Romantic Vienna

When I think of Vienna, I think of romance.

Thoughts of romantic Vienna bring to mind quiet walks along narrow streets with light snow falling, cozy tête-à-têtes over rich chocolate cake and espresso, a ballroom with formally dressed couples dancing a waltz, and the sound of vintage trams passing by. Vienna has always evoked romance for me and since Mr. TWS would be celebrating his birthday during our December trip to Europe, Vienna also seemed like the perfect city for my romantic husband. So I researched our travel options to include the capital city of Austria in our European itinerary.

"Giant Red Ball Christmas Decoration on Rotenturmstrasse creating a romantic mood in Vienna"

Giant Red Ball Christmas Decorations on Rotenturmstrasse

We arrived in Vienna by train from Salzburg. After checking into our hotel, we walked to nearby Rotenturmstrasse to find a restaurant. We had already seen many Christmas lights on our way from the railway station and now this giant red ball and other decorations above the glassy wet street evoked a romantic mood on this late Sunday evening.

"Horse-drawn carriage in front of the Hofburg in romantic Vienna, Austria"

Carriage in the Courtyard of Hofburg Palace, Vienna

We’ve been traveling on Mr. TWS’s birthday for the past several years —Paris, Prague, London, and now Vienna. He thought taking a carriage ride might be a nice romantic touch on his birthday. With blankets across our laps inside the carriage, we snuggled as we rode on narrow cobblestone streets past historic buildings of Romanesque and Baroque architecture. Our driver tapped the window to direct our attention to Gösser Bierklinik, the oldest still-operating restaurant in Vienna. We decided to return there later for lunch.

"Romantic Lunch at Gösser Bierklinik on Steindlgasse in Vienna"

Romantic Lunch at Gösser Bierklinik

Since 1683, Gösser Bierklinik has been operating as a restaurant and the building dates back to at least 1406 according to records that have been found. There’s something about being in such a charming old place that creates a warm romantic ambiance. On the recommendation of the waiter, but against his better judgement, Mr. TWS ordered the carp which was among the menu’s local specialties. Although he was a little disappointed in his choice, I thoroughly enjoyed a hearty dish of lentils with bacon, sausage and dumplings.

"Romance in Vienna at Aida Café-Konditorei

Coffee and Cake at Aida Café-Konditorei, Vienna

What says romance more than espresso and chocolate cake (particularly with someone you love)? We became accustomed to indulging in tasty desserts like this in Viennese cafés such as Aida while chatting about our day and where to go next. The breaks also provided time to warm up after hours walking in the cold December air.

" A romantic walk along the Danube Canal (Donaukanal) in Vievva, Austria"

Danube Canal (Donaukanal), Vienna

Although we weren’t able to include a visit to the Danube River (since the most scenic locations were well outside the city) on this trip, we did take a stroll along the Danube Canal that runs through the city. We were hoping for a romantic walk much like one would take on the Seine in Paris, but it wasn’t quite the same.

"Romantic Vienna from the Tower of St. Stephen Cathedral (Stephansdom)"

Romantic Vienna from the Tower of St. Stephan’s Cathedral

The Gothic St. Stephan’s Cathedral (Stephansdom) affords beautiful views of romantic Vienna from the tower. The long walk up the tower on a narrow spiral staircase takes you to a gift shop with windows overlooking the distinctive patterned tiles of the cathedral’s roof as well as panoramic views of the old city and beyond.

"A quiet, narrow street at night in romantic Vienna"

A Quiet Street in Old Vienna

Pavement wet from the snow reflected the colorful lights from old buildings on this quiet street and like many of the streets in Old Vienna, it was perfect for a romantic walk.

"Statue of Empress Elizabeth (Sisi), quite a romantic figure,of Austria in Volksgarten, Vienna"

Empress Elizabeth (Sisi) in the Volksgarten, Vienna

We found Empress Elizabeth (nicknamed “Sisi” from youth) to be a very romantic person in Austrian history (and Bavarian, Hungarian, et al).  In part, it was because she was beautiful. Her beauty has persisted through history somewhat due to the fact that she never posed for pictures after age 32 so that her image would always be youthful. Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria became instantly infatuated with Sisi when he met her and her sister, Helene. (Franz Joseph’s domineering mother had actually chosen Helene to be his bride.) His love at first sight for Sisi, at what was supposed to be Franz Joseph’s formal proposal to her sister, adds to the romanticism surrounding Sisi. In defiance, he vowed not to marry if he could not marry Sisi.

Sisi devoted the last 25 years of her life to travel — what can be more romantic than that? Tragically, her premature death at the hand of an assassin heightened the romance around her. The romance was also enhanced by many works about her life including an operetta, a play, a musical, ballets, and several films, among them the trilogy of romantic films about her life directed by Ernst Marischka in the 1950s.

"The Romance of Schonbrunn Palace at Christmas"

The Romance of Schonbrunn Palace at Christmas

The romantic Schönbrunn Palace, beautiful inside and outside, seemed even more so with the lights of the Christmas market all around and the golden light on the building. It was our final night in Vienna and being here was a perfect romantic ending to the trip.

"Romance in Vienna at the Rathaus Christmas Market with heart-shapred lights"

Heart-shaped Lights on Tree at Rathaus Christmas Market

At the Rathaus Christmas market love was in the air, too. These pretty heart-shaped lights were among the many diverse and colorful light displays at the market.

"The Vienna streetcars evoke a romantic feeling"

Vienna Streetcar

I think the vintage streetcars that circle the ring surrounding Old Vienna are romantic icons. I wish that we had a chance to ride one — or at least capture a better photo.

"View of Vienna from Belvedere Palace"

View of Vienna from Belvedere Palace

Belvedere Palace is a beautiful historical structure, but the romantic treasure inside that made this a must-see for us was Austrian artist Gustav Klimt’s “The Kiss” in the Österreichische Galerie (Austrian Gallery). “The Kiss” has significance for us because for Valentine’s Day many years ago, I bought a jigsaw puzzle of the painting for Mr. TWS. We loved working on it together and got to know the picture well while piecing together all the tiny, shiny pieces. As we rushed to the gallery before closing time, we planned on asking someone to take our photo in front of the painting while in a similar embrace (a little cheesy, but romantic). Alas, photos were not allowed!

"Photo of puzzle box -- Gustav Klimt's The Kiss"

Photo of “The Kiss” (Gustav Klimt) on Our Puzzle Box

A pair of lovers in a deep kiss had been a recurring theme in Klimt’s art, and this, his most famous painting, was the end of what is known as the “Golden Phase” of his career.

There are several theories about the inspiration for the painting and attempts to identify the woman in the work. But I believe that it was his life in romantic Vienna that clearly influenced his works and inspired this wonderful painting.

From romantic Vienna, sealed with a kiss.

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73 thoughts on “Romantic Vienna

  1. Marlys

    I’ve been to Vienna only once and I have to go back. The city is pretty and charming but that’s only partly why I want to revisit. For one, when we visited, we only had 1 day to walk its streets and it was raining, not hard but the kind that if you don’t have an umbrella with you, after 3 hours of walking, your underwear is also drenched. Thank goodness it was summer so we didn’t get cold. But imagine me in a museum, where anyone can trace my steps if they follow the drops I left behind. And as if that wasn’t enough, my flip flops gave in.

    1. Cathy Post author

      Oh, I know exactly what you’re talking about. Hope you get back to Vienna when there’s some better weather. But bring an umbrella, just in case. 🙂

  2. Mary @ The World Is A Book

    I loved virtually traveling to Vienna with you on this fantastic post. I never knew Vienna had so much romance tied to it from food, architecture to The Kiss. You can’t get any more romantic than a carriage ride cuddled next to your loved one. What a a fabulous city and trip for both of you!

    1. Cathy Post author

      It was a fabulous trip — just too short! We are both looking forward to getting back there sometime. We only scratched the surface, I’m afraid.

    1. Cathy Post author

      I have to admit that I really didn’t know anything about SiSi until this trip. We first heard her name in Munich and then in Vienna, of course, got a real education. “Grandeur” is a perfect word for Vienna.

  3. jenny@atasteoftravel

    Vienna is such a beautiful city. I love it in the spring time but the snow on the garden of the Belvedere Palace certainly makes it seem even more romantic at this time of the year.

    1. Cathy Post author

      I can imagine that Vienna is pretty romantic any time of year. I thought Belvedere looked particularly serene and beautiful in the snow, too.

  4. Just One Boomer (Suzanne)

    I always think of Vienna as “too cold” for a winter visit, but I can see how snuggling under blankets on a carriage ride could warm things up. I would also think that those cakes taste even better with Viennese coffee during the cold winter. The city also looks less crowded (from your lovely photos), another benefit of visiting in the winter. Thanks for taking us along on your romantic visit to Vienna or visit to romantic Vienna— or is that a distinction without a difference?

    1. Cathy Post author

      You like chocolate cake? Definitely go there — regardless of the cost! Actually, I didn’t find it more expensive than other European cities that time of year.

    1. Cathy Post author

      The Christmas lights throughout the city were so beautiful. Loved seeing them as we rode in the taxi from the railway station — it really set the mood for our stay there.

    1. Cathy Post author

      I was so excited when it looked like we’d be able to get there this year. I’ve always had a very romantic vision of Vienna and I was not disappointed.

  5. Jennifer

    I definitely agree that Vienna is a romantic city, especially during the holidays! Thanks for virtually taking us along on your romantic journey.

  6. Sherry

    I’ve always been told that Vienna is a great stop for desserts, and that’s definitely enough motivation for me. But sounds like a great place for romance, too. Thanks for the lesson in Sisi, another great traveler. Two great reason to visit this lovely city.

  7. Fida

    You’ve brought back great impressions from Vienna. I’ve been there so many times that it almost feels like coming home when I revisit. It’s one of my favorite European cities. The atmosphere, the food, the people, the places… and one of the best hairdressers 🙂 I was regaled with Klimt’s Kiss in form of a silk shawl by the apple of my eye after a particular romantic Vianna weekend 🙂

    1. Cathy Post author

      I know that there are those who don’t enjoy cities in winter, but I love most of them that time of year. Of course, there’s something special about places like Vienna in all seasons.

  8. Jackie Smith

    A perfectly romantic post – beautiful photos and a totally romantic tale! Mr. TravelnWrite’s b-day is in late February and now you have me thinking that his suggestion to ‘stay home this year’ might be totally off-base! Thanks!

  9. Leigh

    I think lingering over coffee and dessert with your nearest & dearest is such a lovely thing to do. Then a carriage ride sounds perfect and a glass of wine in a beautiful hotel before going off to a romantic dinner. Vienna definitely has what it takes to be a romantic destination. Mr. TWS seems to be doing quite well with his birthday trips!!

    1. Cathy Post author

      I guess I’ve been doing pretty well on his birthday trips, too. 🙂 With a birthday in December, it makes it easier to consider it as kind of a Christmas present to ourselves, too.

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  11. Catherine

    Hi Cathy! I love your picture of Belvedere palace filled with snow. It’s sooo pretty! I’ve been to Vienna once, it was early fall, and was hosted by a friend there. I guess the fact that I hadn’t set any expectation for this city was one of the reason why I had so much there! From festivals to sachertorte cakes and schnitzel to concert and operas, it’s just amazing! Would love to go back again during winter with somebody special for a more romantic feel! 😉

  12. Andrew Graeme Gould

    A great rundown of Vienna’s sights through your eyes, Cathy. I lingered over the coffee and cake photo for quite some time… I want mine now!

  13. Sarah Lee

    I’d never thought of Vienna as a romantic city like Paris for instance but had fallen in love with its classical style and for that, I’d agree with you. There is something very romantic about a city that whisks you back in time to a delightfully grand age.

  14. Freya

    I have been to Vienna twice but both times it was for work so I did not get the opportunity to explore the city. I really should go back one day, it looks like such a lovely city and those cakes … oh those cakes looks delicious.

  15. Jay B.

    Vienna is like an elegant highborn lady, always composed and ready to impress. Picture perfect example of an imperial city! I had the opportunity to visit during Christmas period and enjoy the Christmas market just as you did. And despite the windy, frosty weather (which we fought off with a cup of gluwein) I have to say it´s been one of the most pleasant Christmas market experiences so far. With the beautifully lit town hall being a perfect backdrop.

  16. Milena Yordanova

    Great place to celebrate a birthday. For me Vienna is one of the most stunning cities! It is beautiful and green in the spring and in the summer, romantic in the autumn and it looks like a fairy tale in the winter.

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