For the 9th straight year, Vienna topped the Mercer Index as the most livable city on Earth. Could it be Vienna’s 2500 coffee houses or its world-famous pastries? Or is it because you can enjoy both surrounded by incredible architecture like St Stephen’s Cathedral or the Habsburg’s stunning summer retreat, Schonbrunn Palace? Vienna is both historic and modern with excellent WiFi and exceptional public transportation. However, do yourself a favour and unplug from the modern world for a while and just walk this timeless urban treasure that flanks the beautiful Danube River (you’ll need to after the sachertorte).
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Vienna is truly a metropolis of culture, food and music, boasting more than 200 museums and breath-taking music halls, like the incomparable Vienna State Opera House, conveniently located in the city’s centre and thus serves as a perfect starting point. A short walk takes you to the Albertina Museum and then Mozarthaus, where the famous composer lived for several years and from there, stroll over to the acoustically and visually incomparable Musikverein, home of the Vienna Philharmonic.
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Whether it’s after a concert, the beginning of your day or simply because you wore the wrong shoes for a walk around Vienna, we suggest you stop and breathe in the beans. By that, we mean take a coffee break and indulge in the impressive caffeine scene here. The coffee house is to Vienna what sidewalk cafes are to Paris. Throw a rock and you’ll likely hit three or four – like Cafe Sperl or Cafe Landtmann. Word to the wise though, brush up on your Viennese coffee talk because this isn’t as simple as your regular Starbucks order. Coffee is a ritual here and you don’t ever order coffee “to go” – it’s always to sit, sip and savour and is served formally on a silver tray.
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While still seated, remember that the Viennese love sweets so much that pastries are served on public buses (just kidding). Any confectionary conversation must first start with Vienna’s most famous pastry — the sachertorte, a decadent delight of chocolate gateau, apricot jam and whipped cream. If you fancy something less dry, Kaiserschmarrn is a delicious caramelised pancake often accompanied with apple sauce. But whatever you do, don’t forget to try the strudel!
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You’ll find a plethora of pastries and other goodies along your walkabout at the Naschmarkt, an open-air venue catering to shoppers since the 1600’s. There’s a little bit of everything here from pastry and produce to meats and seafood as well as an eclectic flea market for souvenir hunters. If bargain hunting is not your thing and your credit card needs a workout, stroll the luxurious shops along The Graben or splurge on sunset drinks atop the roof of the Ritz Carlton.
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When it comes to walkable yet unusual things to do, Vienna is a dream destination, which would please one of its most famous inhabitants, Sigmund Freud, who actually has his very own museum. Other favourites include the stunning Schmetterlinghaus (Imperial Butterfly House) where you can commune with nature’s most delicate creatures, or visit the dead at the creepy Stephansdom Crypt. Among the more original buildings in the world, the Wotruba Church is an apparent Cubist homage to the board game Jenga and a must-see for lovers of architectural art.
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Vienna is incredibly safe and travellers enjoy walking the city at night as well. Jazz aficionados should visit Porgy and Bess, while dance music lovers must check out Flex, an incredible club sequestered in a tunnel below the Danube River. Wherever you go at night, you must indulge yourself at a wurstelstande, or as Americans call them, “hot dog carts”. Vienna can legitimately lay claim to the world’s best sausages and the only proper way to eat them is at one of these street vendors like Wurstelstande Leo or Bitzinger’s. Once again, study up on some minor vocabulary because when it comes to these stands, small talk is a welcome condiment. One quick note; you’ll almost certainly be detained at passport control if you leave Vienna without trying the sausages or wiener schnitzel.
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Considered one of the most prosperous cities in the world, Vienna can be pricey but what creates its immense appeal is one can always find an affordable travel hack for Vienna. The 5-star hotels are plentiful from the elegant San Souci Wien to the lavish Hotel Imperial, yet economically savvy travellers will enjoy Motel One’s Wien Staatsoper that looks and feels like a 5-star doppelgänger with an amazing 24-hour bar for night owls.
In every way, Vienna is a city catering to the senses so it doesn’t take a lot of common sense to quickly figure out why Mercer’s heaps such high praise on the “City of Music”. So, get off the couch and skip the debate about where to take a trip and let yourself indulge in all things Vienna. Book your holiday with ENTERTAINER getaways on your ENTERTAINER app! You’ll get to enjoy up to 60% off your hotel stay! Simply click on the ‘Travel’ tab of your ENTERTAINER app to view our hotel offers!