24 Hours in Vienna (and Salzburg)
My weekend in Austria included four of my favorite things: coffee, chocolate, Mozart and a palace.
The next day I took an early stroll and, down the street, noticed an older couple was just sitting down for some dessert in a decadent-looking coffee shop, so I decided to take a seat next to them. There’s something about seeing a sweet old couple that’s still in love that gives me renewed hope for the world (and for my love life!)
In my research, I learned that Vienna boasts the “coffee house capital of the world” title. Opened in 1876, Café Central was a key meeting place for intellectuals including Leo Trotsky, Adolf Loos, Vladimir Lenin and Sigmund Freud. After our breakfast, we crossed the street to watch a group of musicians who had started an impromptu concert.
In the early afternoon, I took an app-guided walking tour of the city – yes, it’s small enough to walk in three hours! My guided tour (your hotel can recommend one of many throughout the city) began at the popular local market, the Naschmarkt, located in the heart of the city. Originating in the 16th century, it’s a delicious mix of cultures and local Viennese treats. The market is a great place for a coffee break while taking in the sights. Being a Saturday, there was an adjacent flea market with handicrafts, jewelry, art, and homemade goods. I picked up a few handmade gifts for friends back in NYC.
Only a few blocks from the market, I visited the Wien Museum. I’m not normally a museum-goer, but this modern museum piqued my interest because it houses everything from 14th century art to modern day photography. The Gustav Klimt pieces were impressive, as was the 19th century furniture display – there is definitely something for everyone. Mozart’s apartment is also part of the Wien Museum, and is worth seeing if you’re a hardcore Mozart fan.
If monarchy sparks your interest then Schonbrunn Palace is a must. Just a short subway ride from the city centre, the 17th century grand palace is everything you’d expect from a royal estate with its beautifully landscaped gardens, large outdoor entry staircase and striking yellow columns. Inside, there are opulent chandeliers and carefully crafted furniture, all perfectly preserved and on display for visitors to admire. But unlike other majestic estates, Schonbrunn has some unique features that make it a one-of-a-kind destination. There’s an all-day breakfast café, the Schönbrunner Schloßcafé, where you can sit outside and enjoy a Viennese breakfast in the early evening.
The palace also houses a children’s museum that has fun artifacts, costumes and items from everyday Austrian imperial life, which is fascinating enough for everyone to visit. There are various events and concerts ongoing throughout the year, like an annual Easter Market. I was lucky enough to attend a Mozart concert inside the palace, where the music and surroundings gave a glimpse into 18th century royal life.
I followed my enriching afternoon with an equally enriching vegan meal at the uber-hip Yamm. This lively restaurant is a must-visit while in Vienna.