It is true that Vienna is at its most beautiful in the spring – but only if you gaze away from summer, fall and winter. One thing is for sure: Vienna is a city for all the seasons. This has something to do with the fact that nature reaches deep into many parts of the city with approximately 50% of the city’s territory covered by green spaces and parks. But in whatever season romantic souls visit Vienna, they will always meet a young and dynamic metropolis in the heart of Europe, which will welcome them with open arms. Long renowned globally as a top tourist destination for its beauty, history and tolerance, Vienna is an ideal destination for honeymooners. Visitors from the GCC are especially familiar with Vienna’s romantic image, thanks to legandary singer Asmahan, who painted a picture of the city as nothing short of utopia, advising that one should “enjoy [their] youth here in Vienna, for Vienna is a Garden of Eden.”
In spring, the chestnut trees blossom in Prater park, 400 types of rose bloom in Volksgarten park, and the fragrance of lilac pervades the city's many other parks. Anyone who would prefer not to walk should hire a Fiaker (horse-drawn carriage) and take in the palaces, mansion houses and architectural gems on four wheels. When the warm season begins, the charming coachmen pilot their Fiaker in an even livelier manner than usual past magnificent architecture of the imperial era. As the horses’ hooves clatter and a gentle May breeze touches your cheek, you will feel Vienna’s very own romantic lifestyle. There are Fiaker stands dotted all around the first district, including on Stephansplatz, Heldenplatz, Albertinaplatz and in front of the Burgtheater.
Past and present often go hand in hand in Vienna, a fact demonstrated by a stroll through the old city. Vienna’s historic old town is also its romantic heart. In the oldest parts of the capital around St. Stephen’s Cathedral the streets are still cobbled as they were centuries ago. A stroll along Blutgasse and Domgasse is like stepping back into a bygone age. Time seems to have stood still in all these streets – and, indeed, you are following in the footsteps of notable personalities such as Mozart, Haydn or Beethoven. There is no danger of getting lost in these winding streets. You always seem to find your way back to Stephansplatz, only to continue in another direction…
In summer, a boat trip is a wonderful conclusion to a fascinating day’s sightseeing. The calm waters of the Old Danube are particularly inviting – there is a marked contrast between the verdant greenery, the urban skyline and the many lively cafés and restaurants on the waterfront. About 500 row boats, electric and paddle are popular for moonlight and picnic excursions on warm summer evenings. The Old Danube is also a popular spot for sailing.
Vienna’s largest park, Prater, stretches over around 6 million square meters and is home to one of the city’s most romantic sights, the Giant Ferris Wheel. A ride in one of the nostalgic gondolas on the 1867 built amusement park attraction offers magnificent panoramic views of the city and impressive views of the spacious green area at the foot of this Viennese landmark.
Das Loft at the Sofitel, designed by star architect Jean Nouvel and situated on the lively banks of Danube canal, is a gourmet restaurant with a fantastic 360 degrees view on the old city center and the Prater. Diners and guests enjoying a relaxing drink at the bar can take in the top floor views beneath the colorful ceiling artwork created by Pipilotti Rist.
A stroll around Vienna can be like a journey back in time to the days of the empire – it comes as no surprise that the historic city center is a UNESCO world cultural heritage site. Vienna boasts 27 palaces and 163 other residences - examples of the city’s illustrious history await on virtually every street. Lovers of imperial art are also drawn to Vienna’s best-known palace, Schönbrunn Palace, where the imperial family had 1,441 rooms to choose from, many of which are open to visitors. The lavish Palace park contains architectural masterpieces such as the Palm House and the zoo, which has already been crowned Europe’s best four times.
Those interested in shopping visit the former purveyors to the imperial court, who continue to set high-quality standards by creating luxurious goods of multi-generation long traditions in the modern era. For instance, A. E. Köchert, who once crafted Empress Elisabeth’s beautiful jewelry, now creates diamond encrusted stars following original imperial designs.
Viennese lifestyle and Viennese coffeehouses go hand in hand, one wouldn’t be completed without the others. The city boasts more than 2400 of them. Since 2011 the Viennese coffeehouse culture is listed as UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage. Although it goes back to the 17th century, it is an integral part of everyday contemporary life in the Austrian capital. They are the ideal place to take time out. People go to them to philosophize, lounge about, meditate, read the paper, gossip, flirt, play billiards or chess, talk to friends and strangers about everything and anything. And, of course, enjoy coffee and the odd slice of cake. The features of a typical Viennese coffeehouse are wooden floors, marble-topped tables, padded boxes with plush upholstery and the simple Thonet chairs. There are also small, but very important details: a vast selection of newspapers and magazines, occasional live piano music and waiters in formal attire.
For more than two centuries Vienna has been the uncontested ball capital of the world. Each year the city hosts around 450 of them. Whatever form they take, the lively strains of the Viennese waltz are de rigueur. A unique blend of age-old Austrian traditions and magnificent court ceremonial has seen the capital’s ball industry turn into one of the nation’s best-loved exports, with replica events playing out in around 30 cities worldwide, from New York to Moscow. But nothing beats the original – the romance and charm puts the Viennese ball season in a league of its own.