Vienna - Hofburg Palace

Vienna is the capital city of Austria.  Although it is sometimes not mentioned in the list of great European cities to visit, it should definitely be on anyone’s list.  The city is very clean with many cobblestone streets and lots of interesting sites to see.  The people of Vienna pride themselves on being highly “cultured.”  They truly appreciate the finer things in life, like classical music, fine dining and high fashion.  Therefore, your trip to Vienna will be rich in cultural experiences.

Things you MUST see/do:

Hofburg Palace – The palace is located in the heart of Vienna.  It was the home of the famous Habsburg family, who had a vast kingdom during their reign in Eastern Europe.  Hofburg Palace has been the center of Austrian power for many centuries, including the Habsburg’s for whom it was originally built.  The grounds are well kept even today.  Inside the palace is the Habsburg treasury where the family’s crown jewels are located.  This is quite a vast collection, definitely rivalling the crown jewels in London and it is worth going to have a look at these pieces.  Make sure to check out the elaborately decorated Michaeler Gate.  Currently, the palace is the official seat of the Austrian president.

St. Stephen’s Cathedral – The cathedral was consecrated in the 12th century but has undergone many renovations over time.   St. Stephen’s is a magnificent structure in mainly Romanesque and gothic style.  The outer surface is exquisite, especially with the tiled roof.  The walls are made of a light stone, so they are continuously cleaning them – chances are part of the cathedral will be under scaffolding during a visit.  Take a trip up the North or South towers.  The south tower is the highest viewpoint over Vienna but you must climb 343 stairs in a tight spiral.  And yes, there are that many stairs as we counted them!  The north tower is the current location of the church bell and can be reached via elevator; however it is not as high as the south tower.

Rathaus – This is Vienna’s city hall that was completed in 1883 and it is a combination of historic building styles.  The styles have been brought together into a spectacular building.

Opera House – With Vienna being the cultural hub of Eastern Europe and possessing a love of classical music, their Opera House is world class.  Definitely, a MUST see.

Swarovski Megastore – Although Vienna is not where Swarovski crystals originate (that is another location in Austria), it is home to the largest Swarovski store.  For any person who loves crystal figurines or jewelry, this is heaven.  There are so many different things to choose from, the only problem will be walking out without one of everything.

Maria-Teresa Square –A square located near the Hofburg Palace with numerous monuments.  The monument to beloved Maria-Teresa is found in the middle of the square and she was known as the only female to lead the Habsburg Empire.

Mozart’s House – Identified by a plaque on the outside of the building, this is the location where Mozart lived for the years he spent in Vienna.  Although you are not allowed into the building, it is still an interesting site to see and is located in a neat square.

Travels4Couples highly recommended EXPERIENCES:

Tasting Sache Torte – Sache Torte is a type of chocolate cake with apricot jam, but that does not do justice as to how good it truly is.  For those who love dessert and particularly chocolate, this will be the Holy Grail!  There are many places known to sell Sache Torte, but go to the Original Sacher Café to try this delectable cake, which is located on Philharmonikerstrasse.  It will be well worth it!

Try Wiener Schnitzel – Schnitzel is an Austrian specialty and it is not made of wieners contrary to what English speakers may believe.  The name itself tells this (Wien is the German name for Vienna, so Wiener schnitzel (means schnitzel of Vienna).  The meal is basically meat that has been pounded until it is tender, breaded, and then pan-fried.  There are many locations throughout Vienna where Wiener schnitzel is available.

Take a Horse and Carriage Ride – This is a very popular method of touring Vienna and you will find them lined up in front of the Hofburg palace.  It is a very romantic way to spend a few hours in this beautiful city.

Travels4Couples #1 most ROMANTIC thing to do in Vienna:

Go to a Concert at the Habsburgs’ Summer Palace – We were fortunate enough to go and see a Mozart concert in the Orangery at the Habsburgs’ Summer Palace.  What an unforgettable experience and something to share with that special someone.  Sitting in this grand room, with ornate decoration, listening to some of the greatest music ever created is a moment that will never be forgotten.  It is a true cultural and romantic experience!  For an added experience, pair the evening concert with dinner at one of the palace’s restaurants.