Most people would spend the day after Oktoberfest in a dark room binge watching Netflix and silently praying they never saw beer again. (Seriously what sick genius decided to serve beer by the liter?!? Whoever you are- I love/hate you.) Kelsie and I, on the other hand, spent it in the back of a car on a five-hour trip to our next destination- Vienna, Austria. Bless that McDonalds along the way, I owe you my life.
Although the drive seemed like a rare form of torture at the time…I’m so glad we made the trek and had the opportunity to discover this beautiful city.
Throughout the trip I was constantly reminded of Paris. Sidebar: I’m OB-SESSED with Paris. So it was no wonder I instantly fell in love with Vienna as well. I think it was the white stone buildings with gilded rooftops, narrow cobble stone side streets, ritzy atmosphere, and pretty fabulous shopping that made me swoon as Paris did. Vienna is the capital of Austria and the home of classical music. You’ll see odes to classical musicians such as Mozart and Beethoven all through the city, and there are plenty of daily shows and concerts to entertain any music lover.
For our brief two-day trip, we stayed at Hotel Austria– a boutique hotel tucked away in the heart of the old city. The friendly concierge welcomed us with local chocolates (score), a detailed map of the city, and restaurant recommendations in the area. Since we arrived later in the evening and were still moving a little slow post-Oktoberfest, we refrained from exploring too much and found a nearby restaurant for dinner. With an intimate, low-key vibe and delicious Austrian food, EF16 was the perfect end to a long day of traveling.
The next morning Kelsie unfortunately wasn’t feeling well, so we made a plan to meet up later that afternoon, and my mom and I set out to explore. As fate would have it, we ended up in the main shopping district in no time. I must admit it was pretty cool to walk out of Zara and see a breathtaking Gothic cathedral, St. Stephens, right next door. A little window shopping, a little church touring. Not a bad deal.
We spent the afternoon at the Hofburg Imperial Palace, which was once the center of the Habsburg empire. Although you could easily spend a day at the palace, we bought an 11 euro ticket to see the three main attractions- The Sisi Museum, The Silver Collection, and The Imperial Apartments. There are plaques throughout the exhibits explaining pieces on display, but I would suggest paying the extra two-three euro for an audioguide and a little extra history! You can also pay for additional tickets to see The Imperial Furniture, Hofburg Treasury, and the New Palace Museums.
After our tour, we were in desperate need of an afternoon snack (and a place to get out of the rain) so we stopped at Cafe Sacher for a classic Viennese cafe experience. Cafe Sacher lies right behind the opera house and claims the the original recipe for Sachertorte- a chocolate cake with apricot jam filling and a ganache-like chocolate frosting. Some people complain the cake isn’t sweet enough, but I’ve never been a fan of overly sweet desserts, so I loved it! The chocolate was decadent and delicious, not to mention it went perfectly with a glass of prosecco. There will most likely be a bit of a line, but it’s well worth the wait!
Next up was the famous opera house, Wiener Staatsoper. You can only go into the opera house if you’re attending a performance or if you’ve bought a ticket for a guided tour. Unfortunately we arrived right after the last tour for the day, so we were only able to admire the outside. If you love the opera as much as my family does, look online ahead of time to check tour times or if there’s a show you’d like to see!
For dinner that night our concierge recommended Plachutta, a popular restaurant serving traditional Viennese food. Reservations were a must as it was packed with locals (always a good sign). Their speciality is tafelspitz, boiled beef served in a copper pot and accompanied by sauces and side dishes. Kelsie and I basically jumped for joy when we saw beef was the main dish on the menu. You can only have so much pork schnitzel, yanno? The beef was tender and juicy, and the creamed spinach was to die for. One of the sauces was like a hybrid of applesauce and horseradish which was surprisingly tasty.
Overall, I loved this posh and historical city, and found myself wishing we had more time! Check out the following list for extra recommendations of where to go:
- St. Peters Cathedral
- Weiner Staatsoper (Opera House)
- Golden Quarter: Luxury shopping area with stores like Louis Vuitton, Miu Miu, Prada, and much more (window shopping, anyone?)
- Tiergarten Schoebrunn (Vienna Zoo): The oldest existing zoo in the world.
- Imperial Palace-Hofburg
- Belvedere Palace
- Wiener Rathaus (Vienna City Hall)
- Schönbrunn Palace: Lavish summer palace of the Habsburgs
- Naschmarkt: A lively outdoor market open Monday-Saturday
- Reisenrad: Get an aerial view of the city on this giant ferris wheel
- Kunsthistorisches Museum: An art museum housing some of the Habsburg’s art collection
- Café Sacher: Where we enjoyed the traditional Viennese dessert, Sachertorte. Also a great place for a meal or a light lunch and coffee.
- Café Mozart: Near the opera house but surprisingly not a tourist trap.
- Albertina Passage: A friend suggested it and I wish we had a chance to go! A chic underground dinner spot with a nightclub ambiance.