Vienna-- Most Romantic Weekend City!

Vienna--my new vote for most romantic city! A couple weeks ago, we decided to touch down in Vienna and meet up with our friends Leila and Ian for a short spring escape. The weather was incredible, the flowers were blooming--just the perfect storybook weekend!

Thursday, Day 1 (1/2 day)
Vienna is just a hop, skip and jump away from London. An easy 1 1/2 hour flight out of Gatwick gets you into Vienna International Airport.  We arrive around 2pm Thursday, and since we didn't check luggage, we were through immigration in a flash. There are many ways to travel the 18 kilometers into town, but the CAT train is an easy, direct, clean 16 minute ride and drops us off right at Wein Mitte (Vienna Central), which is walking distance to our hotel. (Note: the train costs €12/person and leaves twice per hour, at :09 and :39--just follow the green signs, and the track you want is on the right)

I recommend that you stay in central Vienna, in the walkable section called Innere Stradt. The Innere Stradt of Vienna is surrounded by the Donaukanal (canal) and the Ringstrasse, a circular road that follows the outline of the old fortified walls of the city. Most of the tourist attractions are inside this area, with so many one-way and pedestrian streets that it doesn't usually make sense to take a cab, except when voyaging into the outlying areas. And the underground system called the U Bahn is a great way to get to the outer sections. 

We want to stay in the heart of Vienna, and we choose the Vienna Marriott right on the Ringstrasse. Normally, I try to stay somewhere with a local feel, but we have Marriott points and the location of this hotel is perfect. We would definitely stay here again, although in Vienna, I’d seriously be happy anywhere within the Ringstrasse and the canal.

So, after arriving mid-afternoon at Wein Mitte Station, we begin our 10 min walk to our hotel, through the beautiful Stadtpark. 

We don't have a lot of daylight left, so we decide to make the most of our afternoon and take a 15 minute cab ride to see the adorable village of Grinzing, which is actually a neighborhood in the northern part of Vienna (District 19) that borders the wine region. Grinzing is a wine lover's delight and charming village rolled into one! (You could also take the #38 Tram to the center of Grinzing, and the 38A Tram lands you in the midst of vineyards.)

When you arrive in the Grinzing town square, you will find at least ten wine taverns right on the main road. We were told that on weekends and during the summer it is chock full of tourists and wine lovers. On this particular afternoon it was pretty empty, which was fine with us. Our cab driver doesn’t know the area, and after driving around a bit, we finally come to what appears to be the center of the village. (a good spot to be dropped off is the V where Himmelstrasse becomes Cobenzlgasse). 
We wander up the streets, enjoying all the hidden courtyards.

To learn more about Grinzing area wine tasting, this is a good article:

 Along the way, we meet some locals who want their photo taken, and then we head up the hill to the Restaurant Brandl, where my husband orders a dinner of schnitzel. I order Chicken Cordon Bleu, which somehow looks exactly like the schnitzel! The local white wine is good, and the cider tasted like apple beer!

After dinner, we call an Uber to take us to Ammalienbad, a Vienna public swimming pool and spa. The Art Deco style space is is truly a work of art, with red cabin doors lining the swimming pool balcony, and gorgeous tile and stain glass features of a bygone era. The spa is “non-textile”, local lingo for no swimsuit, but the massive pool is 100% swimsuit required.  

The pool is stunning. It has 3 levels and on the balconies are probably 200 individual changing rooms, rented by locals, and bearing their family names. 

In the spa, we are given a wristband that opens a locker, and we enter an area that consists of at least 5 steam rooms, a huge hot bubbling hot tub, a cold pool, and two saunas. We have the place to ourselves. A massive hot tub that seats 40 with tiled columns and stained glass roof takes our breath away, but no photos are allowed, so these are some I found on the internet.

And at 8pm, a special ceremony is held in the wet sauna, in which water is poured over the rocks, and a staff member waves a flag back and forth to create heat. We have no idea there are more than just a couple people here until they all converge here for the ceremony. 

After a wonderful couple hours relaxing, we again call an Uber, and we go back to the hotel, rested and beaming from the day’s experiences. 

Friday, Day 2 
Part 1 Photo safari of Vienna
I'm up early because I want to take photos at a few beautiful sites before we meet up with our friends, so I go out for a morning run to Royal Palace of Justice, which opens at 7:30am. There is just one other photographer there, and we get the iconic shots of the staircase!

Next, I hail a cab to take me to St. Francis of Assisi Church in Mexikoplatz, and I'm so lucky that the cherry blossoms are in bloom. But this side of the church is not the best spot for a photo, so the driver takes me across the Danube for a beautiful shot of all the rooftops, making this church look like it has sprung out of a fairy tale!

The cab driver recommends seeing the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, which is located near the Outer Palace Gate.

Below is the view from the Belvedere Palace, located at Prinz Eugen-Strasse 27. You may have time to visit this museum, which holds "the Kiss", a painting by Gustav Klimpt. If not, the view from the outside is exceptional.

Next up is the search for the zany buildings created by Frederich Hundertwasser (1928-2000). Although Hundertwasser was born in Vienna, he was an internationally renown architect who lived predominantly in New Zealand. He initially gained notoriety for his paintings, before venturing into environmental architecture.  I was determined to see his most well known works in Vienna (addresses provided below). His use of color and quirky style is somewhat reminiscent of the Catalonian architect, Gaudi, who died in 1926, two years before Huntertwasser was born. Huntertwasser was known for being vehemently opposed to a straight line, which I find is a fair observation. 

The above three photos are of Vienna's Waste Incineration Plant, called Fernwarme, located at Spittelauer Lande 45, Vienna. These buildings are close to Grinzing.

The next photo is of the Kunst Haus Wein (Kunst Haus means Art Museum). Note that here is a restaurant in the complex where you can either sit indoors or out. It is located at Untere Weissgerberstrasse 13.

Hundertrwasserhaus, below, is an apartment complex in Vienna (and it is located quite close to Kunst Haus) located at Kegelgasse 38. If you can only see one, I recommend this one!

Since I'm a Californian, I must mention that Hundertwasser designed the Quixote Winery in Napa, photographed here:

Pretty crazy stuff, huh?

Day 2, Part 2: Walking tour of the tourist sights
Our friends Leila and Ian arrived late last night and we decide to do a walking tour of central Vienna today.  I must say that Vienna is pure white beauty. It is clean, the buildings are classic and elegant, full of amazing history, and bonus—It’s almost impossible to take a bad photo. 

Our walking tour is quite detailed, so I am choosing to include it in another blog, titled "Walking Tour of Historic Central Vienna". Here is the link:

After our great day walking the streets of Vienna ends, we go back to the hotel to rest up a bit, then we head  over to a Mozart quartet concert, Konzerte im Mozarthaus, held in the monastery in which Mozart first lived when he arrived in Vienna (the location is easily walkable, 1.Singerstrasse 7).  Mozart concerts are located all over the city, and although it was quite enjoyable, if you are into Mozart, I would recommend attending a different concert than this one. The violinist stated he prefers Beethoven to Mozart, then the group proceeds to plays an assortment of composers and only one piece by Mozart! (this is billed as a Mozart concert, hmmm)

We finish the day off with a wonderful dinner at the elegant Paul restaurant (on Johannesgasse 16) near our hotel.  Friday is a wrap and after walking over 12 miles, I  I fall asleep before my head hits the pillow!

Saturday, Day 3
Part 1 -early morning photos

I wake up early again, and zip around to get a couple more shots of beautiful Vienna. 

The beautiful exterior of Salonplafond, a modern Viennese restaurant located inside the Museum of Applied Arts, located on the Ringstrasse.

Below, the Love Augustin (Greek) restaurant is located in the remains of an old inn established in 1447.  This Instagram favorite is located at Marzstrasse 67. 

Somewhat nearby, you will find Café Central, located at Herrengasse 14, and Ferstel Passage (sometimes called Freyung Passage) located at Strauchgasse 2. 

Bonus! I whip around the corner and practically run into an Easter Market. Named Altweiner Ostermarkt, the decorated egg vendor was the only one there and he had spent all night setting up his beautiful shop! Gorgeous hand-painted eggs!

Day 3, Part 2   
Melk, Danube Tour, Krems
Ian, who is quite the trip planner extraordinaire, pulls something big out of his hat when he suggests that we take a train to Melk, visit the magnificent Melk Abbey, then cruise down the Danube. All in one day!!!

So, we cab to the Westbahnhof Station, which is all decorated for Easter, and struggle to figure out how to purchase tickets from the machine. (a happy surprise upon our return was to find out that somehow we had purchased round trip tickets!) 

When we arrive in Melk, we hike straight up to the Abbey, a Benedictine Monastery situated at the top of a massive rock hill. The abbey was constructed in 1089, and has been home to monks for over 1000 years. 

We arrive just in time to take a guided tour, which I’d recommend, because you skip the line, and learn a lot in the process. We travel through an exhibition of the history of the Abbey, and the most beautiful library I’ve ever seen, and arrive at the cathedral just in time for a short service and organ recital.  Again, the ability to take photos is limited, so please enjoy a few that I managed to snap up. Best are the incredible library and the Cathedral itself. and dang! I forgot to look up at its ceiling, but I hear it is breathtaking. 

(above fab photo by Leila Friedenberg)

After wandering around the Melk Abbey, we make our way back through the charming town, enjoy the sun and locals, and we have a nice lunch at one of the many outdoor cafés.

It's almost time for our boat cruise down the Danube, so we make our way along the riverbank to the boat dock, and purchase a one way ticket to Krems for €26 each.  We arrive about 20 minutes before the boat leaves, but if we were to do it again, I would recommend getting there 30-40 minutes ahead so we could stake out a seat on the middle deck, which is protected and has great comfortable chairs. 

The boat ride was so peaceful and the scenery was lovely. We passed some amazing ruins and weekend castles, as well as a couple charming towns. Many people got off at the Durnstein stop, as it is known to have a few great wineries and a lovely church, but we continue to the village of Krems, where the boat cruise ends. 

We disembark in Krems and follow the crowds to the left, toward the village. We walk about 10 minutes to the Old Quarter, and after passing through the Steinertor Gate, we enter an entirely different world, with charming narrow streets filled with shops and pedestrian tunnels. This is clearly an upscale village, probably within commute distance to Vienna. We don't have nearly enough time here, since we need to take the train back to Vienna before nightfall, but I would definitely spend a weekend in this town. So charming. Plus, the shopping looks excellent! :)

We make it back to the hotel before dark, and unfortunately, Jeff isn't feeling well, so we order a meal at the hotel, while Leila and Ian enjoy a fabulous dinner at a place highly recommended for its trendy and lively atmosphere and foodie menu, Skopik and Lohn (Leopoldsgasse 17)

Early bedtime, hoping that Jeff feels better tomorrow, our last day in Vienna!
Meanwhile, just a few pictures taken outside our hotel at night. 

Sunday, Day 4 Vienna (1/2 day)

We wake up very sad to leave this beautiful city. Our flight is at 3:30, which gives us just enough time to do one more thing that we’ve been looking forward to: a visit to Shoenbrunn Palace. We walk across the street and through the park just as the Vienna Marathon is getting ready to start. Traffic is stopped, and giant blow-up arches span the Ringstrasse. 

We head into the Stadpark U Bahn Station and purchase a 2.40 euro ticket for the U4 to Schoenbrunn Station.

We’ve heard that if you arrive early at Schoenbrun, that they will hold your luggage, and we pray that it’s true (it is). We get there just when it opens and are sooooo happy to arrive before the crowds. We love the audio tour through this fascinating palace, which is a history lesson on the Hapsburg empire (although due to the layout of the rooms, it doesn’t follow a historical order, which we find a bit confusing).  No photos allowed in the palace, so once more, I’m relying on the internet to show you a couple highlights. 


After the tour ends, we decide to explore the outer gardens and palace grounds. For those of you who have been to Versaille, this will remind you of the French palace, which it was modeled somewhat after. 

We take some photos from the palace balcony, then make a hike up to the famous Gloriette, at the top of the hill, where we enjoyed a bite to eat while accompanied by violin, the perfect touch. Of note, the Gloriette was constructed in 1775 to give the palace residents something to look at! I'm serious!

After lunch, we have just enough time to try our luck at the Maze.

...and to visit the beautiful glass Palm House before making a mad dash toward the cab stand (located to the left of the palace across the street) and to our flight home. 

A fabulous weekend with fabulous friends.
 Vienna, you get my vote for favorite weekend city!

"..And I'll dance with you in Vienna, I'll be wearing a river's disguise. The hyacinth wild on my shoulder my mouth on the dew of your thighs. And I'll bury my soul in a scrapbook, with the photographs there and the moss. And I'll yield to the flood of your beauty, my cheap violin and my cross."
Leonard Cohen

                             We Love you, Vienna!


  1. The Cohen lines gave me the chills...and your blog is a maze of beauty and thrills!

  2. Jean - We've been to vienna but didn't see half of what you have shared here. You do a great job of uncovering the unusual and quirky. love the architect (Hunderwasser?)houses, the swimming pool find and the tour of Grinzing.
    Someday.... . Hope your blogs will still be available for planning a trip.


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