“The Streets of Vienna are Paved With Culture, The Streets of Other Cities with Asphalt”
Having only visited Austria twice as a young child, I jumped at the opportunity to visit again. The beautiful capital city of Austria, Vienna is known to many for it’s fine art, cakes, operas and classical music.
You can almost taste the richness just thinking about it.
Visiting Vienna is a must at any time of year.
Although, if visiting in March, like we did, you may want to layer up!
The fountains were frozen up, sometimes even empty, and the chill was hard to bear – but the sights?
They were still as extravagant.
Voted number one for having the highest quality of life in the world for the 8th time in a row. The grand capital of Austria is highly a sought after location. Split between 23 districts, with its baroque style buildings, and narrow winding streets, it’s easy to get beautifully lost in the spectacular city of art and music. But don’t get too lost, there are some particular sites you need to add to your sightseeing list:
Schönbrunn Palace is a must see when in Vienna. The former imperial summer residence is a 1,441 roomed Baroque palace. With beautiful gardens, fountains, roman ruins and even a zoo. You can hike to the top of the 60m high hill and see a panoramic view of the whole city from the Gloriette structure.
Wiener Riesenrad/Prater amusement park:
For the thrill seekers among you, Prater amusement park, which hosts the Wiener Riesenrad ferris wheel, is where you’ll probably spend most of your time (and money). Unfortunately during the beginning of March when we visited the theme parks was closed for winter, but we were still able to walk through and check it out. The Vienna Giant Wheel (to us English speakers) is almost 65 meters high, in the 2nd district of Vienna, it is also one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city. It was the largest ferris wheel in the world between 1920 and 1985 and is another great location to view the city from height.
Hundertwasserhaus is no ordinary Viennese apartment block. It’s artwork. You can actually rent one of these quirky apartment blocks in the Landstraße district of Vienna from airbnb for £61per night. You may not get much sleep with all the distracting bright colours, but it would definitely be an experience.
In the centre of Vienna is the Stephansplatz square. Inside the square you’ll find Viennas central cathedral Stephansdom. The Stephansdom cathedral is one of the tallest churches in the world, and in my opinion, one of the most beautiful. Like Spain’s Sagrada Familia, the St Stephen’s cathedral is a continuous process of repair and renovation, so you’ll probably notice some scaffolding or cranes during your visit. Looking beyond the facade, the cathedral holds a ridiculous amount of history, it’s no surprise the whole square was named after it. While in the square, you’ll notice many horse and carriage carts. What’s a more perfect, romantic way to explore the beautiful city in the evening than that?
What & Where To Eat
Vienna On A Budget:
If you’re visiting on a budget, then take the opportunity to try out some of Vienna’s street food. The Schnitzelsemmel is an “On-The-Go” Schnitzzle, one of Viennas most popular treats. The Schnitzelsemmel is readily available for great value at most takeaway stands and tastes divine.
However, nothing beats a real schnitzel, in an authentic Austrian brewery. Which you can get from Stadtbrauerei in Schwarzenberg. Walking in the door, you’re immediately taken aback by the unique, and slightly bizarre decor of china dolls, giant soft toy rabbits and suits of armour. But away from the decor, the food, staff and atmosphere are what draws in the crowd. Well, that…and the amazing schnitzel, potato salad and Sauerkraut trio.
Not So Traditional Vienna:
If traditional Viennese food isn’t top on your to try list, then you may be interested in this cosy little italian restaurant called Da Capo. It’s got top rating on Tripadvisor for Italian restaurants and luckily, our hotel reception does a fine job at grabbing tables. You really need to book in advance here, as it fills up so quickly. And it’s no surprise, the food is to die for and the service and value for money are additional benefits. Just look how big the pizzas are.
Sweet Treat Vienna:
What’s better to finish of dinner with than a slice of chocolate cake – or Sachertorte to be precise. Sachertorte is one of the most famous foods of Vienna, and was created by Austrian confectioner Franz Sacher. It’s so famous, that it even has it’s own national day (5th of December). This is one cake you don’t want to miss out on. The cake consists of 3 main components: A dense chocolate cake, a thin layer of apricot jam and is coated on the top and sides in dark chocolate icing. Traditionally, the Sachertorte is served with a side of whipped cream.
When booking a flight to Vienna, tempting as it may be to book the 6am flight…DON’T. Money doesn’t replace your sleep. Our day started at 2am! Packing the night before and getting an early sleep wasn’t enough prepare us enough for our 6am flight from Luton.
Unlike the historic centre, Vienna airport is super modern. Strolling through the arrivals, skipping past rows of fancy cafes, shops and bistros. It’s the perfect place for you to take a break before braving the viennese trains or taxi’s.
A piece of advice you may need:
Learn a little lingo! Even if it’s just how to order a coffee, or how to ask for the bill, otherwise, like us, you may find yourself sat in said airport cafe for quite some time before returns with a bill.
Viennese Coffee Culture
One thing you’ll discover, is throughout Vienna, it’s standard for coffee shops to give you a glass of water alongside your coffee. I’ve read a few reasons for this. One being that, due to the richness and flavour of coffee, the water is there to cleanse your palate before taking your first sip, so you can better taste the coffee. Another is because coffee is a diuretic and in warm climates you can become dehydrated, however, we definitely weren’t in a warm climate, so I’m sticking with the first reasoning.
Plane to Train:
After arriving at Vienna airport, you’ll need to find a way to get to your hotel. The CAT (city airport train) runs directly from Vienna airport to the city center in just 15 minutes. A single ticket will set you back 12 euros. However, there are many other ticket options available, including the return + 72h Vienna ticket for only 38 euros. This city ticket allows you to travel on the underground, suburban train, tram and buses during your stay in Vienna.
Vienna City Travel:
Linking the city together is Vienna’s underground and overground stations, making transport around the city easy, although not always necessary. You can easily walk to many of the places and sites in Vienna. Your use of transport should depend on how much you want to see/do while you’re there and how much you can fit in your schedule.
If you do want to arrive to the opera in style, then ordering an Uber X is the way to do it. We found that walking around in the day time best and at night when it was a little darker, we’d order an Uber. Firstly because at the time, we’d never used Uber and we had some free journeys to spend, and secondly because they will arrive to pick you up almost instantaneously.
Have you been to Vienna? Let me know what you got up to in the comments below!