Karl Kraus once said “The streets of Vienna are paved with culture, the streets of other cities with asphalt” and he was so right as from the moment you arrive on your city break to Vienna you are engulfed in beauty and culture with every turn you take!
Vienna was on my wish list for many a year but we always ended up booking a trip to another destination however I had a free night voucher through the Intercontinental Ambassador Club which needed to be used so we booked the flights, the hotel and we were off.
We stayed at the Intercontinental Hotel in Vienna which from the moment you step into the hotel you are welcomed by the smiling staff whom go out of their way to help you with any request. All the Vienna Tourist information praise the hotel and I agree that they do have the best concierge team in Vienna!
After staying at a number of Intercontinental hotel properties over the last few years I have to say this is my favourite as the service was truly impressive and the small touches were so cute including a Vienna Legend placed on my pillow each night as part of the turn down service.
Our suite was lovely and included an incredible walk in wardrobe with shelving so it immediately became my shoe room; hey I have one at home so I think I definitely need one while on holiday! With views over Stadtpark and the shoe room it was going to be extremely hard to leave the suite so we did make use of our 4pm late check out.
We had booked a room with Club Lounge access which is a lovely area on the top floor of the hotel offering stunning views across Vienna; the lounge definitely has the best service and food I have ever had in a Club Lounge. Obviously with my gluten free allergy I was thinking that this would be an issue however the staff had it all covered and there was even vegan food on offer if you are that way inclined.
Vienna is absolutely stunning in Autumn however I am going to make a big call and say the city would be beautiful to visit in any season. A stroll through Stadtpark is a must in Autumn as there are great areas for families, park benches for people watching or if you feel energetic you can even hire a bike.
Our first trip on the Vienna U-Bahn was to visit Schronbrunn Palace and Gardens. The Palace is well worth a visit but you need to get there early as they operate a timed entry system so you can be standing around waiting if you arrive later on during the day. The interior of the Palace is stunning and if I was to have a Summer Palace than I would love to have it modelled on Schronbrunn; tour prices start at €11.50.
The Gardens are a definite must to walk around and there is a romance about them that the photos just don’t show.
Also within the grounds is a zoo, an apple strudel show and a maze just to name a few things on site; so you could spend a whole day visiting however went for the cake option and ate at the cafe on site after our walk through the Palace and Gardens. If you are looking for gluten free cake options in Vienna that you need to read my Gluttons Guide to eating cake in Vienna post here. If this doesn’t convince you to book a city break to Vienna, nothing will!
We had evening plans to visit the Vienna State Opera for the performance of Simon Boccanegra however I can safely say now that I’m not an opera fan. There are two ways to visit the Opera House and that is either through a performance or a daytime tour however a performance is a must when in Vienna and you do need to take a pair of fancy shoes as the Viennese ladies like to get dressed up for the Opera!
One of the reasons why G wanted to visit Vienna was to see a performance of the Spanish Riding School (Michaelerplatz 1) or as I called them the prancing ponies (apparently this wasn’t funny if you grew up with a horse like G did!). The tickets are expensive and you need to book well in advance and pay around €90 per ticket to get really good seats with good views to be able to enjoy the performance. G loved it however I was pretty bored during the show and was thinking of the quickest way to get to the shopping heart of Vienna.
If you are looking at doing some seriously fabulous shopping then Vienna is the city for you! Vienna offers quality goods over quantity so prices are high however you can still find the obligatory fridge magnet.
The ladies must visit the 6th floor of Steffl Department Store (Kärntner Straße 19) for the aptly named “Women’s Shoe Paradise”! The shoes on offer include Jimmy Choo, Valentino, Bloch and many more.
I may have purchased a new pair of Bloch shoes. G made a comment about me purchasing the same pair of shoes that I was wearing in a different colour; yes dear I did and I’m not ashamed!
If Afternoon Tea doesn’t float your boat then a trip to Demel (Kohlmarkt 14) will definitely get you drooling!
For our Saturday night in Vienna we went a bit rock n roll and went to see the Vienna Mozart Orchestra perform at Musikverein or “The Great Hall”. The site is considered to be one of the finest concert halls in the world. The Orchestra perform in historical costumes which some people will find a bit quirky however I totally loved it!
One thing that G and I both have wanted to do is to visit some really good catacombs (we need to visit Paris I know!) however at St. Stephen’s Cathedral / Stephansdom they offer a tour of the catacombs which sit below the cathedral and for €5 pp it offers an insightful bit of history on the city and it’s inhabitants.
Before checking out I made a final pitstop to Cafe Vienna at Intercontinental Hotel for a piece of gluten free cake and I can say quite honestly that I left Vienna very happy!
The concierge at Intercontinental Hotel gave me four gluten free restaurant recommendations for Vienna so I am sharing these with you so you can check them out – Steirereck, Plachutta, Gastwirtschaft Huth and Cafe Schwarzenberg.
We spent 3 nights in Vienna and didn’t feel like we touched the surface of things to visit; the city is very much like London and Paris where you need to make 2-3 visits to feel like that you have truly discovered the city.
To quote Austria’s most famous actor; “I’ll be back!”