Last updated: 09:00 PM ET, Wed September 23 2015

Opinion Home | Tales From the Leap

  • Shannon Wolf | September 23, 2015 9:00 PM ET

    Austria: Not Just Mozart and Mountains

    Austria: Not Just Mozart and Mountains

    PHOTO: Vienna is filled with many historical gems, such as the Parliament building — so grab a famous coffee, put on those walking shoes and go sightseeing! (photos by Shannon Wolf)

    When I first thought of Austria, the things that came to mind were “The Sound of Music,” Mozart and mountains.

    To be honest, before going to Austria I really didn’t know a thing about it. Then again, that’s exactly why I travel — to broaden my spectrum of cultures and after spending nearly two weeks (when really, I had only planned on three days) I can honestly say that Austria has some of the most welcoming people I’ve ever met and is one of those few places that I would gladly go back to in a heartbeat.

    Everyone’s first stop is typically the capital city of Vienna — which from the outside looks a tad stuffy. But once you arrive, you’ll realize that it’s quite cozy and a perfect mix of urban meets nature, and see firsthand why it has gained accolades as a top city with the best quality of life.

    All you need in the city is a few days, but make sure to travel throughout the rest of the country to truly experience its richness.

    PHOTO: My couchsurfing host took me on a wonderful adventure through the hiking trails overlooking all of Vienna!

    Best Budget Hostel: Palace Hostel (€16.10 on weekdays/€21.50 on weekends for a dorm)


    • Reading light in dorm beds

    • Lockers/luggage storage

    • Outdoor terrace

    • Common room/cable TV/foosball

    • Wi-Fi

    • Hot showers


    Note: Austria is heavily meat-based so if you are a vegetarian or vegan, your options are limited when eating out.

    • On a budget? Go to the all-you-can-eat, pay-what-you-can curry buffet at Der Wiener Deewan — the fare actually tastes amazing!

    • Famous Foods: Wiener Schnitzel, Frankfurter, Gulash, Liptauer Cheese Spreads

    • Famous Dessert: Sacre Tort with apricot filling, Apfelstrudel.

    • Check out Nash Market: One of the largest market squares in Europe with moderate prices, located in the old town.


    • Enjoy an espresso at the famous coffeehouse Kaffeehauser where Klimt, Freud and Mozart frequented (€3-€5).

    • Apricot or Peach Schnapps!

    • Top rated Austrian beer: Bevog Rudeen Black IPA

    • Gelber Muskateller White Wine

    Vienna Clubs:

    • Bermuda Triangle

    • The Slammer

    • The Travel Shack (popular with backpackers)

    Must Do’s

    • Visit the impressive Belvedere? Art Museum, home to the world’s largest collection of Gustav Klimt paintings, including “The Kiss.”

    • Wander through the beautiful gardens of Schoenbrunn Palace.

    • Visit the many churches, markets, gardens, parks and galleries — entry to most places are free.

    • Hang out in Vienna’s Museum Quarter as locals do, where you can sit back and relax while sipping on a famous coffee.

    • Eat a Sacre Tort at Sacre Hotel (where the original Sacre Tort came from!).

    • Enjoy a wonderful view of the city and hike up to Wienerblick in the Lainzer Tiergarten.

    Places to Visit Outside of the city:

    • Grunau


    • Eisriesenwelt Caves (The world's largest ice cave just outside of Salzburg.)

    • Innsbruck

    • Hallstatt

    PHOTO: I spy with my little eye, the beautiful countryside beyond city lights. 

    Things you probably didn’t know about Austria:

    • Austria has incredible local white wine and Vienna is the only capital city to produce its own.

    • Austria is a very Catholic country and so a lot of towns and cities are named after saints.

    • PEZ were invented in Vienna.

    • The original snow globe was invented in Austria.

    • The tap water is some of the highest quality drinking water in the world — both out of the tap and straight out of its numerous crystal clear lakes.

    • The Danube River was originally used as a natural border against invaders and runs through four capital cities from its starting point in Germany’s Black Forest and mouth in the Black Sea.

    • Every year, there are over 200 balls in Vienna — one of the most famous of these events being the Life Ball.

More Vienna


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Shannon Wolf Tales From the Leap

Shannon Wolf Shannon Wolf is a freelance photographer and writer, traveling across the globe with an open itinerary and no intent of stopping. Originally from Toronto, Canada, she left behind a fast paced life to truly live and not just exist in an attempt to inspire others to follow their bliss. At age 26, Shannon has visited 20+ countries on four continents around the world. She has travelled overland by chicken-bus and tuk-tuks, hitchhiked by fruit trucks and through islands on horse and buggy. She has slept in the jungles of Nicaragua, on benches in London, secluded hidden beaches and she’s only getting started.
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