With its 1.7 million inhabitants, Vienna is the capital of the Republic of Austria and the 9th-largest city of the European Union. Until the early 20th century, Vienna was the largest German-speaking city in the world. Vienna is located in eastern Austria and very close to the borders of Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia and former Yugoslavia, therefore often called “gateway to eastern Europe”.
Vienna used to be one of the leading European Music Centers – some of the most famous classic musicians like Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig Van Beethoven, Franz Schubert or Joseph Haydn were based there. It features stunning architecture, including castles, monuments and parks.
In 2011, Mercer ranked Vienna first in its “Quality of Living” survey of major cities around the globe. Vienna has something to offer for everyone – a visit is highly recommended. Here are some of Vienna’s top spots:
Located in Vienna’s second district (Leopoldstadt) is the “Wurslprater” – amusement park. Its most famous attraction is the “Wiener Riesenrad” (“Viennese Giant Wheel”), a ferris wheel built back in 1897 that quickly became one of Vienna’s most popular tourist attractions.
The “Wurstlprater” also houses rollercoasters, bumper cars, go-kart racing, ghost trains, restaurants and more – especially kids love to go there.
The St. Stephen’s Cathedral
The gothic St. Stephen’s Cathedral right in the center of Vienna (within the first district) is one of Austria’s most important religious buildings. A visit is highly recommended, here are some tips on what to do when visiting:
- Explore the cathedral’s beautiful interior full of statues and monuments.
- For a fee of about 5 Euros you can take an elevator to the top to one of its towers, giving you an awe-inspiring view over Vienna.
- You can take guided tours through the cathedrals’ catacombs where you’ll encounter lots of skeletons and graves.
- The square outside the cathedral (called “Stephansplatz” or “St. Steven’s Square”) houses street performers, acrobats and artists. Make sure to check them out.
Artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser’s “Hundertwasserhaus” is one of Vienna’s most remarkable and unique buildings. This expressionist condo house is located in the Landstrasse district.
Friedensreich Hundertwasser also designed an iconic power plant called “Fernheizkraftwerk Spittelau”, located in Vienna’s 19th district (Doebling). This is also worth a visit, just take the “U4” or “U6” underground-line to “Spittelau”.
The Sachertorte is Vienna’s most famous cake. It is 2 layers of chocolate cake with a thin layer of apricot jam in-between the layers and a dark-chocolate icing on top. The cake is usually served with whipped cream.
The only place in Vienna you can get the original cake is “Hotel Sacher”. However, you’ll find cheaper knockoffs (that oftentimes taste as good as the original) in cafes all over Vienna. While most tourists seem to be willing to spend the extra money on the “original” cake, most of Vienna’s residents are happy to eat the cheaper knockoffs.
The Schnitzelwirt is one of Vienna’s best places to eat Schnitzel, Austria’s most famous dish.
A Schnitzel is a fried cutlet coated in flour, eggs and breadcrumbs. It’s a very important part of Austrian cuisine. Traditionally, the Schnitzel is made out of veal, but nowadays it’s more frequently made out of chicken or pork. Schnitzel is usually served with potatoes with butter and parsley as a side dish.
Portions at the Schnitzelwirt are enormous and meals are reasonably priced and very delicious.
If you’re really hungry, try eating a Cordon Bleu as a main course followed by a “Germknoedel” (plum-jam-filled dumpling) for dessert.
Schnitzelwirt has become more and more popular with tourists over the last decade. It is located in Neubaugasse 52, 1070 Wien.
If you’re heading to Vienna you should make sure to learn some basic German phrases. InstantPhrases.com is a website that helps travelers learn the most important German words and phrases – 100% free.