Matt and I couldn't wait to go to Vienna after reading that they are known for their coffee houses (as London is known for their afternoon tea). Back in the day, Austria’s proximity to the Ottoman Empire allowed for the trading of coffee, just like Britain had access to tea from India. If you know Matt and I well at all, you know we love coffee! We drink coffee after every meal, and sometimes in between. Sipping a cup of coffee after dinner is one of my favorite times of the days as Matt and I talk about our day and unwind. We couldn't wait to experience the coffee culture in Vienna!
We arrived in Vienna by train from Prague. We transferred from the train station to a subway to get us to the city center. When we came out of the underground station, Matt told me to look for a big church and our hotel is right across from it. Literally, the church was right there and our hotel directly across, so it was very easy to find! :) We stayed at Hotel Am Stephansplatz and when we got up to our room and opened the window we were literally looking directly at St. Stephen's Cathedral.
Our room was great. It was spacious and stocked with complimentary snacks, coffee, tea and water. There was a pack'n'play set up for Dylan and in it were two little tiger puppets for the boys, baby shampoo and the most adorable crocodile shaped green soap! The soap was the best thing ever... Dylan couldn't wait to take a bath that night and stayed in there for over an hour pretending that the crocodile soap was chasing all his matchbox cars. He literally played in there until the soap disintegrated! haha!
The next morning, we brought the boys down to breakfast to find the most gorgeous spread of food and a whole juicing section in which you could squeeze your own orange juice or make a fresh juice with cucumber, carrot, ginger, etc. Then to top it all off, there was a bottle of champagne available for us to pour a glass and wash it all down! ;-) Breakfast was tricky with the boys there and we felt like we shouldn’t be too noisy, so we kept Christopher in the stroller and passed him food to eat and gave Dylan the tablet to watch shows as soon as he finished his pancakes. It’s not my favorite solution for occupying our kids in public but some days are “survival days” and you just do whatever works! Lol! Austria is known for having the mindset “children should be seen but not heard” and we definitely didn’t want to offend anyone who wanted to enjoy a quiet breakfast. I have to say the hotel staff were amazing and so friendly with the kids though!! They even gave us huge chocolate bars: “for the kids”, when we were hanging out in the lobby getting ready to leave.THE FOOD (OR SHOULD I SAY, DRINK) ;-)
The weather was pretty crummy our first morning in Vienna. Actually, the weather was crummy the entire time. It totally stinks to be in a really cool city and walk around cold and wet… however, all the more reason to go to every possible coffee house! ;-) Matt was really excited to go to one highly recommended coffee house from his (Lonely Planet book) called Cafe Hawelka. By the way, Matt reads both Rick Steve’s and Lonely Planet cover to cover to help plan our Europe trips. We almost always use their hotel and restaurant recommendations and they never disappoint.
Unfortunately, the weather in Vienna was cold and rainy. We were so bummed because I think we would have loved exploring the city so much more if it was sunny and warm! It was raining so hard in the morning that we ended up doing the Vienna Ring Tram tour. We really don't like doing tours like these, they are overpriced and too touristy, but we wanted to see everything and needed to get out of the rain. It was around $11 USD (kids under 5 free) and they take you in a big circle around the city showing you all the sites while you listen to the history through a recording using headphones (that you get to keep)! A few of the other sights that we were able to visit were: Hofburg Palace, St. Stephen's Cathedral and the Vienna State Opera House. Vienna is the epicenter of classical music so the opera house was one of the main places we wanted to visit. Unfortunately, we were unable to see any shows since we had the boys with us, however we listened to some very talented artists on the pedestrian walking streets near St. Stephen's Cathedral.
The highlight for me was, since it was raining, Matt didn't mind me ducking into a few shops with the boys to keep them dry! I found that prices were slightly less expensive than what we would normally pay in the states, so I took advantage and made a few purchases! Normally, I would not shop while away, because I take forever and I hate wasting time in a store and missing the sights!
Places: Vienna, Austria
When: September 2017
Duration: 2 days
Weather: Cold and wet 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit
Subway: from train station to the city center
Hotel Am Stephansplatz (Linked is Matt's Trip Adviser Review)
Read any guidebook on Vienna and they will say that the city center is located within the "ring road" and St Stephens is at the center. If you are looking at the entrance to the church and look over your shoulder, the hotel is right there! Our room in particular was fantastic; the church took up every inch of our view out the window, so cool! The metro station is right next to it as well. I've never stayed anywhere more in the middle of the action with such a great view.
So the view and location would be enough for me, but the hotel kills every other category as well. Clean rooms, friendly staff, quiet, safe, etc. They had an umbrella in the room that we unfortunately had to use! There was coffee and tea in the room as well. The front desk were really nice to the kids, giving them chocolate as gifts.
The breakfast deserves a paragraph. You can order espresso drinks, they had a nice spread of hot and cold items and some nice (and usual) local items. The standout though: you could make your own fresh juices! Carrot, orange, ginger, apples, etc. I've never seen that before and it was incredible. Also with your stay, you get coffee and cake (a Vienna thing) during your stay at the cafe, which is a nice bonus.
Fantastic experience and I wouldn't change a thing. Do yourself a favor and stay here!
Highlights: Coffee Houses: Cafe Hawelka & Cafe Central
Hofburg Palace, St. Stephen's Cathedral and Vienna State Opera House
Tours: Vienna Ring Tram