One of the many things that surprised me about Central Europe was my recent trip to Vienna. I’ve never heard of the city (as opposed to the likes of knowing Paris or Rome) and have not been curious enough about it to think of visiting. But then, my mom as an avid music-lover and has dubbed Vienna as her favourite city, told me to put it in the itinerary. It was meant to be one of those trips that helped her reminisce but was also short-enough that it wouldn’t change your pre-existing hotel bookings.
But nah. Vienna….I don’t know what to say. Vienna is imposing, and glorious — you can’t help but stare at the beautiful architecture, the gold everywhere, and the insane amount of food along the way. Yet at the same time it’s also as soft as a child’s smile, and loud as its laughter. In the three days I spent with Vienna, I quickly fell in love with the city.
It was the most surprising city in our Eurotrip. It was the kind of city I dreamed of living in: full of coffee shops, art galleries and museums, and music everywhere you go.
And so, to save you the trouble of constantly wondering whether to place Vienna in your trip itinerary, here’s a simple bucket list where I tried to squeeze in as much as I could and yet still feel like I’m missing tons!
1. Go kaffeehaus hunting
First order of business is finding yourself drinking a good cup of coffee to start your mornings! One of the best things about Viennese culture is their insane love for caffeine. Unlike other cities in Europe, you can stay in one of their coffee shops for as long as you like and constantly order a fresh cup as you go along.
2. Eat a Sacher-Torte
I recall fondly of Mother’s Day as I promised my mom that I’d treat her to a Sacher-Torte and some hot chocolate (coffee for me, obviously). We were lucky to have gone on a Sunday as many of the shops are closed in the city and the tourists have decided to go home.
If you don’t go to Cafe Sacher on a Sunday, then I can highly recommend you go after lunchtime but before 4 in the afternoon, as the line tends to be short around this time.
3. See a show at the Vienna State Opera House
Right beside Cafe Sacher, would be the grand Vienna State Opera House which is considered one of the most impressive opera houses in all of Europe. You can watch either the opera or the ballet here. Or in my case, a show about Mozart’s life.
If you didn’t have the opportunity to book in advance, you can get a last minute ticket at the ticket booth beside it. Or at one of the sellers who are advertising the show, they’re actually not scams. This is, however, standing room only.
4. Try a Wiener Schnitzel
I think one of the many things I like laughing about when I remember Vienna would be the gigantic wieners that only cost you at most 3 euros!
5. Go to Naschmarket
One of the many things I found myself enjoying was going around the market and meeting friendly locals who will teach you how to cook, bargain, and tell you why you shouldn’t buy from the other person’s stall (still laughing about this).
It’s at the city’s centre, and isn’t difficult to find especially when you’re looking for a good leather bag or a few trinkets to send back home.
6. Visit Schoenbrunn Palace
Note: this photo is hands down my favourite one taken at Vienna!
A visit to Vienna isn’t complete until you’ve gaped at the Schoenbrunn Palace’s architecture, trinkets, and found yourself awed at the royal garden. It’s best to visit either early in the day or at around 3 in the afternoon, as the tourists are lesser around this time while it still leaves you enough time to roam around before the palace ticket office closes at 5pm.
7. Take a walk through the nearby parks
From the Schoenbrunn Palace, you’ll easily realise that Vienna is loaded with tons of different parks all over the city. We found a beautiful park as a detour while walking from the palace to the Tech Museum as well.
8. Ride a bicycle
If you know how to ride a bike, you can rent one at one of the nearest parks or at a tourist destination for a certain period of time. After using it, simply return the bike to the nearest stop — it totally saves time on the commute and gives you a breather!
9. Go museum hopping
I don’t think I’ll ever move on from the many museums Vienna has to offer. There’s one for everybody: traditional, oriental, and modern art; technology; music; and so muchmore.
I recently even wrote a guide to them on TripZilla.
10. Visit the Haus de Musik (House of Music)
This counts for a separate number! Because going to Vienna and not immersing yourself in the people’s love for music is like staring at a brick wall for hours and hours on end.
Or is it just me?
The Haus de Musik is an interactive music museum that helps you compose a song, learn about the opera, and has piano keys as their staircase. While I was visiting, I also had the opportunity to listen to the orchestra practice for free (in case you were curious, that was around 4:00pm).
11. See Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss for yourself
Two things: I used to have short hair (this was taken May 2016) and I really wish I could show you Klimt’s The Kiss but alas, picture taking isn’t allowed. So here’s a replica.
If there’s one painting in Vienna that you have to see yourself, it’s Klimt’s most famous work. I had first heard about The Kiss in my Arts Appreciation class during college and had initially thought of the woman’s deformed…position. I guess that’s why I’ve always remembered this painting amongst others.
12. Stroll around the gardens at Belvedere Museum
You’ll find The Kiss in one section of the entire museum. There are currently four of them that house most of Klimt’s work but are separated between two different wings. And so, it really depends on what you prefer to do while going around Belvedere but personally, I also enjoyed being able to walk around the gardens that overlook Vienna.
13. Hang out at the canals during sun down
Paris’ canals are smelly. No one wants to think of the ones at Rome either. I don’t think there’s a “canal culture” in Barcelona too. But with Vienna, dangling your feet at the edge of a canal while drinking coffee is completely normal.
In fact, many millennials hang around here since the canals have coffee shops, restaurants, and a few pubs that stay open until late at night.
As part of many of Vienna’s charm, a visit to the colourful neighborhood block that’s so quirky and picture-worthy, should not be missed!
15. Wander around Museumsquartier
And since we’re in the topic of neighborhoods, a visit to the museumquartier would be amazing. It’s one of those friendly neighborhoods where you can leisurely stroll around, look for coffee, and impressive architecture while also getting the chance to buy many random trinkets to bring home.