Austria is highly rich in terms of culture and art. It is the homeland of the famous artist Gustav Klimt, many great musicians like Mozart, Beethoven and Strauss who were the architects of classical music, the waltz dance, castles dating to the Royal Period, Queen Sisi, Schnitzel, the desserts “Apfelstrudel” and “Sacher”, chocolate capuccino Cafe Melange, and coffee inherited from the Ottomans. Ski centers are also quite popular in Austria. That’s why Austria and it’s capital Vienna is the right address for cultural tours and ski holidays.
When you arrive in Vienna, you can rent a car, or buy a Vienna Card which allows you to wander around by public transport like metro and bus, which is the most economic way. There is also a train from the airport to the town centre, which costs 10 euros.
If you don’t have much time, the easiest way to explore the city is the City Bus. A two-day ticket allows you to see the entire city via the red and the blue line. There is also a touristic tram tour in the city center; it passes by many touristic must-see places. The route is really enjoyable.
Let’s start wandering around:
It would be right to start off from Stephans Platz.
Stephans Dom cathedral, situated in the middle of the square, was built in 1137 and it is free to visit. It is very charming, the bell was cast from the cannon balls left by the Ottomans coming to besiege the city. You will see many people in their old times or Mozart costumes; painters, street artists and mime artists. If you want to have a half hour tour around the city on decorated phaetons driven by traditionally clothed men, you should pay 50 euros.
Let’s have a look at the other historical places and museums:
Leopold Museum is one of the most important museums of the city. You’ll have the privilege to see the original artwork of Gustav Klimt, whom we know well from the books and also the works of Egon Schiele.
I highly recommend that you visit Queen Sisi’s Hofburg Palace and its garden, one of the most significant names of the royal family of medieval Europe. Inside there is a museum belonging to Sisi. The magnificent palace in its big, spectacular garden shows visitors the splendor and richness of those times.
After your visit to the palace, you can wander around the Joseph Square where there is Spanish Riding Academy and also see the National Library.
Belvedere Palace, Schönnbrunn Palace which was once used as a summer resort and Schloss Park are again other must-see places. There is also a private section where you can see Gustav Klimt’s artwork.
You should see Hundertwasser neighborhood created by the crazy architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser. Here the walls are painted just like works of art and the environment is a lively region full of art. You can sip your apple cider (a drink like soda pop) at the cafés in the basement floors of the buildings.
Classical music lovers should try and see a performance at the famous State Opera House. It is better to buy tickets online days before their trip since there is a big demand and it is almost impossible to find a ticket on the last minute.
The oldest and biggest Ferris wheel of Europe is also here. You need to go to Prater Park to see the historical wheel named “Prater”, composed of red, wooden carriages. The Ferris wheel is still in use and you can get on these historical cars and have a nice city view. We stayed at the Ibis Hotel, very close to the park and thanks to the metro network, you can easily go any place you like.
Rathaus, Parliament Building and Museum of Art History are other must-see structures.
And the food…
The smell of coffee coming from the cafes surrounding Stephan Square, and the savory desserts displayed in a tempting fashion will make your mouth water; you will want to taste all of them. Being aware of the fact, they prepare some small portions and offer a mixed dessert plate. You should absolutely try them. The Sacher cake is entirely made of chocolate; it was a bit heavy for me but I loved another version made with fruit, which was much lighter. Speaking of desserts, have a break at Cafe Central, one of the famous historical cafes and also try the apple pie “Apfelstrudel” at Demel Patisserie, again a historical place.
Apart from desserts and cakes, you should taste Wiener Schnitzel, unique to here. The potato salad (Kartoffel Salad), served with it, is really delicious too. Schnitzel is only made of chicken here in Turkey, but in Austria it is made of every kind of meat. That’s why you should keep in mind to specify which meat you’d like to eat. The most famous place to eat Schnitzel is a restaurant called “Figlmüller”. I recommend it for a delicious experience.
There are a lot of Turks who have come and settled here for work. Naschmarkt is highly populated by them. You’ll hear Turkish words everywhere which will make you feel at home.
The best gift to buy is certainly chocolate. Especially Mozart chocolates, containing bitter almond and peanut butter are absolutely marvelous. I also recommend souvenirs like magnets, post cards etc. Austria is not very economic in terms of clothing and electronics. Even compared to Europe, the life standards are higher and many things are much more expensive than in Turkey.
In a 3-4 day mini tour, you can see all the must-see places of the city and you’ll have had a fancy Europe holiday.
If you have time, I suggest you rent a car and see Salzburg, the motherland of classical music, where every place is named after a musician like Mozart Cafe, Beethoven Strasse etc. You’ll have the chance to see the splendid castles along the way, and explore Austrian nature full of green mountains.