Vienna. Austria’s capital city located in the center of continental Europe. Europe as a continent is renowned globally for its contributions to art, music and culture worldwide, Austria and more specifically, Vienna, plays a huge part in cultured society. For those who have never been or considered a trip to Vienna, there’s many ways to describe it. Think London but compact. Think Paris but with less crowds. Think Madrid, with equal amounts of history and royal things. On my 4 day trip to Vienna, I both educated myself in world history and enjoyed many displays of Austrian culture throughout the city, Below is a list of what I consider 5 things any visitor to Vienna should do to get real good sense of Viennese society both past and present:
1) Walking Tour
Its one activity I have found a passion for when traveling through different European cities. Walking Tours provided by a local guide really gives a personal perspective to the histories and backgrounds of the many sights in Vienna, Walking Tours in Vienna show you different aspects and periods in Vienna’s history. From the Austro-Hungarian Empire to World War 2. An entertaining walking tour can make the city feel familiar when exploring. On my trip in late February, the company used was ‘Good Tours Vienna’. This company I’d highly recommend. Our guide, Anita, made the 2 hour tour really enjoyable. This tour leaves from Albertinaplatz, near the State Opera.
2) Royal Residences
Like many cities in Europe, one thing Vienna certainly boasts is it’s Royal Heritage, including a couple of Palaces which the Habsburg’s, the Emperors of the Holy Roman Empire and Sovereigns of Bohemia, ruled out of. In the city of Vienna is where the Hofburg Palace, the principle palace of the Empire, is located. A 20 minute walk from Westbahnhof Station lies the Schonbrunn Palace. Schonbrunn Palace is an exceptional place, really. Not only is it a grand palace with extensive gardens but the gardens themselves plays host to the longest continuously operating zoo in the world, the Tiergarden. Vienna plays host to a plethora of palaces and residences of the Habsburg Dynasty! These residences make for excellent points of cultural and historic discovery of Vienna and of how Austria itself was governed in the 16th and 17th century! When visiting the city, a lot of the walking tours that visitors would avail of would also do day trips to these palaces and offer rich insight into the history of the buildings and the people who occupied them!
3) Food and Drink:
Austria and more precisely, Vienna, is world renowned for its exceptional contribution to culinary culture. Viennese food has been composed of Central European and Austro-Hungarian Influences. Viennese cuisine is more notable for its pastries and sweet things but also contains many unique dishes and has become so influential that Viennese cuisine remains the only cooking to be named specifically after a city. Some of the foods recommended to try in Vienna include Weiner Schnitzel, Goulash, Apfelstrudel, Kaiserschmarrn and Sachertorte, a famous chocolate and apricot cake. When in Vienna, a lot of restaurants and cafes offer these famous dishes. Some of the places I’d recommend visiting for a taste of Vienna include; Cafe Mozart– This cafe starts as the first Viennese addresses for coffee house culture in the city and dates back to 1899. This place oozes history and offers a terrace seating for those wishing to have some sweet treats and watch the world go by. Their cake and pastry selection is honestly mouth watering. This is a great location for tourists to try traditional Sachertorte. Sachertorte is so good, guys. You think it’s normal chocolate cake and BOOM, apricot-ty goodness, Cafe Schwarzenberg– When reuniting with a friend in Vienna, she introduced me to Cafe Schwarzenberg. A traditionally styled cafe that was buzzing with people. Here, I tried their apple strudel and a Melange, which is an Austrian styled cappuccino. It was SO good! Cafe Central– Another popular coffee house in Vienna, the Cafe Central. When I visited in late February, the line for this cafe had its line for a table stretching out the door. This place is famous for its classical style, its great food and service. Unfortunately, my lack of patience and need for a caffeine fix drove me to another cafe. Vienna is bustling with many bars dotted across the city! For Irish Tourists or anyone in search of an Irish Bar in Vienna, we checked out a few while in Vienna. The bars I’d recommend visiting are: Flanagans near the State Opera (Their loaded potatoes are out of this world) and The Golden Harp Irish Bar near Westbahnhof (Gave us a platter of food. I was pleased). These places offer excellent food and supply both Austrian Beers like Ottakringer (Which I adore) and Puntigamer, as well as Irish beers and spirits. Gotta get that Drumshanbo Gunpowder Gin when ya can!
4) St. Stephen’s Cathedral and Architecture:
One thing that Vienna does not lack is a lot of really cool historic buildings. Like Madrid, even it’s un-royal architecture was really impressive. As someone who uses nice architecture for photo ops, Vienna gave me everything I needed. The streets we walked through still had that “Royal” feel to the style. In the center of Vienna, you get a real idea of Viennese style. You take a look at buildings like the State Opera and the Hofburg Palace and see the eye of the people. Similarly, the way the religious and monumental buildings were designed are really incredible. Take the St. Stephen Cathedral. A building that is different shades of colour depending on the light, due to dust effecting the stone. The roof of the cathedral has the emblem of the Habsbergs embossed on it. These people were fancyyy. When you get the chance to visit Vienna, its really with checking out places like the St. Stephen’s Cathedral. Churches and religious buildings give people a really good quick snapshot at the way different cultures view their religion. I’d recommend heading inside the St. Stephen’s Cathedral. I almost lost my life when they played the organ out of nowhere, though. So bear that in mind when entering hah!
5) Potter Around!
You guys are going to see this become a regular item on my “Must Do” lists. But when I travel, I find the best way you can really get a feel for a place and fall in love with it is to lose yourself in the city/town (Not literally). Vienna is one of those cities where there is something to see around nearly every corner. The walking tour that I’d recommend visitors to take part in will bring you through some of the major areas of the city. With this kind of knowledge of different streets and becoming familiar with landmarks like the St. Stephen’s Cathedral and the State Opera, I recommend taking your time exploring! For people looking for a bit of retail therapy, I’d recommend the Mariahilferstrasse and the Kartnerstrasse for some really cool shopping areas and some brands you may recognize. H&M was there, so I was happy. For people looking for some more Viennese culture, the city has a LOT of museums and cultural centers that I’d highly recommend a visit to. One activity in particular that I strongly recommend for anyone visiting Vienna is the Spanish Horse School which displays the famed Lipizen Horses. The Lipizen Horses are world famous, trained horses. At one of these shows you will watch horses perform in sync with each other and it is really really cool! I’d highly recommend seeing it. I’m definitely going to see the show again on my next visit! Tickets for the Morning session cost €16.00 per person.
I really hope you guys find this post informative! If you want anymore information, have any tips for me about Vienna or have any queries, drop me an email on the home page! Stay Tuned for More!