Oh, Vienna, glorious Vienna. A fairytale city from the past, yet so current and immersing. I fell in love with this amazing place a few minutes after my arrival.
If you have been reading my blog for a while, the reasons are quite obvious, but if you are a newcomer here, the reasons are art, architecture, music, coffee and horses. I could totally live in Vienna back in the 19th century, it’s so me!
There are not enough days in a lifetime to keep up with all the art exhibitions Vienna hosts year after year, even if you live in the city on a daily basis. To make it easy for you, here are my propositions.
The Leopold Museum holds one of the biggest collections of Klimt, Schiele and Kokoschka works in the world.
Albertina always pays tribute to contemporary and modern art, while keeping key pieces of French Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, German Expressionism, Fauvism and the Russian avant-garde as a permanent collection.
Kunsthalle Wien is known for its super-comprehensive exhibitions on subjects of modern art. Rather than exhibiting one artist, they take a whole era or a movement to analyse and display a perfect mix of paintings, videos, sculptures and drawings to make you an expert on a subject. A must visit for all art enthusiasts.
All of this is just the tip of the art iceberg Vienna is hiding under the cobbled streets of Inner Stadt.
Monumental Habsburg palaces, aristocratic, richly ornamented mansions, gothic cathedrals and high baroque churches blend together with contemporary structures to create an impressive, inimitable cityscape.
The steel and glass Haas Haus faces St. Stephen’s Cathedral.
The former seat of the Austro-Hungarian Empire – Hofburg Palace stands right across Looshaus – one of the biggest landmarks of modern Viennese architecture.
The futuristic Soravia Wing of Albertina is just a few steps away from the monumental Vienna State Opera.
Vienna’s musical heritage is legendary. Haydn, Beethoven, Mahler, Bruckner, Mozart, Brahms, Strauss and Schubert all lived in the city, composing music that is played in the biggest concert halls around the world.
It is the musical tradition – the opera, symphony, philharmonic orchestras and the waltz that are the biggest legacies of this city. A visit to the outstanding Vienna Opera makes unforgettable memories to cherish for decades to come. Do not miss.
I think that contemplating the world over a newspaper and Brauner (espresso with milk) is an essential experience to have in this capital of classical music. Especially if you are as much of a coffee addict as me.
I can connect every part of the day to coffee in this city. Mornings are dedicated to local markets with a pause for a cappuccino at Demel’s rococo salon.
Creamy cake at the Mozart Cafe makes a perfect start for any visit to the Albertina Museum.
Late afternoon after hours of sightseeing, rest your mind and legs at the Hawelka Cafe; its delicious plum cake and cup of strong black coffee will recharge your batteries.
An evening stop at Delia’s Cafe for a glass of wine and a great chat with a friend is mandatory. The Viennese know about coffee, we should all learn from them. OK, OK and from the Italians too!
Last but not least, my beloved horses. I know that a big European capital city may not strike you as a destination for horse lovers, but you would be very wrong.
Have you ever heard of the Spanish Riding School of Vienna and famous Lipizzan breed of horses that ‘dance’? The horses do not really dance but they demonstrate the haute école movements of classical dressage. Including the highly controlled jumps and other movements known as the ‘airs above the ground’, the horses are trained using traditional methods that date back hundreds of years, based on the principles of classical dressage.
I really wanted to see the performance but I found out that tickets had to be booked months in advance. And that’s where having local friends comes in handy. My dear Viennese friends advised me to look for morning training sessions which are open to the public.
I had never heard about those (please note this was a good few years ago; currently morning training tickets are available online without any problem). I was the happiest person ever! Not only did I get to see the horses ‘dancing’ to the music, but I also got to see how they actually train horses and the outstanding work those riders and horses do! Kudos to locals for sharing such hidden gems with visitors!