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top five guide: vienna, austria

Updated: Sep 7, 2023

View of Sisi Museum Turquoise Dome Building from Street Vienna Austria

There are few places in the world more elegant and downright pleasant than Vienna (or as it is locally known, Wien). Year after year, numerous publications around the world crown Austria's capital city as one of the most livable places on Earth, a fact that can easily be felt even if you are merely visiting.

Indeed, everything about Vienna seems to have a touch of glamour: the pristine streets, classical music, ornate architecture, well-manicured gardens, and literal palaces will almost have you forget that this city also happens to be the birthplace of the hotdog.

Something for all tastes, I suppose.

here are my top five tips for a trip to VIENNA:

Demel Cafe Interior Vienna Austria

1: viennese cafes

I love visiting places with a strong coffee culture, and I've never been somewhere where the culture was quite so luxurious. No question, you must visit a café to experience the unique Viennese coffee scene. They have their own drink names, so instead of a cappuccino, get an Einspänner or Wiener Melange, which will be served to you in a space more elegant than you could imagine (Starbucks could never). There are several cafés like this, though we loved Demel (pictured), where you can sample essential local treats like Sacher torte and apple strudel.

St. Stephen's Cathedral on a Sunny Day Vienna Austria

2: architecture

Vienna is known as one of the best architecture cities in the world, and the best way to explore and appreciate the many impressive buildings around town is by taking a walking tour. I promise that I try not to bring up the free Rick Steves Audio Europe walking tours in every guide, I really do. But that said, they are simply too good not to! His Vienna walking tour is no different, and points out the most important buildings in town like St. Stephen’s Cathedral (pictured), the Opera House, and Michaelerplatz.

Diners during Lunch at Reinthaler's Beisl Vienna Austria

3: reinthaler's beisl

While the elegant surroundings of this city might inspire some to seek out fine dining, I found myself craving a laid back, local dining experience in Vienna. We found it at Reinthaler's Beisl. A beisl is a typical Austrian eatery that embodies all things cozy and traditional. This is a great place to meet locals and fellow travelers alike while bonding over schnitzel, bratwurst, and beer. Expect this place to be busy, so busy in fact that you may even be asked to share your table (which is a good thing!).

Exterior of Opera House in Vienna Austria

4: night at the opera

I am truly ashamed to admit that our tight schedule in Vienna meant we were only able to see the famous opera house from the outside. However, attending a performance here is a bucket list-worthy event and one of the most popular activities to do in Vienna, so I want to recommend it nonetheless. I cannot think of a better or more iconic way to soak in the grandeur of this city! Depending on the show that is playing, decent seats for an evening performance will typically cost about $100 per ticket or more.

Outside of Sisi Museum Vienna Austria

5: museums

Vienna is so full of museums that there is an entire district (MuseumsQuartier) dedicated to them. They cover a great variety of subjects, though most famous is the Kunthistorisches art museum, which includes fascinating artifacts from the royal Hapsburgs. There's also the Sisi Museum (pictured), which houses former Imperial court dining artifacts like extravagant silver, porcelain, and crystal-glass tableware. The Albertina Museum is the largest modern art museum in Central Europe, and the Museum of Natural History is one of the most important natural history museums in the world.

Have a great trip! Feel free to leave a comment with your own favorites. You can also find these recommendations (and more!) in map format by following me on the Out of Office app.


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