If Vienna was a human, she would definitely look like a sophisticated lady dressed in an elegant dress with a string of pearls around her neck. She would belong to those who do not want to be noticed but can’t help impressing people with class and style. You may wonder why I know her so well. Thanks to the Erasmus program, I was lucky to live and study there for four euphoric months that were among the most memorable and emotional ones in my life.
Elegant Secession-style buildings with exquisite floral motifs, parties in palaces and city halls, lavish holidays in the Prater. For me, Vienna is a parade of fantasies and a beautiful memory frozen in time. She is still alive and bright in my mind, just as the day I was leaving her and returning back to Bulgaria three years ago.
Vienna will remain my favorite city. I love it so much because I met a lot of good friends there and had great experiences. That is why I dedicate my first official blog publication to this magical city – a list of 10 typical Viennese things that we can only experience there.
1. Spend а few hours of art in Albertina and the Museum Quarter.
In Albertina you can see works by Leonardo, Michelangelo, Rembrandt and Munk. The Museum Quarter is home to the Leopold Museum and the Museum of Modern Art – MUMOK. In Leopold there are paintings by iconic Austrian artists such as Gustav Klimt, famous for his gilding paintings, and Egon Schiele who was not ashamed to paint naked human bodies. His works were considered pornographic by the conservative society at that time. At night the Museum Quarter becomes a meeting point for a lot of young people and is the perfect place to have a drink with friends.
2. Make yourself comfy in one of the Phil’s armchairs
Phil is about five minutes walking distance from the Museum District and is my favorite Viennese bookshop cafe. It is intended for all book buffs. It has a rich collection of comics and design books and is very cozy – as if you were in your living room. Pop art paintings adorn the walls, and the vintage furniture you are sitting on is listed for sale.
3. Go to the Opera.
The State Opera House in Vienna is iconic for the city and, initially, when it was built, Viennese had fun of it. The architect of the building was deeply overwhelmed by that fact and hung himself. Ticket prices for the opera performances vary from 16 to 240 euro, but there are also cheaper tickets worth a few euros for standing places.
4. Attend a party at the Vienna City Hall.
During the day, the Vienna City Hall is like all the other city halls in the world and serves administrative affairs, but at night it becomes a party arena. Projectors color the halls in different colors, and each of them features a different style of music – techno,drum and bass.
5. Be part of the high life at a Viennese ball at the Hofburg Palace.
Do not worry – you do not have to know how to dance waltz or be very rich. You only need a student card, € 27 for a ticket and an elegant outfit – evening dress for ladies and a tuxedo with a bow tie for the gentlemen and you are ready to dive into the glamorous atmosphere of the palace. This is a wonderful tradition that has been preserved in Austria and Hungary to date. It resembles the Yule Ball in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, but the event takes place in late January or early February, and some of the attendees wear traditional Austrian dresses.
6. Celebrate Helloween as a local
The Viennese – from the youngest kid to the eldest man honor the holiday and celebrate the scariest time of the year by masquerading. The preparation begins at the carnival shop Faschingsprinz. There you can find accessories for the most bizarre costume, but get ready for long queues. In the evening, the celebration continues in the Prater, where there is a parade of all the monsters. Bride and bridegroom zombies lead a black carriage under the sound of ringing bells. Maleficent stares from the inside, sitting majestically on her throne, decorated with skulls. A ballet of black swans entertain the audience before the time for a bonfire has come. In a nutshell – it is worth it.
7. Stop by one of the Christmas bazaars in winter
At the end of November, all Viennese shops are covered with Christmas decorations, the air is full of apple and cinnamon aromas, and there is a Christmas market near every key landmark in the city, so do not hesitate – drink mulled wine and try Christmas cookies at a Christmas bazaar if you are in Vienna during winter.
8. Visit Türkenschanzpark in autumn.
Türkenschanzpark is not as popular as other Viennese parks, but I think it is superior to them due to the beauty, privacy and tranquility that it offers to its visitors. The park is very picturesque and charming – especially in autumn. The tree crowns are coloured in all warm tones – red, orange, yellow. Lakes and small waterfalls invite you to stop and think.
9. Visit Hallstat for one day
Hallstat is a fabulous Alpine village, located 3 hours from Vienna by car, nestled between a lake and a mountain range. The nature there is really breathtaking. The most interesting thing, though, is that the village has a collection of painted skulls, decorated with different symbols and the date of death. The sinister ossuary exists due to the fact that the cemetery was too small. The skeletons were exhumed 10 years after the burial, and the loved ones of the dead painted the skulls.
10. Taste a Sacher Cake at the Aida Pastry Shop next to Stephansplatz.
Are you ready to taste an authentic piece of Vienna filled with lots of chocolate and garnished with apricot jam? – This is the emblematic “Sacher” cake – one of the most popular cakes in the world and a trademark of Vienna. The idea of the recipe came to the 16-year-old confectioner Franz Sacher when, in the absence of the main confectioner, the Minister of Foreign Affairs Metternich asked him to prepare a special cake for his guests. “Aida” pastry shop is the perfect place to satisfy your hunger with something typical and sweet like the “Sacher” cake. The location is convenient – near the church “St. Stefan “and the prices are very reasonable. No wonder you can encounter a lot of retired people there.
11. Drink a cup of melange in the coffee house “Central”
The Viennese have turned coffee drinking into a lifestyle and a form of art. The Viennese cafes impress with their sophisticated interior and are officially listed on the UNESCO list of intangible cultural heritage. Café “Central” is among the most prominent representatives of Viennese coffee culture and in the past was a meeting point for celebrities such as Sigmund Freud and Lev Trotsky. The writer Alfred Polgar defines “Central” as a “worldview” and a place where people who want to be alone with themselves need a community. In the middle of the café there is a huge piano and live music is not uncommon. I recommend ordering a melange (a Viennese drink with more milk and less coffee similar to cappuccino) and make yourself comfy, immersing yourself in the spirit of a past era.
Thank you for reaching the end of the publication. If you enjoyed the journey in time and space, you can like or share the post with the buttons below.
Tell me in the comment section which are your favourite things to do in Vienna.
If you are interested in what it is like to be on Erasmus in Vienna, you can watch the following two videos.
Other blog posts on tourism , you can find here – Malta Travel guide: Valetta, Mdina, Comino, Gozo, Marsaxlokk and Ruin bars, SPA and other hidden gems in Budapest.