Walking in Romantic Vienna…
We were doing a quick European tour (not my typical style): three days in Prague, three in Vienna, then a rapid 24 hours in Budapest. I hadn’t traveled this quickly since my college backpacking days. With so much on the agenda, I didn’t do any “homework” on Vienna. Thus ~ I had zero expectations. And then…WHAM!! Romantic Vienna just came along & blew me away.
Why? What makes Vienna so special?
We stayed in a part of town that wasn’t too exciting (last-minute Kayak purchase); it had low buildings & closely-packed, rather boring streets. BUT, as soon as we put on our tennis shoes & took off running, heading down towards the theater district ~ we were literally stopped in our tracks by the beauty of this city.
“We were literally stopped in our tracks by the beauty of this city, mouths open, eyes turned upward in awe. This is one of my absolute favorite parts of travel: moments that leave you without words.”
Map of Vienna
There are 23 districts in Vienna, & over 1,000 miles of streets ~ so getting a handle on Vienna can be overwhelming! The most important district to get familiar with is District 1 (Inner Stadt): this is the heart of the city, where you’ll find most of its iconic buildings, such as Parliament, the Opera House, the famous cathedral Stephensplatz, & of course the Hofburg, which is a famous (& gigantic) Habsburg palace that now houses several tourist attractions.
Most of the photos in this post were taken in District 1. There are numerous museums, parks, fashionable restaurants, & pedestrian-only streets in District 1 that could keep you busy for hours (or days). My advice when walking Vienna is to start in District 1 & then work your way out from there.
Overview of Vienna
Vienna is a study in contrasts: it’s a city steeped in rich, regal history, with evidence of the Habsburg Empire all around ~ & yet, walking its streets, it still feels like you’re in an entirely modern city. Brimming with history ~ yet cutting edge. Elegant palaces ~ surrounded by contemporary art. Opulent coffee houses ~ alongside neo-retro cafes filled with pop art. It’s this juxtaposition of the past with the future that, I think, makes Vienna so exciting.
It’s this contradiction & juxtaposition of the refined, elegant past with the modernity of the future that makes Vienna so exciting.
Where Past Meets Future…
The “City of Music”
To call Vienna the “City of Music” is far from hyperbole. ALL of the following composers lived or were born in Vienna: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Joseph Haydn, Ludwig van Beethoven, Franz Schubert, Johann Strauss, & Johannes Brahms ~ among others. Isn’t this essentially every great classical composer that ever existed?! Basically, yes!
Almost every great, classical composer who ever lived ~ including Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, Strauss, & Brahms ~ ALL lived or were born in Vienna, Austria.
It’s astonishing to imagine all these composers living & working in Vienna during the mid-1700’s to early-1800’s. Haydn was the oldest, & when he moved back to Vienna at the age of 60, he became a mentor to many of the younger composers ~ including Beethoven. He became known as “Papa Haydn,” & was much beloved by both Vienna & his fellow composers.
Attend a Concert in Vienna!
Once you’ve learned of Vienna’s fascinating musical history, it’s easy to understand why they call it the “City of Music.” It is also a place where you’ll want to listen to classical music: classical music & Vienna were meant for each other. There are so many beautiful venues in Vienna ~ attending a concert in Vienna is a must!
Romantic Vienna…in Photos
Vienna’s rich musical history, combined with its regal buildings, busty statues, & vine-draped wine taverns all lend to the creation of this idea of, “Romantic Vienna.” At any moment, you may turn the corner & hear strains of the Vienna Boys’ Choir, or look up to find a soaring cathedral, glowing in the moonlight.
Vienna is a city of romance. It’s a city of poetry. It’s a city filled with music. It’s a city you may just find yourself falling in love with.
Say Goodbye to Romantic Vienna…
So long! Farewell! Auf Wiedersehen….good night! If you’re traveling to Vienna via the train, I’d highly recommend visiting the nearby cities of Prague & Budapest ~ they’re both just a few hours from Vienna by train. Or, rent a car in Vienna & take in the absolutely beautiful Austrian countryside. You can’t go wrong either way!
Read Next: Prague in Pictures!