Planning a trip to Vienna? Here is my personal list of must-have experiences on any visit to the City of Dreams.
1. Put some zing in your bite – The Bitzinger stand
I stumbled upon this place while doing my research for the Vienna trip. And boy am I glad this was my first meal in Vienna!
Do yourself a favor and go there on an empty stomach. Your body will thank you for this.
And be warned, you will be tempted to return over and over and over again.
2. Eat a slice of sacher torte
Sacher torte is the quintessential Viennese pastry. And everyone says that you MUST have it from Cafe Sacher. In all honesty, I am not a big fan of this particular cake. To be doubly sure I had a second slice from their biggest rivals, Demel. You know, for research purposes. And my research confirms my worst fears – I definitely do not love this cake. You can read my detailed TripAdvisor review here.
But if, like me, you shudder at the thought of missing out on this pure Viennese tradition, grab a slice to go from Demel, settle down on one of the benches in front of the Hofburg Palace and quietly enjoy your slice of Vienna as you watch the horse carriages trot by.
3. Do the Ringstrasse
The Ringstrasse or The Ring Road is a circular ring road surrounding the Innere Stadt district. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is also known as the Lord of the Ring Roads.
I chose to walk the route and made many stops along the way either for pictures of the magnificent buildings dotting the path or to rest in some of the beautiful parks and soak in the atmosphere.
4. Spend a lazy afternoon in a beautiful garden
The Burggarten Vienna Garden was laid out in the year 1818 as a private garden of the emperor. It is a beautiful spot for a picnic lunch and to rest your feet after all that walking along the Ringstrasse.
The Volksgarten is another beautiful garden within the Inner Stadt. The garden is filled with luscious blooms and the sound of gently trickling water from the fountains.
5. Soak up some culture at the opera
Why not catch an opera at the Vienna State Opera? If the tickets are a bit too pricey for your taste, grab a seat outdoors in front of the large screen and watch the opera for free!
6. Eat some apfelstrudel at a palace
Okay okay so there is a lot of food in this list. But in my defense, the apfelstrudel is a Viennese favorite. I was given solemn instructions by everyone I asked for recommendations that leaving Vienna without sampling some would be a grave mistake. I grabbed a slice from the cafe at the entrance of the Schonbrunn Palace, found a quiet bench and had an indulgent breakfast with one heck of a view.
7. The Belvedere
Two gorgeous palaces that now function as art museums. What fascinated me the most was the beautiful garden that sloped between the two palaces. Impeccably manicured lawns with fresh, fragrant blooms and neatly trimmed hedges left me wishing I could stay longer. The weather was a crisp, spring day perfect for strolling through the gardens and marveling at the flowers, fountains and sculptures.
8. The Vienna Boys’ Choir
I was on a budget for this trip and could not afford to attend a full fledged concert by the Vienna Boys’ Choir. Yet I could not leave Vienna without this experience and so I found the next best thing.
I was fortunate enough to be in Vienna on a Sunday and so I decided to attend the Sunday service at the Hofburgkapelle which was built in 1449. For anywhere between 10 to 26 euros, you can get a taste of the choir during this Sunday service. You can even opt for standing room entry which is completely free!
And let me tell you, it was absolutely worth the early start to my day. The chapel itself is beautifully intimate and the acoustics sent my spirit soaring every time the choir broke into song. Definitely one of my most cherished experiences in Vienna. In fact, I was so overcome that I simply had to pen down this post as I waited inside the chapel for the service to begin.
9. Hofburg Palace
You cannot miss this when in Vienna. I walked right past it my first day exploring knowing that I would be back later in my trip for a closer look. You cannot help but be awed by that striking white facade, those imposing columns and the detailed sculptures, all crowned by that striking green dome.
10. St. Stephen’s Cathedral
St. Stethen’s is a 12th century Gothic cathedral in the heart of Vienna. With its tall and blackened facade the structure seems almost daunting but a visit to this masterpiece is a must on any visit to Vienna.
In the evenings the area around Stephansdom is buzzing with life. I loved wandering through the square and the nearby streets stumbling upon hidden churches, watching the people partying, shopping or dining and occasionally getting lost in the maze of byways.
Have you ever been to Vienna? Are there any sights or activities that you would recommend?