Vienna is grand, elegant, perfectly compact, leafy, full of delicate baked goods peddlers, brimming with history and a thousand other superlatives. It’s one of those cities where you mention a visit, and everyone – and I mean everyone – exclaims “Oh, I LOVE Vienna!”. There is plenty to do for culture vultures, spas for relaxation weekends, cake on nearly every corner, gardens galore for picnics, museums for ghosting. Just all the things.
All in all, Vienna is a fantastic European city break. (Can you tell we enjoyed it?)
I feel like each time we’ve gone away lately, I fall head over heels. The more we travel, it seems like the better our choices become which I suspect is 89%* due to a fully paid up membership of the travel blogging community. With continuous exposure to real experiences, genuine personal recommendations, the realisation the ‘touristy’ things are well-known for a reason, Instagram assistance occasionally selecting meals, Pinterest setting our agendas and foodies who have their fingers on the culinary pulse, it only makes me love the community more.
(*I have a suspicion that the remaining 11% of this is due to realising what our own travel style is – and learning that the thought ‘oh, I’m sure that will be ok’ is never to be trusted.)
We visited over Easter, hoping for a bit of good weather and a blossom or two if we were lucky, and hit the pastel jackpot.
In Vienna, 72 hours is not enough. We packed a fair amount in, wanting to do everything as I always do but I feel like we only scratched the surface (not helped by booking flights home a day early, so stupid.)
Surprisingly, one of my highlights was after an hour wandering through an Abbey, an underground boat ride in Seegrotte, a former mine complex that was flooded after World War Two and turned into Europe’s largest underground lake. It was touristy, not gonna lie, but it was fascinating. About an hours drive into the Mayerling Woods (where the Viennese families spend their weekends) the completely man-made mine complex had a surprising beauty. (We were assured that, no, nothing lives in the water except tourist cameras dropped overboard.)
Emerging back into the city, I collected my poorly husband and after a snack or two we slipped into the grand foyer of the Vienna Opera House. Taking in a tour (more to follow on the Opera House, don’t worry) and a dinner of cake and bellinis at Hotel Sacher, we retired to the hotel spa for a bit of relaxation.
Our second day began on the train, as we sped over to Bratislava (Slovakia) for a windswept half day of history. Only 60kms from Vienna, the two closest capital cities in Europe couldn’t be more different. We took in a walking tour around the historic city centre, sipped some hot chocolate so good it should be illegal, hustled up the UFO bridge tower for panoramic views then made our way back for an evening of schnitzel and beer steins. (Writing this makes it feel so hurried, but it wasn’t, not really).
Our last day dawned beautifully clear, without a pesky cloud in the sky. We hot-footed our way to Schonbrunn Palace (along with 62,346 other tourists – to avoid the queues book your timed entry in advance) for a turn in the statue gardens, one of the best coffee’s I’ve ever eaten, savoury strudel and a peruse through the Easter Markets lining the Palace courtyard.
We had a fairly late flight so mostly pottered around the city centre, visiting a few of the ornate buildings we had discovered on our walking tour, ducking into the Imperial Hotel for lunch and taking 5,316 photos.
There are lofty churches, art galleries galore, luxury abounding and more things to do than we imagined. Not only that, but we were delighted to discover Vienna has its own Stars of Fame, but instead of Hollywood Amazons, they are famous composers who took to Vienna for inspiration and the thriving, wealthy music scene.
We were impressed by the granduer, wowed by the history, relaxed with rambles through beautiful gardens and pleased with the ease that you can move around the city. Vienna is the Europe that I dreamed about from my antipodean home.
In the words of Ultravox, Ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooh Vienna!
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