Vienna is a city which exudes elegance, class and splendour.
It entwines an imperial history with contemporary museums, a delicious culinary scene and lively bars. Ever since watching the movie The Girl in the Picture, Vienna had been high on my list of destinations and although I have visited the city 3 times now, I've still not had enough.
I adore the grandeur of Vienna and it's not difficult to imagine Austria's elite from decades ago wining and dining in the various palaces peppered throughout the city.
What to see?
Visiting Vienna is an architectural dream, even if buildings generally aren't your thing, you cant help but be amazed at the sheer scale and beauty of some of Vienna's most iconic landmarks. Wandering aimlessly through the city you will stumble up on some it's great treasures, it seems there is something remarkable at the end of every street, from intricately sculpted water fountains to exquisitely designed buildings. There are, however, a few places which you simply cannot miss.
This is one of the most important architectural and historical monuments in all of Austria. The history of the palace and it's gardens spans over 300 years and reflects the changing tastes and aspirations of Austria's monarchy. It's expansive gardens are beautiful in summer when the flowers are in full bloom and a walk up to The Gloriette provides unprecedented views of the Palace, it's gardens with Vienna city as it's backdrop. It's the perfect place to spend an afternoon meandering through the gardens and soaking up the sunshine.
St Stephens Cathedral (Stephansdom)
Europe is full of cathedrals and I have visited so many I have lost count, however I can honestly say St Stephens is one which stands out from the rest. The sheer scale of the cathedral is mesmerising, especially once you learn it was constructed in 1160. It's ornate roof, stained glass and soaring spire will evoke your amazement as your marvel at the architecture. The cathedral is located in the heart of the city and I love the contrast between the new and shiny Vienna with it's designer shops and trendy bistros and its imperial, decadent past. St Stephens place in the city is the perfect example of the old interwoven with the new, something that Vienna does so effortlessly.
The Belvedere Palace is home to the largest collection of works by my favourite artist, Gustov Klimt. However, Klimt's speculator paintings aren't the only reason to visit. The stunning palace and it's gardens are worth seeing on their own. The Belvedere is split into two buildings, known as the Upper and Lower Belvedere with a gorgeous garden expanse separating the two. Admissions into both are 20 euro but the absolute highlight for me is the Upper Belvedere, which houses the golden "The Kiss" painting.
Vienna State Opera
The Vienna State Opera is considered one of the most important Opera houses in the world. It has had some of the greatest composers of all time play within its walls from Mozart to Strauss. Austria is, after all, home to one of the greatest composers of all time and the opera runs through it's blood. To get a true sense of Vienna and of the austere of Austria, a visit to the Opera is an absolute must.
In addition to these incredible places there is also Hofburg, an imperial palace which was home to the Habsburgs for 6 centuries. The Leopold Museum, Holocaust-Denkmal, Kaisergruft and Museum Quarter.
With so many incredible places to visit won't be disappointed.
How long to spend there?
Vienna is a huge city, with something to see in every corner which means you need a good amount of time to experience everything the city has to offer. I would recommend a minimum of 3 days.
Where to eat & drink?
Mmm schnitzels and Viennese goulash and pork knee.. oh and lets not forget apple strudel. Plus countless bakeries and ice cream shops, there is much to try in this city!
My absolute favourite restaurant in Vienna is Griechenbeisl, this romantic restaurant with old fashioned lanterns and ivy entwined exterior is difficult to look past. It is also Vienna's oldest biesl, once frequented by Beethoven himself.
If you do manage to tear yourself away from Griechenbeisl then another few favourites of mine are Mill, Amerlingbeisl and the most incredible bakery, Fett & Zucker.
Fancy a cocktail too? With Loos American Bar slap bang in the middle of the city, you would be crazy to not try atleast one of their magical concoctions. This place made the best Singapore Sling i've ever had (and believe me, I've tried a fair few).
If wine is more your thing then Vis-a-vis is the perfect place to relax after a day of sight seeing. This atmospheric little wine bar many only seat about a dozen people but it does have over 350 wines to choose from complimented perfectly with their famous antipasti.
Where to Stay?
The Royal Park Palace Hotel is the perfect place to base yourself whilst in Vienna. Right next to Schronbrunn Palace and a short metro ride into the heart of the city, it enables you to get away from the bustling centre and relax in a more chilled area of Vienna. (oh, and the buffet breakfast is really quite awesome!)
Vienna is a spectacular place to visit which entwines culture, art, history and a progressive urban scene so effortlessly. It has an old world charm and is literally brimming with grandeur, whilst at the same time is home to trendy bars and a lively art scene. It's moved and adapted with the times whilst retaining it Austrian essence.
Vienna, as any fitting capital should, really does showcase the best of Austria.