I can’t contain my excitement! I’m going HOME!
Confused? Yeah, I’m leaving the country where I currently live to go on a holiday, but it really feels like going home from home, for me. When you live abroad, there are some places that leave a permanent mark on you, places where you perhaps experienced the happiest times of your life or made lifelong friendships.
I have multiple places like this, and every time I return to any of them it really, seriously feels like going home. I never actually lived in Vienna but since Bratislava was only 50km away from there I’ve spent a lot of time there, especially at the airport.
We booked our hotel in Vienna from the Radisson Blu chain because we’ve used their hotels in Finland, and have been very happy with their services. In Vienna they had altogether 3 hotels to choose from and we eventually went for the Style Hotel close to Hofburg Palace.
My boyfriend hasn’t been to Vienna yet so some touristing (yeah, it’s a word now) needs to be done! Vienna is a huge city with soooo much to see, and since we’re going to be there for only 2 days before continuing to Slovakia, I decided to make a little bucket list of the must-see places and experiences that you should all see and do when there.
Schönbrunn Castle (+ Hofburg Palace)
This is a must, just like the Eiffel Tower is in Paris. In fact, there would have been a hotel (Park Royal Palace Hotel) closer to this mini Versailles but my bf preferred the Style Hotel. Thankfully in Vienna all the biggest sights are scattered a walkable distance away from each other.
Schönbrunn Castle is surrounded by a massive area including a huge, gorgeous park and a zoo in addition to the Palace building. You can rent a horse carriage to take you through the massive gardens or take a guided tour inside the palace. I recommend it! The stories and this country’s history are surprisingly action-packed and interesting.
After the tour you can climb up to the hill towering over the back garden. This is the most perfect spot for some selfie-taking because you’ve got a view, not just of the palace grounds, but of Vienna scattered along the horizon as well.
I have to mention Hofburg Palace here as well, because it is another stunning building with a lot of history and amazing architecture just a short walk from Schönbrunn. Perhaps on the way from one palace to the next one could stop for a glass of local wine, who knows ;)
Hofburg Palace has one of the main sights in Vienna standing right beside it: Schmetterlinghaus, the Butterfly House. In the middle of the bustling city you can immerse yourself into a tropical rainforest with hundreds of beautiful butterflies fluttering around you. I haven’t been inside, but you can’t miss this building when passing it. I hope we have time to go check this place out.
Stroll in the Old Town
Our hotel is situated right on the gates of the Old Town of Vienna so we must go and take a look at the Stephansdom Cathedral. We are a bit early for the Christmas Markets but there’s always something going on in the Old Town of Vienna + there are plenty of shopping streets close by, one of the main ones being Mariahilferstrasse.
Vienna, with its intriguing history, offers multiple different kinds of tours. Some of them you need to book in advance, but there are also plenty of volunteers who can take you through, for example, the Jewish part of the city and tell you all about Sigmund Freud for free and then you can tip the guide at the end if you like.
A lot of people have forgotten that Austria was in fact one of the biggest Empires in Europe and a center of art and culture just 100 years ago, so I’m sure you will find a tour that matches your interests from their wide selection.
If the weather is nice you should definitely go grab something small to eat and have a little break in the Maria-Therese-Platz. The square is surrounded by 2 gorgeous, identical buildings: the Natural History Museum and the Art History Museum. Since the plaza is named after my name-sake I think I might be required to pay it a visit :)
Austria is celebrating its National Day on 26th October but unfortunately we will miss the National Day parade and concerts because we need to leave for Bratislava in the morning of that particular day.
Eat Sacher cake
It can’t get any more authentically Austrian than this! Find yourself a café and order a plate of the sweet, sweet Sacher cake. Did you know that this cake is the most famous cake in the world? It got its origins from an order that Prince Wenzel von Metternich gave to his personal chef; to prepare a special tart for many important guests coming for a visit to his humble abode.
If you want to try the authentic, original Sacher tart you might need to queue to the café Demel but if you’re OK with just as good a cake, but without the brand stamped on it, I can recommend Café Diglas on Wollzeile street just behind the corner from Stephansdom Cathedral.
I’m not the biggest fan of cakes, I’d often rather go for a savory tart, but Sacher was a very pleasant surprise. It’s not too sweet and when you pair a good cup of coffee or a hot chocolate (that’s not too much of a good thing, is it?) with it, enjoyment is guaranteed.
Go for Wine Tasting
Like many countries in Europe, also Austria produces a lot of quality wines. And since we enjoy a good glass of wine I think a wine tasting must be included in our 2-day schedule. I’ve already approached couple wine cellars in the city but I need to consult the expert that I’m traveling with, in case he has a preference.
That’s quite a lot to do in 2 days considering that we also need to eat at some point (I want to go for a fancy dinner) and perhaps even sleep. But despite Vienna being a big city, most of these must-see places are within couple kilometers from each other.
At he end of the day I don’t believe in too much scheduling when it comes to holidays so I’m sort of going to go with what my boyfriend prefers to see. The only place I haven’t seen yet, and which I would thus like to experience, is the Butterfly House. And wine tasting is important, obviously!
Have you been to Vienna? Have I left out something that we should definitely do/see? All recommendations for what we should get up to in Vienna are warmly welcomed :)