Vienna city guide

I remember reading how money and progress constantly started east first. At the beginning we had the ancient Asian civilizations and their science producing medicines that are still significant and widely recognized to this day. The same famous status was acquired by their art of war. The wave moved to Babylon, Egypt, Mediterranean empires, Europe and “took a ship” to the Americas, According to the theory it currently has made a stop at Silicon Valley. I suppose there’s a grain of truth in every mountain of bullshit. Take a look at Vienna; the wave of progress obviously stayed here for some time and gave birth to some forward-thinking individuals. Mozart, Schönberg, Haydn, Mahler, Schubert, Strauss, Brahms, Freud; just to mention a few. And let’s not forget Gustav Klimt. I’m actually drinking tea from a mug with his “The Kiss” reproduction on it, coincidence or not? If that crowd didn’t move humanity in the right direction at one point, I don’t know who did. But maybe this is also because Austrians are brilliant people when it comes to marketing their country. As Billy Wilder already put it: “They made the world believe that Hitler was a German and Beethoven an Austrian.” There are also other merits to visiting Vienna, like the fact that almost half of the cities’ entire area is green because the city council ensured that enough space is dedicated to parks.

Schonbrunn palace in Vienna by night with fountain in the foreground

Splendid baroque Schonbrunn palace situated in the Hietzing area, just 5 km away from Vienna

There’s something for everyone in Vienna or Wien, as the official name in German goes. Do you like churches? Go see the Stephansdom; the iconic gothic cathedral. Do you enjoy exploring medieval castles? Schloss Schönbrunn is right there, waiting for you. Are you a history enthusiast? Hofburg; the imperial seat of power, in the very centre of old Vienna is the place for you. Vienna is deeply rooted in traditions. Especially if you are a sweet-tooth you should have your coffee accompanied by a Sachertorte, a rich chocolate cake. It’s the most famous local or even national culinary specialty, after Wiener Schnitzel of course. Strudel is another Austrian icon, made with filo dough and usually stuffed with apples spiced up with a dash of cinnamon. Filo dough is just one example of how the Habsburg Empire and Viennese cuisine was influenced by the countries they’ve conquered. All those sweets and spending time in cafés are an essential part of the city’s culture; I think it’s great in the era of Starbucks and their soulless coffee establishments. Grab a book, load up your pipe, make you best Freud impression and sit down for an hour or two. Makes you think how many genius inventions and world-changing philosophies came to life over a glass of Arabica. Travel just outside of the city and visit some of the oldest European wineries. Also, don’t forget to sample the legendary Wiener Schnitzel. Always remember: the flatter and the bigger the piece on your plate: the better.

Vienna's Karlskirche baroque church in the sun

Karlskirche, the most outstanding baroque church in Vienna

Vienna is proud to host close to 15 million overnight stays every year; many of them visit to sample some of the local goodies. If you’re after nightlife or planning a stag night with your buddies then I’m afraid Vienna is not the best place. Bars and restaurant close early and the club scene is mediocre at best. It gets a bit livelier during the summer when spots along the city’s riverbanks open up. Vienna is not a city you visit to party. It’s a city where you can grow as a human being: a city of art of high culture. Ringstrasse during warm summer nights is breath taking, beautifully illuminated and the open-air classical music concerts and performances just add to the unforgettable atmosphere. The Vienna State Opera is a temple devoted to music, one of a kind and it reminds you why the city is known as “the City of Music”. Imagine sneaking in and witnessing some genius working on his magnum opus within these walls.  

The downside to this amazing city is that there’s just too much to see. You could spend a week at the Hofburg and you’d still miss half of what it has to offer. It currently serves as the Austrian White House, but the imperial chic and numerous artefacts are on display there to remind you how powerful this dynasty once was. Add a few more days if you want to explore the Hofburg National Library, secret bookshelf passages and ancient occult manuscripts included. The gardens are also a thing of beauty, huge as well and easy to get lost in.

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