The City of Music
When you think of ballroom dancing, in particular the waltz, it brings with it a certain bit of prestige. It has a feeling of class and sophistication, a certain elegance and romance at the same time. As you walk the streets of Vienna, it will all make great sense when you discover the waltz was born here. The entire city has the exact same feeling and as you float down the cobblestone streets admiring the stunning buildings it almost feels like there’s classical music following you around all day long.
The truth is, we really didn’t know what to expect in Vienna, and we planned to only use it as a stop over city. We were driving from Italy (for Italy Travels click HERE) up to Poland, and since we were still traveling with our Europe dwelling cousins (for more backstory of our local cousin tour guides click HERE), they suggested Vienna to break up the drive. It didn’t take us long to realize that Vienna was more than just a stop over and ended up being one of our favorite parts of our summer in Europe. The city has such an elegance about it and is so classy and picturesque that it was hard to remember a city that could compare. Considering we were in Rome only a short time ago, that should give you an idea of how amazing Vienna is.
Vienna is known as the City of Music for many reasons more than the creation of the Waltz. Vienna has a long, rich history of classical music and boasts that more famous composers have lived here than any other city. Two of the more famous and influential were Mozart and Beethoven and both are well represented with statues and museums. Much of their most famous work including symphonies, operas, and many other compositions were created during their time in Vienna. Mozart even performed at the Imperial Palace of Vienna when he was 6 years old. On a partially related note… If you’re looking for a good dinner while in the city center, the Mozart Cafe was a great stop.
Another musical attribute of Vienna is the never ending festivals and outdoor concerts. All year long they have festivals honoring many different genres from classical and jazz, to rock and dance music. Add live music to the overwhelming fun of an authentic Austrian biergarten, and you can’t go wrong. We happened upon a film festival while we were in town that had many live music performers, all types of different foods, and tons of beers in large mugs. It was a great way to enjoy being outdoors on a beautiful late summer day.
After our day at the festival we decided to extend our good times into the evening so we took a walk along the Danube River in route to a couple of Vienna’s well known attractions. The end destinations were the famous Wiener Riesenrad ferris wheel, and the monstrous 1000+ person seat Biergarten called Schweizerhaus.
During our walk we were treated to some beautiful scenery and an amazing sunset. And to think we almost took an uber from the hotel and missed all of it.
When we finally arrived at Schweizerhaus, it was packed. All of their seats, both inside and out were full, but amazingly when we walked up, a table was just leaving so we were able to get right in. At first we thought we had the best luck in the world, but after observing their operation for the hour that we were there, we came to the conclusion that they were just very good. Everything they did was extremely efficient and everyone there was working terribly hard. It was really impressive. If you ever want to see a beer assembly line that cranks out thousands of drafts per hour or if you have any interest in eating a 3 pound pork knuckle, this is the place for you.
After some schnitzels and beers, we walked through the adjacent Prater Amusement Park and tried our luck with some typical fair games like shooting stuff and racing go carts. We also enjoyed a couple rides and it was an overall enjoyable night.
Must Do’s in Vienna
1. Horse Drawn Carriage– instead of viewing the beautiful architecture, museums, and palaces in Vienna by foot, a popular (and iconic) way to cover the same ground is by horse and carriage (known as fiaker). There are multiple places around the city where you can hail a ride and it offers a cozy, romantic way to enjoy a private tour of some of Vienna’s most popular sites. This service has been an important part of Austria’s history dating back to at least the early 1700’s.
2. Walk to the top of St. Stephen’s Cathedral- St. Stephen’s Cathedral is a Romanesque, Gothic structure that dominates the Viennese skyline. It is the most recognizable and cherished building in the city and is storied to be the place when the famous composer, Ludwig Van Beethoven realized he was completely deaf. He looked up at the Cathedral and watched the birds fly from the towers as the bells were ringing, but could not hear any bells.
Walking up the tower requires 4 Euros and 343 narrow steps, but the views of the city in every direction from the top are breathtaking.
Although our initial intention for this stop was only to break up our drive, it turned out to be way more than just a stop over. Vienna was a complete surprise for us, but it definitely captured our hearts.