In my opinion, a great city break has to be full of great experiences – with the possibility to have some nice coffee/cake breaks along the way of course. Vienna is one of the cities where you have to try really hard not to experience a lot in a short period of time. The center of the city is full of great shops, beautiful buildings and wonderful places to eat. So wear your comfortable shoes and take some time to go sightseeing in the center of Vienna.
The shopping street Kärntner Strasse – from the State Opera to St. Stephen’s Cathedral
I believe we are allowed to call Vienna a city of music, and one of the first things we went out to see as we arrived in Vienna a late evening, was the beautiful State Opera. A pretty impressive building I believe – and why it was much criticized at its opening in 1869, I don’t know… I could spend a large amount of time just looking at all the details. An opera performance in here should be a fantastic experience. That is if your wallet and interest allows you to watch opera. We got a little taste of what it would be like, as several people had brought their camping chairs and sat outside the Opera, watching the big screen that was live streaming the performance that took place inside.
From Staatsoper you can follow the shopping street, Kärntner Strasse, all the way up to St. Stephans Cathedral. On your way, you will meet all the usual highstreet shops, and also a fair amount of souvenir shops who focus on chocolate. If you, like me, have a weakness for the delicious Mozartkugln, here is your chance to fill up your suitcase! Now that we’re talking about chocolate, you can also find Hotel Sacher on this street – the birthplace of the famous Sachertorte. We chose to taste the well known cake at Café Central, which was a good experience.
Another shop you will meet on your way is Swarowski. The Austrian crystal manufacturer is the largest in the world, and even though you do not have planned to buy jewelry, go inside and have a look in the store. You will find artistic exhibitions with lots of bling, and then of course jewelry and crystal figures in all shapes and price ranges. It is difficult not to be just a bit impressed…
At the end of Kärntner Strasse, you will find St. Stephan Cathedral. This is another beautiful building, where especially the colorful roof is quite eye-catching. Inside, the cathedral is large and impressive, as cathedrals tend to be.
Hofburg and Volksgarten
From St. Stephan Cathedral there is only a short walk through charming pedestrian streets to the Hofburg area, which offers even more impressive buildings. Hofburg itself was for 600 years the place where the Austrian emperors spent the cold winter months, and today it is a popular museum.
The area is not short on museum experiences. You can visit the Sisi-museum to learn more about the popular empress Sisi, the Papyrus Museum, which has the largest collection of papyrus in the world, and of course The Spanish Riding School, where you can witness the art of the acrobatic horses. We skipped the museums though, and instead we admired how beautiful the area was in itself.
Next to Hofburg you will find the wonderful park, Volksgarten. This park also belonged to the imperial family, but was opened to the public in in the beginning of the 1800s. Today, you will see a nice park with lots of places to sit down. A funny detail is that the many rosebushes are sponsored by private people, who have dedicated them to someone they care about.
The Museum Quarter
If you did not get enough of beautiful buildings and museums in Hofburg, you can continue to The Museum Quarter. As the name suggests, there are also a lot of museums in this neighborhood: Art museums, Museum of Natural History, and also a museum dedicated to children. The area is also lovely for a stroll, and there has been done a lot to make it a public area full of outdoor life.
Vienna Town Hall and Burgtheater
If you are not fed up with gazing at buildings, take a walk just a bit further down the street to have a look at Vienna Town Hall and the beautiful theater, Burgtheater. If you need to rest your legs, sit down in the park located right next to the town hall. I have never seen so many benches in one park, so chances are that there is a place where you can settle down.
Vienna is an incredibly beautiful city, and you will not have problems findings things to do. Our visit to Vienna was only short, and for that reason, we opted out on the time consuming museum experiences. However, we did get to see some of the many beautiful buildings the city has to offer, and I was impressed over and over again. If you have the time for it, go outside the city center as well, and visit Schönbrunn Palace or Belvedere Castle. You can never have too much of stunning castles, am I right?
Find your way
All the things described in this post can actuallt be seen on a 4,5 kilometer walking tour. The map beneath shows a suggestion for a route, but don’t forget to also skip the map and just stroll around. On a city break it is almost a must to get lost in the charming streets of the city!
Visited in April 2017
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