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Janie's Perfect Weekend in Vienna

Vienna - the cosmopolitan city center of the Old European Habsburg empire. Vienna is known for classical music, fancy coffeehouses, imperial palaces and buildings, and world-renowned art galleries.

Prater Riesenrad

It also boasts the Prater, a large forest and amusement park open to the public year round. The Prater dates back to 1766, when Emperor Joseph II opened the park to the public (previously used as a royal hunting ground). The Prater is a must when visiting Vienna.


If I were to go back to Vienna, this would be my perfect weekend:


Friday:

Morning - Breakfast at Cafe Central (world famous - be ready for a line!) or make a reservation at Cafe Sperl. Put your phone down, bring a book, or grab a newspaper that the cafe has ready for you. Vienna coffeehouses have been the gathering spot for artists, politicians, and celebrities for centuries. Sink into the warm velvety seats and admire the crystal chandeliers while sipping a Melange (a Viennese take on a cappuccino).

Belvedere

Day - Visit the Albertina or Belvedere Palace and Museum! The Habsburgs commissioned and collected a great portion of Renaissance and Baroque art. Vienna has numerous art museums, but these two are my favorites. Another bonus of Vienna - it is very walkable, but the public transportation (the Ubahn) is very clean, safe, and easy to navigate. Both museums boast large Secession collections too (the Secession was an avant garde art movement that started in Vienna at the turn of the century).


Wiener Schnitzel!

Night - Eat at a traditional Viennese restaurant and order a Wiener Schnitzel of course. Order a round of Schnapps for the table after dinner - drink them with apfelstrüdel. The Weiss Rauchfänger in the 1st district is my favorite.


If you’re feeling like the night might take you elsewhere after dinner - rest up before going out. Like German clubs, Austrian clubs do not get crowded until 2 AM. If you’re feeling more of a bar vibe after dinner - go to the Bermuda Triangle, which is just a few streets from the city center (Stephansplatz). There are plenty of bars and dance clubs - it’s easy to get lost there if you know what I mean.


Saturday:

Donau / Danube River

Depending on the weather, take a dip in the Danube! Go to the Donau Insel (the Danube Island) and enjoy brunch alongside the infamous European river. There are plenty of beach bars as well (not to be confused with the canal clubs, which are along the Donau Canal). Enjoy the morning or afternoon here. Vienna is such a unique European capital because you can be deep within the woods of the Prater or swimming in the Danube River all within the city limits.

Walking through the gardens of Schönbrunn

Another must-do daytime excursion is to visit Schönbrunn. This was the summer palace for the imperial family. Schönbrunn was built to rival Versailles; it has the oldest zoo in the world and gardens galore. Spend some time touring the palace and the grounds. You can take the Ubahn straight to it from the city center.


Afterwards, hop back on the Ubahn to hike to a Heuriger (if visiting May - fall)! These are wine taverns in vineyards in the Viennese hills. Make sure to drink some young Grüner Vertliner or Riesling. Austria has an ideal climate for growing green grapes, but there usually are a few lighter reds available too. Watch the sunset over the Viennese hills, then make your way down and back to city - all without the need to uber or bolt!


For specific directions to Heuriger Wieninger in the 21st district (Vienna has 23): Stammersdorfer Strasse 78, 1210 - take streetcar 31 to the end of the station then walk down Stammersdorfer Strasse and walk through the vineyards.


Evening-

View of Stephensdom after dinner at Do & Co

For a more upscale, yet still modern and hip vibe, head to Do & Co (across from Stephansdom) or Spelunke. Afterwards (or before!), check out to Everybody’s Darling or the Chapel (a speakeasy in the 5th district). If you want to keep the party alive afterwards, go to Volksgarten or the O Club (below the Opera!!) Each of these establishments have strict dress codes so make sure to Google that before you go.


If you are lucky enough to be in Vienna during Ball Season (mainly November - February), go to a ball! Many are open to the public, but you must purchase tickets beforehand. Also, if you have the chance to see an opera or a traditional concert, go!! There are many opera houses just within the 1st district of Vienna. Act like a prince or princess for the weekend - after all, you are in the imperial capital city! Make sure to walk around Vienna and see the stunning Catholic churches. Vienna is still very Catholic and these churches are even more impressive than the art museums in my opinion (though slightly biased).

If you’re in Vienna in November or December, go to the Christmas markets, especially the one in front of the Rathaus or in the 5th district (Am Spittelberg). There are plenty of markets along the Ringstrasse. Get a mug of Glühwein and pick out handmade gifts for all of your loved ones.

Rathaus Christkindlmarkt

Sunday-

Before you depart, go to High Mass at 11 AM at Augustinerkirche (the imperial church) or at St. Stephen’s/Stephensdom. You cannot leave Vienna without visiting these two. The Vienna City Choir sings are the 11 AM Mass at Augustinerkirche and it is always packed - with parishioners and visitors alike.

Inside Stephensdom

Vienna should be on everyone’s European bucket list. The city is very clean and safe; it offers so many things that packing everything into a weekend is even too short of a stay. I never had an issue with the language barrier as most everyone speaks English fluently. Be ready to spend slightly more money than you would in other cities, but it is still very doable on a college budget.


Soak up the history and keep those eyes up to admire the architecture and look for the hills (that are filled with The Sound of Music… even though the Von Trapps lived in Salzburg).


- Janie


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