A few of you might know that I was born in Austria and that I am officially an Austrian citizen. Whenever I get asked where I’m from by foreigners and I reply that I’m from Austria, the reactions are in unison: Oh Vienna! It is so beautiful! I absolutely confirm that. However, I am from the other side of Austria, but that’s just a detail.
The beauties of Vienna are ranking the Austrian capital amongst the most picturesque cities in Europe if not the entire world. Traveling to Vienna is like buying a ticket through history. It’s been a while since I had visited Vienna the last time, so when I revisited the city a few weeks ago I remembered why all the foreigners are so fascinated by Vienna: Beautiful, historic architecture, a vibrant cultural scene, traditional cafés and pastries, historical landmarks on every corner, and the unique Viennese lifestyle. Its location in the heart of Europe make it the perfect weekend getaway for Europeans.
Strolling through downtown Vienna feels like a historical promenade through the Habsburg Monarchy with its representative buildings and pastel facades, golden cupolas and Art Nouveau wherever your eye stops. Vienna boosts with attractions such as the imperial palaces of the Hofburg and Schönbrunn (do I hear some Sisi fans among you?), the impressive St. Stephen’s Cathedral, the quirky Hundertwasserhaus and fantastic museums such as the Albertina, the Museum of Modern Art (MUMOK) or the famous Vienna Secession building (‘To every age its art. To art its freedom.’).
Vienna is located on the Danube river and offers many green spaces to its inhabitants and visitors. Spacious parks and a lively riverside fail not to impress and encourage alfresco activities. For the gourmets among you, Vienna will be paradise (or a calorie trap for the more cautious eaters among you): First and foremost I recommend a Saturday stroll over the famous Naschmarkt, Vienna’s central market. This open-air market with countless stands offers delicacies from around the world. Vienna has always been a connecting gate between the West and the East and this can be perfectly observed on the Naschmarkt – Austrian pastries, Italian olives, French cheeses stand side-by-side with Turkish sweets, Egyptian candied lemons, pickles from the Balkans. The market offers many restaurants and bars so you won’t stay hungry for long. Moreover, on Saturdays the food market is extended by a flea market with all kind of tchotchkes that make a perfect and unique souvenir for your shelves at home.
Vienna is also the capital of cafés. Legend has it that it was the sieging Ottomans in the 17th century who brought coffee to Vienna. Ever since the Viennese café (Wiener Kaffeehaus) is an integral part of the daily life of the locals and tourists alike. Touristy (and historical) coffee hotspots are the Café Demel, Café Sacher (the two first claim to have invented the famous Sachertorte cake), Café Central, Café Hawelka (a rugged, dark café used to host Vienna’s creatives), Café Hofburg in the palace. Don’t be intimidated by the extensive coffee selection in those cafés and make sure to accompany your coffee with a piece of local pastry such as the Sachertorte, the Esterházy cake, apple strudel or sweet dumplings filled with apricots.
Vienna will not disappoint you. You will love the romantic, charming and historical atmosphere and discover lots of Europe in one spot. Plus, staying in Vienna will not blow your budget – I have the best and most reasonable hotel tip for you in the very center of Vienna – but I keep this for my next blog post which will be published on Tuesday. Stay tuned!