Sorry, sorry, couldn’t resist.
Loads of people we know had been to Vienna and said great things. We decided to bump it to the top of our list so we could go when we the time was right.
We flew from London Gatwick to Vienna airport with Easyjet and did the same on the way back. Our flight out was at 8:15am and returned at 22:15. Like with all Easyjet flights, you get what you pay for, but we’ve always preferred Easyjet over some other low cost airlines so long as you check-in right away so you can arrange hold luggage and understand the baggage rules.
If you don’t fancy flying low-cost, you can fly BA from Heathrow and many other airlines fly there too, including Austrian Air.
We stayed 3 nights at Hotel Imlauer which was about a 10 minute tram ride into the main city area and about a 5 minute walk in the opposite direction for the metro line. The hotel had recently been renovated and had links with the hotel next door as you could see the cleaners open fire doors in the morning to clean all the rooms of both hotels on each floor. The hotel was well maintained but certainly wasn’t boutique, but a great place to get some sleep and didn’t feel uncomfortable. The bathrooms are huge but although they could easily accommodate a bath, only had a standard sized walk in shower.
After an incredibly early start, the issue you get when you fly from Gatwick, we decided to catch up on some rest before we hit the city, and let me tell you… it was desperately needed.
After a much needed nap, we headed into the town to see St Stephen’s Cathedral, famous for it’s ornate roof and gosh it was amazing, both inside and out. Take some time to sit inside and listen to the whispering and people watch. It was incredibly peaceful.
We then decided to take a walk down the main shopping street, popping into stores along the way to steal some much needed heating. At the end of the main street you’ll find the Opera Theatre but opposite is a Starbucks where we got ourselves some chai tea and cake. We then took a restful walk back to our hotel where we chilled out, watched some Austrian TV. That’s when I found Flixbus, an app / website that offers low cost coach fares across Europe and noticed they do a coach from Vienna to Bratislava. So booked tickets to go do that on Sunday.
On Saturday, we decided to hit some sights that are further afield and walk across the city, well we did have a FitBit weekend challenge to compete in!
We started with the Belvedere Palace and it’s beautiful gardens right next to Palais Schwarzenberg. We walked from the back of the Belvedere Palace from the train station where you can meet the beautiful baroque palace from it’s pond. It was such a still day, the water reflected just like a mirror. You can take a tour inside however we wanted to catch as many sights as we could in 1 day so skipped it. The view from the Palace across the city is amazing.
We then made our way to Karlsplatz, a large square with Karlskirche, a large domed cathedral, again with a water feature right outside which was dried up during our visit. At Karlsplatz, there’s also a disused metro station that’s still ornate. We say disused, they’re both not used for the underground anymore, but one has been converted into a little café.
Just a short underground ride you’ll then find the busiest market called Naschmarkt. This market not only contains the standard food and wares stalls, but at the very rear opens a vintage market where you can find absolutely anything that’s second hand but you had best be up on your German to bag a bargain. Oh, and in the market you’ll find some of the busiest cafés ever, they had queues of people waiting to gets seats!
Just a short walk from here you’ll find another shopping precinct at Mariahilfer Strasse which had more high street brands compared to other areas of Vienna which had more high end stores. This is the best place for you to find some goodies to take home at more reasonable prices. It’s also a great area to get yourself something to eat.
Off to the Museum Quarter next where we stayed for ages. We didn’t go inside as unfortunately all the museums were due to close. Shame though as they had some interesting art exhibitions but we did find an old fashion photo booth that printed 4 individual black and white pictures. It took ages but was totally worth it.
We continued up the road walking past the Government building towards the Rathaus which still had its winter ice rink outside. We arrived after dark and it was great to sit and watch all the skaters zoom past while we were eating hotdogs and drinking hot chocolate.
On our way home, we walked past both Prinz Eugen von Savoyen and Hofburg Palace where we listened to musicians playing the cello before walking past the oldest public loos I have ever seen… they were gorgeous! The route home brought us back past St. Stephen’s Cathedral and lots of high end stores to window shop in.
On Sunday we left for Bratislava. You can read the story here. On our return, we were really hungry after having stores closed all day, so we headed to Figlmueller, a restaurant made famous for serving the largest Schnitzel EVER! My gosh we were food drunk. You’ll find this restaurant not far from the main tourist spots and always has a queue but totally worth it.
On Monday, after checking out of the hotel, we decided to go see the Hunderwasser, a village built by artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser which is a bright and colourful apartment block and store. There was so much to take in and all the bright colours that I love. The inside was a cafe and tourist tack shop but the outside was lovely.
We then made our way to the Schönbrunn Zoo, which you’ll find in the grounds of Schönbrunn Palace. The grounds and palace are really large and on a nice dry sunny day would make a great outing.
Visiting zoos is something we like to do in many locations and this one did not disappoint. There were Pandas so I was really excited and because it was cold, they were active too! The only disappointing thing was that the zoo closes early as it gets dark early but it did mean we had enough time to head back to get our bags and head to the airport.
Such a beautiful city, I wish we could’ve stayed longer. My favourite things were to walk through the market smelling all the sweet cakes and viewing all the antiques as well as seeing the Pandas. It was really fun to find quirky places like the Hunderwasser, Figlmueller and photobooth at the Musuem Quarter. I hope we get to go back one day during the summer as there were plenty of grounds to walk around which must look lovely in full bloom.
Vienna is a lovely place to visit, full of history and ornate looking buildings. If you’re into your music you’ll enjoy the links with Mozart where you can easily find some of the places he lived. It’s easy to get around, with trams and the metro being fairly straightforward to use, but equally there’s a lot to see within walking distance if you find a hotel within the city centre. This is definitely a great place to grab a coffee and sit outside one of the many cafés and people watch. I hope to visit again sometime soon, in the summer time to make the most of this city.
Don’t worry about the queue, go to Figlmueller for dinner. Go on an empty stomach.
DO NOT order any potatoes with your Schnitzel. Get the salad, you’ll be thankful for the relief.
For High-end stores, visit the area around St Stephen’s Cathedral but for high street stores, go to Mariahilfer Strasse.
Plan plenty of time to get out of Gatwick. It’s not our favourite place to go purely as we personally find the signage sucks and it took us 1.5 hours to go from plane to car. That’s nuts! When at Heathrow, it takes us on average 45 mins (which is why Heathrow is still our favourite airport to fly from).
View Belvedere Palace from the back. You can access it from the train station.
Keep an eye out for the road crossing signs, Vienna was the first to include 2 loved up people on their traffic lights. The gay-themed traffic lights were originally installed for the Eurovision Song Contest in 2015, but now, after popular demand, they’re here to stay.
Check out the square inside the Museum Quarter and have pictures taken in the photobooth, if still there.
If you’re a skater, go to the Rathaus to go skating. Boots and access to the rink were not that expensive. Even if you’re not a skater, go there and people watch.
Vienna is full of cafés so make sure you stop for some coffee and cake.
If you visit Vienna in the spring and summer, make sure you spend some time walking through the parks and gardens. There’s loads of them and sure they’ll look great.