Vienna

Austria

General

Vienna! This is one of the places I can go every year for a quick escape. Vienna is a very small city, so all places you have to go are in walking distance. Even there was no metro, it will not be a problem for you to wander around in the city.

You can go Vienna anytime but Christmas can be one of the best times to go, but it will be also the most expensive time. How long to stay there is always an open answer question, but 3 days will be quite enough for you to see all popular places. If you are a museum lover, you can spend days in  museums and palaces. If you are looking for shopping, most stores are available but closed on Sundays. Sundays are for reading! The best schnitzel in the world is also in Vienna. Do not forget to try delicious desserts too!

Classical music concerts are also among the important activities that should be in your list. If you are lucky to catch an open air concert in Schönbrunn Palace, do not skip. I recommend you to watch Andre Rieu’s magnificent concert in Schönbrunn Palace. Don’t forget that these concerts may require dresscode rules, so bring your clothes accordingly.

To people who say there is no much fun in Vienna, it depends on what you are really looking for. I had one of my best quick escapes in Vienna two times and I really enjoyed it each time.

How to reach

There is only one airport in Vienna, so you don’t have to worry about where to fly.  There are more than one terminal. So, when returning home you have to check from which terminal your flight is. All terminals are in walking distance which again makes it no problem.

If you are planning to go a specific store at the airport, that store might be most probably after passport control and if your terminal is not there, you will have no access to that store.

There are many options to reach airport. Most popular ones are City Airport Train (CAT) and regular train service. CAT is the most expensive option. If you buy return ticket it will be cheaper for you. It is a non-stop train which only takes 16 minutes, but you will arrive only to Wien-Mitte station. From there, you will have to use metro or other transportation types to reach your destination. You can also use S-Bahn (S7) which is cheaper than CAT and it passes through CAT’s final station. Best thing of S7’s route is that you can reach Praterstern station too. There are also plenty of bus services to different locations in Vienna where mostly locals use. All updated information can be always found in official page of airport.

Where to stay

Vienna has one of the best transportation networks in the world. So, you can go anywhere easily with just one metro, tram or bus. In case you want to stay in city center, you can check hotels close to Stephansplatz. However, prices will be pretty high. If you will use City Airport Train, you can check hotels around Wien-Mitte metro station. If you want to be close to Prater area and use S7 train, you can check hotels around Praterstern. Messe-Prater station is one stop from Praterstern. You may even prefer to walk there. There are plenty of hotels you may choose where price-quality balance is better. If you have watched Captain America – Civil War, this area is the exact location where conference scene takes place.

 

Travelling around

Wiener Linien is the company responsible for Vienna transportation. You can check their website for detailed information. There are different ticket types. You may consider “Vienna shopping ticket” which is a daily card but valid only between 8 AM and 8 PM and not on Sundays. There are also 48 hours and 72 hours “Vienna Card” which offers also discounts in selected places and having no constraints. You must validate it before your first journey. If you are not going to use discounts on the booklet, you can also consider “short-term tickets” which you also have 24-48-72 hours, 8 days, weekly and monthly ticket options which cost less. Most of the places are very close to each other, so you may think you do not need any tickets to buy. But considering its low cost even for 72 hours, I recommend you to buy a suitable short-term ticket for yourself. In order to go Prater, Schönbrunn, Hunderwasser, Belvedere you will need transportation. You can also download Wiener Linien application for your phone to make your travel easy during your holiday in Vienna.

There is also a tram called “Vienna Ring Tram” which only targets tourists. It costs more than the 24 hours ticket, but you use a tram where it is possible to see most of the attractions which enables you to see it. However, all these attractions are the ones in city center. This means Schönbrunn and Belvedere palaces will not be on your tour. But don’t worry, you will eventually go there. You should keep in mind that transfers to airport is not included in this ticket.

Some information about routes:

-Praterstern is a transfer station where S7 (from airport), U1 & U2 pass

-Wien Mitte is the central transfer station but not main station where CAT & S7 (from airport), U3 & U4 also pass

-Stephansplatz is the city center where only U1 & U3 are accessible. U2 & U4 stations are also max 10 minutes in walking distance.

-U4 is the line which you will have to definitely use in order to reach Schönbrunn Palace of course if you are not planning to go with a taxi there

-There are two important attractions where U-Bahn may be little distant for walking. These are Belvedere Palace and Hundertwasser. You can still prefer U-Bahn stations Hauptbahnhof, Wien and Wien Mitte respectively; but if you want to walk less you may prefer tram and bus options.

-There is a shopping center called “Donau Zentrum” which you have to use U1 and leave at “Kagran” station. Another shopping center called “SCS” has not direct access to U-Bahn stations. You can either go Reumannplatz with U1 or Siebenhirten with U6 and take the free bus shuttle.

What to do

Most of the cities have a main square and Stephansplatz is the one for Vienna. Not surprisingly, you will also find a cathedral called St. Stephen’s Cathedral. It is the most important religious building in the city, so you may consider visiting it. It is also free to visit inside. Just 300 meters away, there is also St Peter Church.

If you have only one option to choose for visiting in Vienna, that will be Schönbrunn palace. It is little far away from the city center, but you can directly reach there with U4 metro line. You have to leave train at Schönbrunn station. It is open everyday, so you may consider to choose going on Sunday when all shops are closed. Schönbrunn is not just a palace. Park, The Privy Garden, Maze & Labyrinth, Fountains, Gloriette are also considered to be part of Schönbrunn. Each has its own price and opening hours. You should decide how much time you want to spend and what you want to see. There will be definitely a matching option for you. If you want to visit only palace you have two options: Imperial Tour & Grand Tour. If you choose Grand Tour, you will have access to 18 rooms more. Most preferred ticket is Classic Pass where you will have access to most places which will cost you around 4 EUR more. If you are travelling with your family, you may also consider family pass which will save you more. If you follow events take place in Schönbrunn such as concerts, your experience will be unforgettable.

Another palace is Belvedere which is also little far away from the city center and you will walk more from the closest U-Bahn station (Hauptbahnhof). You may also prefer tram or bus to reach there. Going Belvedere after Schönbrunn may make you feel not happy, so you may prefer to visit this palace only if you have time left, but you should at least walk in its garden even if you do not want to visit interior.

If you are looking for visiting museums, you are again at the right place. Vienna has its own quarter called Museums Quartier, so you know what I mean. It is one of the largest cultural area in the world. Leopold Museum, MUMOK (Museum of Modern Art Ludwig Foundation Vienna), Kunsthalle are all in this area. Just by few minutes long, there is Maria-Theresien Platz. You will see two same buildings on your left and right. These are Naturhistorisches Museum and Kunsthistorisches Museum. Natural History Museum is closed on Tuesdays and it is 10 EUR only for adults. You will find more than 30 exhibit halls.

There will be a larger public space close to above museums. It is called Heldenplatz. Most of the historical actions and events took place in here. You will also see important attractions facing this square. Hofburg and Burgtor are the most important ones. Austrian National Library is also here. Hofburg was a former imperial palace. There are many places in this region, so you may consider to take a map of Hofburg and find out which sections you want to go.

Facing to Burgtor, you have two options. Each of them are in walking distance and they are must visit attractions for Vienna. If you walk left, you will see Parlament, Rathaus buildings. Burgtheater will also stay on your right side when you reach to Rathaus platz. This is the main National Theatre. If you prefer to walk right, you will reach to Wiener Staatsoper. The members of popular Vienna Philarmonic Orchestra are selected from here. If you have watched Mission Impossible – Rogue Nation, this is the building where opera scene takes place. If you are lucky enough to find an event, I recommend you to go, because its interior is also magnificent. If you are buying tickets, ask exactly where the event is. You will see many people trying to sell you concert tickets in their costumes. Most of these concerts are far away. So ask every details including the dresscode.

Probably you will try to complete all these attractions on a same day which may make you feel tired. But you are lucky. From here all must-go restaurants and cafes are in walking distance again. If you are not hungry enough, you can either go Café Sacher or Café Mozart. Figlmüller –the top destination for schnitzel- will be also close around. If the weather is good and you find a place to sit outside in Café Mozart, you will be seeing Albertina museum. It is considered to be one of the largest museum housing more than 1 million old master prints. Entrance is around 10 EUR, so you may visit if it interests you.

There is one different building which you will also find it interesting to see it. That’s called Hundertwasser House. It is an apartment house, but its colorful architecture makes it the most extraordinary house in Vienna. There are also group of small gift stores near house called Hundertwasser Village where you can find many souvenirs there.

If it is an European city, there must be a park too. In Vienna, the most well known park is Stadtpark. You can find statutes of famour Viennese artists in the park. Johann Strauss II and Franz Schubert are just few examples. Park has its own U-Bahn station designed by Otto Wagner. If you are looking for more parks, gardens of Schönbrunn and Prater will satisfy you.

Vienna has also good opportunities for shopping. Around Stephansplatz, you will see most of the shops. Manner –a line of confectionery products- is the one you will see right in the corner. However the main shopping street is called Mariahilfer Strasse. You can go to Westbahnhof U-Bahn station and then walk along Mariahilfer Strasse until you reach Museumsquartier. There are also two good opportunities for shopping malls. These are SCS and Donau Zentrum. If you are looking for a specific store which you couldn’t find in city center, they are probably either in SCS or Donau Zentrum. You can easily reach Donau Zentrum with U1 line (Kagran station), however in order to SCS you have to take more bus shuttle from the last station of U1 (Reumannplatz) or U6 (Siebhirten).

Prater stays on the other side of river (I am not referring to Danube). Prater is an amusement park area where you can remember you childhood days. Don’t expect to see rides like in Disneyland or Six Flags. You will find old school rides. Its history dates back to 18th century which makes also amusement park as one of the historic places in Vienna. The most popular ride is Wiener Riesenrad. It is a very old ferris wheel where you have to buy separate tickets for it. It is considered to be as the symbol of Vienna for most of the people. If you have watched 1987 James Bond movie The Living Daylights this is the wheel you are looking for. It is little expensive and sometimes you have to spend a lot of time in high season. For other rides, again you buy separate tickets. There is also Madame Tussauds museum in the same area. If you have not visited any wax museum, this can be a good opportunity for you; but if you have visited other Madame Tussauds museum such as in London and Amsterdam, it may be not in your interest.

Where to eat

On my website, you will see almost no posts have a section about “what to eat”. That is because it is not something easy to do. I strongly believe this requires to be a local or spend more time there. In short time, it is almost impossible to make precise recommendation. However, in Vienna I really enjoyed the taste of food I tried there. Some of them requires early reservation, so I thought it would be better to mention this time.

If I don’t start telling by Figlmüller, I will really feel guilty. Figlmüller offers you the best schnitzel in world. You may need to book a reservation earlier than you buy your flight ticket. Although there are two restaurants close to each other in the city center, both are filling fast. If you do not have a reservation, you may have to wait more than 1 hour in front of the door. However, if you have a reservation you will just skip the queue and go to your table. I recommend you to make at least two reservations. First on your arrival day and second on your return day. If you like it on your first day, it would be too late to make another reservation within that week. What makes schnitzel so delicious is probably being made of pork instead of chicken. The portions are huge, so you should go there very hungry to finish it; but don’t worry, probably 90% of people will be in your situation if you can’t eat it all.

Desserts should not be skipped too. Café Sacher and Café Mozart which are on the same building interestingly are the best options for you. Apfelstrudel with vanilla sauce and Mozart Cake are the ones ordered most. If you are looking for more cafes in Vienna, Gerstner is also on the list.

If you don’t want to spend time for having lunch and dinner in a restaurant, you may try hot dog stands in Vienna. Their stands are not constant, but you will find plenty of them in city center and Prater. There will be also stands for crepes too. Mostly in summer season, there will be a place which is always over crowded which is Zanoni & Zanoni. They have every type of ice-cream choices and its close to Stephansplatz. So, you can enjoy your evening there while also resting. Once there was no Hard Rock Café, but at last they have opened it. So, if you like its atmosphere you can enjoy your drink or taste American burgers also in Vienna.

 

What to buy

Like in all other most countries and cities, you will find many magnet types to buy. As I mentioned above, Hunderwasser Village offers you lots of choices, but around Stephansplatz you will find many stores selling Vienna and Austria souvenirs. There are few things tourists buy in Vienna. My first recommendation, buy whatever you will buy in the city not at the airport, because airport prices are very high compared to city center. The most expensive thing you can buy is a traditional Austrian beer tankard. Prices start from 30 EUR and goes to more than 200 EUR depending on size and quality. The other things you buy will the be things you either eat or drink. Do you remember Cafe Sacher? If yes and you like it, you have a chance to buy it as a gift or for yourself in a beautiful box. You can also buy good wines but most people buy Scnapps. It is an alcoholic beverage and name refers to a family group of products. In Vienna you will see mostly in fruit brandy form and their bottle is mostly in violin like most things in Vienna. Salzburg is the city popular with Mozart, but you can find many shops selling Mozartkugeln in every corner of Vienna. If you buy from markets, they are cheaper but its offical store offers more variations. There is also Manner. It is a company offering wide selection of confectionery products. It can sound too standard, but Arnold Schwarzenegger loved it so much that he used it in Terminator 3.

Salzburg and Bratislava are two options you can go. However, each city offers a lot to do in a single day. So, you may consider staying there one night rather than going for a single day. Salzburg is also a good choice to go if you are in Munich. From Vienna, it takes either 2 hours 22 minutes or 2 hours 53 minutes by train to reach Salzburg. If you are able to buy your tickets in advance you can find one way ticket costs 19 EUR. However, if you decide to buy at ticket when you are in Vienna, it is possible that prices are around 50 EUR. So, it may be better for you to decide whether it is ok for you to go Salzburg. Ticket will cost same if you are planning to go from Munich instead of Vienna. Bratislava is easier choice than Salzburg. It takes only 1 hours and prices are around 10 EUR and it is possible for you to find the ticket with same price even if you are travelling just one hour later. The official ÖBB application will allow you to buy tickets on your mobile phone. Of course you will find all detailed information about schedules there too. You can click below pictures to have more information about each city.

 

Airport & Transportation

Palaces & Museums

Shopping 

Restaurants & Cafes

Click on the map to see all places on Vienna map…

HOW HARD MAY IT BECOME TO VISIT SCHONBRUNN?

The first time I go Schönbrunn Palace was an unforgettable experience for me. Unfortunately, it is not because I enjoyed it too much. Interestingly, Schönnbrunn Palace relevant department prepared small guides in different languages for tourists to take. However, even when I reach there at 9 PM, all English guides were completely finished. That is because they have prepared a booklet both German and English together. Considering almost half of majority prefers English or Germany, that was not a good choice. As a group where each us like to collect these guides, maps, booklets whatever you call, we had to spend 15 minutes with the security. That’s because we thought we were lucky to find 3 English guides in another corner. However we were not too quick to feel lucky, because that security came and questioned us why we are taking 3 English guides. He tried to convince 1 will be enough for us. Whatever we tried, he did not allow us to take 3, so we entered with only 1 English guide. On my second trip to Vienna, the first thing I did was taking that English guide…

We thought that was not a good start for the morning and everything will go fine. We were not right again. Next, we had to spend 10 minutes with the ticket sales representative. This was not due to long queue. We didn’t want to spend hours visiting inside the palace. It was not in our interest at that time due to lack of time. So, we wanted to buy 3 seperate tickets for the Maze, Gloriette and Privy Garden rather than buying a Classic Pass for 24 EUR. 3 of them cost 10 EUR less, however the woman tried to convince us Classic Pass was a better option. I think we were the first group who didn’t want to visit inside the palace.

That day did not start as we were hoping, but it ended better than we expect. We discovered different places while travelling around and we really enjoyed our rest part of our visit to Schönbrunn Palace. Even if I go Vienna for the 3rd time, Schönnbrunn will be on my list…