Marie Antoinette, Christoph Waltz, Marie von Trapp, and Mozart are all recognizable names of historical icons that were born or took up residence in Vienna, Austria.
It’s hard not to be inspired walking through the cobbled stone streets of the baroque city where so many artistically inclined individuals once roamed–this is the city where the Waltz was born and some of Mozart’s most famous symphonies, concertos, and operas were composed. History seeps through the city’s streets, sings out from the incredible architecture, and whispers the secrets of the past.
To say Vienna’s architecture is a masterpiece is an understatement as its magnificence rivals some of the inspiring art that was conceived in this city’s walls–in fact, it is artistry in and of itself. The detailed sculptures and workings are breathtaking. The gold detailing that adorns some of the buildings is mesmerizing. The fountains, parks, and bridges are unbelievable.
From the Belvedere Palace to the Hofburg, St. Stephen’s Cathedral to Vienna State Opera, Schönbrunn Palace to Mozarthaus, it’s easy to love the historical beauty of the Austrian city.
WHAT TO DO:
Belvedere Palace is extravagant and breathtaking. The incredible paintings and sculptures are a beautiful sight to take in. Here you’ll be able to see the famous painting “The Kiss” by Gustav Klimt. If you’re an art buff, this is your must-see Palace!
The Hofburg is the place to see imperial apartments, magnificent silver collections, and browse the Sisi museum–which provides a deeper insight into the life of Elizabeth for all the history-seeking travellers.
Vienna State Opera is a classic Viennese experience and if you’re into the Opera you should definitely see a show.
Try Viennese wine at one of the vineyards, wineries or Heurigers [wine taverns] within the city. Explore the Wine Trail and take in the beautiful views of the wineries, some overlooking the Danube river. The Heuriger is considered to be very important in Viennese culture as at these wine taverns is there you will be served vintners’ personal wines and cuisine.
Vienna Walking Tours are a must. Our guide Rodrigo was incredibly charming and informative as we spent the day with him roaming the city streets, learning about the incredible history, snacking at a quaint coffee shop, and taking in the stunning parks and architecture that characterize Vienna.
WHERE TO STAY:
The Grand Ferdinand was the perfect place for Adrienne and me. The rooftop pool has a beautiful view overlooking the city. The buffet breakfast and the rooftop restaurant serve up delicious cuisine at all hours of the day. If you want an authentic Austrian cooking experience, you can take a Wiener Schnitzel or Apple Strudel cooking class at the ground floor restaurant, Schnitzel Love.
HOW TO GET AROUND
Walk around! In my opinion, there is so much to see by walking around from place to place. Our walking tour with Rodrigo was one of the highlights of my time spent in Vienna. Not only will you see and learn so much this way, you’ll also get your steps in! Walking Vienna is definitely worth it.
Train to get out of the city; it’s absolutely one of the most scenic ways leave or enter the city. The views of rolling hills and tiny towns are perfectly picturesque.
To be perfectly candid, my time in Vienna was not without some bumps. Vienna culture can be a bit off putting before realizing it’s simply a societal difference from that of Canada. As a Canadian, my sorrys and seemingly politeness was probably more of a pestering to the Austrians, while to me, their service style was seemingly rude. To give an example: in North America, its accustomed that a restaurant’s waitstaff be available, ready to serve, check in on their tables, and ‘serve with a smile’, if you will. In Austria, however, they find this unnecessary. In fact, when having lunch with the lovely Helena from the Vienna Tourism Board, she mentioned that while she was in North America, she found it annoying how the Canadian staff check in on the food after the first few bites and follow up every little while; she also mentioned that this was a common belief among most Austrians. So if you’re headed to Vienna, unless you search out and flag down your waiter, it’s unlikely they’ll come to see if you need anything additional during your meal. Although at times it felt like they we’re looking through us and ignoring us, for them, this is the status quo. Our “serve with a smile” attitude is kind of considered “fake” in Austrian culture, so don’t be alarmed if you’re visiting and don’t get the friendliest service. Also, when you’re ready for the check, flagging down your waiter can take some time, so if you’re in a rush to get to your next stop, make sure to ask for it in advance!
Moreover, it is not considered rude to stare in Austrian culture, whereas in Canada, that’s a bit of a no-no. This is not to say that everyone in Vienna is what we consider to be ‘rude’! In fact, while on the train, on our walking tour, in our Ubers and out to lunch, we met some of the nicest, friendliest individuals who gave suggestions on what to do and see while we were in the city.
So without going into too many examples or without being too negative, I’ll say this: Vienna is beautiful, inspiring, and historically rich with culture and creativity. Be prepared for a bit of a change in culture but embrace the beauty of the history, the art, and the magnificent city that is Vienna, because it really is one of a kind.