Vienna, Austria

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Winding Down in Vienna

At first glance, Vienna is a superbly immaculate city, which is also a World Heritage Site. As we learned more of the history and culture behind the facade, we were impressed to learn about its pride in music, art and overall quality of life. You’ll find this to ring true in all aspects of your visit whether it be at a comfy hotel or an opulent palace. Don’t miss an opportunity to spend a few days in this central European gem.

Our Itinerary & Experience

Day 1: Cooling Down in Vienna

From our last destination, Mykonos, we flew directly to Vienna, Austria. The city greeted us with welcoming cool and cloudy weather after our stops in hot Mediterranean islands. We took a taxi to the DO & CO hotel overlooking a quaint square overlooking the ornate St. Stephen’s cathedral in the heart of Vienna. In contrast to St. Stephen’s cathedral, which was consecrated in 1147, the DO & CO boasts a handsome and modern interior. While the hotel is situated primarily facing away from the cathedral, it may be worth asking for a room with the best view available because of the impressive architecture.

In contrast to the prior cities, our first impression was how unusually clean and pleasant the city was. Vienna has gone lengths to preserve its utopian perfection. Streets are immaculately clean and buildings are perfectly painted. Even some grocery stores are made of glass and resemble a department store rather than a supermarket. It was everything we imagined a beautiful Austrian city to be. We learned from locals that Vienna has gone to great lengths to create a family-friendly atmosphere in terms of support, services, safety, and infrastructure.

On this first night, we found a restaurant that caters to a swankier crowd that likes to dine late, however. Fabios is located a few short blogs from the DO & CO hotel. There, we found a very modern and bright restaurant with tables lining the windows for people watching outside as well as inside the restaurant. The menu included beautifully prepared Italian and Mediterranean plates. Better yet, we selected a lovely bottle from Fabios’ terrific wine list. Fabios is a great spot for a posh or romantic meal.

 

Day 2: Touring on a Drizzly Day

The next day we opted for a light, half-day tour of the areas surrounding our hotel. Following breakfast in the hotel, we walked through some of the surrounding parks, monuments, and government buildings. We learned a little about the history behind the incredible architecture and pristine surroundings. One of the most well-known and prominent sculptural pieces in the city is Pestsäule, erected after the Great Plague epidemic in 1679. This monument ushered in the High Baroque period and influenced Austrian style going forward.

Pestsaule_St.-Stephens-Cathedral

From there we made our way to Vienna’s well-known Ring Road (or Ringstraße in German). Built to replace the city walls, the main artery of the city is lined with stunning buildings, many dating before 1870. The architecture gave us an incredible perspective of this beautiful city. Some buildings included the Austrian Parliament Building, Hofberg Palace, Imperial Treasury, and more.

As we made our way across the city, we stumbled upon the final day of Vienna’s Summberbreak Festival. On this last Saturday of August, the music and dance festival rolls along the Ringstraße between Stadtpark and City Hall, transforming into the biggest open-air dance floor in Vienna for the Streetparade. Hordes of people followed these trucks on foot, dancing with beverages, glow sticks, and their latest dance moves. It was quite the sight to see these pop-up dance clubs rolling throughout town among the very conservative environment.

The festival included a variety of food vendors, selling cuisine from a number of countries and cultures. We couldn’t help but to stop and enjoy some Austrian favorites, like schnitzel and pretzels. We also took the opportunity to try some of the local spins on international flavors, even thai food. Overall, it was an incredibly fun atmosphere with hundreds of locals enjoying good drinks and great food.

The cloudy day turned rainy, and on the return walk. On the return walk, we took in more sights, like St. Peter’s Church, or Peterskirche. Rumored as the site of one of the first churches in Vienna, today’s structure actually replaces the original one. The new Baroque-style structure, finished in 1733, turned our conversation back to the the family-oriented culture of Vienna. We learned that the local government firmly believes in the value of time spent with one’s family. For this reason, they provide ample support to working families and even encourage businesses and stores to close early in the evening for important family time.

St Peters Church

We were ready for a light meal following our afternoon walk of the city. This led us to Meinl’s Restaurant, which is one of Austria’s greatest culinary venues. Aside from the incredible food (try the schnitzel for an authentic Austrian treat), guests enjoy beautiful views of the city. Visitors can even take home gourmet food from the adjacent Meinl’s Gourmet Market for cooking at home.

After a short disco nap, we were on to the next dining destination, called Motto. While the restaurant is located outside of the city center, we were told it was well worth the effort to get there. So we hopped in a taxi for a short ride. When we arrived, we were quickly greeted and seated for our reservation. As another of the late restaurants, Motto’s hip vibe, incredible menu, and friendly service draw a trendy crowd. Our superbly contemporary Austrian meal was a fantastic way to finish our first full day in Vienna. Motto is certainly another must-see restaurant when visiting Vienna.

After the amazing meal with incredible wine, we were ready for a comfortable ride home. So we whipped out the Uber app to find out what kind of ride we could get from the restaurant to the DO & CO Hotel. The only available service was Uber Black, which fit the occasion perfectly. We were very pleased to have a brand new 2014 Mercedes S-Class pull up and open its doors, greeting us with it’s purple LED interior to whisk us back to our hotel. We were on cloud nine. This had to be one of the most incredible Uber experiences we’d had in our history using the service. In cases like this, we have become devout Uber riders.

 

Day 3: Early Return

With a late morning departure, we opted to enjoy breakfast at the DO & CO Hotel, looking over St. Stephen’s Cathedral. Unfortunately, our Vienna experience came to a close far too soon, leaving us with a desire to return and learn all about the beautiful culture, history, and nightlife Vienna has to offer. After this whirlwind trip from Capri, to Rome, to Santorini, to Mykonos, and finally in Vienna, we were more than ready to return to sunny SoCal.

Planning Your Trip

  • Vienna is known for its Baroque and Rococo styles. The city also has a rich Romanesque history and old Roman ruins beneath the modern city level. Interestingly enough, Vienna is greatly lacking in any Renaissance architecture due to Turkish sieges on the city during the era that stifled construction.
  • Saint Stephen’s Cathedral is one of the most important and famous churches in Vienna. It is a popular tourist attraction, named after this Romanesque and Gothic Cathedral standing at the center of the Stephansplatz pedestrian square. The South Tower stands as an important symbol in Vienna – so much so, that a law was passed declaring that no building in Vienna shall be taller than the tower. The North Tower, which was supposed to stand on the northern side of the Cathedral, completing its symmetry was never completed.
  • The world’s largest emerald (2860 carat) is displayed in the Imperial Treasury of the Hofburg (Imperial Palace) in Vienna.
  • Vienna is constantly ranked as one of Europe’s top cities in Mercers Quality of Life survey. Because of Austria’s Gross Domestic Product per capita, the World Bank, and International Monetary have also rated the country in the top 15 countries in the world.
  • Comparable to many cities in central Europe, Vienna shares a temperate climate with warm summers (70-90 F / 20-30 C) and cold winters (30-60 F / 0-16 C). Dress accordingly for summer with dressier light clothes and for winter with nicer warm pieces.
  • Don’t forget to have an umbrella and rain jacket on hand for common rainfall, particularly during spring and late autumn.
  • Dress is typically pretty casual in Vienna, but it’s a good idea to bring nicer attire for high-end restaurants, cultural events, or more formal venues.
  • Wienguide Tours – This tour company offers private tours customized for each customers’ tastes. This is a great way to get an initial lay of the land and familiarize with the city.
  • St. Stephen’s Church – While the church was undergoing renovations during our visit, the architecture was still impressive with its colored facade and stunning interior.
  • PolaWalk Photography Tour – It’s tough to spend time inside when Vienna is so beautiful outside. This tour lets you capture the best views of Vienna.
  • Vienna Summerbreak Festival – If you happen to be in Vienna at the end of August, this festival is a fun way to get out and kick up your heels with a variety of fun music in the beautiful outdoor Vienna surroundings.
  • DO & CO Hotel Vienna – Located in the posh heart of Vienna, this modern hotel is surrounded by a number of the city’s sights within walking distance. With fantastic accommodations, friendly staff, and incredible views of St. Stephen’s Church, we were happy to call DO & CO our home for our Vienna stay.
  • Hotel Sacher Wien – This high-end hotel sets the bar for luxury accommodations. Traditionally decorated rooms are highlighted with modern technology, like TVs in the mirrors. The hotel’s location also places guests closer to the museums and government buildings.
  • The Guesthouse Vienna – Also near popular museums and parks, this hotel is a mid-century gem. Many rooms have beautiful views, particularly the ones overlooking the opera. This boutique-style hotel is extremely tasteful and welcoming.
  • Meinl – One of Austria’s greatest culinary venues. Aside from the incredible food (try the schnitzel for an authentic Austrian treat), guests enjoy beautiful views of the city.
  • Motto – Its hip vibe, incredible menu, and friendly service draw a trendy crowd. Our superbly contemporary Austrian meal was a fantastic way to finish our first full day in Vienna.
  • Fabios – This restaurant is very modern and bright with tables lining the windows for people watching outside as well as inside the restaurant. The menu included beautifully prepared Italian and Mediterranean plates.
  • Uber – While controversial in Europe particularly, Uber offers a high-end way to get around town in style.
  • Taxi – Taxi service is rather efficient and clean. Hotels and restaurants can typically help call for a car. Some taxis will take you on a short tour through the city. Be sure to ask for rates in advance of the ride to avoid getting overcharged.
  • Public Transportation – Vienna offers one of Europe’s finest public transportation systems with passes that can be used on any of the bus, tram, and underground systems. Passes can be purchased at ticket offices, station machines, and local tobacco shops (Tabak in German).
  • The indigenous people of Vienna are called Viennese.
  • The most common language spoken in Vienna is German.
  • Vienna is considered as a city of cultural heritage. It is been home to various great artists Gustav Klimt, Sigmund Freud, Arthur Schnitzler.
  • Because of the predominantly Christian population, many observed holidays follow the typical Christian calendar. The summer is sprinkled with observed holidays, particularly in May.
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