The Europe Mini-Tour: Vienna

In the summer of 2017, I planned a Mini-Tour of Europe with my boyfriend at the time. We decided to do 4 European cities over 2 and a half weeks, mainly travelling by bus between these centres. This mini-series of blog posts focusses on the four cities we visited, and my personal recommendations and highlights! I’ll delve a little bit into travel options along the way too.

Incase you missed it, our first stop on the trip was Prague, and you can read all about that here. We then hopped on a FlixBus from Prague to Vienna. Unfortunately, it seems I took way less photos in Vienna compared to everywhere else, so I’m sorry for the lack of photographic documentation!

There’s a lot to be said about FlixBus. If you look on TrustPilot, or other review sites, you will see that a high percentage of the reviews are 1-star, with multiple people saying their bus didn’t turn up, or the service was horrible. However, I have to give you my personal experience, and I personally did not have a single problem with their service! We got FlixBusses 3 times during our trip, and every departure was on time, we were treated well, and we had no problems whatsoever. The busses themselves were absolutely fine: they may not have had every single amenity that they advertise on their website (power outlets, WiFi, snacks etc.) but the busses were clean, pretty comfortable, and on the whole what you would expect from a bus journey. Some of the stops are a little difficult to find, but if you do your research and arrive in plenty of time knowing your bus number, it’s easy enough to sort out. It’s the economic travel option, with some tickets starting at €5, and although it’s not the fastest option, it definitely isn’t the worst way to travel. I personally would definitely travel with FlixBus again; for the price, I can’t fault it.

Day One –

We arrived quite late in the afternoon in Vienna after our bus journey, and then immediately went to our Airbnb just off Stephansplatz, a two minute walk from the U-Bahn. Again, we had a private room in a flat, making expenses very cheap, and the flat itself was absolutely fine and convenient. I always opt for Airbnb’s over hotels, because of the price and most of all the location.

We headed out for dinner at Bierhof, where we sat outside to eat as it was warm enough! The food was good, with a nice variety of Austrian cuisine. And, of course, the beer was great too!

On our way back, we had a leisurely stroll past the Hofburg, the residence of the President of Austria, and formerly the principal imperial palace of the Hapsburg dynasty. The view when lit up at night is beautiful, and the building is so regal, but that was all we could muster our first day, and we headed to bed!

The Hofburg at night.

Day Two –

On our second day, we had a full day ahead of us and we were excited to do as many things on our list as possible. First on the list was visiting Stephansdom, or St Stephen’s Cathedral in English. This is the mother church or the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vienna, and the Romanesque / Gothic building lies in the middle of Stephansplatz, which was only a two-minute walk from our Airbnb. We decided to walk up the tower, to get brilliant views of the rest of Vienna and to enjoy this amazing building, as it is one of the most important religious buildings in Vienna.

The tower of Stephansdom.

We then stopped for a well deserved breakfast/snack at Café Central after our walk up the tower. Café Central is a traditional Viennese café, where many European intellectuals were patrons, such as Sigmund Freud, Leon Trotsky, and Josip Broz Tito. It was also referred to as the ‘chess school’ as many players used the first floor for their games. Being set in a former Bank and Stockmarket building, the architecture is beautiful and a visit to the café for a spot of cake combines a tourist activity with delicious food too. As it’s so famous, the food is obviously not on the cheap side, but it was a lovely choice for us.

Apfel Strudel at Cafe Central.

To walk off our indulgent treat, we then walked past the Wiener Rathaus, or Vienna City Hall. This building is again in the Neo-Gothic style and still serves as the seat of the local government of Vienna. It is another beautiful building to take in from the outside in Vienna. We then headed over to the MUSA (part of the Vienna Museum group) and The Albertina Museum, where we paid entry as there was an exhibition called ‘Monet to Picasso’, featuring a compilation of Mondernist art. I adore art, and have visited plenty of museums thanks to my parents’ love of art too, and I couldn’t resist visiting this exhibition. They had artists such as Degas, Cézanne, Gauguin, Hofer, Malevich, Monet, and of course, Picasso. I always think it is worth checking what exhibits are on at the local museums when you visit, because sometimes you really can get lucky! The rest of the museum was also a real treat, and well worth the entry fee!

We then treated ourself to lunch from a hotdog style stand on the streets of Vienna, and I had a Bratwurst, because I could not say no!

Post-lunch it was time for a visit to one of the attractions I was most excited about on our whole trip: Haus Der Musik. Haus Der Musik is a museum of sound and music, featuring hi-tech interactive presentations about the world of music from the beginning of human musicality to the present day. I enjoyed this museum probably more than any other activity in Vienna, because music is one of my biggest loves and has been since my childhood. I learnt a lot, and found everything extremely fascinating, and the interactive elements were incredibly fun. Really, I could have stayed there for the rest of the day, but unfortunately we had dinner reservations. If you like music, but you’re on a tight budget, make this the one attraction you pay for in Vienna, you won’t regret it.

Our aforementioned dinner reservation was at Plachutta Wollzeile, famous for it’s traditional Viennese food options. We were here on a TripAdvisor recommendation, as always, and wanting to try the Tafelspitz, which the restaurant is extremely famous for. Tafelspitz is a classic Viennese dish, although popular across all of Austria, and was brought to fame by Franz Joseph I, Emperor of Austria, who loved the dish. It consists of boiled veal or beef, simmered with root vegetables and spices in broth, normally served with potato, minced apples and horseradish. The name comes from the Austrian name for the meat cut, which English speakers probably know as the rump or topside. I really enjoyed the restaurant’s atmosphere and the food itself was delicious. I would definitely eat Tafelspitz again, without hesitation. Although, be warned, this is not a cheap place to eat, so definitely only for people looking to splash out!

After dinner, we walked off our delicious but filling food in the streets of Vienna, and treated ourselves to an ice cream on the way home.

Day Three –

This day was our last full day in Vienna, and my ex-boyfriend and his family were big fans of classical music, so we decided to spend the day walking around the many memorials of famous composers and writers in Vienna. They are dotted all over the city, but mostly in beautiful gardens, which makes the walk extremely enjoyable and means you get to see a lot of Vienna too! We visited statues dedicated to Mozart, Beethoven, Strauss, Schubert, Goethe and Frank Joseph I, as pictured below. All in all, this was a very fun activity for us due to our likes. If you’re not into classical music/literature, maybe not the activity for you, but definitely a great reason to see the sights of Vienna.

Statue of Franz Joseph I, Emperor of Austria

This day mostly revolved around food after all that walking. We went for lunch at Cafe Sacher, another Viennese coffeehouse famous for it’s coffee culture. It is also famous for its Sacher-Torte, a chocolate cake with a special recipe dating back to 1832! Being lactose intolerant as I am, this obviously wasn’t the choice for me, but of course I opted for some more Apfel strudel in its place. You often have to queue for this cafe, and I am not sure I would have queued very long had I had to, but the cafe is lovely inside.

Later this day, we walked over to the Naschmarkt, Vienna’s best known market. There are around 120 market stands/restaurants to browse, and this is definitely the place where we saw the biggest variety in cuisine, with everything from Viennese to Vietnamese. You can buy pretty much anything from this market, and we enjoyed browsing the stalls for a very long time, before deciding to grab some food, going for noodles and shawarma (not traditional or local, but definitely delicious). The market is definitely worth visiting to get deli items, food, and even things to take home for your family. There are also nice outdoor and covered seating areas, so you can eat and people watch to your hearts content.

We had dinner relatively early, as we had one last thing we needed to do before leaving Vienna. My ex-boyfriend was a huge fan of opera, and being a drama student I am pretty fond of it too. At the opera house in Vienna, you can get standing tickets, for up in the circle at a very cheap price if you queue up on the day. The Barber of Seville was playing whilst we were in Vienna, a personal favourite, and we had looked at tickets before coming, but they were way out of our price range, so we opted to go for the standing tickets! Don’t get me wrong, standing through an opera is definitely not the most comfortable way to watch the show, but it is definitely not bad either. We had a great, if a bit far away, view of the stage, and there were screens translating what they were singing into English (and other languages) too! I immensely enjoyed this experience, and would definitely recommend doing it, even though you do have to queue for quite a while. You need to arrive 2.5 to 3 hours before it starts, and the tickets are around €10. There are over 500 standing tickets available, so you have a good chance of getting one! After you get in, mark your standing place with a scarf or the like, and head off to explore the opera house, before returning to your marked spot before the show starts.

The view from our standing seats at Vienna State Opera.

That’s where my Vienna journey ended, and we got the bus to Ljubljana the next morning. Keep your eyes peeled for my upcoming post as part of this series, which will be all about Ljubljana, and more, in Slovenia!

I really enjoyed Vienna and would love to head back to Austria at some point to see the rest of the country. I could definitely also head back to Vienna itself as we really didn’t do everything there is to do in the limited time we had. But I hope this post has given you some ideas of things to do in Vienna when you visit.

Look out for the the next two posts in this series, coming soon.

If you have any questions or want more information about my experience of Vienna, or anything else, you can always contact me here! Hope you enjoyed reading and look out for new posts coming soon, or head over to my Instagram for more travel related content.

Love, Amy @thisgingertravels x

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