Saturday, January 18, 2020

Vienna, Austria Travel Guide

The following are beauty posts inspired from my visit to Vienna, Austria:

Austria is an ideal vacation destination for families. Direct flights from the US to Vienna make it convenient, and Austria's child-friendly vibe provides numerous opportunities for introducing your kids to European culture and history.

Vienna’s history dates back to the first post-Christian century when the Romans established the military camp Vindobona. Today’s cityscape is characterized by the abundance of baroque buildings created mostly under the rule of Empress Maria Theresia and Emperor Franz Joseph who was largely responsible for the monumental architecture round the Ringstraße.

Vienna owes much of its international fame to the many celebrated composers who lived and worked here including Strauß, Mozart, Beethoven and Haydn. The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra is one of the world’s best, the Staatsoper one of the world’s leading opera houses, the Vienna Boys’ Choir one the world’s most famous.

In Vienna, traditional coffee houses, rustic wine taverns and the beloved sausage stand (Wuerstelstand) exist alongside with top restaurants and shops, time-honored events alternate with internationally-acclaimed extravaganzas (Life Ball) to create a unique and very special ambiance. Another special feature of Vienna are its many greenspace and recreational areas such as the Wienerwald, the Prater and the Donauinsel. Vienna has over 800 bridges- twice as many as Venice, Italy. And there is nothing more special than a visit to Vienna during Christmas to see all of the Christmas markets and the city come to life.

Vienna’s spring water flows from the drinking fountains! Simply turn on the tap and enjoy mountain spring water? It's possible in Vienna. Vienna’s water flows from the mountain springs in the Styrian/Lower Austrian Alps, reaching the Austrian capital city 36 hours later, without pumps and under the strictest regulations. It’s not for nothing that Vienna is the best city in the world to live in!

Vienna can be proud of its tap water. After all, the city is supplied with 400,000 m3 of fresh spring water daily from two mountain spring pipelines from the areas around Schneeberg, Rax, Schneealpe and Hochschwab. A positive side-effect of this is that on its way to Vienna, the water flows through hydroelectric power stations, which generates 65 million kilowatt hours of power, or enough for a small town. Vienna is the first city in the world to place the "White Gold" under the protection of the constitution. The city's 1,000 or so drinking fountains are not the only place to freshen up on hot summer days. Among them is also a number of mobile drinking fountains, which are connected to hydrants in heavily frequented locations. At the press of a button, you can enjoy not only a powerful slug of fresh spring water from the hills but also a cooling water spray.

All around is the water tower water playground, at 15,000 m² the largest water playground in Europe. The unique park landscape offers waterfalls, streams, ponds, bridges and pure relaxation on its extensive lawns. A water adventure path symbolizes and explains the journey of Viennese water from the mountains direct to Vienna!

Public spring water fountains

How about a picnic in a scenic park?
Great picnic locations

Does a picnic in an idyllic meadow sound great? You should head to the Vienna Prater. The many sunbathing lawns invite you to linger; secluded walks guarantee a romantic atmosphere. You can also rent a pedal boat and enjoy your snack on the waters of the Heustadlwasser in the Prater.

But in Vienna you can also picnic in the center of the city: there are even free deck chairs in the Sigmund-Freud-Park between the university and the Votive Church in the summer! Those who prefer an imperial ambiance should make an excursion to the Burggarten, where a meadow has been opened to picnickers. There is also the Baroque Augarten.

Cobenzl, located above Grinzing,is recommended for a picnic with a view of Vienna. Here you will find a farm that promises relaxation and fun especially for children. The Himmelwiese is just a short walk away, which rewards you not only with a beautiful panorama of Vienna, but also entices you with "talking trees" in the "Life Tree Circle" and with the Sisi Chapel. Below, you can follow in the footsteps of Sigmund Freud in the Bellevuewiese. The famous Viennese founder of psychoanalysis is said to have spent a lot of time here. A memorial stone serves to remember him.

*Fact: Did you know that the picnic originates from France? Nobility first celebrated food in the open at the beginning of the 18th century. Another fun fact: I come from a noble French family! 

If you prefer something a little more comfortable, you can order a ready-made picnic basket and find yourself a cozy spot outdoors. The restaurant "La Crêperie" puts together picnic baskets in various assortments and invites you to a rowboat ride on the Old Danube. At Restaurant Hermes in the Hermesvilla, guests can choose from a variety of basket variations and then retreat for a cozy picnic in the Lainz Game Reserve. Those who prefer a picnic in a central location should collect their picnic basket (choice of three varieties) including picnic blanket from Palais Coburg. Those who prefer to wait for their picnic basket in the park would do best to have it delivered directly by Vienic and put together a "bag" according to their wishes - the picnic blanket and basket, drinking glasses and cutlery can even be kept afterwards. For a picnic in the Prater, pick up one of the hearty to vegan organic enjoyment packs from Kolariks Luftburg. Blanket, tableware and drinks are included.
 Caution: Orders should ideally be placed with all providers 24 hours in advance.

Vienna Sausages:
Need something quicker than a picnic? How about a visit to a traditional Hot Dog stand?
New creations, coupled with exceptional variety and top quality have revived the Viennese sausage-eating traditions. Whether at the sausage stand on Hoher Markt late at night or at the sausage stand in imperial tradition. “Sweet (süss) or spicy (scharf)?” is the standard question you will get asked when ordering from a Viennese hot dog stand. This has nothing to do with making a choice between Sachertorte or Käsekrainer, but refers to your mustard preference – whether the mild sweet Kremser or spicy hot Estragon. Incidentally, the Käsekrainer is an Austrian invention and a traditional classic. It is a lightly smoked pork sausage with 10-20% cheese content.

The city’s hot dog stands – mostly small sidewalk kiosks – sell not only hot dogs but also wieners, Käsekrainer and fried sausage, and as well as a whole range of culinary surprises. They are complemented by an impressive variety of beverages from raspberry pop to specialty beers.

One of the popular stands is the legendary “Würstelstand am Hohen Markt” located on a traffic island in the heart of Vienna’s old city. During the day it is the ideal place to grab a quick snack while shopping or sightseeing. However, it owes its cult status to its late night opening hours and the diversity of its night owl clientele. It is nothing unusual for bankers to be seen eating shoulder-to-shoulder with punks.

The Bitzinger sausage stands at Albertinaplatz and next to the Giant Ferries Wheel are widely held to be the best in Vienna. Choose between a delicious Bosna, hot dog or Käsekrainer and a range of traditional side orders. Draft beer, bottled wine or champagne are also on.

The "sharpest" sausage stand in the city is called "Zum scharfen Rene". The name says it all. The fine selection of sausages here are served with the sharpest chili mixtures and an award-winning, home-made curry sauce.
Dine like an emperor at the Kaiserzeit Sausage Stand. In addition to the traditional offering of sausages, including the multi-award winning Blunzn (blood sausage), there are also local delicacies such as goulash soup and Altwiener Suppentopf, which you wouldn’t normally expect to find at a sausage stand.

Wiener Prater: The Wiener Prater is a large public park in Vienna's 2nd district (Leopoldstadt). If people talk about the Wiener Parter they often mean the "Wurstelprater". The so called "Wurstelprater" is the oldest amusement park in the world. But the Wiener Prater consists of more: the Hauptallee (the main alley), the Krieau and the Praterstadium (Ernst Happel Stadium) belong to the area of the "Wiener Prater". The Prater was firstly mentioned in a document in 1162 under the reign of emperor Friedrich I. In 1766 emperor Josef the II. donated the area to the people of Vienna. From this point on the Prater was accessible for everyone. Following to that bowling alleys, cinemas, Cafés and merry-go-rounds were created. Still the "Wiener Prater" and the "Wurstelprater" are open 24 hours each day - 7 days a week. Entrance is free of charge. Attractions, restaurant businesses, arcade shops and other leisure facilities are all part of the Wurstelprater.
In winter, the Jesuitenwiese meadow in Vienna’s Prater becomes a big playground. A snow-making machine provides enough of the white stuff for a proper snowball fight. In addition to cross-country trails, there is also a tobogganing hill, which was created from the ruins of houses bombed during the Second World War.

Check out my post on the World's Oldest Amusement park here in Vienna.

The Natural History Museum of Austria:  The history of the earth and the breathtaking variety of nature can be practically experienced due to 20 million objects: From insects to gemstones and minerals and pterodactyls, the Habsburgs united everything under the roof of this museum near the Imperial Palace. Numerous taxidermy specimens of animals that are either extinct or threatened with extinction make the collection all the more valuable. The showpiece of the collection is the 29,500 year-old and only eleven centimeter tall "Venus von Willendorf", which was found in the Wachau in Lower Austria in 1908. This masterpiece of Early Stone Age sculpture is one of the most famous archaeological discoveries in the world and is presented in the so-called 'Venus Cabinet' alongside the 36,000 year-old Statuette von Stratzing ("Fanny"), as befits its status. Right next door are the prehistoric collection newly opened in 2015 and the 'Gold Cabinet' with objects from across five millennia. In the digital planetarium, with its approx. 8.5 meter-diameter inner dome and state-of-the-art Fulldome technology, live presentations of various topics in the fields of astronomy, biology, prehistory and the deep sea are offered several times daily.

The dinosaur hall presents the skeletons and remains of the gigantic prehistoric animals with a lifelike allosaurus that moves and makes terrifying noises. The model was built for the Natural History Museum on the basis of the latest scientific findings. The world's first living model of a bird of terror in the original size and new exhibits of a fascinating horned dinosaur skull supplement the impressive permanent exhibition. The principal element of the hall is a central platform where the large skeletons of Diplodocus, Allosaurus and Iguanodon can be viewed from all sides. The dinosaur podium is animated by the Animatronics-model of an Allosaurus, correlating with the skeleton cast of a 150-million-year-old Allosaurus fragilis from Utah. Measuring more than 6 m, the very realistic model represents a “youngster“ of this most dangerous predator of late Jurassic.
A full-size Pteranodon model with a wingspan of 7 m dominates the air space of the hall. Further highlights of the exhibition are the skeleton of Archelon ischyros - the largest turtle ever, a female ichthyosaur with fossil embryos and several pterosaur-skeletons.

The  exhibition design conveys the most important advances of dinosaurs and related reptiles. Thus, the reptiles owe their sudden bloom to an ingenious invention: the egg with its protective shell, which fully provides the embryos with all necessary nutrients. Another main theme is feathering. Modern research has revealed that also many  dinosaurs were feathered - a feature that they had invented independently of one another. A full-size model of a feathered Deinonychus indicates just how much the image of these reptiles has changed. In the Jurassic, one branch of dinosaurs evolved into birds. This actually makes the hummingbird the smallest surviving dinosaur.

Also worth seeing is the biggest and oldest collection of meteorites in the world in the Meteorite Room. 1,100 rocks that "fell from the sky" can be seen there. And with the aid of a simulator, a power meteorite strike can be staged on the screen in 3D. The famous large public displays in halls 1-5 show aesthetic and scientifically valuable minerals, ores, gemstones, rocks as well as meteorites and impactites (including tektites) collected over more than 500 years. All objects are arranged in a systematic way and new objects are added each year.

Discover the valuable equipment of Schönbrunn Palace at the Google Art Project Schönbrunn. Here you can look at paintings, objects and statues in high-resolution quality:

*St. Stephens Cathedral: Building works on the 137 m cathedral started in 1137. Today, it is known as one of the world’s ten highest churches. Visit St. Stephen’s Cathedral and you’ll be standing in the same church in which Joseph Haydn sang as a choir boy, and in which Mozart was married in 1782.
descend into its catacombs, The underground burial place contains the mausoleum of the bishops, the tombs of Duke Rudolph the Founder and other members of the Habsburg family, and 56 urns with the intestines of the Habsburgs buried between 1650 and the 19th century in the Imperial Burial Vault.
and climb its lofty towers, Climb the 343 steps of the tight spiral staircase that leads up to the watchman's lookout 246 feet above street level. The lookout was once used as a fire warden's station and observation point for the defense of the then-walled city. The climb is well worth it: Once at the top, you’ll enjoy the finest view over the Old Town in all of Vienna.

Other sights I recommend:

*Rathausplatz: The famous city square is the picturesque setting for many events throughout the year, among them the famous Lifeball, Christmas market and bike festival.

*Kunsthistorisches Museum: Vienna’s renowned art museum awaits you with some of the world’s most awe-inspiring art treasures.

*Belvedere: The Belvedere comprises the Lower Belvedere, which used to be the summer residence of Prince Eugene, and the Upper Belvedere complex built between 1721 and 1724. Today, the palace houses art exhibitions from the likes of Gustav Klimt.

*The Spanish Riding School

*Naschmarkt: With its delicacies and spices

from all over the world, Vienna’s most famous market is a hotspot for gourmets and foodies. Looking for vintage vinyl, artisanal vinegar, and some sauerkraut? Vienna's Naschmarkt is home to a flea-market on Saturdays and an eclectic farmers' market throughout the week. It's the city's most famous open-air bazaar.

*Kutschkermarkt: street markets in Vienna, focuses on providing organic produce and local food to the neighborhood. If you come on a Saturday morning you will rub elbows with Viennese who stock up on farm-fresh groceries. Stop in at Cafe Himmelbau a cute, sun-soaked Kaffeehaus with Insta-worthy cakes.

*The Liechtenstein Garden Palace: gorgeous, opulent interiors and a manicured park - the only thing missing are the throngs of visitors you'll find at Schönbrunn. This is because Liechtenstein Garden Palace is privately owned by the Princely Family of Liechtenstein (yes, those Liechtensteins) and only open for public tours twice a month. Want the palace to yourself? You can arrange a private tour in advance.

*Austrian National Library: Built in the 18th century, this historic library holds 7.4 million volumes, which makes it Austria's largest. Head to the palatial State Hall for the main event: Leather-bound books line the two-story shelves and ceiling frescoes radiate across the cupola vault. This breathtaking Baroque architecture is what makes the Austrian National Library a great below-the-radar alternative to the ornate Kunsthistorisches Museum. Both are monumental buildings, filled to the brim with treasures from the Habsburg Empire.

For families:

Zoom Children's Museum 

Aqua Terra Zoo

Mozart for Kids

Toboggan Run/Alpine Slide

I also stumbled upon an amazing shopping find! But you have to keep it a secret. Only locals, and those who pay out lots of cash for Louis Vuitton's city guide books, know of this place.
Flo Vintage - Nostalgic fashion : “A lust for fashion means wearing it whenever the desire grabs you,” says shop owner Ingrid Raab. Aside from this, when you shop here you are not only investing in quality, you are investing in value: These unique pieces have monetary value.
One can find the most exiting, exquisite and original pieces from 1880–1980, such as pearl-embroidered dresses of the Art-Nouveau or the Charleston period (1920), «The little black Dress» a la Coco Chanel and Audrey Hepburn as well as a large variety of the «New Look» of the 50’s and the 60’s style of Jackie O. In the category of the 70’s and 80’s creations of top-designers from A (Armani) – Z (Zegna) and even more, will get your heart bumping. Of course you will also find all the necessary accessories such as fine lingerie, delicate lik stockings, nylons, Exquisite shoes and hats, handbags and all the matching adornments and jewelry, according to the various Periods as well as exclusive bathing suites from 1920–1970. She keeps a stock of about 5,000 dresses! Regulars at the store are celebrities from the field of art, theater, music, film and show-biz and even top-designers as Marc Jacobs ( for Louis Vuitton, the most important company for luxury, worldwide ), also Helmut Lang, Stella McCartney, Dries from Noten, Donna Karan, Escada, Strenesse …The famous Louis Vuitton City Guide praises FLO:

«This place is heaven for vintage fans … discerning travelers will find the best of everything …»
FLO Vintage is one of three top addresses worldwide, where designers like Karl Lagerfeld or Stella McCartney personally acquire fashion. Long before international celebrities like Julia Roberts and Reese Witherspoon started showing up at the Oscars wearing vintage fashion, Mrs. Raab understood that quality design was immune to aging. In the cozy store in the famous Viennese art-district «Freihausviertel» – close to the Naschmarkt – one can find the most exiting, exquisite and original pieces from 1880 to 1980, exclusively originals of finest quality.

Other noteworthy stores to visit; Bananas and Gabarage

For a full list of Vienna sights to choose from, visit HERE.

Any trip to Vienna, I highly recommend that you get Vienna City Card. The amount of benefits you receive are insane for any city! Ont top of the typical transportation it gets you, in Vienna, you also get food discounts and free wine,  tons of sightseeing discounts, tours, shopping, sports,
Buy your Vienna City Card in the app for total convenience; you can find in in the app store HERE.

Here is a coloring page of Sisi for your children to get ready for the trip.

To find hotels, apartments, bed and breakfasts and hostels in Vienna, click here. 

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