My husband and I will be traveling to Vienna for the first time this May. What should we do on our 4 day trip? We are in our 30s and we love engulfing ourselves into the culture. Any suggestions!
Thank you so much for all the wonderful ideas. We are still without a hotel/pension if you have any ideas. My husband is a history major so bring on the history excursions. I am the adventure seeker and local food enthusiast.
Both times in Vienna, I stayed at the Hotel zur Wiener Staatsoper - fabulous location, wonderful owner, terrific front desk staff, and the woman in charge of frühstück (breakfast) is a real sweetie. The rooms are good, some roomier than others BUT the bathrooms are small, and I mean small. I just can't say enough about the hotel, and it's people, but the bathrooms - ugh.
Got an iTunes account, watch The Third Man before you go! Got an iPhone or iPad, download 2 Vienna Tourist Board Apps - Vienna Journal and WIENreisseAPP for what's shaking in Vienna - they're FREE.
We visited last summer for a few days and had a wonderful time. Plan a half day or so to tour the Schonbrunn Palace. Try to get there early - the tour lines are not long and the crowd definately picked up later in the day. The gardens were beautiful. Be sure to take an apple strudel/coffee break (it was fabulous, cafe is located at the front left of the palace). In town, Vienna has wonderful art museums. If you are a Gustav Klimt fan - you are in luck. There is also a good natural history museum in the museum square. We picked resturants from Rick's book (all were good and had outdoor seating for people watching). The munchies market was also a lot of fun (directions are in the book). The tram ring tour is fun if you need a rest. All the locals we spoke with were very friendly and one even went out of his way to walk us to the Belvedere when we were a bit navigationally-challenged (aka. lost).
Feeling like a little WWII history, couple of flak towers out in Augarten are worth the time. Also a pretty impressive Soviet War Memorial at Schwarzenbergplatz.
If it's a beautiful afternoon or evening you can never go wrong sitting ouside and enjoying a fish/seafood lunch or dinner at the Palmenhaus.
Starting at Oper, take a stroll along Opernring going past Burggarten; continuing along Burgring going past the Hofburg on the right and the 2 museums on the left; continuing along Burgring until it becomes Dr Karl Lueger Ring passing the Austrian Parlament and Rathaus on the left; continuing to Votivkirche on the left; then making your way back through the streets to Stephansplatz. And when I say passing I mean only from a geographic sense - there's plenty to stop and explore along the route. Also worth taking a stroll to the Naschmarket catching some fine examples of Jugendstil along the way, and then, stopping at the Kunsthallencafe am Karlsplatz on the way back, for a refreshing cocktail outdoors. Because I'm more of a streetscape traveller I'll have to leave art galleries and museums for others to write about.
TRY your utmost to avoid Starbucks - you will be in the city of coffee and cakes.
I wasn't as taken with Vienna as some others are. But a real highlight was my walking tour with Dr. Brigitte Timmermann. She's the one who did most of the research for the Third Man walk (I did a different one with her, on Jewish Vienna). I took another walk with another guide who was fine, but Dr. Timmermann was really exceptional (I know I sound like a shill, but you'll see from my other posts that I rarely get this excited about something). Here's the walking tour website (British flag, to change to English, is near the upper right): http://www.viennawalks.com/
If you love culture, you should plan on several hours (even all day) at the Kunsthistorisches Museum. It is one of the greatest museums in the world and they just reopened the Kunstkammer after a major renovation. Museums in Vienna are wonderful across the board. We also enjoyed the Wien Museum, which has several small branches highlighting specific aspects of history in addition to the the main branch on Karlsplatz. The Huas der Musik is a real treat, also. It is an odd mix of what can briefly be described as the science of sound displays and the history of music in Vienna. We more or less skipped the science sections, but really enjoyed the history sections. Then, of course, there are all the museums in the Hofburg. Okay, time for me to go back to Vienna. There is just too much to do there.
George, thank you for the hotel listing and the caution on Starbucks. I am a huge coffee drinker ...but, good coffee and I am excited to partake in the many cafes around Vienna. Harold, your walking tour sounds wonderful. I am also making my husband watch The Sound of Music before we head over. Poor kid should not have married a musical theater geek! HK- you are right on the money in regards to the museums. I cant wait!!!
I second the Kunsthistoriches. It's probably the second best art museum on the continent after the Louvre. After all, it's the Habsburgs' private collection! Take a quick trip to Museumsquartier down the street from the Kunsthistoriches. A museum called the Leopold museum is worth a visit. One of their pieces is a Schiele called "Portrait of Wally." It's not very big, and it's very typical modern art. However, this particular painting has a very interesting history. It was owned by a Jewish art dealer who was forced to hand it over on the eve of the war, and after the plunderer was arrested by the US, never got it back due to a series of unfortunate errors. After being loaned to MOMA in the late '90s, the US Justice Department seized it and it only returned to the museum in 2010 after a settlement with the estate of the original owner. Visit either the Hofburg or Schoenbrunn Palace for some imperial elegance. Sit at a konditorei and indulge in the world's best cakes and coffee. If you're into beer, Vienna is a highly underrated beer city. Popular brands are Stiegl, Zipfer, Ottakringer, and Goesser. Try them on tap or "vom fass" and see just how refreshing they are.
I second the recommendation of the Kunsthistorisches Museum. I spent three hours there all on my own....two among the art and another hour down with the Greek, Roman, and Egyptian antiquities. The KHM is one of my favorite museums anywhere.
Stephanie, as a fellow coffee drinker let me advise you and your husband to tread carefully when you go into a Vienna coffee house. It is a whole different coffee culture in Vienna(and better IMO) but you have to approach it with a whole different mindset versus a Starbucks in the states. That being said it is one of the most memorable experiences(if not a little intimidating) that my wife and I had in Vienna. And the pastries..........wow!
For anyone who would be interested ; If one has a reasonable grounding in Viennese history of the mid to late nineteenth to early twentieth century , there is an absolutely fanatastic book worth reading . " Fin de Siecle Vienna ; Politics and Culture " by Carl E. Schorske ,is a collection of seven essays of historical analysis and criticism about this amazing city . In particular , two of these essays will broaden ones view greatly . They are entitled " Politics in a New Key ; An Austrian Trio " , and " Gustav Klimt ; Painting and The Crisis of The Liberal Ego " . This book will greatly enchance anyone's trip to Vienna .
Emily, thank you. My husband is a self-proclaimed beer connoisseur. We will be venturing to Vienna after a 4 day excursion in Munich. Are there any day trips that are worth the travel?
I'm not a big fan of Vienna but I am glad I went and it is one of those must see places; but I did enjoy the outskirts a lot. Take a side trip to see the abbey at Melk (about 45 minutes each way) and/or visit some of the Wachau valley towns. Better yet take the train down to Gyor and see the Archabbey at Pannonhalma (about 1.5 hours each way). Or go all the way to Budapest on the train (3 hours) spend the night and return the next afternoon.
If you like wine, take a tram out to the Vienna woods to a heuriger, or wine garden, to taste some local wine and have a nice dinner. Schubel Auer is a popular heuriger. A good side trip would be to take the train to Melk to see the abbey and then either catch a boat or ride bikes down to Krems and then catch the train again back to Vienna. Here's Rick's take on this: http://www.ricksteves.com/plan/destinations/austria/wachauvalley.htm As far as places to stay, Rosa Linde B&B looks really nice and the K&T Boarding House also gets good reviews. Sounds like a fun trip!
While personally I'm not a fan of zoos, many are - did you know the Vienna Zoo has 2 GIANT PANDAS.
Hi, "...so bring on the history excursions." What about taking the U-Bahn and S-Bahn out to the outskirts of Vienna to see a battle field museum...Deutsch Wagram, if you are there on a Sunday? Numerous historical sites worthy of your time esp. someone enmeshed in the history: The Habsburg palace Schloss Schönbrunn, the tram goes there direct from Westbahnhof, the same with going out to Zentralfriedhof (main cemetery)....different tram #, to see not only where the famous composers are buried but also the Austrian WW I and II military cemeteries plus the Soviet one. A place where you can easily spend most of the afternoon is the Army/Military Museum near the Arsenal, the Heeresgeschichtlichesmuseum. The fateful event of Sarajevo is featured. It has its permanent and the current special exhibition. More historical sights: see the Soviet Military Memorial near the Schwarzenberg Platz. a memorial dedicated to a commander who was often the defeated one inspite of the acolade on the statue. The book by C. Schorske, as suggested above, is excellent in its portrayl and analysis, look at the ones by F. Morton. Great that you're allowing yourselves four full days to explore the city. A pity that it were not longer.
to continue on the cuisine topic... In a simple word the food in Vienna is excellent...the coffee where in Vienna you'll see concoctions not prepared elsewhere, the Schnitzel, esp. if you crave for that, and the wine, most of all, the white wine. I agree with the recommendations on the wine Beim Heurigen. Walk the city to get the feel and flavour of the place, just as you would in Paris, Berlin, and London; take the tours, and go on your own by public transport.
Can't believe no one has mentioned attending the Opera! For lovers of history, art and music, it doesn't get any better than the Vienna State Opera. A huge pile of fabulous operas are on for May: Carmen, The Magic Flute, Tosca, La Traviata, and many more. You can purchase tickets online in advance, or get standing room places on the day of for bargain basement prices.
Everyone has made really good suggestions. The only thing that I can think to add is to take the D tram out to its end station in Nussdorf then hike into the vineyards, hang a left, and follow the path markers to Grinzing. Without ever leaving the city limits, you will find yourself hiking through vineyards and feel like you are deep in wine country. There are cozy, non-touristy heurigen (wine gardens/taverns operated by the vintners) tucked in between the vines up there. There are some great vistas over the city and views of the Danube. If you want to hike a little further, you'll be in the Vienna woods. When you get to Grinzing, hop on the 38 tram and it will take you right back to the city center in 22 minutes. The word that comes to mind when I think of Vienna is "charming". Compared to Paris or London, its smaller, slower and less congested. Perhaps a bit old fashioned. But it has so many layers and so many hidden locales and side-streets and forgotten squares that are historic and atmospheric. On top of that I love the cycle of the seasons, each with its traditional foods and holidays. Plum cake and apricot dumplings are some of the things that I am looking forward to in summer. Wishing you a great trip!
Thomas in Vienna - your suggestion is exactly why I like to build an extra day into my travel stops - it's a great easy-to-get-to getaway for a relaxing, rejuvenating afternoon away from the hard landscape of the city.
Good morning and wow! I love the responses. Angela, you are right! No one has said anything about the Opera. My grandmother was an opera singer.... So, I must drag my husband to one while we are in town. Fred and Dawn I love the idea of the vineyard hike/bike. That is one of the reasons I hiked Cinque Terre back in the day. I believe this will be at the top of my list. Dawn, thank your recommendations for the places to stay. This trip will truly be memorable because of everyone's recommendations.
Another museum well worth seeing is The House of the Secession . Founded in 1897 by Gustav Klimt ,Josef Hoffmann , Koloman Moser , and other well known artists and architects of the Fin-de-Siecle , this magnificent building houses one of Klimt's greatest works , " The Beethoven Frieze " . Try not to miss this !
Stephanie: Since you mentioned The Sound Of Music, you should read this: http://www.rnh.com/news/812/The-Sound-Of-Music-Comes-Home Remember that The Sound Of Music is an American show, not an Austrian one. It's no more "authentic" about Austria than The King And I is about Thailand, or The Lion King is about Africa. (And if you think Austrians have issues with The Sound Of Music, just read about how the Thais feel about The King and I !).
Say it isnt so Harold! And John Wayne??? Please tell me he was really at the Alamo!!!!!!