Vienna in 72 Hours: The Art of Enjoyment - Page 2

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Saloon inside the Opera House in Vienna, Austria  (barnyz/flickr)

Day 2

Morning awe at the Kunsthistorisches Museum (KHM) (Maria-Theresien-Platz, 1st district)
It’s a given that the KHM’s magnificent collections are brimming with generations of superb Habsburg collecting–and it is so worth a visit. But starting in early 2013, the Kunstkammer (Chamber of Art and Wonders) will reopen for the first time in a decade. Even the most jaded fantasy-makers will be dazzled beyond belief by these decorative expressions of gold-plated desires, exotica, and imagination made manifest. (Don’t miss the “Salt Cellar.”) Let your curiosity run as wild as the artisans working from the late Middle Ages to Baroque and Rococo periods, working to interpret the cosmos and microcosms.

Lunch at Hollmann Salon (Grashofgasse 3, 1st district)
If centuries-old cobblestone courtyards send unwitting signals to your psyche that an old-world grandeur hovers around the edges, think again. Duck into this salon and upend your brain waves, prepare your palate and feast your eyes. As waitresses hover attentively in their stark black and white pinafores, the interior is warmly contemporary with vaulted ceilings, metal chandeliers, and an open kitchen. As for the intentionally limited and delectable cuisine (3 courses for 15 euro or a la carte), it’s organic, seasonal, and sustainable. In additional to stellar and sensitively prepared vegetarian choices, you might savor cold cucumber soup, paprika chicken and crepes. Expand your love affair with Austrian wines.

Vienna Kaffeehaus Culture
Sometimes tradition transcends the search for modernity. Such is the case with the iconic Café Sperl (Gumpendorferstrasse 11; 6th district), which lies beyond the beaten tourist path, dates to 1884, and gets its old-world vibe from parquet floors and crystal chandeliers. Unless you’re watching the world go by al fresco, that is. Alternatively, the 1822 greenhouse Palmenhaus (Burggarten 1, 1st district), originally part of the Imperial Hofburg palace gardens, makes for a delightful brasserie-style respite – whether dining inside surrounded by palms or on the terrace overlooking Burggarten park.

Sausage, high culture, and table service at the Vienna State Opera (Operngasse 2, 1st district)
Legendary. Pitch perfect. It’s no surprise that applies to Tosca at this opera house. Which, for the record, is one of the purest pleasures you can give yourself – even if you are not prone to over-emotionalism. But it also describes a visit prior to the curtain rising–for sausages at Würstelstand bei der Albertina (Augustinerstrasse 1), a glorified stand on a traffic island where you are as likely to see opera goers and bankers as dudes in leather. Choose your mustard wisely: sweet (suess) or spicy (scharf)? Live large with Käsekrainer, imbued with cheese. Later, once ensconced in the Opera House’s velveteen and marble interior during intermission (if you’ve planned ahead and ordered table service), champagne and sweet and savory treats await, while others scurry to order and indulge.

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