We didn’t quite know what to expect from Vienna. Three months ago we were in Salzburg and while we enjoyed it, on reflection we expected something bigger, brighter and a little better. Vienna is a much bigger city and we found that three nights (two days) was really not enough to see what we wanted to see. Yes you can scrape the surface but it really deserves a bit more time.
As we were only there 48 hours we tried to get the best overview of the city that we could by getting on a Hop on Hop Off bus tour. This is a good idea. We usually don’t get off, rather just use it to orient ourselves to revisit places later if we want to. Before we committed to this tour, we tried to do it ourselves as we had purchased two day transport passes. It really was just easier to listen to a commentary. We didn’t have to struggle trying to work out which building was which, why it was significant and whether or not we were indeed looking at the right building!
Again, like the previous 2 weeks, we were foiled by the weather but being in a big city doesn’t really matter that much. To get out of the rain, we took refuge in the Butterfly House (6.50 Euro to get in), which was not really worth it as most of the butterflies were high on the roof. We really only saw about 4 or 5.
We also had coffee and cake in Central Cafe and braved the queue to get in. Coffee and cake was average (cakes look much better than they are) however it is a cafe of historical importance (Trotsky, Freud and a number of poets) and the environment is beautiful.
Vienna is full of breathtaking buildings and we enjoyed walking around looking at them. The architecture is really something else!
If you are an art lover, Belvedere is worth a visit. This is where you can see the famous Austrian painting The Kiss. The Kiss is the Austrians answer to Mona Lisa! You can buy any number of souvenirs with a print of this painting on it. Allow at least half a day for a visit. Close by there is also the Museum of Modern Art is about a 10 minute walk from Belvedere so you could make an arty day of it.
We also took the underground (U Bahn) out to the Schonbrunn Palace to catch a show. You must see a classical performance in Vienna right! It was a beautiful environment but the acoustics were poor. I think the Opera House might have been a better choice. The palace gardens are meant to be beautiful but when we got there they were closing the gates (despite everyone telling us it would be open). Make sure you go before 4pm to ensure that it is open and that you have some time to walk around.
- If you are driving in, you are looking for signs that say Wien not Vienna
- There is very little parking in the city. You might be lucky to pick up a short stay parking spot (less than 2 hours) however the locals use the parking garages (Park and Ride). We paid 10.50 Euros for 2.5 days.
- You can buy transport tickets for 1 or 2 days which give you access to underground trains and the trams which get you everywhere you need to go.
- If you want to see a concert ask questions… what is the programme, how long, where is it, how many musicians etc. Shop around.
- There are museums for everything… art, technology, Freud, national history, military history, Mozart…
- Check out the Vienna Card. It gives free transport and discounted admission to many places in the city.
- Enjoy! Vienna is a beautiful city.