Vienna is the capital of Austria, and lies in the country’s east on the Danube River. The city is renowned for its many imperial palaces, many home to the Hapsburg Family who held an impressive reign over most of Europe from the 15th century.
The city is also rich in artistic and intellectual culture, shaped by residents including Mozart, Beethoven and Sigmund Freud.
Vienna is well connected to majority of countries in central Europe, with high speed trains from other capitals as Zurich, Milan and Prague running regularly. Bus services also run direct to Vienna from many major cities in neighbouring countries including Milan, Brussels, Prague, Split, Budapest and Frankfurt, and Austria’s major international airport is located 18 km from Vienna.
How to get around
Vienna has an excellent metro system called the U-Bahn, which connects the entire city and major sights. Buses also run frequently, as do trams. But to really see Vienna, walk – the streets are impossibly clean and surrounded by lavishly decorated, tall, stately buildings.
Where to eat
Make lunch your main meal of the day, as many restaurants and cafés offer a two-course Mittagsmenü for between €6 and €10. Café Central is a definite must for lunch – despite the low Mittagsmenü price tag, you still get all the trimmings of a 5 star fine dining experience.
The wood-panelled neo-Beisl Gasthaus Wild also offers delectable traditional dishes including a faultless Wien Schnitzel and no, there is no English menu here!
Vienna is one of the most progressive cities in Europe, and that can be seen in the sheer volume of vegetarian and vegan friendly cuisines throughout town. If you’re looking for a winning vegetarian restaurant Tian is both delicious and inexpensive.
The Naschmarkt is a great place to spend an afternoon, wandering through the stalls and purchasing yourself a local dish that takes your fancy.
While wandering through town, grab yourself a strudel and coffee from the decadently decorated Café Mozart, admire the many chandeliers, gold embellishments and waiters in three-piece suits, and try not to drool at the glass cabinet filled with other pastries and sweets.
Where to stay
Vienna is a very popular location on many backpacker’s lists, meaning hostels are very common and competitively priced. You should be able to get a bed for around €13, and look for a hostel which offers a free breakfast and a kitchen.
An idea of costs for one day in Vienna
€46 per day
– Hostel: €13 per night
– Free Breakfast at Hostel
– Two course Mittagsmenü lunch: €10
– Apple strudel and espresso: €5
– Hostel cooked dinner: €8
– Beers at backpacker pub: €10
How long to spend in Vienna
The city of Vienna gives you the feeling of liveability – whether you are hustling the main streets in the shopping district or wandering down a quiet road in the suburban areas, without even realising it you are picturing yourself living in one of these apartments above you. For enough time to explore the main sights, you’ll need at least 2 days, but if you have the time, 3 – 4 days can easily be spent drinking in the Viet way of life.
What to see and do
Admire the Architecture
The majority of Vienna’s major buildings and sites are in a walkable loop around the city – called “A Ring for Eternity.” Join a walking tour or set out solo – Ring View Vienna has an interactive and incredibly informative diagram of all 15 major buildings in the loop, which allows you to read and learn about the history of these monuments at your own leisure.
Not included in the ring, but a definite must to visit is the Belvedere Palace. Stay until dusk when all the lights in the building and grounds start to flicker on for some great photos.
Also, take half a day to explore the Schönbrunn Palace– the impressive building which once belonged to the powerful Hapsburg family has 1441 rooms and the grounds feature a zoo, gardens and pavilions.
Vienna is extremely rich in art, culture and history. If you plan on covering a lot of museums during your time in Vienna, a 72-hour Vienna Card might be worth you while, giving you unlimited use of public transport as well as discounts on all the top sights and attractions.
Travel Shack Backpackers Bar
The Travel Shack is a favourite for backpackers – cheap drinks, drinking games and strings of bras along the roof… and while it’s always nice to immerge yourself in local culture, nothing beats a DJ blasting out “The Land Down Under” as you wrap your arms around 3 people all from different continents.
Day Trip to Bratislava
Got a day spare? Take a train to Bratislava, located only a few hours over the border of Slovakia.