This past weekend Ara and I set our sights on Vienna, Austria. Ara has the chance to travel for work quite a bit to Hungary and flies through Vienna before making his way to Hungary. Ara ended his work trip on Friday and it felt only natural for us to plan a weekend getaway in Vienna since he was already there.
I made my way to the airport on Friday morning by way of train from the Kaiserslautern station. This was my first time taking the train to the airport and found it very easy! I had one connection in Mannheim, then straight to the airport. My flight landed around 1:30pm and I was greeted by Ara at the airport who had drove in to meet me after his work week in Hungary. We bought tickets for the train to the Vienna Hbf (train station) and set out to check into our Airbnb. We stayed at this Airbnb, just a 2 min walk from the train station. Even though it wasn't in the city center, I would highly recommend this apt to stay in. The host was easy to communicate with and the apt was cozy and very clean. It felt like a large hotel suite.
We headed out on foot to check out the Belvedere and the surrounding gardens. I can only imagine how beautiful the gardens are in late spring and summer. We made our way to the city center and found ourselves marveling at Hofburg Palace. The Hofburg is the former imperial palace in the centre of Vienna, Austria. Built in the 13th century and expanded in the centuries since, the palace has been the seat of power of the Habsburg dynasty rulers, where Marie Antoinette lived and today the official residence and workplace of the President of Austria.
That evening, we had dinner at The Bank Brasserie & Bar (reservation recommended). Vienna does everything in style and this restaurant is no exception. We spent most of dinner taking in the beautiful surroundings. Excellent food with a great atmosphere.
We started Saturday with my favorite thing to do while traveling--breakfast at a trendy/modern spot. We made our way via the underground and walked a few minutes to Ulrich (reservation recommended), located in a trendy part of town. We didn't have reservations but managed to snag one of the last tables. The food and coffee was delicious--and the best part was a delicious, warm coffee cake muffin that we ended our meal with.
I hadn't made any set plans for Saturday except dinner reservations (more on that later!) so during breakfast we made our "must-do" list for the day including: wandering through the Naschmarkt, Albertina Museum and a Viennese coffee house.
I love checking out the local outdoor city markets whenever we travel to a new city so of course I was anxious to see the Naschmarkt. However, I was extremely underwhelmed. The vendors of the booths were very pushy, each of them hollering out to try their goods. It made me yearn and miss my beloved Pike Place Market in Seattle.
Next up, the Albertina Museum. This was Ara's choice--he's all about the museums and it helps balance out all of our eating that I request. The Albertina is known for their Impressionist collection, Monet to Picasso. This was my first time seeing Impressionist art in person and I was blown away. This was the first art museum that I've visited and thoroughly enjoyed--I could have stayed for hours enjoying all the impressionist work.
When we were in Paris last fall I'd done a google search of "best sandwich in the Marais" and came across a shop called Miznon. It was fantastic and I've dreamed about it ever since. In doing research for our Vienna trip, I came across an article that mentioned a Miznon location in Vienna and I was over-the-moon excited. Miznon is a no-frills Mediterranean street food restaurant focusing on local and fresh ingredients. Ara and I feasted on our delicious pita sandwiches and their amazing sauces!
Right around the corner from Miznon is St. Stephan's Cathedral, located in Stephansplatz. We took a peek inside and stood in awe of the beauty. On our travels we enjoy stopping at the cathedrals to reflect and marvel at the ornate beauty that is always to be found inside these cathedrals. We take the time to light a candle and say a prayer during our visits.
Vienna is known for their coffee house culture. Legend has it that soldiers of the Polish-Habsburg army, while liberating Vienna from the second Turkish siege in 1683, found a number of sacks with strange beans that they initially thought were camel feed and wanted to burn. The Polish King granted the sacks to one of his officers named Jerzy Franciszek Kulczycki, who started the first coffee house. Our first Viennese coffee house experience was at Cafe Dreschler. I ordered the typical Vienna coffee drink--wiener melange (similar to a cappuccino).
I wanted to fully embrace the "fancy" of Vienna and made us reservations for dinner at Opus Restaurant (Michelin 1-star). Ara and I both enjoy trying out different food and tasting menus. Opus did not disappoint, we made our way through a delicious tasting menu and drank some delicious Austrian wines.
On Sunday, we had the pleasure of attending Mass at the Hofburgkapelle where we listened to the Vienna Boy's Choir perform during the church service. I would highly recommend seeing some kind of opera, orchestra or choir while visiting Vienna--such a beautiful experience.
Following the Mass, we walked over to Cafe Central and were able to get a spot at the beautiful Viennese coffee house with no wait! The interior of the cafe is exquisite and oozes fancy. We both enjoyed coffee and I chose one of the ornate pastries to feast on for a morning treat.
The first day we were strolling around Vienna we noticed the beautiful horse-drawn carriages (fiakers) around the city. I hinted to Ara that I was interested in riding in one before our weekend was up and he didn't shut the idea down! After our stop at Cafe Central, we made our way to Hofburg to pick out our horse carriage. It was a fun, 20-minute ride to leisurely see the city--and felt so fancy!
We ended our last day with lunch at Figlmüller (reservations recommended), the home of the original "viener schnitzel." The schnitzels are bigger than the size of a plate so Ara and I decided to share one--and the delicious potato salad. This place is definitely famous in Vienna--while we were eating, countless people walked by just to take a picture by the sign.
I loved our time in Vienna and feel like we didn't even scratch the surface at all that it has to offer! We didn't make it to some of the "necessary stops" like Schönbrunn Palace and the Rathaus--along with so many more restaurants that I want to check out. I hope we are able to make it back to Vienna again for more of the magic!
Vienna tips and tricks:
Uber - We used Uber when we were short on time or tired of walking. Don't be surprised if you are picked up in a Mercedes for your ride!
Public Transit - The underground is extremely easy to use and navigate. You can opt to do single rides or purchase a transit card for 24, 48 or 72 hours (this covers all public transport within the city limits of Vienna). Just remember to validate it at one of the machines before your first use! We opted for a 24 hr card (8 euro) and supplemented with Uber rides.
Restaurants - Vienna is FILLED with amazing restaurants. Do your research and make reservations for dinner in advance.
Viennese cafes - Cafe Central, Cafe Dreschler, Cafe Diglas, Cafe Landtmann