Vacation to ViennaVienna – An Oldie but Goodie
What do Vermouth, Hermes, and Maserati have in common? They’re European, they’ve been around a damn long time, and we’re as crazy about them as ever. The same can be said of some European cities. While we’ve been known to get behind the latest and greatest, like Berlin, there’s something about an old-school imperial city that brought you the Viennese Waltz, fostered the talent of Mozart and Beethoven, and encouraged the phallic musings of Freud. Indeed, the Austrian capital melds history and modernity quite nicely.
Good For: Culture-loving singles, couples, and sophisticated families looking to soak in a beautifully historic city. Also, it’s the ultimate place for caffeine addicts. Vienna has arguably the best mélange in the world.
- Sunday Jazz Brunch at Fischer Bräu, a local institution for decades. Besides serving the best home-brewed beer in Vienna, it makes a killer kasknocken mit salat, a cheesy baked pasta that will prime you for the afternoon of beverages.
- Attending one of the famous Viennese Balls if you can time it right; the extravagant Life Ball has attracted everyone from Bill Clinton to Pamela Andersen and Kid Rock. Strange but true.
- Soaking in the café culture, which is the core of Vienna. Yes, you need to head to classics like Demel, Café Central, and Café Griensteidl, but insiders and locals can be found at Kleines Café on the Franziskanerplatz in the first district, where the people-watching is quintessential Vienna.
- Taking in an opera at the Wiener Staatsoper, the main opera house. If this doesn’t spark a love affair with opera, it will begin your lifelong appreciation of it.
- Checking out art at Kunsthistoriches Museum, one of the most architecturally impressive museums in the world, with a collection of beautiful, classic pieces.
- Spending an afternoon or evening at a traditional heurige. Visiting the Viennese vineyards on the outskirts of the city, like Weingut Grassnitzberg, will get you in the mood.
What to Know: Vienna is optimal during the spring and summer, hit or miss during the fall depending upon weather and sunshine, and somewhat dreary in the winter. In the cold months, the primary saving grace is the Christmas markets but be ready to brave sub-zero temperatures. Vienna is a richly cultural city, not a shopping city. It’s more about classic cafés and sweets, and less about trendy dining. But, as with any international city, you will find beautiful restaurants and beautiful people.
Vienna at the fin-de-siècle carried some serious cultural heft, and everyone who was anyone during this time had their favorite coffeehouse, including such luminaries as Klimt, Freud, and Trotsky. These social hubs date back to the 17th-century Ottoman wars, when legend has it that a large booty of camel feed captured in the second Turkish siege turned out instead to be coffee beans – a fortuitous surplus which enabled the opening of the city's first café.
We partnered with the locals and savvy traveler Emily Martin, the Jetsetting Fashionista, to track down the best of what Vienna has to offer. Check out galavante2go.com for Emily’s ultimate itinerary on where to eat, drink, and play in Vienna.