Vienna seems to have it all. Just when I thought I had figured this city out, it throws me for a loop. This is a good thing of course, because it means that no matter what your particular interest is, Vienna has enough to keep you busy and continually curious. I spent three days immersing myself in Viennese culture and I only began to scratch the surface.
Here are 5 Fanatical Ways to Visit Vienna
1) The Downtown Hipster
During my half day tour with my local guide, I was surprised to discover an entire area devoted solely to colorful street art, late-night clubs and hip outdoor bars along the Danube Canal. While the rest of Vienna is significantly more posh, I was surprised that despite the graffiti covered walls, the park and walkways were essentially spotless. During the day people were biking, lazily walking with friends or working on a new graffiti piece.
I’m guessing that vibe changes come nightfall but if you are looking for a more urban-themed Vienna, this is your best bet. Strandbar Herrmann has deckchairs, hammocks, sand and a popular weekend brunch while Tel Aviv Beach serves up Israeli cuisine. For more traditional Viennese dishes, head to Vienna Schützenhaus.
2) The Uninspired Architect
Vienna is comprised of one architectural wonder after another so I can’t imagine anyone leaving here without feeling at least a little inspired. If you pop by the local tourism office you can ask about specific architectural walking tours, which is easily done on your own or in a group. I would recommend starting in the inner city of Vienna, which is where many of the city’s main attractions are located and then branching out from there depending on your interest.
If your prime focus is on Art Nouveau, there are several Gothic and Baroque buildings throughout the city in addition to more modern residential buildings. Everything is in the details, so take your time and try your best not to feel rushed. I really gravitated toward Vienna’s statues, as I found them very emotive.
3) The Whimsical Princess
If you’ve ever dreamed of being a princess (or assumed you always were) you can really feel royal in Vienna. Schönbrunn Palace can probably best be compared to Paris’ Versailles – or at least that’s what the locals say. I chose to stick to the Carriage Museum and spend the rest of my time wandering around the spacious and extremely beautifully designed gardens. There’s also the Hofburg Palace in the city center where you can learn more about Habsburg history.
If you walk toward the top of the hill, you get an amazing birds-eye view of Vienna. The gardens are free to all visitors and tickets to various museums within the grounds range from 10, 50-15,50 Euros for adults depending on which option you choose (subtract 1 Euro for student fares)
4) The Book Worm
I’m a self-proclaimed book worm so I made sure to visit the The Austrian National Library, which is also the largest library in Austria. Ever since watching Beauty & the Beast, I’ve been obsessed with huge libraries, often choosing Bryant Park as my unofficial office when I’m home. The library is located in the Hofburg Palace and requires a small entrance fee.
If you are actually looking to buy a book or two, literary nerds should go straight to Shakespeare & Company Booksellers. This was on my “to-do” list but I actually stumbled upon the shop by mistake. I was lost and then all of a sudden Shakespeare was staring at me in the most peculiar fashion. I’m just kidding but this store does have a lot of books despite its small size.
5) The Art Connoisseur
It’s no surprise that Vienna is an ideal destination for art lovers. A safe bet is to start at the Museums Quarter. There are several options to choose from and their close proximity to each other is extremely convenient. The buildings are designed in a combination of baraque and contemporary architectural styles and the outdoor space becomes a meeting spot for locals throughout the day and especially in the summertime. There are comfortable chairs and several bars and restaurants around the square if you need a break between your museum hopping.
Another major attraction is Belvedere, a complex consisting of two Baroque palaces (Upper and Lower), an Orangery and the Palace Stables. My main motivation for visiting Belvedere was to view Klimt’s The Kiss. I’m usually not blown away by museum exhibitions but I could not stop gazing upon this his famous masterpiece. Something about the colors and the intensity of the lovers’ embrace captivated my emotions so much that I could not move from that spot for a good twenty minutes.
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