Vienna is a city that Molly and I will certainly return to someday. Three days wasn’t even close to enough time and though it had so many amazing sights it was also apparent that there was far more to discover in the capital of Central Europe.
Additionally, it appeared to us to be a hybrid of Western and Eastern Europe: gloriously ornate buildings next to graffiti filled river fronts, world class museums across the street from Turkish markets, and indulgent palaces beside concrete mosques.
As we left Vienna on the train I wrote down three reasons Vienna may be the best starting point to exploring Europe:
1. Vienna encompasses all that Europe has to offer: If you want to see Turkish influence in Europe, you can go to Nachtmarkt. If you want to see the best museums in Europe, go to the Museum Quarter. If you want to see lavish palaces and get a first class tour, go to Schloss Schonbrunn. If you want to drink good wine, drink Austrian wine, our favorite in all of Europe. If you want to see beautiful churches and baroque architecture walk around the center of town. If you want to spend your afternoons in a lavish European park or garden go to the Volksgarten (or one of the many beautiful Viennese parks). If you want to see Eastern Europe, walk the Little Danube and visit the dreary but mighty river. Vienna is the only major city that Molly’s Dad, Tom, has seen in Europe, but in some ways we felt like he’s covered many bases.
2. Hapsburg History is European History: There’s no better starting point for learning about European history than the Hapsburg Dynasty. They ruled all of central Europe for 500 years and influenced the course of the entire continent from collapsing the Holy Roman Empire to funding the renaissance to fighting off the Turks and then starting World War I. Vienna is a treasure chest of European history and the perfect starting point for understanding all the glory and all the shame of Europe’s empires.
3. You can go anywhere from Vienna: It literally is the center of Europe. If someone had a month to explore Europe for the first time I’d recommend they fly to Vienna, spend a week seeing everything and learning about all of Europe’s influences on the city and then go wherever your new found interests took you.