There are literally hundreds of things to keep you busy in Vienna. From the thriving cafe culture ( I like this poetic musing on the scene) where you can sit and people watch for an afternoon, to the standing only tickets at the ballet, theater, and opera. There is plenty going on around the river, the canal and the island, on top of a busy wine culture and a whole lot of history. Vienna pretty much has it all, as long as you’re willing to explore its 23 districts.
If you’re keen on museums, check out:
The museumquater – basically your Mecca for the duration of your trip, with upwards of ten individual collections to check out. Not only is it one of the largest cultural complexes in the world, it is also a fun hang-out space with cafes, bars, and courtyards. Here you’ll find an eclectic mix of historic buildings and modern architecture.
Hundertwasser Museum – on the opposite side of the city to the museumquater there is a funny looking house, with uneven floors and stunning tiling. You’ll find the whole collection of artist Friendensreich Hundterwasser here – he spent a lot of time in New Zealand in the 70s and 80s and is buried there now.
Upper Belvedere – Basically the most beautiful art museum I have seen in my life, and Ive been to Paris a couple times now…Here you’ll find the most popular painting in Vienna – the Kiss (Lovers) by Gustav Klimt, amoungst a host of other beautiful artwork all housed in the former residence of a Prince.
If you’re seeking some culture, check out:
The ballet, the art galleries, the opera, the theaters… Vienna is a cultural capital and the Viennese way has been based around making these arts available to everyone. While you’re visiting make sure you check the schedule to see if any shows are being broadcast outdoors, or if standing tickets are available. These tickets gain you access to the standing balcony only, and are available to be purchased from the box office in the hours leading up to the performance but will only set you back a few euros.
I enjoyed watching the marriage of Figaro being performed while I sat outside the Opera and nibbled on cheese and crackers. Bliss!
Also, for something a little different, don’t miss a visit to the morning exercice at the Spanish Riding school. Here you can watch the Lipizzaner stallions practice their routines for much less than the cost of a ticket to their regular shows. Just remember you might not see and leaping or jumping…
If you want a little fun, check out:
The Prater! There is an amusement park which includes a giant Ferris wheel and is surrounded by over 500 hectares of green space. There are a bunch of other fun rides to play on, a madame tussards to explore and lots of places nearby for coffee, cake, and ice cream.
If an amusement park isn’t your scene, go for a wander to Danube Island where you can laze by the river, sunbathe and picnic. Bliss! While you’re out this way, head to Danube Tower and check out the view!
If you’re all about the music, check out:
Mozart, Haydn, Shubert…. You name the musician and you’ll find something of interest. In Vienna, you’ll find daily concerts of classical music in some of the cities beautiful concert halls and churches. You’ll be able to visit the houses of Straus, Mozart, and Haydn. For something a little different, go ahead and visit the House of Music Museum. You’ll find a bunch of fun interactive elements so you can really get in the groove.
If you fancy a tipple, a bite or a coffee, check out:
Did you know UNESCO can declare intangible and cultural phenomenon as protected heritage? The Viennese coffee house culture was declared as such in 2011. Alongside the delicious coffees, you’ll also find a bunch of cakes and treats, like the famed Apple Strudel and Sachertorte.
If Wine is more your thing, Vienna produces over 2 million liters of the stuff every year. Outer districts like Grinzing are easily accessed and filled with locally produced wines. Head to a local Heurigen for a chance to have a taste. Further afield is the city of Klosterneuburg, with its wine producing Abby! Well worth the visit and a beautiful spot for a drop.
If you’ve had one too many, you might find a Würstel will help bring back sobriety. Often sold in pubs and on the side of streets, these sausages come with a yummy bread and mustard combo. They’re cheap, cheerful and not especially nutritious.
Vienna is also one of the only cities with a food named after it…The Wiener Schnitzel is one of the most famous dishes in Vienna and was traditionally made using veal. However, today the Schnitzel is made using a bunch of other meats, usually Pork. I’d recommend finding a friend to share the meal with – they’re huge!
If you want to imagine yourself as royalty, check out:
Vienna, as we know it today, is heavily influenced by Maria Theresa and Emporer Franz Josef. Despite that, there has been documentation of a city as far back as the 1150s! Now you’ll find over 25 palaces and more than 150 regal residences in the city limits. Go ahead, wander through, poke around and enjoy the stately decor while you’re there.
I recommend Schonbrunn, for its massive gardens. Here you’ll find enough to keep yourself busy for a day with a lovely wee cafe, the city views from the Gloriette, the peace and quiet of the Privy Gardens and the exotic plants in the palm and desert houses. You’ll even find a zoo! If you’re not up for walking there is a small ‘train’ that goes around the grounds.
For a slightly different take on royalty, check out the former court library. Now the State Hall, you can swoon at the tall bookshelves wheeled ladders and huge globes. If that doesn’t tickle your fancy, what about visiting the royal treasury to check out the regal robes and other goodies?
And if you’re feeling macabre, check out the Imperial Burial Vault, where over 140 members the Hapsburg family are buried. Check out the beautiful crypts and monuments.
Vienna Pass – AKA how to do it all!
With so much to see and do, I broke our budget rule and invested in a Vienna Pass. For an upfront fee (ranging from 60 – 130 euros depending on the number of days you select) you gain free access and the ability to jump the queue at a more than 60 attractions in the city. I spent 100 euros and raced around the city for three days, raking up entry fees of over 200 euros and making use of the hop-on-hop-off bus and their buses, walking tour and cruise! It was a busy three days but man it was fun!
Getting out of the city
As well as a trip to Klosterneuburg, I went further afeild with a trip to Salzburg, just two hours by train and half a country away. A fun day trip, albeit a long day, its easily oranised by hopping a train and picking up a free map.
Will we be returning?
I certainly hope so! Even with 10 days in the city we only just scratched the surface and there is plenty more to enjoy. Did you know Vienna was rated one of the ten most livable cities in 2017? We can see why!