Driving from Vienna to Salzburg on my first ever trip to Europe was one of my most adventurous – and most memorable – travel experiences.
In a word, Vienna is awesome. Not in the way that everything seems to be “awesome” these days, so much so that is has lost its meaning. Vienna is awesome in the truest sense of the word – inducing awe and inspiring an overwhelming feeling of reverence and admiration.
For nine consecutive years now, Vienna has been crowned the world’s best city to live in.
Surely, you would think, that endorsement would have been enough to draw the tourist crowds in? But surprisingly, Vienna remains one of Europe’s underrated tourist destinations. While it does enjoy the constant stream of culture- and art-lovers finding their way to the historic capital’s cobbled streets and famed opera houses, there’s much, much more to Vienna that largely remains under the radar.
Here’s how the typical Central European travel itinerary goes –
You spend a few days in Prague with several early morning attempts to take pictures at the Charles Bridge, board a train to Vienna where you blitz through the many historical churches and museums, maybe even spend an evening at the opera and have a slice of sachertorte, then take another train to Budapest, where you fill your camera with more crowded pictures of the Fisherman’s Bastion. By the end of this trip, you hardly remember anything and you just want to collapse in bed and take another vacation.
I get it. For most of us non-European travelers, Europe is this shiny, star-studded continent filled with some of the world’s best, most romantic, most historical – most superlative – cities in the world that we just want to cram our itineraries and see ALL. OF. THEM. The lack of borders and ease of movement is also mind-blowing for most of us that we get a little bit (or a lot) trigger-happy when planning our trips.
But here’s a radical suggestion: take it slow. Instead of rushing from one country to the next, take some time to really explore a place. While capital cities like Prague and Vienna are, of course, must-visits for first-time travelers, you can make your trip a lot more interesting with stop-overs to the little towns in between. You’ll establish a deeper connection with the places you visit, gain a better understanding of the culture, and have a more fulfilling holiday experience.