If I had to use one word to describe Vienna it would be: Classy.
Vienna was once the capitol of both the Austrian Empire and the Holy Roman Empire, in their times, and home to its royals. It has a few palaces spread across town, uplifting the general style of architecture to demonstrate the true beauties of its day. It’s also considered to be the city of music, with many classical composers claiming it as home, including Beethoven and Mozart. Finally, it’s also where cafe culture began. Need I say more? It’s a city strewn with the history of influential people and its energy can be felt as you walk those same streets.
Planning for this part of our trip, we decided to include several touristy destinations in our time there. Now, usually I don’t love the touristy things, but Vienna was my exception. Intriguing history, beautiful buildings, and walk-able streets made everything we did enjoyable.
We started with Schönbrunn Palace. Once the summer lodge of the Habsburg royal family it is now a tourist destination offering history and manicured gardens. To be honest, as I had no background knowledge of the Habsburgs, I got a little confused on the audio tour about who exactly we were talking about in each room. But that didn’t keep me from thoroughly enjoying it.
Word to the wise: it’s worth going first thing in the morning. Saves you from the crowds!
After the history part, comes the nature part. Schönbrunn Palace has acres of gardens, fountains, and paths (including mazes!). It’s the perfect place to roam and offers great views of the city below as you hike.
Next, we headed into downtown Vienna for lunch and a walking tour.
We had lunch at Cafe Central. According to the internet, Cafe Central has had numerous famous patrons, including politicians and intellectual masterminds. In January 1913 alone, Sigmund Freud, Joseph Stalin, Hitler, and Trotsky all visited the establishment. There is something interesting about lunching where historical figures once ate. It makes time seem like an illusion of sorts.
We ended our day at the Vienna State Opera. You can get standing room tickets for 3 Euros!
What we learned in the process:
1. There is a dress code. The boys were denied access because they were wearing shorts. They weren’t that upset, so it’s okay.
2. Going early ensures better views, but they are all pretty far from the stage.
3. To save your spot, mark it with a scarf or your program.
4. The text of the opera is available in English and German (I think?) in the form of scrolling words across individual boxes in front of your standing spots.
5. No matter how cool the experience is, if you’ve already walked 7 miles in the hot sun that day, you will be too tired to stand or even stay for the entirety of the show. That’s okay too.
Why you should go:
- It feels quintessentially European. So if you are looking for the Europe experience, you will be sure to get it.
- Beautiful buildings.
- It’s steeped in history, arts, music, and culture, perfect for diverse interests.
- It’s recommended, by all of us.