According to the 2015 Quality of Living survey released by global consultancy Mercer, Vienna is the most livable city on earth. This attractive city has buzzing restaurants, countless coffee houses, innovative museums, gorgeous architecture, cultural diversity, a thriving economy and stable political system. All of these traits contribute to a high-quality lifestyle for locals and tourists alike.
After spending a week in the city, I quickly understood why Vienna has the reputation it does. It’s a wonderful city to explore with endless opportunities to get a taste of the culture and unique attractions that make the city so special. Here are 5 things you must experience during your trip to Vienna:
1. Attend a Ball
If you’ve ever dreamt about dancing the waltz at a ball just like you’ve seen in the movies, you’ll get your chance in Vienna. Nowhere else in the world are balls so romantically formal then in this Austrian city. Each year more than 450 balls take place in Vienna reaching its peak in January and February. The dress code is typically strict and/or themed, so plan to dress to impress. To really make your childhood fairytale dream a reality, you can even arrive to the ball by horse and carriage, which is a popular way to get around Vienna.
2. Learn the Viennese Waltz
While it’s not required to attend a ball knowing how to dance the Viennese Waltz, it wouldn’t hurt to know the steps so when you’re asked to dance, you can impress your dance partner. At Thomas Tanzschule Kraml Dance School, you can take a 1-hour lesson in the Viennese Waltz with a professional dance teacher who can make anyone look good on the dance floor. Founded in 1919, this is one of Vienna’s most legendary dance institutions and remains unique in the world today.
3. Spend the Afternoon at a Coffee House
Vienna coffee house culture is an integral part of the city’s social experience. While getting a coffee to go is possible in some café’s, it’s not the traditional way to enjoy a cup of java. In all traditional Vienna coffee houses, it’s impossible to get a coffee-to-go. You’re meant to sit down, relax, read a newspaper or chat with a friend over a cup of coffee. It’s meant to be sipped slowly and there is no rush to leave. The coffee house culture is such a significant part of Vienna’s culture that UNESCO recently named the Vienna coffee house on their list of the ‘National Agency for the Intangible Cultural Heritage’. While there are several coffee houses in the city to try, Café Landtmann is a must experience. This was the preferred coffee house to Sigmund Freud who would always sit in the same booth that still exists today. Here’s some great tips on how to order a coffee in Vienna.
4. Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth in Grandma’s Living Room
Vollpension is perhaps the most unique and special café in Vienna. As soon as you step through the door, you feel as if you’re in your Grandparents living room. This café is a generational café where you can find several Grandmothers and Grandfathers standing behind the stove, serving home-baked cake and home-cooked dishes such as roast pork and Austrian Krautfleckerl while sharing their life stories. All of the Grandparents had previously retired but now work a couple of days during the week at the café.
5. Shop the Hidden Gems
If you love to shop, then you’ll enjoy a guided shopping tour with Shopping with Lucy. Lucy, who moved to Vienna from New York City, is a Fashion Stylist who will take you off the beaten path from Vienna’s famous shopping streets to the best, hidden shops and boutiques you otherwise may not find on your own. You’ll get to discover some of the best Austrian designer clothing, accessories, jewelry, home decor and more, all while enjoying a stroll through the beautiful streets of Vienna.