Ah Austria! For a novice to this astounding country the few words that come to mind in relation to Austria are Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mozart; and The Sound of Music. Although these associations are true, Austria has much more to offer. Below are a few list of activities one must do in order to enjoy the most of this Central European beauty.
When it comes to food, Austria wins in the Sweet section. There were tons of pastries in Austria, I just couldn’t get enough of them. Pastries are such a big part of the Austrian culture that the Cafe’s are almost like a museum. They are decorated with such elegance and each has its own theme. A general fact about Austrian pastries are how heavy they are. P.S. they are also scrumptious.
Everyone has a thing for Ice cream and Austrians are no exception. The go-to Ice cream place in Vienna is Paolo Bortolotti. There were so many options at Bortolotti that it was hard to choose. When in doubt I stick to Pistaccio or Stratiatella.
Austria has people from different parts of the world but the Turkish people were very prevalent in Vienna. You would see many Turkish restaurants, shops even a Turkish district. In other words Turkish food is in abundance here. Two recommended food are:
Kumpri: Baked potato stuffed with minced meat, corn, mayonnaise, vegetable, mushrooms, and cheese. Served hot.
Lahmacun: Basically Turkish version of pizza but with minced meat and most times in a wrap.
I mentioned earlier how Austria is a specialized in cafes and pastries. There a tons of cafe’s in Austria especially Vienna. Each Cafe has its own unique style. From a photographic themed cafe to an Opera cafe. I never ceased to be amazed. However the must go to Cafe’s are:
Cafe Central: This cafe is 156 years old, opened in 1860. It plays a huge part of Vienna’s rich history. It was and still is a place where by the intellectuals meet up. Some notable visitors of this elegant cafe are Peter Altenberg, Sigmund Freud, Hugo von Hofmannstahl etc. Besides Cafe Central’s history, it has a very beautiful and luxurious interior and of course delicious sweets such as the Chocolate truffle Altenbergtote
Sacher Cafe: Another Cafe that exudes Luxury is Sacher. Sacher is a prestigious hotel in Vienna and it also happens to have a cafe by its side. While sitting in Sacher Cafe one has the illusion that he/she is a royal of some sort. The interior is of royal red with neat and pristine decorations. Sacher Cafe also ships their sweets to locations around the world. One can’t simple leave Sacher cafe without trying the Sachertote and Sacher strudel:
Sachertote: A Sacher special chocolate pie invented by Austrian Franz Sacher for Prince Wenzel von Metternich. It is a cake with layers of apricot jam and dark chocolate icing on its side. It is served with whipped cream. Fun fact; the exact recipe to this scrumptious dessert is a secret.
Strudel: Also served in Sacher Cafe is the famous strudel. It is a crisp tart usually filled with apple syrup, and then sprinkled with cinnamon or powdered sugar on top.
Topfengolatsch: This is a basically cheese danish.
Kaiserschmarrn: Shredded pancake sprinkled with powdered sugar with strawberry syrup on the side
Schnitzel: Tenderized meat coated with bread crumbs and fried. Usually the meat is pork but you can go into one of the turkish restaurants for the Halal version. I went to Turkis Mariahilf
Natural sights like gorgeous mountains by the lake with cute cottages aligned to beautiful palaces and museums. There is so much to please your eyes in Austria. The few places mentioned below are just the icing of the cake that Austria has to offer.
Sigmund Freud: Sigmund was a prominent psychoanalyst, neurologist and influential thinker. He is a big part of Austrian history. In other to see his work, check out Sigmund Frued Museum in Vienna.
Quartier Wienn: or Austria’s hipster center as the locals call it. Quartier Wienn is known to be one of the largest cultural quarters of the world. It contains art museums, cafes, restaurants etc. What I love about this center is the sedentary feeling when walking in. One would see platforms for lying down. This includes a wobbling fake tennis court, an open cube block for laying down and reading.
Natural History Museum
Museum of Modern Art (Mumok)
-And many more.
House of Parliament: This is where all Austria’s political decisions are being made. The house of parliament’s beautiful architectural design is what draws visitors to it. You must reserve in advance in order to visit the interior of this building.
St. Francis of Assisi Church- MexicoPlatz
KarlsKirche: Also known as St. Carlos Borromeo Cathedral is of Baroque architecture. At first sight one might think it is a mosque due to the dome shaped minaret but it is a church. However the influence of this shape comes during the ruling of the Ottoman Empire.
SchÖnbrunn: The Eiffel Tower is the landmark to Paris as the SchÖnbrunn is to Vienna. This palace is one out of several palaces in Vienna. However it is the most visited. Once inhabited by prominent Empress of Austria, Sissi Elisabeth. SchÖnbrunn is a must see. Also make sure to take a walk around the gardens and climb up the hill to the cafe there. The views are breathtaking.
Opera: Opera is a big part of the Austrian culture.Mozart anyone? One can watch an opera show outside in front of the State Opera house located in District 1 of Vienna. Make sure to get there early as seats are quickly taken. Also there is something very queer in Vienna. You have to opportunity to check the Opera toilet. What’s special about this toilet is that it plays Opera music while using it. Caveat is you have to pay a fee of 70 cents but it’s worth it!
Naschmarkt: Naschmarket is must go to international market in Vienna with 120 stalls. You can find pretty much anything here. Foods or cultural items ranging from Vienna, Africa, India, China and many more.
6th and 10th District: Jewish and Turkish neighborhoods respectively are located here. It is interesting to walk through this neighborhoods and see their cultural influences
Walk or ride a bike through the Ressel Park
Ride on the Ferris Wheel (Riesenrad)
Stroll pass the Danube River
Ride up the hill to Kahlenberg
Climb up the hill of behind the Schonbrunn Palace
Attend an event in the State Opera House: **Caveat**– starting prices for the events here is €50 and there’s a dress code.
Twirl on a mountain in Salzburg or Zell am see
As of today, this post entry consists of activities in Austria with heavy concentration in Vienna. With time, there would be more tips from other cities in Austria.