Quick trip report from my second visit to one of my all-time favorite cities: Vienna! We used a Germanwings blind booking excluding a couple of places we didn't want to go, so our tickets were 70 Euro r/t from Stuttgart. This is an option some of you spontaneous people might want to look into - check the "offers" page at Germanwings.com to learn more. The downside is you can't pick your flight times, so we departed on the afternoon of the 14th and left early morning of the 16th. If you're concerned about having extra time in a city, always opt for one "extra" night because your chances of leaving very early in the morning on a blind booking are high. We took the City Airport Train (CAT) which was very convienent, but you pay for the convienence. It got us from the airport to the Mitte U-bahn stop in 16 minutes. If you buy online in advance, you save a few euro. I paid 17 euro for a R/T CAT ticket. I could have taken the S-Bahn and saved a substantial amount, but since time was of the essence we decided to try this out. From there we took the U-Bahn two stops to Karlsplatz, was going to take the U1 line to our hotel, but it's undergoing some construction and wasn't running. Luckily, there were plenty of streetcars going to our hotel as well. Cont.
Our hotel was the Hotel Zum Oper 900 (bizarre name). 80 Euro a night for a "mini-suite" with a kitchenette. It was larger than most European hotel rooms, and the furnishings were fine, but the walls were really dirty which was a turn-off. But it had A/C and we were glad it did. I would consider this hotel again, for longer stays in the summer due to the kitchenette/A/C combo and a fair price. A large breakfast buffet was included. We decided to just wander the old city in the evening. It was my husband's first trip, so I did a modified version of the RS self-guided walk, although almost everything was closed at this hour so we completed it fairly quickly. I couldn't find the restaurant I wanted to eat at so we browsed a few menus and decided to get traditional Austrian food on a beautiful leafy courtyard at Bretzel Gwolb (which unknown to me was an RS rec - I only purchased his city walk via ebook, not his whole Vienna/Austria book). I ordered a dish that sounded very different from what I'm used to, but ended up being the Viennese version of Kasespatzle! But it was tasty. Husband got the Weinerschnitzel vom Kalb, and it was absolutely delicious. So much better than schwein schnitzel here in Germany. The breading was better and more flavorful, and the meat was so tender. The potato salad there was also especially delicious, more subtle flavor than I'm used to in Deutschland. The service was great. Highly recommend. After that we walked around some more, stopped for a drink at the Palmenhaus in the Burgarten, which is wonderfully lit up inside at night (although you don't get the views of the park or surrounding buildings as you would during the day, making it maybe a better stop for coffee during daylight hours). Cont.
Around the corner is my favorite place in Vienna, the Weinquartier wine bar. 32 bottles open pouring by the glass, specializing in many different Gruner Veltiners. Man, this is good wine. Austrian wine always gets ignored internationally and I don't know why because it's some of the best I've ever tasted. The reds are good, too! The owner is a really friendly and helpful guy who will help direct you towards something you'll like. Sensitive noses beware, smoking is allowed inside on the bar part, but not in the more restaurant-y section to the left. We tried to go to Loo's American Bar, but it was packed and not that appealing looking. We instead opted for a good local beer from the sausage stand at Albertina, and at this point we were hungry enough for a kasekrainer, too. Thus fortified, we walked back to our hotel. The next day we went to the Army museum because I am a patient and indulgent wife. Actually, it was really cool, although getting out there was a bit of a pain - thank god for "Oeffi" the public transit app I have on my phone. After a walk through a lovely park you come to these amazing neo-byzantine/moorish barracks and arsenal buildings, which house the museum. It's not as large as the one in Paris, but the collection is fascinating and well-presented via the audioguide included in the price, as well as English leaflets in each room. Most fascinating to me was the post WWI section detailing Austria's descent into facism and Nazism. The other don't-miss sight is the car that Archduke Franz Ferdinand was shot in, kicking off WWI.
We tried to enjoy the biergarten at the museum, but despite signs stating they were open, they definately were not. Turns out it was a public holiday - oh, these Catholic countries! but luckily in the park nearby there was a very nice traditional leafy biergarten to lunch at - Klein Steiermark. Not a tourist in sight, lots of older locals, some with their families, enjoying the holiday. The service was somehwat surly, but prompt. I had some amazing garlic creme soup and my husband enjoyed some cold smoked trout with horseradish creme. Perfect on a summer day. From there we caught the S-Bahn back into the mitte, we were now on a mission to see a few important sights before they closed. St. Stephans was first, this time we did the catacomb tour and I'm glad we did. Both because I'm obsessed with the Hapsburgs but also for the cool skeletons. The guide was good and went over all the info in German, English, and Italian. Then we popped around the corner to the Mozarthaus. Since I'd seen it and it's expensive, I let my husband go on his own while I had another beautiful Gruner Veltiner at a little restaurant/bar called Chameleon and read "Thunder at Twilight: Vienna in 1913/14" which is a fantastic book on the city and the events leading up to WWI. From there we tried to go to St. Peter's so I could show my husband the creepy Opus Dei/weird monarchist stuff in there, but there was a service so no dice. Then we went to the Cachupin tombs to see the Hapsburgs. I'd done this before but it never fails to amaze me to be standing next to the remains of some people who shaped history so much. But we hadn't had coffee and cake yet! So we went to nearby Oberlaa to get our fill of sweet things. Recommended!
Then we walked over to the Succession building, which was closed by now, but it's cool to see from the outside. I still didn't realize it was a public holiday, so we walked to the nachtsmarkt, only to find it totally shuttered. Oh well, time for a bier stop. I'd stayed in this part of town previously, so we enjoyed walking around and looking at the architecture. We debated eating at some of the tasty-looking Chinese restaurants in this area, but decided to go back for more Austrian cooking. Back to the ringstrasse, this time through the museum quartier. More marveling at glorious buildings. We wanted to have dinner at the Ezterhazy keller which got good reviews online for traditional food, but their outdoor area had no seats, so we decided to just eat at the adjacent Bierhof. It was touristy complete with typical tourist menu - but also delicious. Most exciting to me was that they had Strum available, which is a young fermented grape juice that starts appearing around harvest time. It's delicious and unique, well worth trying if you're there from August - October. I got my schnitzel this night, and husband got some Tirolean specality of pork, bacon, fried potatoes, and an egg on top - sort of a "country skillet" dinner, very hearty and delicious. After a huge meal we needed an after-dinner coffee at one of Vienna's many cafes, but which one? We did like Freud and went to Landtmann's. It was OK, super classy, nice to see but not maybe worth all the extra walking at that point. We wandered around the Hofburg some more on the way back to Karlsplatz, enjoying the city lit up at night. A nightcap at Weinquartier again, and it was time for bed - we'd exhausted ourselves. We had an early flight in the morning, so that's it for this trip. Can't wait to go back and explore more beyond the city center!
I like Vienna a lot too. So elegant. I felt like a short, fat toad with all the beautiful people walking around! I'm not as enamored with the local fare as some, but I do like the Wurst stands and the kebab windows on the streets. Unfortunately, on my last trip to Vienna, I broke my ankle and had to be casted at AKH. Thanks for letting me experience my trip vicariously.
I think if I'd been coming straight from the states I wouldn't find the local fare that great, but a year and a half of living in Germany, even having SLIGHT variations on the typical dishes was welcome. Viennese food isn't that different from "German" food but in my experience is slightly more refined, like the city itself. On my previous trip I'd had some really good Asian food at a hip modern noodle joint and liked it, almost returned (and almost did hot pot at another place) but we were more interested in atmosphere than variety at this point, as it was warm out, so nice outdoor areas tended to influence our dining choices more than anything else.
Thanks for sharing your trip. I'll be travelling vicriously for the next few years, so I enjoy these trip reports! Marilyn
Thanks for the report. Particularly valuable for the perspective of someone who already lives in Germany.
Wonderful report. I too love Vienna. There is a refinement and relaxed atmosphere, at least compared to large German cities, that is very appealing. I actually love the food. One other place to recommend besides the great suggestions you mentioned, is the Imperial Treasury. It's open on Mondays, unlike most other museums, and has a ton of very interesting stuff. There's both a secular and ecclesiastical treasury included in the same ticket. Lots of artifacts, saints' bones, coronation robes, jewels, pieces of the "True Cross", etc... Thanks again for the great report. I now have some additional suggestions for next time.
Andrew - Thanks! I did want to visit the Treasury, as well as Sisi's appartments, as well as well, all the palaces, but we were just running low on time. It sucks a little bit, because I revisited a lot of places I'd seen on my first trip, but I didn't want to sacrifice my husband experiencing those places. I also suspected he'd love Vienna (and he did) so we'll definitely be back, maybe around Christmastime to see the market there and in Salzburg and enjoy more indoor activites as my favorite activity (sitting outside in the sunshine with a glass of wine) won't be available then.