So, you’ve had a taste of Schönbrunn Palace, a swim on top of the city and enjoyed the heights of Prater Park. If you missed it, check here.
Now for the seriously cultured side of Vienna.
Head first to the Museums Quartier, or MQ as it’s known to the locals. A hub of Museums surround an enclave of cafes and comfy hang out spots within a gorgeous courtyard. This place is always energetic and inspiring.
Official photography from MQ site http://www.mqw.at/de/presse/pressefotos/das-mq/
To fuel the next few hours of looking at art, its imperative to indulge in good coffee. I’m sure that’s why MQ has so many funky cafes, the better to fortify yourself for artistic discoveries!
Artistic Prep time in the Leopold Cafe…good to go!!
The Leopold Museum is currently housing a magnificent exhibition of Schiele & Klimt, two big names of the Vienna Secession art movement. An artist friend of mine (http://sarahmasson.com.au/) was in town recently so it was the perfect excuse to finally check out the famous works.
Klimts art is pretty unavoidable in Vienna – he’s a hometown sensation, born and raised in the 14th District of Vienna. Consequently, all souvenir shops are plastered with cheap reproductions of his most famous paintings.
Pretty sure he never envisioned his work on Tins of Tea
The exhibition in the Leopold is a fascinating exploration of Klimt & Schiele’s lives, well worth spending a few hours exploring. Personally, the Schiele piece ‘Couple Embracing’ was my favourite, with Klimts ‘Life and Death’ a close second. If paintings aren’t your thing , MQ also has museums dedicated to Dance, Architecture, Musical Theatre, Modern Art and even a KinderMuseum for children.
After such a stretch of time inside, you’ll be in need of some sunshine & fresh air – head to the skies my friends. There is a wonderful rooftop cafe about 5 minutes walk from MQ where you can see across the entire Ringstrasse of Vienna. Dachboden comes with views over some of Vienna’s most famous monuments: the Natural & Art History Museums, the Rathaus, the spire of St Stephans, Hundertwassers’ Heating Tower, the WWII era Flak Towers…
Stunning blue skies not guaranteed daily!
The bar itself is very comfy, lots of cosy couches, big communal benches, the terrace is glorious (if you can get a seat) and they serve excellent local cocktails – try the Kaiser Spritz or a Hugo!
The first of many family rooftop reunions – even Dad is stoked!
From here you can round out the cultural day with a wander into the city centre, known as the 1st District. Stop by the historical Hofburg Palace en route for the must-have photo opportunity. The Hofburg was the winter palace and seat of power for the Habsburg dynasty, and the modern day President of Austria still has his residence here. Its grand, imposing and still as stunning today as when the Kaiser was in power
Spot the symbol of Imperial Austria up top – the double headed Eagle holding a crown
Maria Theresa – mother of modern Austria & Marie Antoinette – will give you her benediction on the way by
Then get up close with some statues, fountains and spectacular architecture in the 1st District
...looking at this view all day must be exhausting for him…
The 1st district is full of historical buildings, cobbled streets and ‘Fiaker’, the traditional horse & carriages of Vienna . Wandering up little alleys is the best way to find hidden treasure bookshops, cafe’s and artisan stores. More about my favourite stops to come in a future post! Wrapping up your short weekend in Vienna with a leisurely stroll through the historical centre is the best way to soak up the spirit of a city hundreds of years in the making.
Some friends of mine were asking me about the best way to see Vienna as a tourist. How to find something ‘other than classical music and Schnitzel’. Slightly outraged on my adopted city’s behalf, I replied that there is a huge variety to Vienna, you just need to know where to look! So, to prove the many wonders of this incredible city, I devised a plan for a Weekend in Wien….
Right, it’s summer, you’ve had a long overnight journey and the last remaining days of sunshine are calling you to the water – but you’re traveling, you need see the city too! The perfect solution to this dilemma? Krapfenwaldbad:
Beautiful people guaranteed to be in attendance
Krapfenwaldbad has incredible views over the city of Vienna, being perfectly placed near the top of the Kahlenberg Mountain. There are multiple swimming pools, the main one being nicely deep & cold for swimming . Don’t expect anyone to be doing laps though, this is serious ‘see and be seen’ territory for the young trendy locals. It’s also relaxed enough that you can while away the day in relative peace. There’s an on-site cafe & bar too, so any and all your chill out needs are attended to. Plus, did I mention the crazy awesome views?
That’s all of Vienna at your feet!
Ok, now that you’re relaxed after a day spent poolside, let the tourist activities begin! First, there’s some really excellent gardens to spend a morning roaming around….
That little building up top is a Gloriette, where Emperor’s have breakfast – ‘cos being an Emperor is kickarse!
…which are conveniently attached to the glorious Schönbrunn Palace. Schönbrunn was the Habsburg’s Summer Palace, which, when you see the size of it, tells you just how awesome it was to be Royalty in the Golden Age. The best Apple Strudel & Iced coffee in Vienna can be had in the cafe to the left of the entrance – trust me I have done thorough research on this.
Once Schönbrunn has been conquered, you may find yourself in need of a drink, or just a change of location for further drinks- based activities. The über cool Donaukanal is the perfect location. Wander down the canal steps from the city centre and you’ll find brilliant street art, a huge choice of bars, pop-up shacks selling different food & drink, all nestled beside the gorgeous Danube Canal.
‘Beach’ Bars – bit different to beaches back home!!
Wicked street art along the Kanal paths
Once you’ve satisfied your inner hipster with a few riverside drinks, I’d round out the day at the the historic Prater Park. Prater is a huge nature reserve and set amongst this leafy gloriousness is Vienna’s famous amusement park, home to the worlds oldest Ferris Wheel, built in 1897:
With some slightly younger specimens in front of it.
The park itself has been set up with adults in mind as much as children. Along with loads of awesome rides, there’s gigantic Beer Gardens to meet all your Beer & Pork Knuckle desires. There’s also adult games like Bowling, Mini-Golf, Clubs if you’re very keen and terrifying rides for thrill seekers:
Fear. Pure and simple.
That up there is the Prater Turm, which I absolutely refused to go on, right up until I was strapped in. It was at once terrifying and beautiful – at 117m, this is the world’s highest flying swing. The pay-off you get for braving it is stunning views over all of Vienna. It only gets nauseating on the way down, when, near the bottom, they speed up the pace of the chairs swinging in circles. But if you can stand that for 2 minutes, the view is well worth it!
Super cute old fashioned token to ride!
After all that adrenelin, rounding out the day with a sugar hit is highly reccommended.
Fairy floss and chocolate fruit on a stick = heaven.
Exhausted yet?? Well stay tuned…part two of your awesome Weekend in Wien will be posted next!
This is one of my favourite little spots to drop by on a weekend. A princely little Palace smack in the middle of all the new construction underway for Vienna’s new – and surely gigantic – Bahnhof. They reckon it is currently one of the largest construction sites in Europe, but in pure Austrian style, its extremely efficiently run, as every time we come back there seems to be a new building. But enough of Bahnhof construction sites, lets see the Palace!!!
I am a sucker for a Palace and as far as they go, I think I like this a liiittle bit more than Schonbrunn. That may be sacriliege to say to a Viennese as Schonbrunn Palace is their number 1 tourist site, UNESCO World Heritage listed etc etc, but for me, something about the Belvedere feels more simple. Well, in terms of Baroque architecture ‘simple’:
The very ‘simple’ main gates!!!
Its a gorgeous little spot just for a stroll or picnic in the sunshine. The Palace itself also holds art exhibitions and has a long long association with artists and the Vienna Secessionist movement (modern art radicals in the early 1900’s).
This was also the Palace where Franz Ferdinand (yes, THE Franz Ferdinand, not the 4 british lads who write catchy tunes) lived before he was assasinated and got the ball rolling for WWI. If its good enough for a Prince and heir to the Habsburg Empire….
Not a bad place to drop by of an afternoon. But if I’m honest with you guys, I maaayy use the palace as an excuse to visit my absolute favourite cafe and brunch spot in Vienna – Hotel Daniel
Its basically a hipster kids paradise – funky design, Instagram worthy seating and magazines, indie but not overwhelming soundtrack and cute-but-cool menu’s. I love it sooo much, feels like a little slice of Melbourne in the middle of Vienna!! Right down to the fixie bikes attached to the wall, functional use of wooden pallet’s and inappropriate seating hanging from the roof
They do the best brunch I’ve had in Vienna – which as a brunch aficiando is saying something. I cannot reccommend this highly enough and find any excuse when visitor’s are in town to go and visit it!! They use local ingredients where possible and get their cakes and cookie related treats from a local lady who bakes. Adorable.
I have to give entire credit and many many thanks to the amazing Sushi and Strudel blog for leading me here – http://sushiandstrudel.com/2012/05/10/hotel-daniel/
My advice? Go to see the Palace, but stay to enjoy this little gem of a Bakery!
So yesterday, we turned up to the Tiroler Alm restaurant to get involved in traditional Carnivale-style celebrations for the Fasching. Its basically a celebration before the period of Lent starts (Catholic country, remember?), where people celebrate daily life. What this has evolved into in Vienna is costumes, parades and parties.
Little did we know this would end up with us driving on the back of a tractor, dressed as sheep through the main streets of Vienna, to eventually be on a hand made float for a parade through suburban streets, waving to people and dancing like maniacs. Oh, and I had an Amy Winehouse costume and wig on.
Crazy, crazy day.
This is what I love though, taking a chance to do something entirely mental and the payoff is an experience you can”t even begin to describe to people. Until you have sat on a decorated trailer attached to a tractor, driven down the Mahu, past Schonbrunn and in a parade with hundreds of people waving and cheering at you as you bemusedly dance on by….which should be never, because as if thats even a thing people do. Here though, I get opportunities to do the unreal and it usually ends up in a smoky pub, surrounded by fun loving people, eating good food and drinking schnapps. Come morning and snow is falling, meaning a day in bed is still a weekend well-spent.
The things Vienna can do to you….