Vienna’s attractions are legendary. The architecture, the elegance, the history and of course the music. But there is a new trend that is being enjoyed by both Viennese and visitors alike – culinary and culture weekends. Now you can enjoy the magnificent art and culture scene and indulge in spectacular gastronomy at the same time.
Kick off your weekend in Vienna by checking into one of the city’s chic new boutique hotels such as Wine&Design , a hotel that incorporates a wine theme in everything from the soap in your room to the breakfast cheeses, or Hollman Beletage, or even Vienna’s first zero energy hotel, The Stadthalle They are all in or close to historic old Vienna and will provide the perfect base to explore the culinary and cultural highlights to come.
So, for our first stop let’s visit the domed hall of the Kunsthistorisches Museum – the Museum of Fine Arts, and enjoy a Gerstner Art and Delight Brunch. You’ll be surrounded by fine works of art, while you enjoy a glorious buffet of continental and Viennese specialities, a cocktail and a guided tour for only €39. Then, we’ll walk directly opposite into the Natural History Museum and grab shellfish and asparagus on the rooftop and take in a breathtaking view of the city at the same time.
To work off all this food, let’s take in some classical music and visit the Haus der Musik. Here, you can take a musical journey exploring the lives of all of Vienna’s famous composers under one roof. Beethoven, Haydn, Mozart, Schubert, Strauss and Mahler, each have dedicated interactive rooms packed with objects and information on their lives (there’s even Mahler’s death mask on display). And then my personal favourite, pick up a baton and virtually conduct the entire Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, but beware, if you don’t come up to scratch, they’ll put down their instruments and complain bitterly!
You are right in the heart of the old city, so spend the rest of the day exploring the many museums and galleries sprinkled with a few stops to enjoy some apple strudel and the famous Sacher Torte chocolate cake created by Hans Sacher in his hotel which is still serving it today although you can get it all over Vienna these days.
Our second day must begin with breakfast in one of Vienna’s traditional coffee houses. Franz Landtmann began it all in 1873 with his Landtmann Café close to the Burg Theatre, and still the largest traditional coffeehouse in the city. Famous faces seen there have been Sigmund Freud, Marlene Deitrich, Romy Schneider, Paul McCartney, and even Hilary Clinton.
Pruckel is another fine example, like an old fashioned living room with a bridge room, piano music and newspapers and magazines strewn all around. These cafes are Viennese institutions where the grumpiness of the waiters is considered authentic charm!
There are more modern examples, such as Café Drechsler designed by Sir Terence Conran and open 23 hours a day, or over in the museum quarter, the chic Café Leopold in the Leopold Museum, offering ‘new’ Viennese cuisine and DJ’s in the evenings.
This area, with its bounty of art museums also houses one of the most interesting eating areas in Vienna – The Naschmarket. Rows and rows of stalls and shops offering all kinds of fresh fruit, vegetables and a dazzling array of foods from all over the world. Stop at Neni or Orient & Occident and mingle with the locals.
Vienna was the location for the 1949 classic spy thriller The Third Man by Graham Greene, starring Orson Welles and Trevor Howard. Film buffs can visit many of the locations used in the movie including the famous Ferris wheel in the fairground at Prater Park by joining a guided tour by Gerhard Strassgschwandtner who owns The Third Man Museum. €18.
Getting there and getting around
Getting to Vienna’s heart from the airport is easy, just grab the CAT. Access is right on the airport terminal, just follow the green CAT signs and it’s only €9 per person.
The hop on and hop off bus tour is a great way to orient yourself around Vienna. They come along very frequently, stopping at all the main attractions. and personal headsets will provide a guided tour in your own language. Tickets are €13 but for an extra €8 you can use the Ring Tram too.
You must also buy a Vienna Pass. It will give you access to all the city transport (except the hop on bus) for 72 hours, and reduced entry to Vienna’s attractions. €18.5