'Vienna is a handsome, lively city, and pleases me exceedingly.' - Frederic Chopin
After our first stop in Prague, Vienna was a completely different kettle of fish. It felt more imperial and grandiose than Prague, swapping quaint, pastel architecture for sprawling white buildings and palaces. It also felt much larger and spread out- something to bear in mind when choosing where to stay. Unfortunately, we didn't have long in Vienna, but we saw some fabulous sites and I thought I'd share them with you.
St Stephen's Cathedral: Standing at over 136 metres tall, with a view of all the city, the Baroque Cathedral with it's pretty coloured tiles is well worth a visit. You can see most of Vienna from the top, but be aware that the narrow, winding 343 steps are a challenge to climb and dizzying in their height. Well worth the effort, provided you haven't had a couple of glasses of wine beforehand.
Schönbrunn Palace: The former Summer residence of the Imperial Family (that's the dream!) has 1,441 rooms, beautiful landscaped gardens and a whole host of attractions. We bought a package which allowed us entry to the mazes, the palace tour and the orangery and that more than filled our day. There is also a Zoo on site, for anyone interested! I thoroughly recommend a visit to the beautiful palace- it is breathtaking. I was also interested to Marie Antoinette once lived here.
Naschmarkt: Our Hostel was right on the road that Naschmarkt stretched down and it was really interesting to wander down- the perfect place to pick up local delicacies to try and to bring home for your family and friends. The market has 16th Century origins and hosts more than 100 food and vintage stalls plus restaurants.
7th District: On the border of Vienna's up and coming 7th district, is Mariahilferstraße, Vienna's famous shopping street. Although Tom and I didn't do any shopping (I didn't want to subject him to my hours of browsing clothes shops!) it would be a great place to visit if you are on a city break with cash to part with. They had all the expected global fashion houses, as well as Viennese and Austrian brands.
Prater Park: Is an amusement park home to the famous Wiener Riesenrad Ferris wheel, or The Giant Viennese Wheel as it is known. It's a landmark in Vienna and also a piece of history, having stood tall for almost 200 years. We didn't have too much time to spend going on the rest of the rides (and the boyfriend isn't a huge fan of heights) but if you stop by Prater Park, go on the giant swings for me!
See a Concert: Sadly, we didn't have the money or the time to see a concert, but Vienna is a hub for music, housing two prestigious concert halls, most famously, Weiner Musikverein, and also, being the inspiration and home of Mozart, they know a thing or two classical music. If you can, try to see a ballet- I've heard wonderful things.
Coffee at Hawelka: Mark Twain famously said: ‘The best coffee in Europe is Vienna coffee, compared to which, all other coffee is fluid poverty.' Which might seem a little over the top, but Vienna do know how to deliver a good cup of Joe. Coffee culture is an important part of Viennese social life and we decided to visit Cafe Hawelka to get out fix. It's unapologetically Austrian and has looked the same since it opened, before WW2. A lot of tradition surrounds Viennese Coffee Culture, such as- the more extensive the newspaper and boardgames offerings in a Cafe, the better it is!
Sacher Torte: A famous Viennese cake/torte which is made of chocolate and best enjoyed with coffee. As much as I enjoyed this, I was totally unable to finish it due to how rich it was, but it's well worth a try if you're a chocolate lover. We tried ours in Cafe Griensteidl, a beautiful old cafe opposite Michaelerplatz. Which is also a good place to see Vienna's horse and carriages and Roman Ruins.
Strandbar Hermann: This bar was recommended to us by a Vienna local who follows me on Twitter! It's a 'beach bar' kitted out with sand and deck chairs on the banks of the Donaukanal. We spent an evening here enjoying the view from the waters edge and drinking Aperol Spritz. Be sure to check out the website if you are planning a visit, as they often host events there. This was one of my favourite evenings of the whole of our trip!