Where We Stayed
This hotel had a grand feel about it. You got to experience a part of Vienna’s rich heritage at Hilton Vienna Plaza. With a 1920s Art Deco flair, the hotel offers the perfect combination of historical splendor and modern comfort. They are located on the famous Ringstrasse – home to Vienna’s most important sites and architectural masterpieces – the State Opera, Art History Museum, City Hall, the Burgtheater and Vienna Stock Exchange. The rooms and the bathroom were large which is not typically found in European hotels. We booked a King Plaza Executive Room and they added another bed to accommodate the 3 of us.
Where We Ate
One of our many food stops was actually at the hotel. Like most hotels, they have a restaurant in the lobby that offers both French and Austrian cuisine (Émile). We ate here for dinner one evening.
What We Ordered
- Viennese Specialties 3-Course Menu
- Beef Consommé Root Vegetables and Beef Croutons
- Wiener Schnitzel (Escalope of Veal with Potato Salad)
- Crème Brûlée with Bourbon Vanilla and Stewed Berries
- Émile’s Trio of Beef Burgers with French Fries
Our first stop after we checked in to the hotel was a short walk down the street to Cafe Landtmann (est. 1873) and is considered Vienna’s most elegant café.
What We Ordered
- French Press Coffee
- Apple Strudel with Vanilla Sauce (the best in the city)!
- Haus Frühstück (House Breakfast)
We felt the need to try coffee & strudel or cake a number of places. Our next stop was at L. Heiner for a slice of chocolate cake and of course, more coffee.
What We Ordered
- Häferlkaffee (Coffee)
- Haustorte Stk. (Chocolate Cake)
- Verlängerter Schwarz (basically an Americano)
One quick side-note here: When we were in Vienna, it was raining and cold so we stopped for a hot beverage frequently. One of those stops was a local Starbucks for a little taste of home!
As the name suggests, Cafe Central is the real centre of Vienna. The entrance to this coffee and cake lovers’ paradise is on the corner of Herrengasse and Strauchgasse in the first district. It has to be said that over coffee, cake and the odd cigar, some of the greatest poets, philosophers and storytellers the world has ever seen got together in Vienna’s most attractive coffeehouse, Café Central (est. 1876).
What We Ordered
- Verlängerter (Espresso infused with hot water; with or without cream)
- Kaffee Verkehrt (Latte Macchiato; A small espresso with lots of milk)
- Milchrahmstrudel (Sweet Curd Cheese Strudel with Vanilla Sauce)
- Wiener Apfelstrudel (Viennese Apple Strudel with Vanilla Sauce or Ice Cream)
- Mohr im Hemd mit Vanilleeis (Warm Chocolate Cake “Viennese-style” with Vanilla Ice Cream)
The next place we tried was Leupold Das Wiener Restaurant. We ate dinner here and was within walking distance from the hotel.
What We Ordered
- Tafelspitz (simply boiled beef with a variety of root vegetables, delicious broth, served with roasted potatoes, horseradish and chives sauce)
- Schnitzel vom Kalb serviert mit Erdäpfelsalat (Schnitzel of veal served with potato salad)
- Original Leupold´s Gulyassuppe (Goulash Soup; A thicker stew with bigger meat chunks ladled over wide egg noodles or rice)
- Verlängerter (coffee)
- Melange is the more refined version of the mélange with milk and milk foam
- Sachertorte – is a specific type of chocolate cake, or torte, invented by Austrian Franz Sacher in 1832 for Prince Wenzel von Metternich in Vienna, Austria. It is one of the most famous Viennese culinary specialties.
- Original Wiener Kaiserschmarren, a local crepe dish with fruit. It is a sweet dessert that takes its name from the Austrian emperor (Kaiser) Franz Joseph I, who was very fond of this kind of fluffy shredded pancake.
For breakfast, we stopped at Cafe Diglas
What We Ordered
- Kraftiges Fruhstuck (3 eggs with ham or bacon)
Perhaps our favorite food stop was a street vendor Wiener Wurstl Vienna for a (Wiener) in bread. This was a popular stop for a lot of others too because we waited in line nearly an hour. It was well worth the wait!
What We Did
First, let tell you, this city is massive and we did a ton of walking. We saw a number of churches.
St. Stephen’s Cathedral is the symbol of Vienna. Construction commenced in the 12th century and today, is one of the most important Gothic structures in Austria. The beauty of this building is undeniable and its huge tower dominates the Vienna skyline.
The Votivkirche (Double Tower Church) is a neo-Gothic church located on the Ringstraße in Vienna, Austria. Following the attempted assassination of Emperor Franz Joseph in 1853, the Emperor’s brother, Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian, inaugurated a campaign to create a church to thank God for saving the Emperor’s life.
We also stopped in at a small church.
The Hofburg is another huge palatial complex that pays tribute to the power and influence of the Habsburg dynasty and served as the main winter palace for the rulers of the Austro-Hungarian Empire for hundreds of years. Today, the complex is home to offices of the president of Austria and serves as a presidential base. The buildings have undergone many additions since their creation in the 13th century and the most impressive of which is the fabulous semi-circular Neue Burg.
Statue of Francis II — Amorem Meum Populis Meis: Holy Roman Emperor (then Emperor of Austria, reigned 1792-1835). The statue, by Milanese sculptor Pompeo Marchesi, was erected in 1846; it lays in the In der Burg square of the Hofburg complex. The inscription, amorem meum populis meis, means “I give my love to my people”; it’s a quotation from the emperor’s testament.
The Anchor Clock was built between 1911 and 1917 after the plans of the painter, Franz von Matsch. It is situated on the oldest square of Vienna, ‘Hoher Markt’, and represents a typical Art Nouveau design. The clock forms a bridge between two parts of the Anker Insurance Company’s building. The clock itself is adorned with mosaic ornaments. In the course of 12 hours, twelve historical figures, or pairs of figures, move across the bridge. Among them are Joseph Haydn, medieval lyricist Walther von der Vogelweide, Empress Maria Theresa and Prince Eugen of Savoya. Every day at noon, all figures parade accompanied by music from the various eras. This tourist spectacle is a special kind of Viennese High Noon.
We saw the Spanish Riding School; One of the finest institutes for classical dressage in the world and a long-standing renowned tradition. In Austria, The Spanish Riding School has been responsible for training horses in the art of dressage for hundreds of years. The riding school was built during the Habsburg Monarchy and has stood ever since.
We took a train to Vienna’s 2nd district and visited the Prater Amusement Park.
This is a large public park in Vienna’s 2nd district and is where the 213-feet high Wiener Riesenrad Ferris wheel calls home. This legendary wheel has survived a tumultuous history dating back to the reign of the Habsburgs. Built in 1897 to honor Emperor Franz Josef I’s 50th Jubilee, the Wiener Riesenrad has been one of the city’s most beloved attractions ever since.
In the 2nd district we also visited the Chocolate Museum.
I cannot forget about the Central Cafe here. Even though we mentioned it earlier, it is also an historical location.
We certainly cannot forget the chocolate shop, Xocolat! This was the best chocolate we got in Vienna!
Like our previous stop, shopping in Vienna was not what I hoped for. I did find a local shop where I bought an egg cup (SoAustria). I know … not very exciting, is it?
How We Traveled
We took the Night Train (NightJet) from Venice to Vienna. I will cover our train experience in more detail in the final post of this series. We also left the city by train; this time, a day train to Prague.
Vienna, Austria: What can I say about this grand city? Well, it rained pretty much the entire time so that was a bummer. I do have to say the architecture was gorgeous and the buildings were massive and impressive. We spent the majority of our time in The Central, 1st District, Innere Stadt, Vienna’s Old Town; encircled by the Grand Ringstrasse Boulevard. This being said, the roads were insanely clean! Keep in mind, these roads are being traveled by horse and carriage daily so to have a clean street with these conditions is very impressive to me. Someone is working hard! While the buildings are grand and the streets are clean, a lot of them are cobblestone. Even with all the massiveness that surrounds you, when you hear the clippity-clap of a horse-drawn carriage and see the beauty that is all around you, it transports you back in time to when this city was the cultural center of Europe.
One of my favorite stops was the Spanish Riding School. It is just a really cool place to see. The Cafe Central is a great place to stop for lunch or just have a coffee, some lunch or dessert and to take in the ambiance. Just think about all the great poets and composers who sat in the space before you; connecting you with a different time and reminding you of all the possibilities that could be before you.
The food! Oh the food!! It is fab-u-lous! You must have a sausage in a roll from Wiener Wurstl Vienna in the center of town. Getting Wiener Schnitzel is a must-do and topping it all off with some Apple Strudel is a perfect culinary trio. Apple Strudel . . . what more can I say? Hands-down though, you need to get it from Landtmann. While Apple Strudel is available at other locations, the bar by which all other Strudel is measured is set at Landtmann. If you find yourself in Vienna, I highly recommend staying at the Hilton Vienna Plaza. I will definitely stay there again if I find myself back in Vienna.
I would definitely explore more of this grand city, get me a slice of Apple Strudel from Landtmann and take in an opera. I feel like we barley scratched the surface of all that Vienna has to offer.
This was the stop on our trip I was really looking forward to and it did not disappoint. Back in the Classical Era, Vienna was the cultural center for the arts and being a classically-trained musician, I wanted to walk in places where the likes of Bach, Brahms, Beethoven and Mozart walked and perhaps catch a show or an Opera. Seeing an Opera did not work out for us on this trip but I was still able to listen to some great music.
The architecture in Vienna is superb (and HUGE)! Vienna is also one of the cleanest cities I have ever visited. I was very impressed.
Our accommodations were fabulous and wherever we went, people were friendly, kind and polite. Clearly, we were not in Nice, France any more.
For me, the best part of Vienna was the food. It was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! I do not know why, but German-speaking people know how to do food unlike any other and I am glad I was able to partake.
Not seeing an Opera on this trip will give me an excuse to go back. I definitely will!
After our overnight train ride and early morning arrival in Vienna, I was ready for a ton of coffee. The coffee houses in Vienna are everything you would imagine; yes, they are AMAZING and the lattes are delicious. You have to try the Apple Strudel with Vanilla Sauce at Café Landtmann because it may just change your life. The food in Vienna was a close second to the menu in Italy for me. I would recommend trying the food truck near St. Stephens Cathedral. As we walked around the city though, I was amazed at the fantastic architecture, cute brick roads, horses everywhere and some of the most significant buildings I have ever seen. It was all breath-taking and stunning. I would recommend spending more time there than we did because it was hard to see everything and we did not have enough time to enjoy all that Vienna has to offer. I would go back to Vienna again. It has so much more still to discover.
Come along with us on our next stop: Prague, Czech Republic!