Since becoming a parent it feels as though time is zooming by — whoosh — it’s almost Christmas and we have a crawling eight-month-old. These days it feels as though he’s determined to find every sharp, dirty, electrified thing within reach. Parenting has become a full-body workout. With my time and energy at a premium, I’m still grateful we took a long weekend in Vienna. I’d choose Vienna again and again. Here’s why:
Culture. It’s no coincidence Einstein, Beethoven and Freud lived in Vienna; this city is absolutely bursting with art and music and life. I had to do a double-take I wasn’t imagining things when I heard the Viennese waltz playing as we walked around the baroque State Hall library. Nope, just a sidewalk violinist penning a love letter to Vienna. If we had visited the city baby-free, I would have seen an opera at the Vienna Opera House or at least one of the Mozart ensemble concerts. I can recommend the Belvedere Palace where Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss resides as well worth the ticket price. Or if you want to experience culture like the locals do, go to its epicenter: The Viennese Coffee House.
History. Did you know Vienna is home to more spies than any other city in the world? How about that the city was once surrounded by a moat? Whereas I feel fairly confident in my knowledge of Paris and London, Vienna’s history continued to surprise me throughout our stay. Visit Schönbrunn Palace to better understand the Hapsburg family’s role in European history. (And if it’s winter, stop by the tropical greenhouse).
Cuisine. We ate very well in Vienna. Maybe too well if you ask my skinny jeans. With the baby’s early bedtime we relish long, decadent lunches instead of dinner dates. We had Chinese dim sum one day at the almost too-cool Mama Liu & Sons and more traditional Austrian fare at the sweet, mid-century Lugeck another day (get the fried chicken, trust me). Lugeck is the stroller-friendly sister restaurant to Figlmüller Wollzeile, a.k.a. “home of the schnitzel.” Our most romantic meal? Raw oysters at this grocery store‘s wine bar.
Walkability. We clocked a few miles every day strolling around Vienna, window shopping and gawking at the architecture. Visit the outdoor market Naschmarkt one morning like we did and stay for lunch. Spend an afternoon walking around St. Stephenplatz and visiting St. Stephen’s Cathedral. If you get tired, take one of the vintage streetcars around the Ringstrasse so you can hop on an off to visit a sight or shop.
Family-friendly. I’m seeing everything, especially travel destinations, through new eyes as a parent. Big cities can be tough for navigating a stroller and I feel apologetic every time I ask for a high chair at a nice restaurant. Vienna welcomed our family with open arms. There was a crib waiting for us at our lovely hotel and smiling maître d’s at each restaurant (one even carried our baby around for half of our meal!). I won’t soon forget the museum guard who offered up a private spot for nursing or the sleek, rooftop bar that welcomed us with baby in tow. We almost felt like kids ourselves.
Have you been to Vienna? What did you love about the city? Meanwhile, some extended reading on Vienna:
All about Vienna’s city vineyards (if only we’d visited during warmer weather!)