Vienna is well known for its culture, classical music and historical buildings. Nowadays, it definitely is a nice modern European capital proud of its history. I really enjoyed spending a weekend in Vienna, which was enough to explore the essential sights of the city. One could spend much more time to see all the museums and galleries that the city has to offer, but the old town is rather compact. Well actually I was slightly surprised how small it is.
Most of the things to see in Vienna are centrally located and easily accessible by foot in the old town circled by a ring road. The centre feels small for such a historically important city. I recommend walking (and getting lost) around the nice streets in the old town and the ring road encircling it. There are plenty of cute streets, impressive buildings and important institutions, including opera houses, theatres and old imperial palaces.
At the centre of Vienna is the Stephansdom church. The church itself is nothing special, but it’s quite nice to go up the bell tower and enjoy the views.
In Vienna there are plenty of museums and galleries to visit. You can easily spend days doing that, but if your time is limited I’d recommend a visit to the Imperial Treasury. It houses a nice selection of objects from the Austrian empire times and plenty of jewels, and if you come from the Central European region the whole museum will make a lot of sense to you. The Treasury is also conveniently located at the Hofburg, it is nice to have a walk through the palace and the adjacent Neuburg and Albertina, as well as the gardens attached to these palaces.
The highlight of my visit to Vienna was the Schonbrunn Palace. It is slightly out of the old town, but easily accessible with the metro. I’d recommend going early before the queues form. The palace is quite interesting but the gardens are huge. On a nice summer day it was really impressive to walk through the gardens. Most of them are free, so no need to buy any of the special tickets.
Entertainment in Vienna
The nightlife in Vienna is maybe a bit on the boring side or maybe I was just not that lucky to go to the right places. However, the worse thing is that they still allow smoking indoors in bars. I really forgot how that felt and it is disgusting.
On the better note, when in Vienna one should see (listen to) a classical concert. There are events going on pretty much every night and the concert halls are stunning. I went to a Mozart concert in historical costumes at the Musikverein (the golden hall), which is considered one of the best concert halls. Very much worth every penny.
Food in Vienna
Austria is not famous for its cuisine, but Vienna has plenty of very nice restaurants as well as some great local wines. I think in Vienna one needs to have a proper Vienna steak (Wiener Schnitzel), which is basically a huge battered and fried piece of meat that is bigger that the plate. Veggies are optional… and not very abundant. Figlmuller Wollzeile restaurant is one of the most famous ones and for a good reason (reservations essential).
Another typical place on the tourist trail is the Sacher Hotel famous for the Sacher torte. Unfortunately the Sacher torte was not very good, it was very dry. A huge disappointment as I love Sacher torte. I would give it a miss, unless you are really looking for that photo op.
On the other side, Cafe Central was a much better choice to fix my sugar rush. The cakes here were delicious.
I really enjoyed modern Austrian food and wine at Buxbaum Restaurant, hidden in a small alley with a lovely terrace outside. Perfect for lunch or a summer dinner.
For breakfast or brunch I’d also recommend Motto am Fluss along the Danube river with nice relaxed atmosphere.