Austria’s capital, Vienna, is located in Central Europe. This ancient fortress city is located on the Danube River on the eastern edge of the Alps. An artistic revolution and cultural revolution were born in this glittering city 100 years ago. Vienna’s place as one of the world’s great cities was forever cemented by this revolution. Free thinking flourished in its cafes and new ideas in music and philosophy became part of its cobblestones.
Vienna welcomes visitors with a dynamic art scene, set among historic streets where Strauss’ waltzes reverberate. There they drink coffee and enjoy some of the world’s most magnificent artworks where some of the world’s greatest thinkers, like Einstein and Freud, spent time. Vienna has an efficient public transport system, but the best way to really enjoy it is to walk slowly among the city streets. You can explore the city by following the Ringstraße, a wide boulevard that winds its way through the downtown area, surrounded by palaces, galleries, and museums. Vienna’s most famous attractions are within “the ring”, and Stephansplatz is right in the middle of it.
In one of the nearby coffee houses, order a strong coffee with cream. It has been said that coffee shops are the very essence of Viennese culture; they are for consumption where time, space, and nothing else is sought after. ” Famous works were written and important issues debated over these marble tables for generations. Visit the Demel Bakery, the original confectioners of the Austrian Royal Family. Get a sachertorte – a traditional chocolate cake – and relax while you surf the internet.
There is more to Vienna’s attention to detail than its master cake makers. St Stephen’s Cathedral is a visual feast of intricate interiors and mosaic roof tiles. From the steeple, you can enjoy a panoramic view of the city. Known as the City of Music, Vienna was home to many of the world’s greatest composers, including Beethoven and Strauss.
Experience the world’s greatest opera house, the Vienna State Opera. Explore the backstage area of the building and discover how it has held the attention of opera and ballet lovers since the 19th century.
Further along, the ring is the Hofburg Imperial Palace. It was home to the Hapsburg dynasty who ruled the region for centuries. Currently, it is the official residence of the Austrian President. The palace is also home to the Austrian National Library, where you can view ancient manuscripts and early editions of some great works. Experience the fragrance of hundreds of roses in the Volksgarten, or people’s garden, outside the Palace.
In the early 1900s, Vienna attracted some of the world’s greatest painters. Their work initially shocked Vienna’s society, but they soon gained an enthusiastic following and wealthy patrons. See Gustav Klimt’s most famous work, The Kiss, at the Belvedere. The Museum of Art History offers good views of European masterworks such as those of Raphael, Rubens, and Bruegel. Vienna also attracted a young Adolf Hitler who tried to join the painting ranks here but failed. How the world could have been different if he had succeeded as an artist…
Explore the Albertina for works by Matisse, Picasso, and Monet. Explore mother nature’s masterpieces at the nearby Museum of Natural History, which houses more than 30 million specimens and artifacts. The museum quarter was once the Imperial stables.
In this cultural precinct where modern art installations are regularly displayed, you can relax with a drink or just watch the people go by. Discover the Schönbrunn Palace that is just southwest of Vienna’s city center if you venture further afield. Almost as if the Emperor is about to step out onto the grounds of this 1,400-room palace that used to be the summer residence of the Hapsburg family.
Many vineyards lie within the city boundaries where you can enjoy traditional Vienna dishes like Wiener Schnitzel matched with local wines.
Vienna and Austria in general has a very strong beer culture, with your average Austrian consuming just over 100 litres (176 pints) of the stuff each year. While not as well known as Germany, Czech or Belgium for their beer culture Austria isn’t that far behind. In terms of a local beer, Ottakringer is the biggest, oldest, and most popular brewery in Vienna. Ottakringer has been in the 16th district, Vienna’s working-class district, since 1837 and makes an excellent Helles.
For me though, the place I head to is Ammutsøn Craft Beer Dive. Located between Mariahilferstrasse and the Apollo Kino, the local craft beer bar is probably the most independent in town. Through twelve taps, you can find unusual, often rare and hard-to-find creative beers from all over Central Europe, much of which is self-imported. The owner himself drives to Belgium and other places to bring in beers like Cantillon that are not available anywhere else in the city. It is therefore very justified to use the motto “Proud To Be Independent”!
Visit the final resting place of some of Vienna’s most famous residents before leaving the city’s outskirts. Vienna would not be complete without a trip to the historic Wiener Prater. Ride a wooden gondola on the 19th-century Riesenrad and marvel at the timeless views over the city. Explore St Charles Church, one of the city’s most beautiful buildings, as the sun sets.
Vienna at night is nothing short of stunning. Then, enjoy a show at the Burgtheater or an open-air performance in one of the squares after dining in one of the traditional restaurants.
Vienna is a truly inspiring city. You can walk in the footsteps of some of history’s greatest minds, explore monumental palaces and cathedrals, and look at priceless artworks in this city. Pull up a chair, order a coffee and sachertorte, and let Vienna’s most lyrical of cities serenade you.
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