Vienna in 72 Hours: The Art of Enjoyment

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Vienna’s ultra-modern Haas Haus reflects some the city’s famous architecture  (Charles Hoffman/flickr)
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Vienna’s Tourism Board is conscientiously maintained with up-to-the minute events and themed ideas for travel. The Vienna Card gains you discounted access to more than 200 places, as well as unlimited bus and underground transportation. It’s good for 72-hours and costs a mere 20 euros.

In this insider’s guide to 72 hours in Vienna, Austria, we’ll go beyond the usual tourist suspects and unearth the multitude of reasons Vienna is consistently hailed as the world’s top place to live. Although loosely ordered for a three- to four-day sojourn, the selections below will pique your senses no matter what you pick and choose. And if you’re headed to Vienna to celebrate the 150th birthday of Gustav Klimt, the famed symbolist painter of the Vienna Secession movement, these preferences will dovetail nicely with that high-minded aesthetic.

Day 1

Check in at Hotel TOPAZZ (Lichtensteg 2, 1st district)
A cool design concept and conveniently central location co-create a winning combo here. From circular windows (complete with built-in seats) to marbled bathrooms gleaming with polished chrome and glass, the perfect ingredients brew an urbane sensibility. From door-knocker-hand-holds above the bed (don’t ask, don’t tell) to spanking white porcelain and padded doors, playful innuendos rule. And as a huge added value, afternoon nibbles and drinks are laid out in the ground floor salon, where healthful made-to-order breakfast choices await earlier in the day. To boot, all this whimsy and sophistication plays out practically adjacent to St Stephen’s Cathedral (Stephansdom) and the soul of old Vienna. Your perch is perfectly positioned.

Spa treatments and culinary classics at Hotel Sacher (Philharmonikerstrasse 4; 1st district)
A long flight means only one thing: “Time to Chocolate.” There’s no richer way to be pampered than to have a body-worker slather you in creamy, calorie-free cocoa bean essences. Choose between an aromatic wrap, a dessert-like peeling massage, and a moisturizing body mask. Then: rest, rinse, ready to dine. The refined and oh-so-red Rote Bar Café, whose conservatory overlooks the Vienna State Opera, serves classics like Wiener Schnitzel and Wiener Backhenderl, along with a sublime beef tartare. Finish–you must, especially after the spa treatment–with a slice of the world’s most famous chocolate cake topped with a dollop of whipped cream.

Stroll the 1st district
You’re not in Kansas anymore. Remind yourself by wandering (just shy of aimlessly) through the Stephansdom Quarter. Discover the nooks and crannies, naves and catacombs, of the magnificent cathedral. Opposite, as if shining us on about outdated notions about Vienna, the modernist Haas Haus is sheathed in blue-green marble and glass, and stands in marked asymmetry to St. Stephens’ majestic spires. Keep wandering: along the quiet Gruenangergasse (lined with galleries and bookshops); into the Judenplatz, the site of the medieval Jewish ghetto (now marked by an appropriately haunting Holocaust memorial); past one of 11 Viennese houses where Mozart lived (Domgasse 5).

Dinner at Holy Moly on the Badeschiff (Danube Canal, Schwedenplatz, 1st district)
Step aboard this converted barge anchored along the Danube Canal for a change of pace. Ship-hip-shape and a tiny-tad-edgy, don’t let the laid-back vibe of the resto obscure the generally high quality fare. All the savory fish dishes satisfied (including red curry quasi-spicy fish soup), although the sole vegetarian option was rather soulless. The selective menu changes nightly (freshness of the ingredients is matched by the chef’s fresh creativity), but no matter how you parse it, the multi-course dinners are relatively affordable at less than 45 euros. Begin indulging in Viennese wine, ushering in the first inkling of a love affair. This mostly local joint double dips with a swimming pool and sunbathing on the top floor. Yes, you read that right.

Published: 13 Sep 2012 | Last Updated: 14 Sep 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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