Looking for the IDEAL city break? Short, sharp and sensational. Of course you are, and we’ve got just the place. Vienna is a great city to visit all year round – it’s even becoming a popular destination for keen golfers in the warmer months – but the colder seasons are when its romantic magic most succinctly realises itself. A city for all seasons then, and with that in mind, here are 6 IDEAL things to do in Vienna.
INVEST YOUR TIME IN THE CULTURE
Vienna is a place that culture vultures adore. Indeed, the city has made a name for itself as one of the most important homes for culture in Europe. There are so many art galleries and museums in the city, not to mention the palace, and as such, it’s hard to know where to start. A must visit is the Albertina Museum, which is set within the grand Hofburg Palace itself. Here you can expect to see masterpieces by the great artists such as Monet, Klimt, Picasso and Degas, to name but a few. Want pieces created by those closer to home? The Leopold Museum is the ideal place to view some of the best Viennese artists of the modern and contemporary movements. And if you’ve still not had your fill, Mumok is one of the finest modern and contemporary museums in the world. Just one more box to tick? Visit The Sigmund Freud Museum, founded in 1971, and covering Sigmund Freud’s life story.
HAVE A CUP OF SOMETHING WARM AT A KAFFEEHAUS
There are many grand old cafes in the city but our favourites are Cafe Prückel and Café Central, the latter which has been going strong since 1867.Oh and the Café Museum is another good one.
These ‘kaffeehauses’ epitomise the Viennese coffee culture which is an integral part of the city’s social experience. In fact, UNESCO has even named this coffee house culture on their list of the ‘National Agency for the Intangible Cultural Heritage’, lauding a “very specific atmosphere” of places “where time and space are consumed, but only the coffee is found on the bill.” The history of the coffee culture here is long, suggested to date back to 1683 when Turkish invaders left behind sacks of beans after they were forced to flee.
When you visit a coffee house, don’t just ask for a regular latte. Try a Viennese specialty like Maria Theresa; named in named in honor of a Hapsburg ruler. This decadent drink has a splash of orange liqueur added to it with a thick whipped cream topping and a sprinkling of orange zest on top. Lovely stuff. Equally, an Einspanner, made from two shots of espresso and lots and lots of whipped cream is just the ticket.
TAKE IN A SHOW AT THE OPERA
The Vienna State Opera is one of the most respected opera houses in the world. Here, the show is grand but prices affordable, with standing tickets going for under 5 euros. As one of the world’s foremost opera houses, architecturally magnificent and historically significant, a performance here is an unforgettable experience and as the opera singers hit those high notes, you’ll be sure to get goosebumps all over.
VISIT THE AMUSEMENT PARK
Vienna is home to the oldest amusement park in the world and unlike so many others, has retained much of its original, dated charm. Trying to find it is easy; the Giant Wheel is unmissable and one of Vienna’s most famous landmarks. A ride on it is a must-do as you can see all across the city; spectacular views of a spectacular place. While you’re here, be sure to check out the old fashioned carousel too.
TRY SOME VIENNESE COMFORT FOOD
In Vienna you won’t go hungry. In fact, any trip here will require a detox of light salads and healthy soups when go back to terra firma. From schnitzel to sausages, and rich, flavourful stews, the food in Vienna is heavy, hearty and wholesome.
Almost every restaurant in Vienna will have schnitzel on the menu, but one of the best places to try a traditional version is Figlmueller, a place which has been selling the dish since 1905 and is often referred to by regular patrons as the “Home of the Schnitzel”. Here you can get a wonderfully tender and thin breaded veal which is bigger than the plate it’s served on. Other must try dishes include tafelspitz, a boiled broth of veal or beef (trust us it tastes better than it sounds) and of course a bowl of goulash.
The Viennese are known for their decadent desserts. If you’re in the mood for something sweet, have a slice of Sachertorte, created in 1832 and still going strong today; one of the most famous chocolate cakes in the world. Indeed, the recipe for the original Sachertorte is a closely kept secret, known only to the skilled and exclusive confectioners of the Hotel Sacher in Vienna. And if you just want a snack, try buchteln which are yeasted sweet rolls, filled with apricot jam.
STROLL THROUGH NASCHMARKT
If you love food markets – and don’t we all? – then head to Naschmarkt. As well as selling regional Austrian delicacies, it sells gourmet offerings from across the globe; ideal if you’ve had enough of eating breaded pork and the like. It’s located between Kettenbrückengasse and Karlsplatz and dates all the way back to the 16th Century where it sold basic wares, and since then has become a hangout of top-chefs, culinary aficionados, students and yummy mummies alike. With a diverse range of food stalls and restaurants with outdoor seating, you’re sure to find what you fancy at Naschmarkt (or nosh market if you will). The market is open every day of the week except Sundays, with every Saturday turning into a huge flea market for a different kind of cultural flavour.