Austria’s Wachau Valley is a popular destination for river cruises or as a day trip from nearby Vienna. Situated on the winding banks of the Danube River, Melk has all the elements that make for any charming European town.
Vienna is a classical city in every sense of the word. Grand Hapsburg era buildings flank tree-lined avenues and Gothic cathedrals intertwine seamlessly with modern glass skyscrapers. This is a city that influenced the best of European culture; where opera is an obsession and lingering at a cafe for a few hours over fancified coffee and elegant pastries is a national past time. Beethoven, Klimt and Tolstoy along with countless artists and thinkers have all drawn inspiration from Austria’s capital. Vienna wasn’t a city I expected to fall in love with, to be honest I had only planned a few days here as a convenient stop en route from Salzburg to Prague. What I found was a city with a strong sense of itself and an easy-going elegance that’s hard to deny. Here are some of my favorite images from the Imperial City. Read More
The Hellbrunn Palace and Gardens are one of the most visited attractions in Salzburg. Sure, there are palaces all over Europe, each one filled with opulent rooms and surrounded by grand gardens but this one has a secret (and a very fun one at that). Schloss Hellbrunn was built from 1613-1515 by Archbishop Markus Sittikus and is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful Renaissance structures north of the Alps. Built solely for the purpose of entertainment the Hellbrunn Palace and its gardens were used to host extravagant parties as well as musical and theater performances. The palace is still quite popular today and hosts a festive Christmas Market as well as a number of events and weddings throughout the year.
The ice caves of Werfen are a frozen subterranean world that lie deep within the Austrian Alps. Perched high above the tiny hamlet of Werfen, Eisriesenwelt (German for “world of the ice giants”) is the world’s largest ice cave and is a popular day trip from Salzburg. Austria’s efficient train system will deliver you to the town of Werfen from Salzburg in just over an hour but once you get to the town you have to go up. Way up. A shuttle will brought us up a windy 3.5 mile road to the visitors center where we continued our uphill climb on foot. I was looking forward to pristine alpine views of verdant valleys giving rise to gray limestone peaks set against an azure sky however the weather had different views in store for us.
The city of Vienna is synonymous with elegance and a visit here deserves a stay at an equally luxurious hotel. The San Souci Vienna hotel fits the bill perfectly. Located in the upscale Bohemian neighborhood of Spittelberg the Sans Souci is perfectly situated near the Museum Quartier, convenient to the sights within the Ringstrasse and public transportation. I enjoyed exploring St. Stephen’s Catherdral, the Spanish Riding School and the imperial grandeur of Vienna’s first district by day and then to be able to escape the tourist fray at night. Upon entering you’ll be struck by the modernly elegant interior awash in cool silver and gray accented by the hotel’s signature violet color. The staff is courteous and eager to assist with anything guests may need, from tickets to the Opera to tips on the best way to explore the city’s museums and shopping. Downstairs lies the Sans Souci Spa and 20 meter long pool(unique amongst Vienna’s city hotels), I did not have time to enjoy these amenities but will certainly make time on my next visit.
After spending several days exploring the imperial grandeur of Vienna it was time for some fresh air and green spaces. I love to explore the countryside and small towns in Europe, so when looking a day trip options from Vienna Melk and the Wachau Valley (pronounced Va-how) looked like a perfect fit. Quaint villages, an incredibly picturesque church, wineries and the opportunity to cycle along one of Europe’s most storied rivers? I was in.