A lot of people flock to Europe throughout the year, especially during the summer time. Popular Europe destinations are Rome, Paris and Switzerland. However, in the midst of all the tourist fiasco, it is very easy to straight out ignore the existence of Vienna. My sister and I almost made the same mistake, allocating the least amount of time to the beauty of this Austrian capital. Believe it or not, we were there just for a day. Yes, A DAY. Obviously when we arrived there we regretted the decision to ignore the beautiful city from our travel highlights, but decided to make the best of the few hours we did have there. Vienna is one of the most charming, historic cities of Europe. With an extremely high living standard and streets that burst of history and music, it is hands down one of the best places to live and travel to. Here’s a couple of places we visited and adventures we had during our sweet time there.
1. Cafe Central
Viennese cuisine triumphs the world when it comes to pastry and baked goods. The best cakes, pastries, cookies and tarts will be found in Vienna, and don’t ever second guess that. While there are several other places in Vienna that promise orgasmic pastries, Cafe Central is an institution of it’s own and a must to visit. You will have to walk a significant amount to find it, as it is nestled in a maze of narrow, cobblestone streets. The architecture and the ambience is great and if your plan is to sit down and enjoy a cup of coffee along with some authentic Viennese pastries, Cafe Central should be your first and foremost choice. All their selections are just to die for!
2. Hofburg Palace
This place is like a step back in time. You will see people riding in buggies, with traditionally dressed women and men all around you. The place is just amazing for a breath of fresh air in the middle of a bustling city. We liked the environment so much, we actually visited it twice, but I am just going to share my daytime photo!
3. Hotel Sacher
The Sacher torte is a Viennese legacy, the recipe kept secret for over a century! Nearly every bakery in the Austrian capital sells miniature or larger than life Sacher tortes but there is only one place in the city where you can taste the original – Hotel Sacher. This place too, is a little difficult to navigate to, but we made it there and stood 25 minutes in pouring rain and a not so friendly crowd to have a taste of Vienna’s best kept secret. The hotel, mind you is extremely pretentious, and the cake itself reminds me of sugar iced chocolate cakes back in Pakistan. If you think this piece of cake is the best thing you will eat in Vienna, you are in for a big surprise. The only reason to go to Hotel Sacher and have their iconic cake is purely to earn bragging rights, and you bet your ass we have earned them!
4. St. Stephens Cathedral
I don’t know what to say about this place, except that it is absolutely gorgeous and we sat on the steps to hide away from the pouring rain outside. The interior is just beautiful and it is one of the most famous places to visit in Vienna. Even though I do not have a religion, cathedrals are iconic in most of Europe and carry a lot of historical significance, so you must visit! If you are strolling through the streets in central Vienna, you will notice this iconic landmark and the beautiful little eateries around it. It is just mesmerizing!
5. Mariahilfer Straße
This is Vienna’s biggest, most popular shopping district. There are rows upon rows of high end, luxury brands with stunning views of the cathedral and the Imperial palace. Most of the shops sell things out of reach of the regular Joe’s pocket. Mind you, Vienna has a very high standard of living. Nobody drives a Toyota there (thankfully!) and as a result, everything is very expensive, including the shopping (of course). However, even if you don’t intend on buying anything, a regular stroll through the shopping district will just warm up your day and give a peak in to the local culture there. Take a break and have a cup of coffee, or visit the huge Swarovski store and be bedazzled by the beautiful crystal inventions Vienna is so famous for!
6. Spanish Riding School
Yes, believe it or not there is a horse riding school smack in the middle of the city. After roaming around central Vienna and sampling amazing desserts from all the little bakeries, we decided it was time to sit down and let our gut process all the sugary goodness. We sat and gorged on some croissants and apricot cookies, while enjoying a view of the traditionally dressed horsemen riding their beautiful horses around the concrete circle. The day ended with us dancing in the beautiful drizzle – one of the most beautiful memories I have of this iconic city!