Vienna!! the imperial city, the capital of music, a city where “… the streets are paved with culture” (Karl Krauss). We made a stop of 3 days in Vienna on our way to the Balkans. We thought it might be worthy to visit such a beautiful and popular capital. The bad news is that Vienna is expensive, I dare say even more than Paris, although some people say it is not that much. The good news is that to take photos is free (or almost), and the architecture in Vienna is amazing. It is worthy enough to visit without spending much money on other attractions.
First day in Vienna:
We arrived early, about 8 a.m., our apartment was not ready, the check in was about 2 p.m. so we had plenty of time to kill. We arrived by bus in the Vienna international bus terminal (VIB), so we left the luggage in their lockers and walked around the area (our apartment was near the station). we bought a coffee and a cream pastry and then sat down by one of the arms of the Danube (the Donaukanal) to wait.
When we finally could use the apartment, we went to buy something to have for breakfast (or lunch), in the nearest supermarket called Billa. Although usually to buy groceries is cheaper than to eat in a restaurant, we spent about €22,00 euros on our first groceries. Anyway, it was cheaper because we bought oil, eggs, cheese, and other stuff.
Taking the U-Bahn
The U-Bahn is the Viennese subway. One single metro ticket is €2,20. There are passes for days, but I wasn’t expecting to use it much, so we bought just single tickets. You can also buy the Vienna Card, which prices are of €13,90 for 24 hours, €21,90 for 48 hours and €24,90 for 72 hours, it includes unlimited public transportation, besides of discounts in some museums and attractions.
More information about the Vienna Card here
The host appointed Stephanplatz as the heart of the center, so that was our next stop. The first thing I saw coming out of the metro, was a man dressed as Mozart, trying to sell us tickets for a concert, and although the offer was tempting we had to decline, I’ve heard those concerts are not of good quality.
So, we did what is free: to walk around, to seek some famous buildings, and to take a lot of photos: St Stephan cathedral, the Wiener Staatsoper, Hofburg Imperial Palace, Albertina, etc. By the way, if you want to go to the opera on a budget, 80 minutes before the play you can purchase tickets for the standing room (yes, standing, sorry) for as little as €4,00 euros in the special box office for this tickets. Arrive early because the queue gets long.
More information about Opera tickets here
Walking the Kärntner Straße:
The Kärntner Straße is a famous street that begins in Stephanplatz and ends in the Karlsplatz, where the Vienna State Opera is located, it is full of shops like Zara, H&M, MAC, Swarovski, etc, and some cafeterias like the famous Café Sacher Wien, where you can eat the chocolate cake called Sacher torte ( I didn’t try it yet, I will let that for the next time)
What I did try was another famous sweet of Vienna, which are the Mozartkugeln, or Mozart balls, chocolates filled with pistachio marzipan. They are expensive, as everything else in Vienna. I think I decided to buy a violin-shaped box in the gift’s shop in Schönbrunn for about €8,00.
What to buy as a souvenir?
Well, this is really complicated or it was for me, as I only stayed 3 days. I don’t feel with the moral authority to give any advice but yet I’ll try. There are many shops called Mozart souvenirs, they sell Mozart products ( probably made in China). If you are a fan of Mozart ( I confess I am) then buy anything that makes you happy.
They have also many products with the image of Empress Sissy on them, as she is much loved by the Austrians. Also, they sell products decorated with Gustav Klimt paintings (as they have a collection in the Belvedere Museum).
They have the usual stuff, music boxes, scarves (I like to buy scarves anywhere I go, they are usually cheap), key chains, fridge magnets, snow globes (they say the snow globes, Schneekugel in German, were invented in Austria so it wouldn’t be a bad souvenir after all) and chocolates as I bought. you can also check in Supermarkets, as you might find local products and for cheaper prices.
Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien
There are many interesting places to visit in Vienna, some of the most important are the Belvedere, Hofburg Palace, Museumsquartier, the Schönbrunn Palace, Albertina, Mozarthaus… too many places! As I like fine arts (and due to our lack of time) I chose the Museum of Art History or Kunsthistoriches Museum.
The day was windy and cold, so it was good to find a roof to hide. We paid €15,00 for each ticket. The building where the museum is located is amazing enough to pay the price. Inaugurated in 1891, this museum has a large collection of Egyptian archeological objects, like some sarcophagus, pillars, and statues. And also paintings of masters like Rubens, Velazquez, Raphael, Durer, Tintoretto, and Caravaggio. If you enjoy art, this is a must-see.
Rainy day in Schönbrunn
The last day in Vienna inevitably arrived. We still had some hours before our bus leaves. It was raining, but still, with the best attitude, we decided to go to the Schönbrunn Palace so we grabbed our map and took the metro.
Despite the rain, there were many visitors, we entered first to check the gift shop and also to cover ourselves from rain, unfortunately, we didn’t have an umbrella and we were not willing to pay €10,00 for one in the souvenirs shop.
The fact that it was not allowed to take photos inside the palace and that we didn’t have much time for the visit, discouraged us a little to enter, so at the end, we decided to visit the gardens instead. By the way, the admission to the gardens is free.
From the garden is possible to access the Imperial Zoo, which I have read it’s worthy to visit. We walked up until a building called the Gloriette, where there is a restaurant where you can have a snack, and from here you can also climb to the top for a better view if you purchased a ticket.
I can imagine that at other times this garden would be splendorous, but at the end of winter, the flowers were still being planted and the rain didn’t give a nice view. Although even with the rain we enjoyed the walking and the landscape.
Auf Wiedersehen Vienna
We made a last stop in the center to have a coffee in the McDonald’s (yes, I know, McDonald’s??! in a city famous for its coffee culture?!, but we still had many days in Europe, and Vienna is not precisely budget friendly) as the temperature outside was really cold (at least for me). Then we took our last walk around the center and finally said Auf wiedersehen Wien!
Have you been to Vienna? What would you recommend to visit or to do in such a short time? Leave your comments below!