Of all the destinations we visited, Vienna was definitely the most beautiful. It was also the place we knew the least about, being a convenient stop between Berlin and Rome. The weather was really starting to get hot at this point in our trip, which limited us a bit with wandering around (as you can imagine, walking in 30+ degree heat all day takes it out of you). There were plenty of pretty parks for sitting in and taking a rest, not to mention the huge and grand gardens which surround the Habsburg-era palaces.
Our trip to Vienna was very similar to our trip to Berlin—a single train, just over 7 hours, direct from Berlin to Vienna. There’s not much to say about this really, just that like with any long distance train it starts to feel like an age towards the end, but if you have a good book or something to do it definitely helps. I would definitely recommend Adam Kay’s ‘This Is Going to Hurt’, which I started reading on this train and finished while in Vienna. In dual parts comical and heartbreaking, it recounts Kay’s experience as a junior doctor, giving a much needed insight into the wonder that is the NHS and the amazing people who work in it.
This was another AirBnB destination, this time with a whole studio flat to ourselves. We were out by Krieau station, a little distance from the centre but thanks to the brilliance that is the Vienna public transport system it was no trouble to get where we needed to. A side note: of all the public transport systems we had to navigate, Vienna was definitely the nicest. It was small enough that maps were easy to read, but we were never too far from a station (which was a huge problem in Rome).
The AirBnB itself was very pleasant, reminiscent of a fancy student pad, which from its proximity to the University of Economics we imagined it must be. A home from home in many ways. The glass door to the bathroom was a little bit of a drawback—not even frosted! Still, very modern and just what we needed to rest up with a glass of Viennese wine at the end of a busy day.
The listing itself is here if you’re looking for a place to stay on your trip to Vienna.
We were in Vienna for 3 nights, which was long enough to get a real sense of the city. Like I said before, we had some amazing summer weather, if a bit hot at points. Just walking through the streets and seeing the historical buildings and gardens was probably the best part of our visit.
Schloss Schönbrunn — Everyone wants to feel like royalty, even for a little bit. A stroll around the gorgeous gardens which surround the Schönbrunn Palace will give you but a glimpse into the extravagant lives of the Habsburg family. The Palm House alone is incredible, but as you work your way through the grounds more of the classical architecture reveals itself. The Neptune Fountain and the towering Gloriette above it face the palace itself—a great place to enjoy and ice cream and look over the skyline of Vienna.
Rathaus Park — Located outside the neo-Gothic Wiener Rathaus (the Vienna City Hall), Rathaus Park is a quiet green space filled with plenty of benches for a rest in the middle of a busy day. While we were there it was bathed in the summer sun, and one afternoon we decided to take our books down there and just enjoy the atmosphere for an hour or two. Just around the corner there’s also the amazing Vienna Sausage — a hot dog restaurant with some tasty flavour combos.
The Albertina — This stunning museum is home to the Habsburg State Rooms, exhibiting the true extent of their 17th century grandeur. Also not to be missed is the Impressionism exhibition, which takes you from Monet to Picasso, brushing shoulders with Degas, Margritte, and just about everyone in between. This was another museum with the unfortunate (for me) ‘Under 19s free’ offer, putting me €11 down as a ‘Young Adult under 26’. Still, a good price to pay for what you get. The rooftop itself is another great place for a sit-down in the sun.
Café Central — Of all the places we visited in Vienna, this is the place I wish I could visit again and again. After a brief queue outside the unsuspecting exterior, you are whisked inside a gorgeous room fit for the high society. The cakes counter catches your eye in an instant. The most beautifully crafted desserts line the windows, and it’s a shame we were on a budget because I could have tried many more than the one shared between the two of us. Despite the splendour of the café, there was no sense of snobbery, but the fact that almost everyone was a tourist didn’t take away from the prestigious atmosphere. It’s no wonder Trotsky was a regular visitor (allegedly).
Notes and Anecdotes
Prater — Prater is an amusement park in the North-East part of the city, which claims to be the oldest in the world. It’s pleasant enough, but as someone who isn’t a fan of that kind of thing, it wasn’t all that great. The food places in particular just seemed overpriced for what they were, and we quickly became bored and moved on. If you like rides and stuff, give it a go, but otherwise it was a bit forgettable.
Corpus Christi — On our last day in Vienna we were due to get the night train out to Rome in the evening, so had the whole day to ourselves to wander around one last time. We couldn’t help but notice as we were going around how few shops were open, strange for what seemed like an average Thursday. Additionally, in Karlsplatz we witnessed a procession of religiously dressed people moving towards the church, which was a bit extra for what we thought was just the middle of the week. It was only when we struggled to find a place for dinner in the middle of a horrible thunderstorm that we decided to look up exactly what was going on. Corpus Christi is a religious holiday celebrated in Austria among other countries in Central Europe, but we had never heard of it. I guess my point here is that you forget sometimes when you’re travelling that things can be entirely different without you realising.
Vienna was a fantastic segment of our trip, and has definitely encouraged me to consider travelling to places I know much less about in the future. If I were to visit again I would take the ferry down to Bratislava for the day—we had planned to but were uncertain about whether or not an oncoming storm would affect us. From what we saw, I think Vienna would be a beautiful destination to visit at any time of the year, always elegant, always welcoming.