mozart was located near our hotel so we ventured there a couple of times. It’s a great way to start off your morning. The beautiful classical style decor adds to the relaxing ambiance of the city awakening at daybreak. The smell of caffeine is just another plus.
Café Central is perhaps the most well-known and most visited café in Vienna. But I can understand why. The inside is beautiful.
The Landtmann Café is conveniently located near the Rathhaus plaza. Opt to sit at outdoor seating when there’s sunshine to enjoy that beautiful view.
Cafe Sacher is where the original Viennese cake “Sachertorte” was made. It’s essentially a chocolate cake. We went there for our dessert after dinner. It was all right…just a chocolate cake, and personally, not worth the hype. I’ve had better elsewhere, and definitely way better in Paris. But there are always lines there…so I guess it’s more of a tourist thing.
And while you’re visiting cafés, definitely try one of the Viennese specialty cafes! The Viennese coffee/café culture is actually on the list of UNESCO’s Intangible Culture Heritage. How cool is that? A country’s whose favorite past time is actually recognized as historically important.
I would recommend one of their famous local specialties the Maria Theresia, where they add rum and whipped-cream (picture below). I would say it’s not to be had at breakfast haha…or a salty meal. It’s good with a pastry, dessert, or something sweet.
If you’re not too adventurous about coffee, you can always get their typical drink, the Melange. It’s pretty much the same as an Italian cappuccino. Be careful though, because the cappuccino there is something different.
The beautiful concerts are also not to be missed here! We went to Mozarthaus and the famous State Opera House. Both were amazing, though our seats for the Opera were pretty crappy. We sat on the very top and the entire left side of the stage was practically blocked. I would definitely splurge a little bit on a good Opera seat so you’re not on the edge of the chair, leaning towards your neighbor the entire show, hoping to catch a glimpse of what’s going on on the left side of the stage.
The Mozarthaus concert was at a very small, private venue. Only 4 string musicians but the acoustics of the room were amazing as was the quality of the music. Although we decided to go on a whim, we were so happy we made the spontaneous decision afterwards!
A bit of a trip further out the city center is the Schonbrunn Palace, an estate presented to Maria Theresa (Sisi), wife of Franz Joseph, as a wedding gift. This palace not only features Baroque-style design but also 300 years of history. To enter the palace, you have to pick a tour. There are two tours to choose from, and both are unguided. You get to choose to be guided by an audio guide or a pamphlet. Unfortunately, unlike Versailles where you are free to roam around, you only get to see a selected area of the palace. Photographs also aren’t allowed 😦
The Palace (just like any other palace, really) includes a large backyard garden. Would’ve been much more beautiful on any other Sunny day, but at least it wasn’t raining while we were there! From the garden, you can choose to walk up (it’s an uphill walk) to this little area, pictured below, and get a view of the entire city of Vienna. It’s amazing! We went quite early in the morning and noticed a lot of runners. The palace opens at 9am, but the tourist crowd hits just around 9:30. So try to beat that if you can!
Of course, if you are too lazy to venture further out of the city to see this Palace, Vienna itself already has tons to offer. The Hofburg Palace, the Vienna State Hall, Sisi Museum, Stephenplatz, and of course, the numerous cafés to explore, are enough to keep you busy. It’s a small city so everything is accessible by foot!
The only thing that I was not impressed at is the people…snobbier than Parisiens and ruder than Germans. What is up with that? It’s shitty service wherever we go…even at the Opera House. You would think they would class it up a little there….but no. The only times where we have gotten good and great service was when it was not from the locals themselves. We had dinner one night at an Italian restaurant, ran by all Italians, Al Borgo (decent Italian), and Spanish tapas Lola. I do recommend both places since Austria is not a place where you’re gonna find flavorful food or good service to go with that.
But…Like I said, the city took me by complete surprise and I did not realize how much I would end up liking it! Before coming here it just seemed like a city that I should visit because I’m in Europe…but wow.