Recently, Matt’s parents visited us in London, so we planned a trip to beautiful Vienna. What a city! With its rich history, culinary delights and stunning architecture, Vienna makes a perfect city break. Luckily for us, the sun was shining all weekend and we learned there’s a lot more to Austria beyond what the Sound of Music has taught us (haha). Here is how you can make the most out of your weekend in Vienna.
1. Exploring Schönbrunn Palace & gardens
Located an easy 20 minute-train ride from central Vienna, Schönbrunn Palace is the quintessential European palace. From magnificently ornate rooms to large manicured gardens, this perfectly captures what a palace should be. Back in the day, Vienna’s ruling family, the Habsburgs, used it as their Summer Palace and now you could even live like royalty in the Schloss Schönbrunn Suite in the Palace’s East Wing (oooohhhhh!). The gardens are open to the public (you don’t have to buy a ticket), and you could easily spend an afternoon having a picnic on the grassy hills with Vienna in the horizon.
2. Enjoying a culinary Viennese experience
While hunting down traditional Viennese food, we ended up at one of Vienna’s oldest and most famous restaurants, Zum weissen Rauchfangkehrer. Quite a mouthful, I know! We sat in a little booth in Stephen’s room, named aptly for the view of St. Stephen’s Cathedral through the window. We had some outstanding dishes, with highlights being a homemade linguini with Shitake mushrooms, deep-fried pork Schnitzel and braised & roasted venison. Even better, the food is made from organic ingredients which are largely sourced from local farms.
3. Learning about the Habsburg dynasty
At the Hofburg Palace, we learned that Vienna’s House of Habsburg was one of the most influential and well-connected royal houses of Europe. Through strategic marriages, the House produced emperors and kings across the world, even as far as Mexico. Most interestingly was Maria Theresa who had 16 children, some of which went on to become the Queen of France (the one and only Marie-Antoinette!!), the Queen of Naples and Sicily and two Holy Roman Emperors – talk about a royal family!
4. Indulging in Viennese sweets and treats
There is no short supply of cakes and sweet treats in Vienna! The Sachertorte, which is one of Vienna’s culinary specialities, even has its own National Day! We ventured into the Café Sacher which in 1963 won the legal right to claim the “Original Sachertorte”. Here we sampled a number of traditional desserts including pancakes with plums, apple strudel and of course, the original Sacher-Torte. Paired with a Viennese coffee, this made for the perfect afternoon treat. If you’re looking for other food recommendations, I found this list particularly helpful.
5. All the architecture and green spaces
There is no easier way to appreciate Vienna’s beauty than to take a walk around the Ringstraße (Ring Road). The Ringstraße which circles the city is lined with grand monuments and architectural wonders. This includes the Town Hall, State Opera and Austrian Parliament – just to name a few! There are also plenty of parks and recreational spaces to take a seat, enjoy the sun and watch the world go by.
If you’ve visited Vienna, share your experiences with us! And if you want more information about the places I went to, drop me a comment below.