Music plays a big part in the history of the spectacular city of Vienna. Both Beethoven and Mozart spent large chunks of their lives, living and composing in the Austrian capital and drawing their inspiration from the fine architecture and people. And both would have approved that this UNSECO World Heritage protected city is blooming and tourism is open again as we slowly return to pre pandemic days.
A short airline hop alongside husband Kenny and our children Ruaridh (14) and Flossie (12), followed by a 20-minute train ride, and we were in the heart of the city.
We chose the newly opened Superbude Hotel as our base for the four-night stay. Located next to the Würstelprater, Vienna’s old-fashioned amusement park, the hotel’s stylish open plan restaurant overlooks the city’s famous Ferris wheel and modern-day roller coasters.
As you step into the lobby, you are greeted with colour and nik naks everywhere. From the six-foot astronaut to the rocket chimney, this is one cool hotel. Designers Laura Karasinski and Gerd Zehetner enlisted the help of local art students to create a fun, but practical hotel.
Travel is the main theme with a nod to Johann Georg Stuwer, Austria’s first balloonist, through wall art and memorabilia and once in the lift, you go up, up and away while trying out the sounds of Vienna through a fun push button intercom.
The 178 bedrooms are just as impressive, with each individually designed to represent the guests, with sleeping bunks, treehouses and themed rooms, including a disco studio style room with a mirror ball and a dive in bed to fit five people!
The hotel runs an honesty bar and there are two restaurants, The Brenner, a downstairs café which serves Viennese classics, such as eggs in a glass, served with smoked salmon, the creamiest horse radish sauce and sour dough bread and of course, the best coffee, a speciality of Austria, where tea drinking is left to the tourists. Upstairs, the more swish NENI restaurant boasts an open fire, views of the fun fair and some very exotic food, with an Israeli twist.
To make sure the hotel is sustainable, most of the furniture has been recycled, linen is Fair Trade organic and bathroom goodies are all natural.
The hotel has excellent transport links and within minutes you are in the main hub of the city where many of the sights to be seen are.
Led by experienced guide Ilse Heigerth, we enjoyed a three hour walk around starting off at the majestic Opera House, home to the famous Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, built in 1869 and full of glorious architecture dating back to the Renaissance period. It really is a stunning building.
From here you can easily access such delights as St Stephen’s Cathedral, a Gothic building which is magnificent in height and architecture and currently boasts a modern piece of art on its spire, an illuminated ladder which depicts the steps up to heaven.
Close by is the Spanish Riding School, dedicated to preserving the classical dressage and training of Lipizzaner horses, who are pampered beyond luxury and perform regularly to the public in the ancient yard.
Ruaridh and Flossie are real Harry Potter fans and so they just loved the wizard like National Library. The country’s largest, with 10.9m books and artefacts, it is like walking into a Potter film, with high ceilings, wooden shelves stacked to the sky and old creaking floorboards.
The House of Music pays homage to the great musicians from across the years and has modern day interactive displays, exploring the fascinating world of music and sound.
One of Vienna’s famous artists Gustav Klimt is best known for his symbolist painting and his primary subject, was the female body. Great pieces of art, such as The Kiss and The Fan are currently displayed at the Belvedere Palace until February 2022, once home to Prince Eugene of Savoy and now a world-renowned art museum.
The elegant Kunsthistorisches Museum was opened 130 years ago by Emperor Franz Joseph and to celebrate, a brilliant exhibition by Venetian painter Titian (1488 to 1567) is being staged, with 60 copies of similar work by other artists.
And if you really want to be blown away with opulence, then check out the Schönbrunn Palace, a 1,441-room palace, once the main summer home of the Habsburg rulers and it is one of the most important architectural gems in Austria, with magnificent gardens to boot.
Vienna is a real fun place for families and the top three child friendly attractions feature the oldest zoo in the world at Schönbrunn, where the animals are treated brilliantly, no cramped enclosures, just big open spaces and plenty of species from pandas to flamingoes and the cutest penguins you have ever seen!
The House of Ilusions is a great little museum for a wet day, full of fun holograms, steroegrams and optical illusions, it will have you transfixed for hours.
Old-fashioned fun can be found at the Würstelprater, the city’s amusement park with all the fun of the fair, from roller coasters to dodgems, plus the wonderful old Ferris wheel where wooden carriages are decked out to allow you a slow, but fantastic look at the city from above. For a modern look out of the city, check out the MQ Libelle on the roof of the Leopold Museum in the Museums Quartier. Nearby is the Zoom Museum, where little people can explore film, the sea and have hands on fun.
Coffee and cake are the main staples of diet for the Viennese and where better to sample some of the country’s best than at Café Sacher, not only an impressive setting, but serving the finest coffee and best Sachertorte cake, a chocolate sponge cut into three layers and filled with apricot jam.
For the best traditional dumplings in Vienna and an array of other exotic vegetarian, meat and fish dishes, a visit to the Wrenkh Restaurant is a must.
We are dreaming of a return, already, “Oh Vienna.’’
The Vienna Tourist Board has all the information you need to get the most out of your trip and you can check out their website here: www.wien.info. You can also follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and on YouTube.
Rebecca Hay is an experienced travel writer and member of The British Guild of Travel Writers. Follow her adventures with her family on Twitter and Instagram @emojiadventurer and on Facebook via EmojiAdventurers2.