Romantic Vienna

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Romantic Vienna
Vienna is romantic all year round. In spring, chestnut trees perfume the air; in summer, lazy heat moves you to cafés; in fall, yellow and orange leaves inspire walks; and in winter, Christmas lights and warm cups of mulled wine bring lovers closer.
Photo courtesy of Christian Stemper/Vienna Tourist Board
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    Opulent Operas and Classical Concerts
    Vienna loves music, and so do its visitors. What could be more romantic than watching La Traviata in the State Opera's golden hall? The Musikverein concert hall is pure decadence in gold, a feast for eyes and ears; it's also the most romantic location for a symphony. For modern, cutting-edge opera, see a show at Theater an der Wien, near the vibrant Naschmarkt area. For romance on a budget, take a stroll along the pedestrian-only Kärntnerstrasse and Graben in the 1st district. Around 4:00pm, its streets come alive with musicians playing for passersby and café patrons.
    Photo courtesy of Christian Stemper/Vienna Tourist Board
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    Hand in Hand through History
    It's hard to find a backdrop more romantic than that of Vienna's Imperial-era architecture. Walk hand in hand through the 1st District; at its center is Stephansdom, a towering and beautiful Gothic cathedral with baroque elements. Stroll past Hofburg Palace and imagine your own romantic, palatial retreat before exploring Heldenplatz's Rose Garden. For romantic art, visit Belvedere Palace, which owns 24 Klimt paintings; then explore the expansive royal gardens and Botanical Gardens next door, where you can enjoy a picnic lunch. Continue on to Schönbrunn Palace, the imperial family's impressive summer residence complex. Walk up the hill to Gloriette, a vantage point with a bird's eye view of the city that is great for photos.
    Photo by Paul Gillingwater
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    Vienna’s Cellar Restaurants
    Certain Viennese restaurants amp up the romance factor by serving meals in underground cellars. Many of these were founded in the 1800s, and seating is often in cozy, private niches or at large wooden tables. Zwolf Apostelkeller, Esterhazykeller, Augustiner Keller, and Gmoakeller are among the most popular of the cellar restaurants, most of which have a medieval air about them, thanks to vaulted ceilings and low lighting. Expect hearty, classic Austrian fare such as schnitzel and strudel on the menu, served up with live music played by troubadours who stroll from table to table, serenading diners.
    Photo by McPHOTO/age fotostock
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    Thermal Spas to Set the Right Mood
    Spa culture is alive and well in Vienna, where you and your partner can experience a range of relaxing treatments, either individually or as a couple. Many of the city's top spas are found in upscale hotels, such as the Sofitel Vienna Stephansdom, which offers treatments blending traditions and products from Japan, Indonesia, and Paris, among others. For a classic thermal spa, visit Therme Wien, which is laid out along the banks of an imaginary stream and has several zones that range from a calm grotto pool to a theme park-like water slide area; choose yours depending on mood and needs.
    Photo courtesy of Cathrine Stukhard/Therme Wien
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    Swoon at Vienna's Romantic Museums
    Gustav Klimt's paintings of couples reposed in one another's arms are inarguably romantic (you can see 24 of his paintings—the largest Klimt collection in the world—at Vienna's Belvedere Museum), but they're not the only draw for couples who consider themselves art aficionados. Plan a Sunday excursion to Vienna's Fine Arts Museum, which serves brunch in a romantic setting with vaulted ceilings. Champagne, rack of lamb, roast beef, and salmon are among the decadent delights; you can leave your reserved table to view the art at your leisure before returning to continue your repast. The museum also hosts Gourmet Evenings in its cupola hall, where guests can enjoy exclusive late viewing hours.
    Photo by Paul Gillingwater
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    Romance throughout the Year
    Every season has romantic appeal. Spring bursts with blooms and Easter markets overflow with hand-painted eggs and farm fare. In summer, the Rathaus (Town Hall) hosts an outdoor cinema and the air is perfumed with the scent of roses wafting from the nearby Rose Garden. Fall colors signal that wild game is on the menu, a specialty of Austrian cuisine; sample it in one of the city's cellar restaurants. In winter, the Christmas market dazzles with decorated trees and the smell of mulled wine. The 1st District is ablaze with Christmas lights and on New Year's Eve an outdoor orchestra plays to waltzing couples. Gigantic chandeliers hang above the streets and the Museumsquartier creates bars built entirely of ice.
    Photo courtesy of Christian Stemper/Vienna Tourist Board
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    Danube River Cruise
    A river cruise along the Danube is one of the most romantic ways to while away a day in Vienna. Tour operators pick you up at your hotel and deliver you directly to your boat, which will motor along the Danube, with views of the towns of Spitz and Melk along the way. Have your camera close at hand—you'll have views of Wachau Valley vineyards and medieval castles before you stop for lunch at Melk's Benedictine Abbey. There, you'll also be given a guided tour of the abbey, which displays jewels, religious objects, and other artifacts of Austrian history, before you head back to Vienna, likely taking in a spectacular sunset on the way.
    Photo by Eva Schmiedleitner
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    Panoramic Views
    Vienna's architectural beauty might best be appreciated from above, and there are several spots where you can enjoy a bird's-eye view of the city. One of the most romantic spots is from the interior of one of the wooden compartments of the Ferris wheel in Prater Park. Another spectacular view is the Donauturm, an observation tower in Danau Park; towering over 800 feet above Vienna, it is Austria's tallest structure. Enjoy Austrian cuisine or simply a coffee and apple strudel as you gaze out the tower's windows for a panoramic peek of Vienna. Another spot for a view is Café Gloriette, where you can also order a coffee and cake for two.
    Photo courtesy of Karl Thomas/Vienna Tourist Board
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    Elope with Your Lover
    If you want to extend your wanderings beyond Vienna, nearby villages and towns offer a number of options for romantic day trips and weekend getaways. Wienerwald, or The Vienna Woods, is a forest surrounding Vienna; it's the perfect way to spend a day if you love long walks. You can also rent a bike and tour along the Danube on trails that wind through forests. If wining and dining at four-star restaurants sounds more tantalizing, catch a train to Gumpoldskirchen, a lovely baroque village known for its wine gardens and fine dining. With speed boats on the Danube Canal you can also be whisked away to old town Bratislava for a day trip in the Slovakian capital.
    Photo courtesy of Popelka & Popelka/Vienna Tourist Board
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    The World-Renowned Lipizzaner Stallions
    Vienna is home to the famous white Lipizzaner stallions, and here, stabled adjacent to Habsburg Palace, is the Spanish Riding School. Watching their world-renowned performance in a splendid hall within the palace is a once-in-a-lifetime event. Take a seat and sip champagne as the chandeliers are lowered and you wait in anticipation for the arrival of the stallions, glimmering and prancing with power and elegance. Some performances feature the equally renowned Vienna Boys Choir. Bookings must be made far in advance; otherwise, attend a morning training session and take a stable tour. Get cozy over a coffee at the Café in der Spanischen Hofreitschule (Café in the Spanish Riding School), whose wide windows overlook the horses' exercise yard.
    Photo by Paul Gillingwater