Vienna, the city of Baroque streetscapes, home of coffeehouse culture, and imperial palaces is a must see European city destination. With its unique charm and vibrant flair, this capital city has an unhurried feel, unusual for large European capital cities. Vienna is a dream city for anyone who is a romantic or has an interest in history. However, if you are looking for something a little out of the ordinary we have some suggestions for you.
Big Bus Vienna
This may not be unusual, but the Big Bus Vienna, Hop on Hop off bus tour is a great way to get an overview of the city from both land and water. An open-top sightseeing bus will take you on a journey through the most beautiful areas of Vienna, with stops at the city's most famous landmarks and attractions. The Big Bus Vienna tours let you examine Vienna’s rich history, sophisticated culture, and stunning architecture. You will see the Schönbrunn Palace, St. Stephen's Cathedral, Belvedere Palace, Vienna State Opera and much more on the Big Bus Tours.
The tours provide a commentary in 13 languages, and they have free onboard WIFI. There are three bus routes that you can take. We recommend at least doing the red route as it takes you through the center of the city. We did all three routes to get a broader view of Vienna. You can buy a single day or a multi-day ticket. The deluxe ticket includes a night guided walking tour and a river cruise. You can experience a lot of Vienna via the Big Bus Vienna bus tour.
Unusual Wine Tasting Concept
If you are a wine lover, we have a different wine experience for you. We met Stylianos Stavridis. He is a wine lover and specialist. He holds a WSET Level 3 Advanced Certificate from the WSET School in London for Wine & Spirit Education. Stylianos arranges private wine tastings in a private Wine Club located in Vienna.
We did a private wine tasting at Wine Club 7. Wein Club 7 offers wine lovers a secure place to store their wine specialties in ideal conditions. Think of a wine cellar shared amongst 100 owners. Members of this wine club have a secure personal place to store their wine that is climate controlled to ensure the perfect temperature and light at all times. Also, the members can use the public spaces with tables and chairs, dishes and wines glasses should they like to bring guests or hold a business meeting in the cellar.
Stylianos holds educational wine tastings in the wine club. We enjoyed an Austrian wine tasting. We started with sparkling wine and progressed through white and finished with some reds. The wine tasting came paired with accouterments. As we enjoyed sampling each new wine, we also learned about the wine region, some background on the vineyard and what style of winemaking was used to make the wine. Stylianos passion for wine is evident. Spending an evening with someone who is fun and passionate about wine makes for a good evening. Any wine lover would enjoy this unusual wine tasting concept in the heart of the city.
While tasting wine with Stylianos, we discovered glass corks. Glass corks, as we learned from Stylianos, were developed in Germany and designed to look like decanter stoppers. They achieve a tight seal by way of a plastic O-ring that allows for a snug fit between stopper and bottle. Hence, no more corked wine. They are most popular with German and Austrian wineries. I think it is unfortunate that more winemakers are not using this type of wine bottle closure.
A traditional cork closes 80% of the world’s wine. Cork requires a corkscrew, it’s breakable and is susceptible to cork taint (virtually destroying the wine). Using a glass wine cork does not impact the nose or flavors of the wine. It hermetically seals the bottle, reducing the risk of oxidation and preserving the wine’s original aromas. Stylianos did say that glass corks are manually inserted into bottles making them more expensive to use than traditional cork.
Oldest Amusement Park in the World
The Wurstelprater is the oldest amusement park in the world. It began in the 18th century! It is open 24 hours, 365 days a year and entry into the park is free. We recommend visiting the park after dark because the colors and sounds are special at night here. Whether you love carnival rides or can't stand them, you will love taking in the sights as you walk through the park. In addition to rides, there are also arcade shops and restaurants.
The Wurstelprater includes Vienna’s famous Riesenrad, a giant Ferris wheel constructed in 1897. This giant Ferris wheel is a trademark of Austria's capital city and is visible in the skyline even from great distances. The 360-degree city views from the Ferris wheel's closed carriages are incredible.
Night Photography Tour (with wine tasting)
Keith and I travel a lot, but it is not often that we are out at night other than for dinner. A night photography tour with an expert photographer Harald Kalasek sounded very unusual and just what we were looking for. Harald customizes his tours to each group. I guess we must have mentioned loving wine which is why we ended up doing some wine visits before sunset.
Viennese Wine Gardens
Just like Munich has beer gardens, Vienna has wine gardens, so Keith and I were in heaven. Visiting the Vienna wine gardens is a great way to experience Vienna the way the locals do. Wine gardens are not tasting rooms, in fact just like beer gardens; wine gardens tend to be more on the rustic side.
Our first stop was at Feuerwehr Wagner. Our guide Harald took us inside to order what he called cold food (although they served a few warm foods.) You select small dishes of what appeals to you, and then you find a place to sit down. We sat outside in the garden along with the locals. A waiter took our wine order, and in a few minutes, we had our food and drink. Harald explained that in the summer months especially, the Viennese enjoy lingering with friends all evening in these peaceful wine gardens.
The Wagner family has made wine for more than 330 years. The name of this wine garden, Feuerwehr Wagner, means fire brigade Wagner. The name originates back to around 1900 when owner Josef Wagner was the last chief of the volunteer fire brigade of Heiligenstadt. His brother also owned a wine garden, and it was called, Kirchen Wagner, meaning Church Wagner because this wine garden was next to the church. A wine garden, such as this one is known as a Heurigen in Vienna because it serves the wine it makes to its customers. Usually, the white wines are new wines made in the current year. They are a simple open-air tavern on the premises of the winemakers but not next to the vineyards.
Our First Ever, Buschenschank
Our next stop was at an actual vineyard located within the city limits of Vienna. This vineyard owned by Andreas Wagner is a Buschenshank. It is a bit different than a Heurigen. The name comes from a typical bundle of twigs (Buschen) that is at the entrance. The bundle signals that the Buschenschank is open, welcoming people to enter. Bushenshanks may not be open every day of the year nor even every day of the week, nor the same days week after week.
Andreas is a man with a lot of stories and amazing wine. We started with a glass of his white and then his red. Andreas and our guide know each other well. Andreas explains that his family has owned this property for hundreds of years. He and his brother have divided the land, and each grows their own grapes. Both he and his brother have different winemaking styles.
As we finished the wine we bought, Andreas brought out a special bottle of wine not available for purchase. It was a Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon blend. Andreas explained that he and his brother come together each year to make one wine that is part his grapes and part his bothers grapes. The wine is a small production wine that is normally only for the family. He shared a bottle with us as we talked and watched the sunset over the vineyard. The climate in Vienna makes for some outstanding white wines, so you are probably thinking a red? This special blend was fantastic and could hold its own against a California or Chilean red any day.
Photography at Night
Keith and I travel a lot, but it is not often that we are out at night other than for dinner. A night photography tour with an expert photographer sounded very unusual and just what we were looking for. Harald, our Vienna Night photographer guide/owner, took us to three different locations to capture great photos in the dark.
The first stop was along the side of a freeway. We took photos of the freeway itself along with pictures of the speeding cars passing by. We also photographed a brightly lit business across the river in which you can faintly see the city skyline behind. Harald gave us lots of instruction on the aperture and speed settings to get just the right shot.
Next stop was at a bridge over the river. There were lots to photograph there too. We took photos of the river, the bridge but the most fun was getting a shot of a car crossing the bridge.
Last stop was to the Wurstelprater or the Vienna Amusement park. I loved taking photos here at night. There were lots of bright colors. It was also fun to try to capture the motion of the rides in a good photo. It is more difficult than you think. Before this tour, we never really shot at night. But Harald’s instruction gave us the confidence to step out and do some night photography.
Great Vegan Food Al Fresco
Just meters from the Opera House is a great vegan restaurant located right on the Karntner Ring where you can dine outside. The restaurant is called Veggiezz. They serve bowls, pasta, sandwiches, soups, and burgers that you can enjoy while you watch the comings and goings in Vienna. The food is amazing, and that probably explains why there was not a seat available when we left.
We absolutely loved Vienna. Even though it is a big and the capital city, it did not feel rushed or crowded. We loved that there are so many places to enjoy eating outside. Best of all, we were happy to find things to do that were just a little different.
Watch our short video on beautiful Vienna Austria
If you are looking for a fabulous place to stay in Vienna with great service and a story to tell check out the Hotel Bristol. For more about the Bristol Hotel check out our Hotel Bristol Vienna, Experience the Luxurious Past Now post.
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