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The Naschmarkt is absolutely one of the things you have to experience during your stay in Vienna! Locals call Vienna’s largest inner-city market the “city’s stomach." The market is a unique place for strolling, admiring, discovering, and sampling. You can buy everything to do with food: fruit and vegetables, meat and fish, bread and cheese. There are a great number of Austrian delicacies on offer, such as flavored vinegar, champagne sauerkraut, and much more. And if you are hungry there is a great choice of restaurants. If you happen to be here on a Saturday, don't forget to stroll through the flea market, which is right next door.
Some of the talented handiwork by the Demel bakers. I don't believe it will be eaten, but displayed in the window. This view is given to visitors to Demel as they enter the stairway to go upstairs for seating. It's amazing seeing their artists work.
In the heart of Vienna sits St. Stephen's Cathedral. Built in the late 12th century, it's a grand piece of beauty borrowing both from the Romanesque and Gothic styles of architecture. Unlike St. Vitus in Prague, St. Stephen's shimmers with light and beauty, giving a spiritual joy to whoever shall enter. It makes God and Jesus into grand figures, but yet doesn't make the worshipper feel inferior.
Entering the Austrian National Library is a momentous moment in one's life. This place looks like something out of Harry Potter. I wasn't allowed to use my tripod inside for this triple exposure 4 shot panorama but it obviously didn't matter. A Wagner exhibit on at the time showed some of his original music. The pages looked almost fresh, they were preserved so well. Some of the books in the Palais Mollard-Clary date back to the 14th century. You can see feel and breath the history in here.
“I came to the Kunsthistorisches in my teens, but it wasn’t until five years ago that I rediscovered the museum. Generally, I’m more of a modern art guy, but the KM has increased my appreciation for historical works by artists such as Pieter Bruegel the Elder.” - Hatmaker Klaus Mühlbauer on Leopoldstadt, Vienna. Read more about his local's take on Vienna here. Maria-Theresien-Platz, 43/(0) 1-525-24 Photo by Daniel Gebhart de Koekkoek. This appeared in the October 2014 issue.
Before Starbucks, there was the Coffee House. This isn't a cafe or a chain of stores, instead it is the more general coffee culture that exists in Vienna Austria. This coffee house culture has survived through the changing times of Starbucks, cup sleeves, and ‘to-go’ coffee cups. I decided to go on a coffee house tasting tour around Vienna to attempt to try all of the various coffee drinks the coffee houses serve. Each cup was brought out on a silver tray, with glass of water, a spoon (normally placed on top of the glass), and a little chocolate. The coffees were small and strong, and there were no American style refills. But even more exciting than the coffee itself were the coffee houses that oozed sophistication and high brow culture. From the elegant surroundings from days gone by to the proper way each coffee is delivered to your table, the coffee houses suspended me and held me in this caffeinated world of a time that seems to be disappearing. From the moment I opened the door, I felt like all of the hectic noise in my head slowed down to ‘waltz time’ and I could relax. This was the perfect kind of slow travel. Sit, relax, drink coffee, eat some sausage, listen to music, read, and repeat the next day – that’s how to visit Vienna. Coffee Houses to try: Café Pruckel – I stopped here twice…definitely my favorite! Café Central Café Demel Café Drechsler Café Ritter – amazing strudel! Café Frauenhuber
I was in Austria for 8 hours between Bangkok and Tirana and there was only one thing I wanted to eat - the famous Torte. Despite me looking like a drowned rat when I ran out of the rain, I was treated with as much courtesy and respect as the delicacy on the plate in front of me. With creme, simply brilliant. You can even order online!
Rounding out your visit to Hofburg Palace is the last of the great expansions to the palace by the Habsurgs. The building was done in true neoclassical style, obviously to make the royal family appear as mighty as Greek gods. A statue of Archduke Charles II stands outside.
Traveling on a student budget makes you appreciate finding a good deal even if it takes a little bit of work; going to the opera is an amazing experience but going cheaply is even better! If you go to the Vienna opera house 80min before the start of the performance you can get a standing room ticket for only 4€ !! (I suggest the 4€ over 3€, better spot). Once you claim a spot at the cushy-bar (bring an item to claim it with, like a scarf), you are free to leave. Go grab a bite to eat in the area, you'll have plenty of time to spare! Additionally, don't worry about understanding the opera, there are numerous translators attached to the bars so you can read along in English.
Founded in 1873, this elegant Viennese café/coffeehouse has hosted the likes of Sigmund Freud (supposedly it was his favorite coffeehouse) and Marlene Dietrich—and it’s still considered a good place for people watching. When I located it near my hotel on the map the first night I was in Vienna for the Christmas markets, I thought it’d be a perfect place for an early dinner. The snow was falling, the lights just starting to twinkle outside when I arrived there—a perfect in-between time that landed me a table inside and under the sparkling chandeliers without a reservation. (I don’t think it hurt to be somewhat dressed up either-- wool skirt, boots, turtleneck.) I started to point to a bowl of soup on the menu but then saw the apple strudel with crème anglaise—and decided to make that my meal. When it arrived, along with my “mélange”, the waiter never blinked an eye as he set the Thanksgiving- sized -platter in front of me. After he left, I took a deep breath, then sunk my fork into the huge square of strudel –through layers of flaky pastry and thinly sliced apples—and then into the pool of the most delicious vanilla-scented sauce I’ve ever tasted. This is the “original wiener apfelstrudel” and if you’re looking to sample some incredible and authentic strudel in Vienna, Café Landtmann is where it’s at.
Located across from the Vienna State Opera, Hotel Sacher hosts many operagoers among its guests. You may even spot a performer in the Anna Sacher restaurant before or after the show. —Laurie Kahle Hotel Sacher, Vienna. 43/(0) 1-51-456-0. From $410. Photo courtesy of Hotel Sacher. This appeared in the March/April 2011 issue. See more opera hotels.
Located in the Inner Stadt, our room was in an old monastery that overlooked a cobblestone courtyard where an old man set up a basket stall every morning. The monastery is located near an apotheke (pharmacy) and a pretty fountain. The area is quiet and when you throw open the windows in the morning, and stick your head out you can see Vienna coming to life. I didn't see or run into any other travelers, there was no curfew and the place offered much needed zen after a long day of being outside. The monastery also houses a chapel and a delightful breakfast hall. The rooms are large and spacious and the bathroom was modern. It is wonderfully located in the center of the city and is an easy walk to and from the main attractions. Several grocery stores, wine bars, restaurants and bakeries are nearby. Splendid Bar Italia is located right next to the monastery, as you come out, turn right and you'll see this bar/restaurant. Tables set up outside afford a beautiful view of the street in front and the monastery, especially at night.
Vienna is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. It has a wonderful imperial past and an incredible contemporary art scene. Music is everywhere and it has the best patisseries. I you don't have too much time, you should try to make the most of it! This is a litle guide to a lovely long weekend in Vienna. First day: Kärtner Strasse, Staatsoper, Stephanplatz with Vienna’s famous cathedral, lunch in Figlmüller (http://www.figlmueller.at). Delicious and huge Schnitzel!!!! After lunch Graben, Kohlmarkt and, of course, the wonderful Hofburg to feel like Empress Elisabeth for a while. Townhall, Burgtheater, Parliament and dinner at Rebhuhn (http://www.rebhuhn.at). Second day: Schönbrunn palace. Just beautiful! Rent a Fiaker, that is, a two horse carriage, to make a little tour through the gardens. It could sound a bit cheesy, but it is really nice to crawl under the blankets, enjoy the views and just let the driver decide where to go. Third day: visit the Musikverein, enjoy Belvedere palace with its wonderful Klimt collection and spend the afternoon in the Museumsquatier. Don't forget Vienna's famous cafes: Central, Demmler and Sacher. They all are marvellous, no doubt, but you will eat the best cakes at Gerstner. Try the Dobos Torte! Much better that Sacher, believe me.
Inside of the Votive Church (Votivkirche) in Vienna, Austria. Absolutely stunning gothic church with gorgeous stained glass--a must-see in Vienna.
Held in the heart of the Museums Quarter, Winter at the MQ is a new spin on the traditional Christmas Market. In addition to vendors selling ornaments and other crafts, the market features a curling rink, pop concerts, and six ice pavilions where shoppers can warm up with glühwein (mulled wine). 43/(0) 1-523-5881. Photo by MuseumsQuartier Wien/Flickr.
Viennese coffee culture is world-famous. Try your hand at ordering a coffee in the historic Café Sperl (founded in 1880). Sugar junkies will enjoy an "intermezzo" a concoction combining coffee, chocolate and whipped cream, while traditionalists looking for their daily shot of caffeine will be contented with a double mocha--similar to a double shot of espresso. A classic and a winner across the board is the Melange, a frothy, creamy coffee with milk. Café Sperl also serves snacks and cakes, but I didn't try any. Per local custom, a glass of crystal clear Austrian tap water is served with your coffee and lingering is encouraged.
There are sausage stands all over Vienna, this is one of the better ones. Have a kasekrainer (sausage with cheese in it) and a Stiegl or Gruner Veltliner in a real glass. Then, wander over to the Albertina museum.
Graben Street is one of the most popular pathways for tourists in Vienna. Lined with cafes and shopping, the visitor is occasionally greeted with relics of the past, like this sculpture known to the Germans as a "plague column". It's more or less a "tribute to God" that rulers commission in the hopes that God would remove a plague from their lands. It started off as a Corinthian column that would contain the Holy Trinity, but with the deaths of several of its architects, this turned into a more grandiose group effort spanning twenty years.
The identity of a Viennese intellectual was ultimately defined by the coffeehouse they would frequent. Sigmund Freud, Arthur Schnitzler and Hugo von Hoffmannsthal would all brood over their work and agitatedly exchange ideas with fellow thinkers at the Café Central or Café Sperl. Soak up the atmosphere of history and deep contemplation over a delicious Café Mélange, a Viennese specialty. Maybe treat yourself to a slice of cake or Strudl and watch the day go by. It is perfectly common for guests to sit and read for hours, maybe ordering only a cup of coffee and enjoying the dulled sound of stimulating conversation. Austria doesn’t actively try to continue its tradition of coffeehouses, young and old will always seek out these unique institutions, and so should you.
This place is almost too cool for Vienna (based on their website anyways) but based on the reviews it is a much needed breath of fresh air in this fairly stuffy imperial capital that is finally channeling it's "inner" Berlin. I like it.
With a paneled ceiling, onyx wall tiles, and a green-and-white marble floor, the Loos American Bar is an art nouveau masterpiece designed in 1908 by Viennese architect Adolf Loos. Seats are at a premium in this 300-square-foot space, which packs in revelers clutching glasses of Perrier-Jouët champagne. 10, 43/(0) 1-512-3283. Photo by Berthold Steinhilber/Laif/Redux.
The Spanish Riding School is one of the most iconic attractions in all of Austria. It is absolutely unique in the world, and preserves an art so refined and courtly that it transports any viewer back into imperial times. The white horses, the Lipizzaner, are carefully bred, reared, and selected in Austria to enter into the High School, where they undergo years of training. There they learn to transform the movements naturally in a horse’s pattern of motion into what can only be described as articulate dancing. Every step must be executed with absolute precision, and the daily Gala performances demand focus from horse as well as rider. Held in the ornate Baroque riding hall, a show by the Lipizzaner is an exclusive experience that should not be missed. The pirouettes, quadrilles, and breathtaking jumps can only be perfected by the country’s most promising stallions – horses so rare, they may as well be unicorns.
The 1930s Café Hawelka was a haunt for actor Oskar Werner and painter Friedensreich Hundertwasser in the 1950s and ’60s. Order buchteln (fruit-filled sweet rolls), and caffeinate with a strong cup of mokka. Photo courtesy of Café Hawelka.
Austria’s imperial past is most palpable between the grand palaces of Vienna. And within the capital there is one particular place where this illustrious atmosphere is polarized. The Imperial Treasury holds some of the most ornate, detailed and just outright ostentatious relics of the Habsburg empire. You will see the Austrian imperial crown, the golden cradle of Napoleon’s son, the world's largest cut emerald and endless cases of gleaming treasure. Take a peek at the power and wealth that marked the country’s storied past and marvel at the sheer amount of jewels and luxurious fabrics that are stored here.
The Vienna State Opera is one of the more impressive sights you will get to see in Austria. If you cannot make it to one of the performances (or even if you can), you should definitely get a ticket to the behind the scenes tour. The operas and ballets staged here are impressive enough on their own, but you will truly marvel once you see the opulent setting in which they are conceived, rehearsed and performed. Get a glimpse behind the curtain, fall in love with the rich history of the building and know that you are standing in one of the greatest cultural epicenters of the world.
It's not just the fountain, but the whole area. While it is known as a square, it's more like an open street with the beautiful Hochstrahlbrunnen fountain as the centerpiece.
When it’s December, cold and raw in Vienna, and you’ve been wandering the streets (perhaps a bit lost in search of say, Hotel Sacher), and you pass by Café Schwarzenberg for the second time—it’s a sign that you should go in and take the chill off. The café is the oldest coffeehouse (opened in 1861) on the Ringstrasse and one of the loveliest and most authentic in every way. As soon as I opened the door, I knew I’d made the right decision. A rush of warm air, and an old-fashioned glass display case full of beautiful pastries greeted me. Beyond, an older man in a suit sat at a little table with the newspaper in front of him; not far away two women were conversing quietly, over what looked like silver pots of tea. When a server motioned for me to sit wherever—I pulled up a chair at one of the marble-topped round tables near the women. As I unpeeled my scarf, removed my gloves and then perused the menu, I knew almost immediately what I was going to order. The Schwarzenberg-Cappuccino: espresso with hot chocolate, whipped cream and chocolate flakes. It arrived in the traditional Austrian way—on a silver tray accompanied with a glass of water and a spoon, served by a proper waiter who barely smiled. But it warmed me all the way through. (And it was real whipped cream.)
View from the top of Saint Stephen's Cathedral (Stephandom, Cathedral of Vienna) in Vienna, Austria. If I am not mistaken, the top of the tower from where this picture was taken is the highest point in Vienna.
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