Vienna, Austria, is a great city with a wonderful history, it is a cultural centre for classical music and opera and art. As the former capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, there are countless Imperial monuments and palaces, many spectacular museums and ornate churches and cathedrals. It is a city with many concerts, a city with dignity and pride. This colourful city has always been one of my favourite destinations.
Viennese coffee culture
Although there are countless pubs throughout Vienna that serve Austrian beer and wine, the Vienna cafes, the cafes, are particularly interesting places to experiment with different blends of coffee served with a variety of strudel or delictual delicacy. But the Vienna Café goes beyond the simple refreshments served because it is an institution in its own right. There is an interesting culture around Viennese cafes – many have literary readings or live piano music (usually classical, sometimes jazz), and there are a particular look and vibe associated with Viennese coffee that entices the customer to sit for hours, stunned and partially satisfied. For a truly wonderful restaurant and cafe, I recommend Café Greinsteidl near the Hofburg Palace. But there are many, many more in the city.
Vienna has its own kitchen, although often treated as equivalent to Austrian cuisine. It is sometimes wrongly thought that it is a variation on German cuisine, but do not say that to an Austrian. And indeed, the cuisine of Vienna is unique in many ways that you will find pleasant.
Some of my favourite dishes are Rindsuppe (beef soup), Wiener Schnitzel (breaded and breaded fried veal), Gulasch (a hotpot similar to the Hungarian stew of the same name), Tafelspitz (cooked beef served with apple and horseradish sauce) and Selchfleisch (smoked meat) usually served with sauerkraut and dumplings. Auf Geschmack (to taste)!
As for the desert, although the Danish are proud of “Danish pastries”, the Danes call it wienerbrød, “Viennese bread” because it comes from Vienna and not from Denmark. This is the type of pastry that is used in various ways, including strudels such as the Viennese speciality, apple strudel and apfelstrudel (a sweet topfen or cottage cheese filled with strudel), often served with a vanilla sauce. But there are also many forms of species, such as the famous Sachertorte (a chocolate cake) with its many variations. There is no shortage of beautiful bakery creations in Austria.
Unfortunately, when you leave Vienna, one of the things you will miss the most will be the food.
For classical music lovers
Vienna is well known for its classical and lyrical musical heritage. Vienna has seen the development and popularity of the “great master composers”, C.P.E. Bach, Gluck, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and Salieri; and they paved the way for the romantic period of Schubert and others. Vienna is very much oriented towards this musical tradition.
One of Vienna’s main attractions is the Mozarthaus, the composer’s former residence on Domgasse which is now a museum and a small concert hall; it’s definitely worth the student price of € 8 ($ 10.40, £ 6.50)! Mozart-themed places and events are all over Vienna, and there is a chain of souvenir shops called Mostly Mozart (which sells Mozart chocolates). The statue of Mozart at the Hofburg Palace which is a must because of the musical note made of flowers in front of it, cafes and restaurants bearing his name, and the Mozart / Strauss concert at the Kursalon which has reasonably priced tickets and many performance options. Haydn, Schubert, Strauss and Beethoven also have dedicated houses/museums all over the city – classical music is not lacking here.
For lovers of history, art and architecture
If you are a history or architecture lover, the huge Hofburg Palace will knock your socks off. It is not only near a number of great restaurants and Viennese cafes, but it is also beautiful and huge. You can visit the imperial apartments and the Schatzkammer, the treasury, which house the imperial jewels of the Habsburg dynasty. Also, check out the Austrian National Library and its four museums and the Spanish Riding School which is the home of the famous Lipizzan horses.