Vienna is probably one of the most beautiful cities in the world. It is the centre of arts and classical music and it offers things to do for several days. Vienna has even won the title of the world’s most liveable city and pushed Melbourne to the second place. The quality of life in Vienna is most definitely high, and yes, the city pampers also a tourist like me.
I had an autumn break from my university and spontaneously chose to visit Vienna. No plans, no reservations, just the aim to absorb the posh atmosphere of the city. Vienna was beautiful, fancy, flamboyant even. The old town was bustling with tourists, locals, cars and horse carriages. The city was stunning but it demanded a lot of energy and time to digest everything you had seen.
Vienna and free walking tour
I’m a big fan of free walking tours with local guides. I think that it is a great way to get an overview of the main sights and learn about the history of the place. Tours are not really free but you can leave a tip that you think is appropriate. I learned that the Romans built a military camp in Vienna over 2000 years ago. Some construction guys actually found some Roman time dwellings not too long ago while trying to build an underground metro stop. Now you can see old ruins in the middle of the old city, actually just in the middle of one of the main streets.
I also learned about the golden years of the Austria-Hungary empire, the horrors of the second world war and several stories about two very important families that had a huge impact on Vienna. The Babenberg family founded the state of Austria and made Vienna the country’s capital. The other significant family was, of course, the Habsburg family. Another interesting fact was that there were actually more people living in Vienna in the early 1900s than it is now. In 1857 they decided to tear down the city walls that were limiting the city from growing and build a Ringstrasse lined with grand buildings, monuments and parks (worth seeing!).
In the search of the best Sacher cake
You should try three things in Vienna: Wienerschnitzel, Sacher cake and apfelstrudel. A classic place to eat the Wienerschnitzel is Figlmüller, a restaurant that has been operating since 1905. The original restaurant doesn’t serve schnitzels made of veal, only pork ones. There is a sister restaurant located nearby, and there you can get both veal schnitzel (€20.50) and pork schnitzel (€15,90). The portions are huge but come with nothing more than the schnitzel.
And there is one and only place to have Sacher cake, and that is Hotel Sacher. Prepare to stand in the queue because you are not the only one who has discovered this place. The place is packed with tourists, yes, but I’d still recommend it to see the beautiful red decor, chandeliers, and posh waiters. You can almost imagine that you are some noble living in the 1880s (just ignore the other people posting on their Instagrams).
Albertina is a massive art museum right at the centre of the old town. It hosts marvellous pieces of Picasso, Chagall, and Edvard Munch. Also until the 6th January 2020, you can see 500-year old drawings from a talented artist Albrecht Drürer. This special exhibition is at Albertina in every 15 years so this is a very special occasion.
Vienna – what did I think of it?
Vienna is huge, beautiful, full of history and grand buildings. At the same time, the city was… kind of a lot. The buildings, the people, the majesty of the city just took its toll on me. I wanted to get standing tickets to the world-famous Vienna Opera but I simply was too exhausted at the end of the day and did not want to leave my hostel room. Vienna made me tired. In a good way but still.
So no wonder that visiting a lot smaller Bratislava was like a much-needed break from the all hustling and bustling of Vienna.
Have you visited Vienna? What did you think?