3 Days in Vienna

Vienna, City of My Dreams

A Christmas Trip

Slowly but surely, it’s time to think about the end of year festivities and holiday trips. One of my favourite Christmas time get-aways is without any doubt Vienna! During December, Vienna’s streets have the most wonderful Christmas decorations and the many traditional Christmas markets with its holiday decorations and handicrafts will not fail to enchant you.

Join me on a three day trip to Austria’s capital. My tips are also valid for any other time of year but, if I were you, I wouldn’t miss the magic around Christmas.

Vienna is known for its elegant coffee houses, history, art, food and various musical events and it’s not even a 2 hours plane journey away from Luxembourg! I’d suggest, prior to taking the trip, to get yourself the Vienna Card with which you can enjoy many special deals (public transport, entry fees, etc.) while discovering the city. https://www.viennacitycard.at/

Once arrived in Vienna, you have different options to get from the airport to the city:

  • Train – 45 minutes – around 6€
  • CAT (fast train) – 15 minutes – around 14€
  • Limousine service – between 27-30€ – www.flughafen-taxi-service.at
  • Or a taxi.

When visiting Vienna, I like to use AirBNB to find a nice place to stay. I always try to get something around the Opera – I love that part of the city.  Make sure to stay in the city centre if you don’t want to use the metro too much!

 

Off we go

Day 1

I recommend starting your Vienna trip at one of the most iconic spots in town: Schönbrunn Palace. (Use Tram 60 or U40 to get there) To avoid queues, make sure to book your ticket online as the place is always very crowded. I love the Imperial Tour (where you’ll visit 22 rooms) after which I also like to enjoy a coffee and the original Vienna Apple Strudel at Café Residenz in the Castle. (Reservation suggested here as well).

In Vienna there are many traditional methods of preparing coffee, all of which you can enjoy at their coffee houses and with their unique names, they reveal how beloved they are. With pride, any waiter will tell you what a Franciscan is and what makes a Salon Einspänner special. Perhaps, while at the summer residence of the Habsburgs, you feel a little bit fancy and might want to try out a Sisi or an emperor Franz Joseph coffee?

At the Café Residenz, take the opportunity to assist to the unique live Strudel Show where, every hour, the confectioners show off their skills. I can also highly suggest the Imperial breakfast at Café Gloriette, at one of Austria’s most impressive coffeehouses, a few steps uphill behind the castle. (book at least 4 weeks in advance) While the days of the monarchy may be long gone, Austro-Hungarian splendour is still clearly palpable here.

After sightseeing and coffee, it’s time to get back to the city centre, to go shopping.

The longest shopping street and pedestrian zone in Vienna is called Mariahilferstraße. One of my favourite shops is Partyboxes Flagshipstore on number 45, where you can find everything to host a perfect party (decorations, invitations…). From the Mariahilferstraße I love to walk – via Stiftgasse- to Spittelberg, where you can find many romantic little corners, bistros and restaurants. On my way up I always stop at http://www.decoo.at/, where you can find gifts, inspiration and more. The choice is always hard, there are so many beautiful things! To the other side of the Mariahilferstraße, you can easily walk to Naschmarkt, the most famous market in the city! A tour here will immerse you into a world rich with scents, colours, flavours and of course history. As you explore the market, you will have the opportunity to taste food from all over the world: try olives from Greece and Spain, cheese from Switzerland, curry from India, pepper from Brazil, salami from Italy, wine from Austria and so much more.

If you don’t feel like a shopping spree, you can always continue to the Museumsquartier when coming from Schönbrunn. As I am not a big museum person, I prefer to explore the shops of a city.

At the end of my article, I’m giving you a few restaurant suggestions, so you have an idea of where to end your first day. 🙂

Day 2

I love to have breakfast at Sacher Eck, which spreads over two floors and offers a magnificent view over the Philharmonikerstraße leading to the Vienna State Opera.

From here, I suggest you go and take a glimpse behind the scenes of the world’s largest repertoire theatre – the State Opera – where you can discover many things that remain hidden from the evening audience. On this 40-minute tour, you will learn many interesting facts about the building’s history, its architecture and how an opera house is run. To me, the most stunning piece of information given on the tour was how the Opera is changed to a gorgeous Ball room for the Vienna Opera Ball.

Next, we walk along the Burggarten to Albertina museum in the Innere Stadt (First District), where you can visit the largest and most important print rooms in the world with approximately 65,000 drawings and around 1 million old master prints, as well as more modern graphic works, photographs and architectural drawings. From here, I prefer to continue to Volksgarten, a park famous for its beautiful rose gardens with over 3,000 rose bushes of about 400 different rose cultivars. From here, it is only a 600m walk to one of the traditional Vienna Christmas markets. The surrounding palaces give it a certain ‘tucked away feeling’ and the narrow aisles create a very cosy atmosphere. It’s a great place to take a quick lunch.

Next we’re passing by one of my favourite Cafés, Café Central, and continue towards the tremendous Parliament, where the rich and artistic details fascinate its visitors.

Now from here you will soon be able to see the Rathauspark, decorated with fairy tale lighting in the trees and figures around. It’s THE Christmasmarket in Vienna, with, in the background, the gothic City Hall and its. The windows of the splendid building hold the 24 numbers of the advent calendar. Just on the opposite side, is the Burgtheater, all in white, one of Europe’s largest and oldest theatres. Take some time to discover the market and maybe buy a gift for your loved ones at home. I love to end my day at Café Landtmann, next to the theatre. It is not just any old coffee house, it is the most elegant one dating back to 1831, when Franz Landtmann opened this place. I come here mostly around 7.30pm for dinner as I highly enjoy the soft live piano tunes they offer at night.

We’re ready for our last day!

Day 3

After breakfast, we’re starting off our day by going to the Winter Riding School at Hofburg Palace, where I got a ticket to see the morning performance of the Lippizzans at the Spanish Riding School: the Ballet of the White Stallions. The 1-hour show is underlined with classical Viennese music which is perfect for a slow start into the day. The show is magical! After having a coffee at the Café Hofburg, you can visit the Empress Elisabeth’s Apartments. The Hofburg lies at the centre of Vienna and the entrance to the museums is directly below the great copper dome called the Michaelerkuppel, reached via the Michaelertor, the gate on the north-eastern side of the palace on Michaelerplatz.

For all the gourmet lovers out there: make sure to stop further down this street at Julius Meinl am Graben, a culinary masterpiece of fine arts and Austria’s first address for Gourmets. Are you looking for caviar or white truffles for your risotto? You would like to have a delicious coffee in an up-scale atmosphere? With over 400 cheeses and finest chocolates, the three-story gourmet shopping mall invites you to discover flavours from all over the world.

If you’d like to see Vienna from above, then I can recommend lunch at Steffl’s Skybar. It’s a bar/restaurant on the 7th floor of the Steffl shopping mall, in which you find high-end designer shops, a place where I love to get lost.

In between all the shops in this street you can find the St Stephens Cathedral! It’s beautiful! This is also the part of the city where Vienna hosts it’s New Year’s eve festivities, with, very year, around 750.000 people attending.

If you’re visiting Vienna in spring or summer, a boat tour on the Danube, a bike tour on the Danube island, a visit at the amusement park Prater with the big Ferries wheel, or one of the many free summer concerts of the Vienna Philharmonians at Schönbrunn Palace, should definetely be on your to-do list as well! At any time of year, Vienna is always a good idea!

As promised, here’s a list of my favourite restaurants in Vienna! Make sure to book a table in advance, they’re very busy.

I’d love to hear from your Vienna adventures! Have fun and enjoy the Christmas magic.

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Viviane

Viviane

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