Vienna is the capital city of Austria and the perfect spot for a weekend break, easily accessible from most other European cities. The city centre has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site and there is a huge range of beautiful architecture to appreciate as well as wide, well looked after boulevards to stroll down and some of the best hot chocolate in the world to sample! Vienna also has a rich history that spans its Celtic and Roman origins, its past as capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and its current status as the international centre of culture and tourism that it is today. If you’re planning a weekend in Vienna, then there are a few local sights and experiences that you just shouldn’t miss.
Make sure you work up an appetite because Vienna has some fantastic local specialities and a high standard of international cuisine. Your trip to Vienna won’t be complete unless you have at least one apple strudel with Chantilly cream, as well as a slice of the rich chocolate cake ‘Sacher Torte’ for which the city is famous. Viennese coffee is also renowned the world over and is the perfect accompaniment to the deep flavour of the Sacher Torte. Ask for “Ein kleiner brauner/schwartzer” (white/black coffee) and enjoy the strong, smoky taste of coffee that is still made the way it has been for centuries. If you’ve got room for any more after that then the Viennese wine and cheese is also worth a try.
Take to the streets during your stay here, as Vienna is very logically laid out and it’s easy to get to most of the city’s attractions on foot. It’s also the best way to get to know the city, to appreciate its architecture and get a feel for its history. Plan a route that takes in attractions like the Gothic style Vienna Rathaus, the imposing Hofburg – which was the centre of the Habsburg Empire – the grand, columned Parliament building, and the Stadtpark. Make sure you look out for statutes of the likes of Strauss and Schubert here, as well as the vibrant flora and fauna.
Take in some of the art, culture and music, as some of the best-known composers, musicians, artists and philosophers have spent time in this beautiful and inspiring city. Vienna’s Burgtheater is probably one of the city’s most famous and a great place to see international productions, as well as those written by Austrian playwrights such as Thomas Bernhard and Elfriede Jelinek. Theater an der Wien is the best location for an opera and Vienna’s English Theater regularly shows a wide range of English plays. The city also has a great selection of art galleries to explore, whatever the type of art you might be interested in, from graphic art at the Albertina to the Austrian collection at the Belvedere Upper Palace.
Don’t forget the nightlife, as whilst Vienna may not have a reputation for being a party city, the nightlife here is lively. Brewpubs in Vienna draw in the crowds when evening falls – these are basically microbreweries where you can sample the house beer long into the night. There are also some great cocktail spots, chill-out lounges, late night drinking dens and buzzy bars, all of which provide plenty of entertainment from early in the evening into the early hours of the night. Club-wise, Vienna has a good selection of clubs serving up everything from house music to drum and bass.
A weekend in Vienna is just about enough time to fit in everything that the city has to offer, from culture and coffee to a night in a sweaty club. Most people who visit Vienna tend to fall a little bit in love with it and naturally want to take something home to remember it by. A word of advice if this is you – take some coffee beans or a snow globe – the strudel doesn’t travel well!