Vienna’s grandeur hits you as soon as you step out of your hotel. The grand architecture, imposing buildings and just its general magnitude seem to fill every corner of this city.
- Watch an opera. This is more reasonable than you would expect if you plan well in advance. I booked tickets to see Onegin at Wiener Staatsoper. The sheer opulence of the place makes you feel like you are in world of velvet, gilt and glamour. I bought tickets for €11, and I had a clear view of the stage.
- Try local takeout. I love trying different restaurants when I’m visiting a new city. However, in Vienna, I quickly discovered that having a simple sit-down meal can easily burn a huge hole in your pocket. The options are slightly limited as compared to other European cities. So I turned to takeaway joints. There are some gems in the middle of the city. One place, just a few steps away from my hotel, was MERKUR Hoher Markt. This is a super market where you can buy fresh produce, Austrian specialty food and wines, but also pre-cooked meals. Another great place I discovered was Ra’mien, a little Asian takeaway place with delicious curry. The place was packed to the rafters when we got there, and had an incredible buzz of people enjoying their tom khas and gyozas! There is nothing more satisfying than sitting in your hotel bed in your PJs eating Thai red curry out of a takeout box!
- But do try an Austrian delicacy. Reserve one meal to try the Wiener Schnitzel, and there is no better place than Café Central for this. The historic cafe was once the haunt of famous writers, poets, and even Sigmund Freud. The cafe itself looks like a historical monument! Besides the Wiener Schnitzel, they are famous for their pastries and desserts. The Sachertorte is a delicious, moist and gooey chocolate cake, to be had with cream. You will be spoilt for choice when you take a gander at their pastry case!
- Do some window shopping (for chocolates!). In Vienna you will find several shops selling high-end artisan chocolates. These are rich, decadent, and a visual and sensory treat as soon as you step into the posh stores. I personally love tucking into a ‘giant’ Hershey’s bar, but if you are a chocolate connoisseur, then this is the place to be. My favourite stores are Xocolat, and Demel, which is minutes away from the famous Hofburg Palace.
- If there is one attraction you visit in Vienna, it has to be Schönbrunn Palace. The second you walk through the magnificent gates, you feel like you’re in a medieval book/film. The scale of it and the massive grounds make you feel lost in space, but also in history. There are Palace tours available that take you into the rooms, but since I was short on time, I didn’t opt for the tour. After taking the entire palace and grounds in, when I walked out of the gates, a beautiful horse-drawn carriage casually breezed past with some passengers in it. That’s Vienna for you – you forget for a while which era you’re living in…