This February we jetted off to Vienna, Austria to enjoy a short 4-day city break booked through Travel Republic (stay tuned for a future post on why this can be a risky business) and here are some great reasons why you should book your own trip to Vienna (and a few reasons why you shouldn’t).
Despite us visiting in February, the height of ball season, we didn’t attend a ball during our trip (more on why in the aforementioned Travel Republic post). However we did see lots of people dressed up to the nines on their way to and from balls. This is a big treat for people watchers.
For history, art and culture lovers, Vienna has hundreds of museums. In particular I’d recommend the Museum of Military History which is vast and fascinating – plus it has a military tank garden and a very interesting (read: tiny) section on the holocaust. Note if you’re going here and want the audio tour, you’ll have to leave your passport at reception as a deposit.
For movie buffs, you’ll hopefully already recognise my main image from The Third Man’s famous Harry Lime being an absolute bastard scene.
Prater Park in Vienna has one of the oldest operating ferris wheels in the world – The Wiener Riesenrad. Aside from being fun to say, it’s also a great way to pass 20 minutes with decent views of the rest of Prater Park.
Is there anything as delightful as sitting in a toasty cafe enjoying coffee & cake, watching the world freeze outside? The answer is no – and Vienna has hundreds of cafes serving dozens of different coffees and of course the traditional Apple Strudel, many of which we graced with our patronage whilst in Austria. Yum.
There will come a point, however, when you’ve had enough of scoffing pastries.
No seriously, there will.
When that happens there’s goulash. You can get goulash, butter dumplings and schnitzel in almost every restaurant & gastro pub and they’re consistently delicious. If you’re veggie or vegan, there are also plentiful choices of places to eat.
If you’re not veggie or vegan, then there’s a 400+-year-old place where you can buy pork ribs by the metre.
If you’re like me, then no trip is complete without a morose amble through the local cemetery. Vienna’s central cemetery has more dead folk interred than the city has living folk. An area of particular interest is the Zentralfriedhof – or the celebrity quarter – where tourists can battle the moral dilemma of whether its too grim to take photos of Beethoven’s grave or not. See more about this in an upcoming post, but know that I decided I was OK with taking photographs of graves.
Finally for those of you who get bored of just one city, or those of you looking to cheaply boost your “places I’ve been” list – you can also get the train from Vienna quickly and cheaply to:
Bratislava, Slovenia (1hr, 16euro)
Budapest, Hungary (1.5hr, 29euro)
Prague, Czech Republic (4hr, 54euro)
Imagine sitting on a clean, warm train on a chilly day, with a nice hot drink, tootling through the Austrian landscape. Bliss!
Other stuff you should know
Usually travel guides just give you the good stuff, but in the name of balance…
The main thing about Vienna is that it can be exceptionally expensive – if you’re looking for a cheap city break then this is not it. Expect a cheap evening meal to be in the region of 25 euro each.
Visiting Bratislava is kind of a waste of time in my opinion. There’s not a lot to do, although its pretty enough, so we came back to Vienna within around 2hours.
Vienna is a truly huge city that takes lots of time to get around – luckily their metro is fantastic and highly affordable, but getting around town can be hard work. Be sure to set off for everything with plenty of time.
Don’t get a taxi to the airport – get the CAT. Traffic out of the city can be a nightmare, so even though UBER & Cabs have a 30 euro set airport fee, its altogether less stressful to hop on the train which takes only 15 mins.
In short, I’ve had better city breaks (hello, Athens & Rome) but I’ve also had worse ones (I went to Nottingham once). Vienna is actually really lovely, you should go.