Culture, class, beauty, and the greenest capital city in Europe. And this is just a fraction of what makes Vienna so special. Ross and I spent wonderful days there soaking up the atmosphere and getting to know the city. It can be so hard to decide what to prioritise when there are so many museums, palaces and parks to explore. The architecture is incredible; every street tells a story and every building has a heart, so let us share our best bits.
A short train ride out of Vienna sits the sprawling Schonbrunn Palace and her beautifully manicured gardens. Once an imperial summer residence, this magnificent building has over 300 years of history to share. Still one of the most notable architectural and cultural sights in the country, the Schonbrunn Palace reveals glimpses into the personalities of each of the Hapsburg monarchs of the time. The sculpted gardens extend to the Neptune Fountain, from where visitors have the spectacular view you see in the photo above. If you’re lucky, you may even be able to attend one of the concerts in the garden of this UNESCO World Heritage Site so check it out before you go.
Go on a horse-drawn carriage ride through the town. I always like to get my bearings on the first day in a new place. It helps me get a feel for the area so I can decide what I absolutely have to see up close, especially if I feel that time is limited. Currently, the price is 40 Euros for a 20 minute ride and includes helpful explanations and tips from your knowledgeable guide. What makes it even more special is that it lends to the romance of the exclusive riding schools in Vienna. The Spanish Riding School is world renowned for it’s work with the rare and beautiful breed of horses – Lipizzaner.
Craft beer from a microbrewery is somewhat of a treat, a special experience because you know it’s unique. Head to Salm Brau, at the base of the stately Belvedere Garden to sample some of their beers, made on the premises. They have a monthly special brew and a finger-lickingly delicious menu which includes a salubrious serving of pork ribs. All of this amongst 450 years of history from the Belvedere grounds, simply magical.
Dress up for a night at the Vienna State Opera in true Viennese style. If you can’t get tickets, make sure you still go inside to take a peek at the lavish interior. Remember to look up, down and around, since every corner is adorned with the most intricate detail. You can always look at other theatre venues for a variety of performances which are just as spectacular. See what’s on and be inspired here.
7th October is the Long Night of Museums; some 680 museums all around Austria open their doors from 6pm to 1am in a celebration of culture which attracts masses of locals and visitors alike. Many even offer musical or culinary delights to compliment their themes. The crowds may be a deterrent but the international unity and excitement over embracing history and art is an experience second to none.
What are your best suggestions for a first-timer in Vienna? Let us know in the comments below.