Being from Germany myself, I never really thought about Austria as a travel destination. To me it was just a neighboring country, one that was too similar to home and would thus probably not be very interesting, so I just avoided it. Boy, was I wrong. This week I finally made it to Vienna, and I fell deeply in love. Here are ten things that are absolute must-sees when in Vienna.
1. The Stephansdom
This church is located on the Stephansplatz and is rather central. Here, two main shopping streets meet, one of them leading strait towards the Opera. Whilst the Stephansdom might be stunning from outside, the real highlight is climbing the tower. There are two towers open to the public: The South Tower and the North Tower. The platform on the North Tower is located at around 40 metres, whilst the South Tower is 137 metres high, but you can just climb up 343 steps – but believe me, they’re more than enough. From the South Tower you have an incredible view over Vienna, including everything from the Town Hall to the Prater (as you can see in the header image).
2. The Town Hall
Even if you are not into architecture, this building is a definite must-see and should be on everyone’s list when traveling to Vienna. I wasn’t planning on seeing it, but then I walked past it accidentally and was shook. The Town Hall is just incredibly massive, the architecture is so beautiful and you could probably stand in front of it for hours and would still not be fed up. Unfortunately, during my visit to Vienna the Vienna Film Festival was happening, so a rather large screen blocked a large portion of the Town Hall. It was stunning nonetheless.
3. The National Library
This is my main reason to go back to Vienna – I did not get to see the library. From everything I have seen on photos and from what people told me, it looks and sounds like one of the most beautiful libraries in the world. Again, I was rather unlucky as it was closed off during my stay there – in fact, a lot of the city was closed off and shut down by the police for some reason I am not aware of. If you do go to Vienna and the library happens to be open to the public, definitely pay it a visit.
4. The Hofburg
If you visit Vienna, you will not be able to miss the Hofburg. It is just as large as it is beautiful, and the number one photography spot for all the tourists. Even though it is being renovated right now, it is still incredible to look at. Right next to it is a park in which a lot of people lie to tan, read, or even sleep – at any time of the day. Make sure to wander around the area a little bit, because the Hofburg and the Hofgarten have a lot to offer.
5. The Palmenhaus
This charming cafe is conventiently located right next to the Hofburg and the Botanical Gardens. It is a meeting place mainly for twenty-somethings, but people of every age come here to eat or just enjoy a coffee. Whilst the cafe does have tables for sitting outside (from where you will have a great view of the Hofburg), the real highlight is getting a table inside. As the name suggests, the locale is filled with plants, palmtrees to be exact. You feel like you are in a greenhouse, which you also kind of are. Definitely worth a trip.
6. University of Vienna
Pretty from the outside, absolutely beautiful from the inside. If you love old buildings with a lot of history, this one is for you. You can just walk inside, sometimes they might stop you to check your bag, but other than that you are good to go. I got lost on purpose in this university, simply because it was so beautiful that I wanted to take it all in. If you want to see something unusual, go into the bathrooms on the first floor: there is an actual metal grid placed on top of the toilet stalls. So if you always wanted to experience what peeing in jail must be like, here you can give it a try.
7. The Prater
This all-year-round amusement park is a well-established part of Vienna. If you feel the urge to go on a roller coaster, it’s just a ten minute metro ride away. If you do visit the Prater, make sure to go on the Ferris Wheel for an amazing view of Vienna.
8. Ferstel Passage
I stumbled upon this by accident, but apparently it is not as big a secret as I thought it was. The Ferstel Passage is a charming indoor alleyway with the cutest cafes and restaurants. It smells like freshly baked cookies and warm bread, and the people sitting there, sipping their coffee look like they haven’t got a care in the world.
9. The Naschmarkt
Here you can buy almost anything. T is an outdoor market with some stalls having an actual shop attached to it, and it is there all year round. The market itself closes around 7pm, but some individual shops might close sooner or later, depending on their success that day. In the front of the market you can get new and second-hand clothes, but also fresh vegetables or fruit. From there on, it is basically just food in all shapes and forms. You can buy all kinds of dried and chocolate-covered fruit, fresh fish and other meat, but there are also a few restaurants where you can find some of the most best pizza in all of Vienna. My tip: Go to the Dr. Falafel stall and try their food. You’ll feel like you’re in heaven.
10. Cafe Central
You cannot leave Vienna without having gone to Cafe Central. It is a beautiful cafe, without a doubt, located in one of the most charming streets of Vienna, with horse-powered carriages driving by every few minutes. But the real selling point is its coffee. They have every type of coffee you can possibly image, all kinds of beans, roast, and even varieties of milk and cream. Legend has it that even Sigmund Freud used to come here to get his daily dose of caffeine.
Enjoy Vienna and if you have any other must-sees in Austria’s capital, please let me know in the comments below!
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