Ahh Vienna. The home of Beethoven, Mozart, Schubert, Freud, the oldest zoo in the world, Pez (yes the candy) and schnitzel. With those being just a sampling of its offerings it is needless to say this city is rich in everything from music to history, to food and coffee.
1. Architecture. Always, always be looking up in Vienna. The intricate details of each historical building (such as the Opera House to the palaces) is not to be missed. There is a combination of diverse styles of art almost everywhere. Travel around Karlsplatz and Stephansplatz where you can see the contrast. Take a look at St. Stephen's Cathedral and Charles Cathedral for an idea.
2. Cafe culture. You can go to any one of Vienna's gorgeous cafes and make yourself at home for the day. No joke. If you order just one espresso, sit there reading Anna Karenina for hours, check your Instagram...they will not bother you. What a beautiful concept. The Imperial Palace cafe, Cafe Mozart and Cafe Central are popular ones. CafeMuseum is another one that had a popular clientele like Klimt. Whether it is in the morning to read the paper with breakfast, an afternoon rest or a post-dinner coffee it is an experience that transforms you to another era yet also keeps you in the moment. The pastries, desserts and long menu of drinks can have you feeling like it is Christmas every day.
3. Food. In a nutshell? There is something for everyone here. The cafes have delicious breakfasts and snacks. Indian food is delicious. I loved my schnitzel at Motto am Fluss which is near the Wien-City ferry terminal. The menu and atmosphere is just fun. And hot dogs? Too easy. These are available at most central places. Walk up and get the giant sausage that comes between the fresh bread. Add mustard. Enjoy. The town hall, Rathaus, has a giant square where there can be food vendors and markets to sample from. One of my favorite evenings however was walking Naschmarkt which is a pop-up restaurant market. There are restaurants back to back that represent all types of cuisine. My personal favorite was Neni. An Israeli restaurant where I ate so much I forgot to breathe. After your meal, you can definitely hop over to one of the cocktail bars around.
4. Palaces. Once again, the grandiosity of these buildings can only be seen up close. I would suggest starting with Hofburg, an imperial palace in the center of the city. Schonbrunn palace is a short train ride away from central Vienna. It can take a good half day for the entire visit depending on the crowd. Buy tickets before you go so you can cut the long lines during high season. Belvedere Palace is also another Baroque beauty right in Vienna with a large collection of Klimt paintings.
5. People. Once again, the key to travel is always the people of the country. I love listening to their stories. I love how our doorman at the Imperial Palace hotel had a smile for us every time he saw us. I loved his story about how he came from Croatia to make a life in Austria. I loved our piano man that played at the bar for us almost every night while composing spontaneously. There is a lot of peace in the people. There is a patience. There is an honor for life. Those cafes I was telling you about? Go there and observe life. Stay in the moment.