Vienna is the capital of Austria and its most visited city.
We included it in our Interrail trip through Europe and reached it by train from Maribor, Slovenia, via a 3h30 minutes ride.
As usual, we loved the perks of train travelling. Austrian railways provide modern and spacious trains, we had the chance to admire the gorgeous panorama of the mountains between Graz and Vienna whilst keeping up with our work on our laptops.
Icing on the cake, we stepped off in the very heart of Vienna.
FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF VIENNA
Our hotel is located in the centre, next to the wonderful Vienna Opera House and close to Museums Quartier as well.
We spend the late afternoon simply walking around. In the evening, Ambra’s surprise gift to Edo sees us going and having a special dinner at Donau Turm Restaurant.
Donau Turm Wien (or Danube Tower Vienna) is a 252-metre-high tower overlooking Vienna from the opposite bank of the Danube River. Indoor and outdoor viewing decks are at 150m and 160m, the sights are endless from up there.
TOP OF VIENNA – DONAU TURM
Having dinner at sunset time sitting at one of the table on the tower’s revolving restaurant was the most memorable experience! The whole floor rotates gently, allowing 360° views over Vienna at the best time of the day, golden hour.
The menu includes typical Viennese food, as well as special Austrian recipes. All to be accompanied by an excellent glass of wine from the nearby wine regions. The Donau Turm is open daily from 10am until midnight, sipping a cocktail under the moonlight is an option too!
ST. STEPHAN CATHEDRAL
On our second day we planned a walking itinerary around the city to see its most famous sights: starting from the Opera House, we enter the pedestrian area of Vienna, one of the largest in Europe.
At the end of Karntner Strasse, we find ourselves at Stephansplatz where the majestic St. Stephan Cathedral steals the scene. A gorgeous 14th century Romanesque and Gothic styled church, both the exterior and interior are amazing just to stare at. Definitely go inside and admire the mosaic windows and art works, the entry is free.
We then take a left turn and walk past St. Peter Catholic Church, before getting to Graben Strasse. The feeling here is to be in the city’s “living room”, it just feels cozy to stroll among the lovely facades and sense the timeless imperial charm.
Horse-drawn carriages add even more magic to the fascinating atmosphere. There are over 80 licensed horse-drawn carriages in Vienna, prices for a ride are usually between 50 and 100€.
MICHAELER PLATZ – THE HOFBURG
We are now approaching Michaelertor, a neo-Baroque building dominating the round square of Michaeler Platz. The colonnade marks the entrance gate to the Hofburg, the former Imperial Palace and now an enormous complex of buildings, among which the residence of the President of Austria.
Our favourite ones are the Sisi Museum and the Spanish Riding School, that performs special dressage shows within the Hofburg.
A special mention to the Austrian National Library, a magnificent library and the biggest in Austria, hosting more than 12 million items. Entering the hall is emotional and makes you feel very tiny.
All books are stored safely on high shelves, it is strictly forbidden to touch any of them. Nevertheless a visit is very much worth the price of 8€.
BREAK AT BURGGARTEN
Once out we carry on to reach the Albertina art musuem. The imposing outdoor stairway allows to have nice views of the Opera House. We take advantage of the green public park of Burggarten to have a break and a bite (we tried a Frankfurter hot dog, we are not that far from Germany after all).
We also pay a quick visit to the inside of Vienna University, once again the stairways here are a serious matter.
The list of places to see in Vienna is truly long and clearly 3 days are not enough to see them all. We had to make a selection and skip some of them.
We decide to head to the Rathaus, and in the meanwhile we walk past Museums Quartier, Heldenplatz, and the Parlament. Unfortunately the Rathaus is partly under renovation, which hides its frontal façade.
Our last sightseeing spot of the day is Votivkirche, a spectacular neo-Gothic church: the story tells that Votivkirche was built as a thank to God for saving Emperor Franz Joseph’s life from an assassination attempt in 1853.
We head back to our hotel for a rest and get ready to go out for dinner.
The most typical Viennese food awaits us, the schnitzel! We find a nice local restaurant, actually half-way between a restaurant and a pub. No frills, good beer, Austrian style, exactly what we are looking for.
We are fouled by the quite cheap prices (7€ for a schnitzel) and order one main dish and one side each. With great surprise, Edo’s dish includes not one but two large Viennese steaks!
It will be a hard challenge to clean all the plates… Definitely an abundant meal and a location to suggest!
The next day is unfortunately our last in the capital of Austria.
As said there are many things we missed and we surely need to come back one day, but we can’t leave this time without seeing Belvedere Palace.
Built through 18th century, this gorgeous complex consists of two palaces, plus the gardens and the stables.
It is possible to visit the Lower and Upper Belvedere palaces (14€, 16€, or 22 for both), or you can simply stroll along the large boulevards.
AUF WIEDERSEHEN, WIEN
A few showers spoil our last day in Vienna, luckily we have a plan B, that is the cozy Spa of our hotel.
One last look at the National Opera House, a promise to Ambra that I’ll take her there next time, and we walk down the metro stairs.
A train trip from Vienna will take us to our next destination: Budapest!
WHERE TO STAY IN VIENNA?
- TOP END: Le Meridien Hotel Vienna: an elegant five star hotel with all the services you need. Nice spa, great position and plentiful breakfasts. Read our full review here.
- BUDGET: Boutique Hostel – Zum Goldenen Kegel. A cozy boutique hostel located next to the subway station, with both private rooms and shared dorms.
- Look for more hotel options in Vienna with free cancellation here.
HOW TO GET AROUND?
- Get a Vienna City Card to take advantage of all means of transport within the city: subway (U-Bahn), city trains (S-Bahn), trams (Strassenbahn) and buses. Options for 24, 48, 72 hours available. Prices start from 17€.
- Donau Turm Restaurant: dining with a view at 160 meters above the Danube river. Bar on site too.
- Schnitzelwirt Vienna: the best place in town to get traditional schnitzel steaks and local specialties without breaking the bank.
DO I NEED TRAVEL INSURANCE?
- Yes you do. Never leave home without a reliable travel insurance. Even if you trust yourself, you can’t always trust others. Better safe than sorry! Get your quote here.
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