Really, what more could you ask for in a city?
When we visited Vienna in February, the weather was absolutely freezing! It’s a good thing there are tons of tempting cafes with great coffee and delicious cakes and snacks on pretty much every block.
After arriving via train from Bratislava (an easy hour and a half trip) we checked into our hotel and headed to the Musikverein for a concert by the Vienna Radio Orchestra. The philharmonic was touring, so we couldn’t see them but the VRO didn’t disappoint, and the music hall was gorgeous.
The next morning we took a free walking tour of the city, and learned the basics about the Habsburg family and the history of Vienna. It was painfully cold but interesting enough that we kept going.
Vienna is famous for having many vineyards within the city boundaries, with pubs and gardens known as heurigers. They are run by individual wineries and serve their own wine and deli food by weight. Some sell hot food restaurant style as well. Since it was winter, many weren’t open and the ones we did visit weren’t crowded but you could tell that in the summer the beautiful gardens would be full. It’s easy to access the neighbourhoods with heurigers via tram from city centre and takes about 35 minutes.
The Haus der Musik was an interesting museum dedicated to exploring the world of sound and to the many composers tied to Vienna. It has rooms dedicated to Mozart, Shubert and Beethoven among others, and lots of interactive exhibits, some of which worked better than others.
The tour of the Vienna State Opera was one of the highlights of the trip and I highly recommend it! The opera house puts on a different show every day during the season (so people can visit Vienna for a week without seeing the same show twice!) and so the elaborate sets and casts are constantly changing, making it a marvel of engineering and hard work that is constantly in flux. We were lucky enough to see backstage while we were there, but the royal boxes and beautiful building make the tour worth it too.
Our final day was spent exploring the Habsburg apartments and Sisi museum, complete with the most elaborate dining sets you’ll ever see and a museum dedicated to the reclusive and beloved Empress Elisabeth, complete with her gymnastic equipment and poetry.
We stayed at Hotel Kartnerhof, which was close to city centre and within walking distance of all the major sights.
Booking ahead for performances is a good idea, although last minute tickets for standing room are very cheap at the opera house and the Musikverein.