Visiting Vienna for the first time was a wonderful experience!
We did our best to discover as many splendors of Vienna when we were there for the better part of four days. There is so much beautiful history and artifacts to be seen there that I want to share what I saw and would recommend if you have an opportunity to visit.
This beautiful and elegant city in Austria sits next to the Danube and is a mecca of cultures and languages. It is the birthplace of Mozart and home to one of the most famous opera houses in the world. The city is not only beautiful and grand, but rich in history, fine art, and elegance.
Visiting Vienna for the First Time
We began our visit by taking a walk to the center of town. The city is famous for its Ringstrauss, which is a boulevard that replaced the original city wall. The Ringstrauss is about 3 miles long and is the home to many important buildings. The boulevard encompasses the center city district also known as district one. I have to admit when I first heard about the districts, it reminded me a bit of the Hunger Games, but it really makes things easy to navigate. The photo above is our view from the front of our hotel, the Ritz Carlton, Vienna that is on the Ringstrauss.
I cannot even describe how breathtaking the Hofburg Palace is! Home to the Habsburgs for over six centuries.
The fascinating story of the Hapsburg Empire comes to life well viewing the fantastic magnificent art collection, the elegant and sumptuous furniture and the myriad of jeweled crowns, robes and artifacts in the Imperial Treasury.
The Hofburg Imperial Palace is open most days and now you can visit the Sisi Museum and the Imperial Apartments as well. We went to all three and the many treasures that are there are absolutely dazzling. Photos are not allowed but let me tell you that visiting this grandeur residence is unforgettable and is right up there with the Palais of Versailles in France. Photos were allowed in certain areas of the Treasury.
Nearby is the Vienna Burggarten (the palace gardens). Burggarten is a large, beautiful park in Vienna’s first district.
This beautiful and luscious part located in the on the edge of the old city of Vienna. With lots of sculptures and walking paths it’s the perfect place to relax and take in the gorgeous scenery. The air was so crisp here and there is a splendid sophistication that makes this park a popular site.
We were lucky enough to catch it on the day of a food and wine festival. The Burggarten often has special events so be sure to look at the schedule if you visit.
The Museum Quarter, is a large complex with several museums and is a must see. We did not have time to see all the museums, however, it is an amazing complex whether you are an art fanatic or a casual fan. The Leopold Museum, the Museum Moderner Kunst (Museum of Modern Art), Architekturzentrum (Architectural Center) and the Kunsthalle, are all in the same area.
While Vienna was once surrounded by communist and eastern blocked nations, it is now a multinational mecca. We even witnessed President of Austria at a celebration of visiting dignitaries of Canada. It was kind of unbelievable that we could get this close to them!
We did get a chance to go by the Schönbrunn Palace as well, this former imperial summer residence, is one of Vienna’s most popular sites. If you are visiting Vienna for the first time you will want to take in at least one of the palaces, if not both!
One of the best ways to spend a late afternoon is shopping the many department stores, gift stores and cafés that line the pedestrian only Kärntner Strasse. There are street musicians, wonderful shops of every kind and a few American chain stores as well.
There are also lots opportunities in the city to enjoy the music of Mozart and Johann Strauss, two of the most prominent Austrian-born composers in the world, in the form of classical concerts.
Another site I enjoyed was St. Stephens Cathedral which has been there for 700 years. There are many beautiful Renaissance style alter-pieces decorated with gold and precious stones. There are catacombs are here as well.
The Giant Ferris Wheel (aka the Wiener Reisenrad) is a nostalgic and magical thing to see. It is open year round and is one of the oldest of its kind in the world.
The heart of the city center is stylish and elegant. The architecture ranges from Gothic to Modern and is all sophisticated and elegant. Many of the architects were world-class designers and Nobel Prize winners.
You may notice that I have not mentioned food yet, but that is coming in another post. Known for its coffee houses, restaurants and lavish bakeries like Demel and Sacher, I checked them out throughly so that I could share with you my thoughts. I also want to tell you about the not to be missed, Naschmarkt, which is an absolute must if you are visiting Vienna for the first time.
While there, we took a day trip to the Danube valley and visited the Melk Abby which sits upon a cliff overlooking a stretch of the Danube River. But that too is for another day.
I will be sharing the best of my dining finds in Vienna in a post soon.