Vienna - a little gem in Europe
If you can only visit one city in Europe, we would highly recommend Vienna. Sure we love Paris, Barcelona, Munich, Berlin, Strausbourg and so many others but none of them can show you world-class art, cuisine and architecture quite like Vienna.
One of our favorite things about Vienna is the size. You can get around so easily and quickly to all the sights. Churches, museums, palaces, monuments as well as cozy cafes, coffee houses and parks are all just a walk away. Of course, the people are charming and friendly making even the most wary American feel comfortable very quickly.
If you want a spectacular view from a perfect location you must stay at the Sofitel Vienna Stephansdom. Located right along the Danube Channel, the Leopoldstadt area in which the hotel is located was the center of Vienna's Jewish community from the 17th century until the Holocaust. The hotel is simply stunning and the rooms are themed with monochromatic white, grey or black. We had a white room that was just beautiful. The breakfast buffet was one of the best we've ever experienced, with many delicious choices and exquisite service.
The weekend we were visiting they offered a room special that included a picnic for two. The basket was filled with scrumptious sandwiches, salads, fresh fruits, cheese, dessert and of course a bottle of wine. Be sure always to check for those little specials wherever and whenever you're traveling. You might be suprised by the variety of luxurious additions you can obtain for very little, if any extra cost. Perks of doing your homework!
Learn more about the Sofitel Vienna at our affiliate partner Hotels.com
You'll also love the food and drink choices in Vienna from weinerschnitzel to sacher tortes, there are delicious dishes for every taste. Be sure to wash it down with an Austrian beer or Weisser Spritzer - white wine with soda water and Aperol, a tasty Italian orange liqueur.
Things Not To Miss in Vienna
Stephansdom this enormous church is spectacular and the surrounding area is full of shops, cafes and entertainment. A church has stood on this site for over 800 years. The glazed tiles that were restored after World War II can be seen from all over the city. The catacombs are also an interesting part of the church tour. If you're ambitious, climb up the 450 ft. Gothic spire provides a breathtaking view.
Belvedere Palace (Schloss Belvedere) this is not only a beautiful palace and gardens but also has a world-class museum. If you like the artist Gustav Klimt you will not want to miss his painting "The Kiss" as well as the rest of the Klimt collection in the Palace. Be prepared to spend a lot of timing wandering around the beautiful gardens, inspired by it all.
Kunsthistorisches Museum (view of tea room) is difficult to get through quickly because there's just so much to see. If you have time for only one museum in Vienna this is the one to see. Brueghel, Rubens, Durer, Klimt and many, many other outstanding artists' works are on display. The museum boasts one of the largest collections of Old Masters in the world, and the best collection of Bruegel paintings in any art gallery. You won't want to miss Hieronymus Bosch's triptych Last Judgment - it's amazing and scary. The museum itself is also a work of art. Its beautiful staircases are enchanting, and the cafe is just delightful for a snack and a break.
Live Music at the Rathausplatz offers music under the stars, which on a lovely Viennese night is just spectacular. From opera to jazz the music is wonderfully displayed on a large screen while food vendors line up to offer local delicacies to enjoy.
Hofburg Complex is where we enjoyed our picnic basket. Filled with museums, chapels, a church, the Austrian National Library and the Winter Riding School it is vast and beautiful. Seven centuries of architectural development can be seen in this panoramic view.
Naschmarkt is a lively marketplace that has the expected farmers' market, flowers and other vendors. You'll enjoy browsing, but you'll also want to stop there for lunch. There are many different cafes and snack shops with almost every type of food you can imagine. It's a wonderful place to people watch and enjoy the authentic bits of Viennese culture making up the scene.
Sacher Torte - did someone say cake? Yes this Viennese treat may have started at the Hotel Sacher but our insider Viennese friend directed us to L. Heiner cafe for the most delicious version of this local sweet treat.
This is just a quick list of our must-see recommendations. There are so many other museums, churches, palaces and more to explore throughout Vienna, you could immerse yourself for a delightfully long while.
If you'd like to try to create some of Vienna's classic foods at home, be sure to check out our Viennese recipes. You'll quickly be dreaming of your next trip to Vienna.