Vienna – One of the most relaxing cities in Europe
The capital of Austria is one of those quiet European gems that may not be particularly high on your list of places to visit, but it is definitely worth checking out.
My parents were in the UK recently, so I took them for a weekend mini-break to Vienna – it was, if I say so myself, a stroke of genius.
Vienna is the perfect city for walking, exploring, stopping for a break, eating, and more walking. Exactly what my parents love doing.
The thing that hit me about Vienna was the coffee. They really love their coffee here. It’s completely different to the Italians who keep it simple and obsess about the quality, in Vienna there is a huge range of inventive ways to serve coffee – most of them involve a big slug of alcohol and lashings of cream. Each cafe tends to have their own signature coffee – I really liked the ones that came with an apricot liqueur. A taste sensation.
This obsession with coffee stems from Vienna’s proud tradition of cafe culture – you can hang out in the beautiful Cafe Central (where Freud spent a lot of time), but my favourite was Cafe Diglas which had the most amazing selection of cakes.
The cakes are a feature everywhere across the city – this is not a city you want to visit if you’re attempting a beach body bikini diet. Sacher Tort is the iconic cake that Vienna is famous for (and it is incredible), however I fell in love with Gugelhupf cake which has a drier consistency – perfect when accompanied by a creamy boozy coffee.
The food in general in Vienna is fairly solid stuff – lots of schnitzel and goulash, served with potato and bread. For a relaxed lunch I really liked Cafe Savoy in the heart of the Naschmarkt food market (definitely worth checking out); ZuDen 3 Hacken was old school and rustic (and great); and we had a posh dinner one night at Vestibul which is in the Burgtheatre building – stylish and modern food that was very good.
Check out Loos’ American Bar – a small, cosy bar that does really good classic cocktails. Incongruously I ordered a Danish Manhattan, but I loved it. This is the kind of bar that you could happily move into.
Of course there is a lot more to Vienna than food and coffee and booze. The history and culture of this city is astounding, and the Austrians clearly knew how to build with an eye for grandeur. Churches, palaces, and museums, nearly all within easy walking distance and all postcard worthy.
This is also a city that is famous for music – it is hard to avoid the numerous Mozart and Strauss concerts that are on offer, they can be a little touristy but if you were ever going to dip your toe into the world of classical music then Vienna is probably the place to do it.
We flew from London on Austrian Air – it’s an easy flight, and then there is the City Airport Train that whisks you into the centre of Vienna. You can also get to Vienna by train from many parts of Europe, or if you really want to live it up then via any of the luxury European river cruises that visit Vienna.
We stayed at the Radisson Blu hotel – in a good location, this is a reliable brand that isn’t too expensive.