21 Days in Europe: Vienna, Austria
AirBNB: Cosy Apartment in the Center of Vienna hosted by Ertas ($50 per night)
Our place in Vienna was really close to the train station, so it was easy to get around town. Your view from the window looked out on the city and you could see a beautiful church just behind.
The Beautiful City of Vienna
Vienna has so much to offer, as it is a birthplace of so much rich history of the world. Although we only had a short time here, we had so much to fill our time with! We were there for two days, and ended up getting the Vienna pass. It definitely felt expensive in its initial purchase, but with good planning of your days, it is worth all the entries into popular destinations, and skipping wait time on getting tickets!
These were just a few of our favorite stops in Vienna:
1. Schönbrunn Palace
Schönbrunn was definitely at the top of our list. There is so much to do and see, you could literally spend nearly a whole day here just by itself! The best time is to go in the morning when you can get in for a tour without the long wait (ours was about an hour). If you do have to wait though, there’s plenty to see around the palace before you actually go in like the labyrinth mazes:
Tours inside last about 30 min-an hour, and you can choose either to join a guided tour or an audio tour. We chosen an audio tour just for the sake of self-pacing. There are no pictures allowed in the palace, but really it enhances the tour by using your eyes rather than your phones to enjoy the gorgeous sights and intricate room detailing. You learn about the history of the palace and the stories behind it inhabitants. With the Vienna Pass, you are automatically upgraded to the Grand Tour, which gives you additional rooms past the basic tour.
Going back outside looking to the rest of the grounds has its own amazing views:
The grounds are massive; totaling somewhere in the hundreds of acres. Most people stuck to the center of the grounds where you have a direct sight line of the palace and fountains.
The walk can be a little intense if you really want to cover as much as possible on the grounds, so wear good shoes and comfortable clothes. We totaled around 6-8 miles just walking around the palace and grounds itself.
There is even a zoo on the grounds; one of the largest we have ever been to, and certainly one of the largest in Europe. The zoo has a crazy diverse population of animals, many of which you can see directly in front of you nearly seeming as if in their natural space. There are both roaming areas and feeding areas for closer observation like this panda:
But maybe you would rather book a photo session with a local photographer and have “royal” pictures taken for an amazing souvenir. You can even get married on the grounds for the fairytale wedding of your dreams! There are flowers and exotic fruit trees, tunnels of vines and fountains everywhere to make every inch of the grounds absolutely magical. We certainly felt the royal treatment here!
2. Hofburg Palace
Each palace is beautiful and unique, and the Hofburg palace is known for its treasury and riding school.
The treasury has many beautiful items collected from the royalty of Austria over thousands of years, some even dating back to the first few hundred:
There are many items from the country itself, but a lot of the items are historical treasures, or even more exotic treasures from other nations. There are precious gems adorning royal capes and swords, gold thread in tapestries from the churches, and large-cut gemstones found in multiple countries of origin. There are also of course many paintings and treasures of the church.
The Spanish riding school is also located here, and is very famous in Austria for its Lipizzaner horses.
The empowers and empresses of Austria enjoyed having shows here for guests, and the horses and their riders still perform here for visitors today.
Another highlight of the palace is the National Library and it’s multiple museums:
The library is amazing just to walk through and look at for its architecture, but some of the coll croon on display is also interesting as well, such as its religious books, art collections, globes, and so much more.
Attached to the library are many museums as well such as the Papyrus museum, which holds various papyrus scroll remains from Egypt, including the book of the dead.
3. St. Steven’s Cathedral
I don’t know much about Catholicism, but I do know a beautiful building when I see it. The building, even under some renovation on the outside, is still an overwhelmingly awe-inspiring experience. Sky-high vaulted ceilings, tall brightly adorned stained glass windows, sparkling chandeliers lit with twinkling little candles make the place a mighty, yet comforting experience.
We were lucky enough on a Friday evening to sit in for a few minutes during one of their services, and the sounds echoing off the walls made it know wonder why people come from all over the world to light a candle and partake in the religious experience.
St. Steven’s also has its own treasury, but planning it amidst other destinations carefully is essential, because it has pretty difficult hours for a short trip if you’re wanting to see some of the other things on our list! It is definitely worth it just to stop in for a quick look if you can!
4. Illusion Museum (Museum der Illusionen)
To experience something a little different, we tried out the Illusion Museum, which offers puzzles, and fun photo ops, and having a blast with illusions!
Really having three people would have been the best for pictures, but we had such a good time laughing together figuring out puzzles and taking hilarious illusion pictures of each other that we still had a great time!
5. Wurstelprater Amusement Park (night time)
For something to do in the evening that involves experiencing fun like the locals do, go to the second largest park in Bienna, the Prater. Yes, it’s an amausment Park, but please don’t picture Six Flags, because you’re wrong. This place is completely crazy, which makes it even more awesome!
The rides are definitely for the thrill seekers, as the majority go upside down...for an extended amount of time. The street food here has more variety than we had seen anywhere else, and of course it can always get creative in an amusement park like marshmallow creme ice cream cones dipped in chocolate, or pizza Längos.
There’s also a Madame Tussaud’s was museum here, as well as a chocolate museum!
To get great photos of the city at night, ride the Wiener Riesenrad (giant Ferris wheel). It’s the oldest Ferris wheel in Vienna, with a unique history of its own:
The original brothers who opened the wheel lost the property in World War II because of their Jewish heritage. One later died in Beverly Bills, the other, in a concentration camp. During World War II, the Ferris wheel was bombed and burned, which destroyed half of its original 30 gondolas. Today, there are still 15 of its original gondolas (new and improved, I promise!), and can still be enjoyed for beautiful views like this:
Vienna was an amazing city (and super cool to watch Croatia beat Russia in ;)). We are coming to the end of our trip in Prague!
~Gal with a pal