Vienna, AUSTRIA – named top city for highest quality of life in the world for the eighth time, we headed to this regal city to celebrate the New Year in style. Spoiler alert: we are all about Viennese pastries.
Our stay: 4 days
OUR TOP 17 THINGS TO DO IN VIENNA
1. Visit the Hofburg Palace, the royal residence of the Habsburg dynasty, whose legacy still carries on in today’s generation. It is still used as the official workplace and residence to the President of Austria.
Don’t forget to say hello to Mozart while passing through the Burrgarten. We booked a walking tour with Good Walking Tours upon arrival to set our bearings. Note: the tour is free but reservations are required, so book online.
2. Enjoy the famous Sacher-torte at the Sacher Hotel. Travelers share mixed reviews about this cake, so we went for the taste test. If the line is too long at the Hotel Sacher Restaurant, look for Cafe Sacher next door. They serve the same cakes, coffees, chocolate, and overall experience.
Our verdict = go to Cafe Central instead and indulge in their selection of decadent pastries.
3. Dine at Cafe Central and see where Hilter held several important meetings. We’re still drooling over this puff pastry and vanilla cream dessert. Chances are there will be a line outside, but it’s worth the wait! Don’t have time to wait? Cafe Demel is another famous option just down the street.
4. Explore Schonbrunn Palace and its magical gardens. This imperial summer residence was inspired by Versailles in Paris, can you see the resemblance?
5. Order the incredible pork schnitzel at Figlmuller. There are two locations, so if you want beer with dinner, make reservations at Backerstrasse. At the Wollzeile location, they only serve wine, preserving the traditional way to eat the famous schnitzel since 1905. Both restaurants are always at capacity, so be sure to schedule your reservation a few months in advance.
Pro Tip: order one and share per couple. Don’t forget to leave room for the Apfelstrudel!
6. Visit St. Stephen’s Cathedral and admire it’s roof covered in 230,000 colorful tiles. For €5 you can climb to the top, but we’d recommend skipping the claustrophobic stairwell and head for another pastry instead.
7. Sip on a Bittersweet Symphony or an Averna Sour at Roberto’s American Bar. Ask for our friend behind the bar, Clemens. He’s an amazing bartender!
8. Rathaus – Vienna’s City Hall and location for the Christkindlemarkt during the holiday season. Visiting after New Years? The Christmas market will be gone, but you’ll still be able to ice skate in front of City Hall from January until March.
9. Drink like a local at Krypt – a hidden cocktail bar underground. Look for the rum mixed drinks with fresh carrot and beet juice. Delicious!
10. Get lost in the 100+ museums Vienna has to offer. The Albertina Museum is one of the most popular and features works from Monet and Picasso. The name comes from Duke Albert and Maria Christina (Maria Theresa’s daughter – the only one who was allowed to marry for love.) Hungry after? Bitzinger is just steps away and a nice spot to fuel up on sausages before the visiting the next museum.
11. Located outside of the Albertina Museum is the Bitzinger Sausage Stand, Dmitriy’s favorite place to stop for a snack. Try the kasekrainer sausage filled with cheese or order your sausage as a hot dog in a bun with mustard. Cash only!
12. Take a break and head to Kleines Cafe for an open face sandwich and cold beer. It’s small (hints the name), but worth the experience. Look for a seat outside or at the front of the cafe if you are sensitive to smoke.
13. Hunderwasserhaus – you can admire these colorful and quirky Viennese apartments from the street.
14. Traveling with kids? See Vienna from the top of the Ferris wheel at the Prater amusement park.
15. Take a horse-drawn carriage around the Inner Stadt. Choose between a 20 minute or 40 minute ride where the coachman takes you to the landmarks around town.
16. Mozarthaus – see where the prodigy lived during 1784 to 1787. It is rumored that Mozart paid €5,000 per month for this apartment. It has since been turned into a museum and is the only surviving residence in Vienna.
17. State Opera House – spend a night at one of the world’s best opera houses. Want the experience without breaking the bank? You can score standing room tickets for €3-4 if you are patient enough to wait 2 hours in line. The Viennese believe everyone should have equal access to the opera house and offer up to 600 standing room tickets per show. These special tickets have their own box office so look for the “Stehplatz-Kasse” or “Standing Area” sign.
Happy New Year from Vienna!