My darling, darling boyfriend planned and surprised me with a weekend trip to once of Europe’s most romantic cities. No, not Venice or Paris. Those can be overrated. Surprisingly, he chose Vienna, Austria as our weekend getaway. While one might not think of a large city such as Vienna even remotely romantic, and let me tell you, I was also a skeptic, I returned home with considerably different point of view. After all, what could be more romantic than strolling along beautiful buildings, wandering a castle with a love story that will move you, delicious cafes and horse-drawn carriage rides!?
Before we even reached Vienna, we made a slight detour to a small town called Admont to check out an abbey with one of the Europe’s most stunning libraries. Admont Abbey’s library is considered to be the “Eighth World Wonder” soon after its completion in 1776. And no wonder, because it was mind-mindbogglingly beautiful and took my breath away within seconds of stepping inside.
As is usual for us, the first place we like to start our sightseeing trips is in the city center, usually at the most beautiful cathedral. In Vienna, that is Stephansdom which is surround by many narrow medieval alleys, shops and cafes. The cathedral itself dates back 800 years and I’m sure has seen plenty of love stories walk through its doors. The spire of the cathedral is considered to be the symbol of the cathedral as well as for Vienna. For those interested, you can even climb up the tower to have a view over the city!
Then slowly make your way while walking down the Graben, which is Vienna’s bustling part of the city with plenty of fashionable shops, restaurants and cafes with the beautifully sculpted Plague Column in the center.
Just around the corner is the Peterskirche, another of Vienna’s oldest and very beautiful churches which was actually founded in 792 by Charlemagne. The inside of this church is absolutely stunning with an incredibly luxurious organ.
One of the most important parts of visiting Vienna is certainly sitting down for a coffee and a delicious cake in one of the many cafes around town. This is definitely an ingrained cultural identity here and I can see why a “coffee and cake break” is important. An afternoon well spent sipping hot coffee and nibbling on a delicious piece of heaven brings a day of content! Two of the best cafes we tried happen to be Café Demel (left), which once provided the palace with its scrumptious treats, as well as Café Central (right) which was definitely our favorite. Not gonna lie, we went there twice just for the “Central Surprise” which is “a beautiful blend of orange caramel, Bavarian cream and chocolate”.
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Finally we made our way to the Hofburg, which was the former Emperor’s residence. From Michaelerplatz, the majestic entrance to the Hofburg stands before you. Part of the complex Imperial Palace is the Alte Burg which was once the residence of the now mysterious Empress Elizabeth aka “Sisi”, the Crown Jewels and the Imperial Silver. Being an absolute history nerd and regency lover, I naturally had to do a tour of the palace.
While today the life history of Sisi is somewhat mysterious, the love that her husband, Emperor Franz Joseph was certainly inspiring. He definitely loved her possibly more than she loved him, but the love he carried for her even though she was most often anywhere but Vienna, is true commitment.
From both the Stephansdom and in front of the Hofburg, one can catch a horse-drawn carriage ride. They say one has not truly been to Vienna until they have gone on a horse-drawn carriage ride. You can catch a ride for either 20 or 40 minutes, or you can even negotiate with the drivers, especially if you have the Vienna card. The best time of day to do a ride is absolutely as the sun is just beginning to set and into the Blue Hour. The ambiance couldn’t possibly be more romantic, and is actually quite the perfect time for any marriage proposals! I should know because my darling boyfriend proposed to me while enjoying one of these romantic rides. Naturally, I said YES! Gentlemen, take notes!
Between mid January and the beginning of March, in front of the Vienna City Hall you can find the Vienna Ice World skating rink. Perfect for couples looking to skate in unison together while enjoying the glow of the city hall and the aroma of Glühwein wafting in the air. While we did not personally ice skate, it was sure lovely to watch others.
The next morning we headed over to the Schönbrunn Palace, home to one of Austria’s most romantic love stories. The palace itself was completed in 1744-49 under the reign of Maria Theresa. She and her husband, Francis I, Holy Roman Emperor loved each other so deeply, they couldn’t stop having children. 16 in fact! One of whom included the infamous Marie Antoinette who would later become the Queen of France. They loved each other so deeply, that upon the sudden death of her husband, Maria Theresa wrote in her diary the exact length of their loving marriage and would continue to wear black for the rest of her life. What could possibly be more inspiring to a new couple recently engaged the day before!?
We also took a couple more strolls through the main city center again, (mostly so we could enjoy another coffee and cake from Café Central!) but so we could also check out the Austria National Library which is another stunning library that absolutely must be seen in Europe which can be found in the Hofburg Complex at Josefsplatz. Frescos dominate the ceiling, endless rows of books line the walls and statues add to the stunning beauty.
Lastly, before leaving Vienna, we made sure to check out the Hundertwasser Haus – a unique apartment complex building created and designed by the famous Austrian artist, Friedensreich Regentag Dunkelbunt Hundertwasser which translates to something more like “Peace-realm”, “Rainy Day”, “Darkly multi-colored”, “Hundred Water”. The building is among several in Vienna as well as in Germany and other parts of the world that showcase his unique artistic abilities to combine nature and architecture together, incorporating elements of a Moorish mosque with the features of Spanish villages and Venetian palaces.
So, as I mentioned before previously, I left Vienna with a new outlook on city romance. A city can be as romantic as you possibly make it to be, so long as you’re with the one you love! Vienna will now always have a very special place in my heart as the night that changed my life forever! ❤
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