If you are looking for a fairy-tale trip, then there is no more perfect a place to visit than Vienna. Vienna, Austria is rich in history, music and baroque architecture, but still has a modern feel to it in parts of the city. Picture a capital city as romantic as Paris but with a third of the crowd. A place as cosmopolitan as London but so much cleaner. It’s a dream come true and it’s all in Vienna, Austria. You’ll surely fall in love with Vienna at first sight, like I did!
If you’re not spending that much time in Vienna, you’ll definitely want to take a hop on, hop off bus tour like we did via Vienna Sightseeing. This is the most convenient and comfortable way to travel and pack in the main sights, especially if you are traveling with small kids! We got off at Schönbrunn Palace Vienna and Naschmarkt, and these are definitely two must-see destinations in Vienna.
Schönbrunn Palace Park
The palace is the former summer residence of the Hapsburgs. If you take a tour of the palace and museum, you will learn about the royalty that lived here, particularly Franz Joseph who at 18 became ruler and survived the suicide of his son, the murder of his wife Sisi, and even throughout WWI. Austrian tales of yore got your attention yet?
The palace park is huge and is a relaxing way to spend an afternoon or a day here. Amongst the gardens here you will see some of the most beautiful flower arrangements. There is also the Vienna Zoo inside the palace grounds that I am told is top notch, if zoos are your thing. We didn’t check this out because I have this weird thing about zoos. (I’m not a fan of animals being confined, and growing up in Chicago, I can go to Lincoln Park Zoo anytime which is free, so I for sure wouldn’t pay to go to another zoo.) However, it is free to enter the palace park!
Our next hop off stop on the Vienna Sightseeing tour was the Naschmarkt. This is Vienna’s most popular market with 16th-century origins. Located at the Wienzeile over the Wien River, it has more than 100 food & vintage stalls, plus restaurants! Definitely a must-do in Vienna. It’s a true Viennese market experience for locals and tourists alike! Each of the little food stalls or huts in the market offers a different style of food. You can find traditional kraut at Naschmarkt sold from a wooden barrel in the age-old fashion, right next to cutting edge fusion mixes from Italian, Japanese or Moroccan delis.
When in Vienna, obviously you must eat schnitzel. But don’t forget to satisfy your sweet tooth and try a sacher-tort. This is the famous chocolate cake you may have heard about. It is one of the most decadent desserts and is shipped all over the world, but you can try it right here in its birthplace, which makes for a memorable experience in itself.
You might be surprised to learn that most Arab Austrians are of Iraqi and Lebanese origin. Our best meal in Vienna was at this Lebanese restaurant called Duzi’s Kitchen. Hands down the best Lebanese food I’ve ever had (not like I’m an expert on Lebanese cuisine, but I will say I loved this ethnic meal way more than eating schnitzel!)
Like any major city, there is plenty for kids to do. In Vienna, we rode city buses and trains to take the kids to Danube Island, where they had a blast jumping on trampolines and zip lining. Recommend this place for getting the energy out of your kids!
Vienna State Opera House
There is so much music history in Austria, particularly Vienna where many musical greats resided like Mozart, Beethoven, and Sigmund Freud. It’s not surprising that opera is one of the main attractions in Vienna. The Vienna State Opera has one of the biggest stages in Europe for good reason – they have over 300 performances and 70 productions a season. There are 180,00 costumes – which is worth 6 miles of fabric – that are housed in a building next door connected by an underground tunnel! So mysterious and romantic, don’t you think? We know nothing about opera, but the kids enjoyed watching opera on the big screen outside the opera house along with thousands of other people on the street!
I hope you enjoyed this little glimpse into Vienna. Scroll down to see more photos from this gorgeous city! Stay tuned for blog posts about other cities we visited in Austria, coming soon.