Yes, it has grand baroque streetscapes, imposing imperial palaces and an artistic culture rivalled by few. Yet, with all this opulence it’s easy to forget the simple luxuries which Vienna does so well, such as coffee and cake. Here are five reasons why you should make "The Imperial City" your next stop.
The beating heart of the city is its coffee houses. Coffee is more than just a morning pick-me-up here; it is a way of life. It all started when the Turkish, failing in their 1683 invasion attempt, left behind bags of coffee beans. The Viennese embraced these golden beans of goodness, and soon hundreds of coffee houses popped up around town. Many of the remaining houses are over 300 years old. Lingering and soaking up the atmosphere is welcomed, encouraged in fact, and no one would bat an eyelid even if you ordered one cup and stayed in the same spot all day.
The Americans have banana bread, the Danish have napoleonshat (shaped like Napolean’s hat), the Dutch have space cakes and the British have Victoria sponge, carrot cake, Jaffa Cakes (not a biscuit), angel slices… the list goes on. However, Austria isn’t bad either. Just look at the strudel and sachertorte. Both originated in Vienna, and provide the perfect pairing to your cup of coffee. For a slice of history, head to Hotel Sacher Wien where the first ever sachertorte was served for Prince Wenzel von Metternich. What a mouthful.
Music runs in the veins of Vienna. From Mozart to Beethoven, Strauss to Brahms, it seems there is something in the city that inspires timeless musical masterpieces. Every night in Vienna around 10,000 people are treated to live classical music, be it in the grand State Opera House or one of the more intimate venues. But it’s not just the classics on offer, there is a lively music culture beneath the subway between the Thaliastrasse and Nussdorferstrasse stations too. Head to clubs like Chelsea and the Rhiz Bar if staying out till 4AM is your thing.
Where to start? Vienna is blessed with so many architectural gems. Schonbrunn Palace, or ‘beautiful spring’, is the 1,441-room former summer residence of the royal family. The baroque palace is a perfect example of Gesamtkunstwerk, or ‘total work of art’, and even houses the world’s oldest zoo. To walk along the historic centre of Vienna, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is to take a journey through time. The middle ages, the baroque period and the Gründerzeit are all reflected in the eclectic mix of architecture.
Its high quality of life
Vienna stands as number one on Mercer’s 2018 Quality of Living Rankings. It was in the same spot last year, and the year before that. In fact, Vienna has remained in the same spot for nine years in a row. The rankings consider several things; from the climate, disease and sanitation standards, to the ease of communications and crime. It also recently topped the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Global Liveability Index for 2018.
With all this and more, Vienna makes a strong contender for your next city break.