I've been reading other posters questioning what to do in Vienna. Even with computer maps I have problems grouping things together for efficient sightseeing. I'd like to group things that are close together, but not all museums in one day. Maybe a palace and a museum each day. I think one whole day should be reserved for Schonbrunn. Would grouping the Hofburg and Imperial Treasury and Spanish Riding School practice work together? Any thoughts would be appreciated.
The various components of the Schonbrunn could easily take up an entire day.
The Imperial Treasury and Spanish Riding School are part of the Hofburg - but I don't think they would take up an entire day. IMHO, the Sisi Museum wasn't worth the time. The morning exercises at the Spanish Riding School were enough for us. We purchased the Vienna Pass which covered most, if not all, of the Schonbrunn attractions and those of the Hofburg. It actually covered everything we visited except for the Belvedere.
If you love art then Vienna is the place to be. Reasonable minds differ, but I loved Vienna.
We also took this tour to the Wachau Valley and highly recommend it.
Thank you for your comments. I think we will buy the Vienna pass - I thought the Belvedere was on the pass - I'll re-check that. Was the transportation pass also included in the price of the Vienna pass or is it extra?
Belvedere is on the Vienna Pass. Transit is separate.
With the Vienna Pass, for most of the museums, you do not need a ticket. You present your Vienna Pass at the entry point and they scan it with a separate device. That means no lines!
The tricky thing is that until you're there, you won't have a really good idea of how close together things are. Much also depends upon your ability to tolerate a lot of walking. What's a quick ten-minute walk for me might be impossible for another. I was staying way down by the Westbahnhof, and on an after-dinner stroll found myself unexpectedly at the Secession. I hadn't realized how close it was. The Belvedere, too, I found to be within walking distance (although, on a 95-degree-plus day, I later regretted it!) But from there you just keep walking and you're at the 21er Haus, and then the Military History Museum is just beyond that. But it's a trek.
One can walk to the Military Museum and the Belvedere from Wien Hbf. I did that this time, seeing Belvedere, then walked back to Wien Hbf to catch U-Bahn to Stephansplatz to transfer to Westbahnhof. But it wasn't 95F on that day in June.
I went to both the Schonbrunn and the Hofburg. I didn't get to the Treasury, though. After the Schonbrunn, the Hofburg was a real let-down. First, you visit the Porcelain Museum; you go through a few rooms of china (quite lovely), until you think you never want to see another hand-painted, gilt-edged soup tureen for the rest of your life, then there are the silver rooms which go on just about forever too. After that, it's the Sisi Museum where you learn just about every detail of her life with a surprisingly few actual exhibits to entertain along the way. At long last, you arrive at the Hofburg Palace rooms of the royal couple. They spent winters here and summers at the Schonbrunn (or maybe it was the other way round, doesn't matter). They apparently didn't much like change, since the private rooms of the Hofburg are almost identically designed and furnished like those at the Schonbrunn. The main difference is that at the Schonbrunn there are many more rooms to visit and no need to go through two other museums to get to them. By the way, both the Sevres museum in Paris and the Royal Delft museum were more interesting collections than the Hofburg.
I've read that other visitors enjoyed both palaces, so don't give my opinion more weight than any other. Who knows, maybe they've even changed the visit route at the Hofburg. I was there about 5-6 years ago.
I used all of Rick's audio guides. I wanted to take a day trip to Melk, but hit a heat wave and needed to reduce physical/outdoor activity.
Edit: one of the things I liked best was walking in the parks in early June. Wonderful roses . . . till the heat wave did them in.
Most Americans are unfamiliar using public transport efficiently. So they assume that walking is the only alternative when visting a foreign city without having a car.
Vienna has a sophisticated system of trams (trolleys), metro (subway), commuter trains, busses, etc. If you try to get acquainted with it you will see that it is rather easy to get from A to B in Vienna.
You should buy a pass for public transport. It is good for unlimited use of any means of transport within the state of Vienna.
Therefore it is not so important to group the sights by proximity but by access to public transport. Consequently it is more important that your hotel has excellent access to public transport as being right in the historic center.
This is the official map of the city of Vienna: https://www.wien.gv.at/stadtplan/en/
You can check on the left side a variety of features to be superimposed to the map which is far more detailed than e.g. Google maps. You can find a measuring tool which can be used to calculate a distance for walking, etc.
This is the planner for getting from A to B: https://anachb.vor.at/bin/query.exe/en?L=vs_voranachb&
It will show you how to get from one point to another, by public transport, by walking, by car, by bicycle.
It is also available as app for smartphones.
Thanks for the tips, wmt. I live in NYC, I know about public transit. But you must also realize that there's a lot to be seen along the way, and if you zip from place to place in the Ubahn (or subway) you might miss it... the journey is part of the fun, in other words. On my recent trip to Vienna, I used public transport strategically, when tired or hoping to make it somewhere by a certain time, but I walked as much as possible. It's just a positive side effect that walking a lot makes you so tired you can't be jet lagged!
Some of the best moments (and nicest pictures!) of my trip came at the end of the day, when I chose to walk back to my hotel instead of descending into the subway.
To see as much as possible, I recommend to visitors to use the tram preferrably, even if it is slower than using the subway.
Fortunately public transport lines in Vienna form a rather tight mesh, so there are several possibilities to get from one point to another.
"...in Vienna I used public transportation strategically." How very true! Exactly!
Stay at a hotel whereby you get a free Combi-Ticket and you can ride whatever, whenever you want (tram, S-Bahn, U-Bahn, ) all over Vienna, study transit maps, esp the U-Bahn, know the junction points. See the residential, worker districts, food is cheaper there too, areas where locals overwhelmingly outnumber tourists or tourists are non-existent, except you.
Way back in 2015, the Vienna Pass did not include the Belvedere - glad to see that it does now.
I am excited to announce that I too am visiting Vienna in September! I got a good price on a flight from SFO to Vienna, and I will be there for 5 days. To that end, today I purchased a Weekly Transpo Card for E 16.20. This weekly card is valid from midnight on the day that I will arrive (I will fly in to Schwechat around 1:30 in the afternoon). I paid for it online, and then printed out the actual pass on paper, BUT also loaded it into an app on my phone. (Will I be able to access the online app-ticket when I've landed in Vienna? Don't know...I won't be purchasing a data program or anything; just using Skype and gmail when I have access to Wifi.)
Because my Hotel is located near the Wien-Mitte Bahnhof, I only need to purchase a transpo ticket to Wien-Mitte, E 1.20 (my Weekly card will be already valid). And because I am mainly interested in the Kunsthistorisches, Schoenbrunn, Stephansdom, Cafe Centraal, Hundertwasser Haus and Hundertwasser Museum, plus park-and-city-strolling, I won't be purchasing a Vienna Card.
My Weekly pass is good for tram, bus, Ubahn, etc. I arrive on Monday, September 25, and will depart on Sept 30 for Salzburg. I am excited!
This weekly card is valid from midnight on the day that I will arrive
But only if you arrive on a Monday.
The week pass in Vienna is valid for a calendar week, i.e. from Monday 12am to next Monday 9am.
But even if it covers only a part of your stay, it is in most cases the cheapest solution. But there are so many variants of tickets and passes, so it is necessary to know all the details of your trip and your assumed frequency of public transport rides to give a definite answer.
Will I be able to access the online app-ticket when I've landed in Vienna?
Yes, if you have Internet access, either by WiFi or via your mobile data plan.
As you said, you will not have a mobile data plan abroad, make sure that the ticket is stored locally on your phone if this is possible, otherwise you will not be able to present it if asked for by public transport personnel.
(Try it out at home first having set your phone to flight mode to cut off any network connection.)
Thanks to everyone for the good information. We are flying out today and. Found your answers a big help in planning.
Yay Shelley! You're going to fall in love, I promise you. Your timeframe and interests are pretty close to mine. I managed to see just about everything on my list of must-sees, and had plenty of downtime, wandering-time, lingering-over-a-tiny-glass-of schnapps-after-dinner time.
I want to share with you what surprised me about the city. I was expecting pretty wedding-cake buildings and blah blah, but I found so much more. Cutting and pasting from another post:
"What are your historical interests? I found a few unexpected treasures on my trip there last week:
Virgilkapelle (chapel/crypt from about 1200 and lost for centuries) located in the Stephansplatz Ubahn station.
Neidhart Frescoes, on Tuchlauben. Amazing frescoes from a banquet room, painted in about 1399 and rediscovered in 1979. Very rare, secular art.
The Romermuseum, showing the city's history as a Roman settlement in ~100-500 ACE.
The open-air museum of uncovered foundations in Michaelerplatz. Working on the Ubahn, they uncovered an area with overlapping foundation walls from three separate eras. They're on display now.
All of these sites, taken together, will give you an appreciation of Vienna's long history--it was a Celtic settlement before the Romans even got there. It seems like every time they go to renovate a building or dig a foundation, they find evidence of the past. All those pretty, fluffy, Rococo and Baroque and Biedermeier and Jugendstil buildings are on medieval foundations, if not even older ones.
Personally I am meh on palaces and royalty. They make me angry. I'm a lot more interested in the everyday lives of regular people. You'll see the biases of the Hapsburgs in the Kunsthistoriches Museum (which I still wholeheartedly recommend.) Take an extra hour and visit the stone age area of the Naturhistoriches Museum opposite the Kunsthistorichesmuseum for a rare peek into the lives of humans in Europe tens of thousands of years ago. It's rare to see artifacts like these in America; you really have to go to Europe to see them.
The Belvedere has a great exhibit on Klimt and Schiele, which gave me a new appreciation for them. But there's a piece sort of missing: right now, most of Richard Gerstl's work is in New York at the Neue Galerie. If you can, stop in and see that museum on your way to Vienna. The Belvedere also has an exhibit right now on Klimt's classical inspirations, but if you go see that, be sure to go to the Secession either right before or right after, because the Beethoven frescoes are a pivotal part of that exhibit (so much so that they've created a partial replica at the Belvedere.)"
That, to me, was the best part of Vienna. The depth of the history, and the bittersweet knowledge of how much art has been lost.
Hope you have a magnificent time!
If you like history (especially WWII and post-war history), consider a tour from [Cold War Vienna Tours]1. The tour includes a walk (or bike ride) around Vienna to see post-war sites and a visit to The Third Man Museum, which has a section that deals with post-war Vienna. Our guide was Gerhard Strassgschwandtner, who is a RS-recommended guide for Vienna. His enthusiasm makes this a great tour; he carries a book that lets you compare current day streetscapes to their post-war appearance. He is also the curator/owner for the The Third Man Museum. If you haven't seen The Third Man, it's worth watching before you go to Vienna.
If you haven't seen The Third Man, it's worth watching before you go to Vienna.
In Vienna there is cinema (Burgkino) which plays The Third Man at least three times a week ever since (original version in English).
I will be in Vienna in September too! I have two of my teenage kids with me, and we will be there for 4 nights. We tend to prefer avoiding tourist areas and really immerse ourselves in the everyday happenings of the city. We do this often in Paris, and have a great time hanging out at lesser known parks, walking practically every neighborhood in the city, finding out of the way cafes, going to the local outdoor markets, etc. This is out first time to Vienna, and I would love recommendations on these types of activities there - which parks are best, great little out of the way restaurants and cafes, interesting neighborhoods, ethnic areas to see, nice outdoor markets, etc. Are there any areas to avoid or can we just put on our walking shoes and go?
Also, any good ideas for teens? And does anybody know if my kids can play violin on the streets of Vienna? They do it in Paris and absolutely love it (not to mention make a lot of pocket money for the trip).