Highlights of Vienna, Austria – How to make the most of your visit.
From waltzes to Viennese cafés, Vienna, the Austrian capital, is a multifaceted city. Combining a rich past and a bubbling modernity, Vienna offers both magnificent baroque-style buildings, contemporary architecture and the “Golden Age” of Art Nouveau. From St. Stephen’s Cathedral to the baroque Schönbrunn Palace, there is so much to see that spending a weekend there can appear to be a bit short.
Walking Through the City Center
When arriving in the Austrian Capital, you will be surprised by the variety of sightseeing choices. The best way to start discovering the city is to do a Free Walking Tour of Vienna. During two hours of sightseeing, you will have an entertaining guide showing you the famous attractions of the city, perfect to have a first overview of what to visit next. Moreover, you can ask the guide for some tips about what you would like to see and do later and have advice from a local of great places to eat like a local.
Most of these tours will tell you about Austria’s history and show you important places such as the Ringstrasse, a monument to the architectural richness of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy, the Imperial Palace (Hofburg) which was the winter residence of the Habsburg family, and St. Stephen’s Cathedral which revealed the talents of famed composer Joseph Haydn.
Getting to know Sisi
While visiting Vienna, you can still feel the presence of the former monarchy of the Habsburg family. And for all those who are fascinated by this imperial time, Vienna definitely brings you back to the time of the Empress Elisabeth, also known as Sisi. Reigning over Austria from 1854 to 1898, Sisi left her name to a museum that you should absolutely visit during your trip to Vienna.
However getting to know Sisi would not complete without a visit of the Schönbrunn Palace. This place is the former summer residence of the Imperial family. The Palace is beautiful and a visit of about 40 rooms of the apartments decorated in the time of Maria Theresa of Austria, is totally worth experiencing. The Palace gardens are also the perfect place for a stroll.
Vienna and its 100 Museums
Vienna is surely a cultural capital of Europe as it offers an impressive list of museums! More than 100 museums are open to visitors with focus on many different fields.
The Museum of Fine Arts, built in 1891, is close to the Royal Palace and hosts many masterpieces. It is, in fact, one of the largest museums in the world. But Vienna is also famous for its Museum of Natural History, and the Kunst Haus – a former factory transformed into an exhibition center – and the Museum of Applied Arts, which has a strong influence on design.
A place I especially like is the the MuseumsQuartier or MQ. It’s a place a bit apart in the city. A large square surrounded by museums, is where you can relax, sunbathe, chat, listen to the music often played by a DJ during the summer, and have a drink on the terrace. The modern buildings of the museum themselves are also worth the visit.
Vienna and its River
If you going to Vienna, a walk along the Danube is highly recommended. With 2,970 kilometers, it is the second longest river in Europe (after the Volga). In Vienna, the Old Danube is bordered by numerous gardens open to tourists. Boat rentals and small beaches also make it possible to transform the Danube into pleasant bathing places.
The Danube Island can also be a very busy place. Every year in June, the Danube Island Festival welcomes almost 2.5 million visitors, making it the biggest festival for young people in Europe.
Writing about gardens, Vienna has many wonderful parks and small green paradises for all those who love nature and green spaces. Visiting the Schmetterlinghaus is another pleasure. This is a greenhouse in a remarkable building, that is full of the most beautiful butterflies, and is almost a quiet haven in the city center of Vienna.
Enjoying Typical Viennese Foods
One of the best parts of travelling is sampling local culinary specialties, and a visit to Vienna is no exception. Either for a quick snack or a full dinner, Austrian cuisine will satisfy all kinds of stomachs and tastes.
Let’s start with what everyone knows: The Schnitzel! A real institution in Austria, which can be found in every restaurant. Traditionally made from breaded pork, there are variants of turkey, chicken and veal. The most famous restaurant for its Schnitzel is undoubtedly Figlmueller. Even if very touristic, the food quality there is excellent.
For dessert you have the famous Sachertorte, a classic of Austrian pastry. It is a chocolate cake with a thin layer of apricot jam in the middle. The whole is covered with a dark chocolate. Delicious. The original place of this pastry is the Sacher Café but it is sold in many other good cafés like the Demel Café I especially like for its quality and atmosphere.
Another very good pastry is the strudel, especially known by its apple version, the apfelstrudel. It’s a pastry consisting of puff pastry flavored with cinnamon and filled with caramelized fruits such as apples or cherries. Delicious.
No matter where you road in Vienna, you will find delights to treat both your eyes and your appetite!
About The Author: Bernard Sury is an active and experienced traveler always planning his next trip around the world. He is now working for the community of travellers and free tours guides Guruwalk.