Due to the nature of our interrail trip, we only spent three days in Vienna but each one of them was perfect. There are so many things to do and we definitely had the perfect blend of being tourists and living the life of a local by visiting some of the lesser known spots. Like I mentioned in my blog post about Prague, Vienna did not feel like a capital city to me. It’s such a stunning city with intricate architecture that makes the place look incredibly pristine and feel a bit like a model town.
I really did love Vienna and feel like I got to know it better than some of the other places we visited, all thanks to my friend, Nani. We stayed with her lovely family and were exposed to the city’s best bits thanks to the wonderful recommendations from Nani and her parents. My itinerary is a little all over the place but as I had an unlimited public transport ticket, I just zipped about on the trams and underground because I wasn’t particularly organised when planning a route. That being said, I highly recommend getting a travel ticket because it makes your life so much easier and presents a wider range of possibilities.
Breughel Pieter – Panorama Eislaufplatz
After a four hour train from Budapest, the best way to kick our time off in the city was to look down on it from the best viewpoint there is. There’s a hostel called “Austria Trend Hotel Schloss Wilhelminenberg,” at the top of a hill with the most amazing view across the entirety of Vienna. It’s also right next to one of Vienna’s many vineyards which was a lovely surprise.
We played mini golf with the view of Vienna as our backdrop. The course itself is a little worn but we still had a lot of fun despite getting increasingly competitive as the game went on. I can’t actually remember who won but it can’t have been me or I would still be milking it four months later.
Wander Around the Sights
We took the tram to the outskirts of the inner city and saw a lot of the main spots on a walk into town. We saw the Rathaus, University of Vienna and the Austrian Parliament Building which are all enormous structures. What really struck me about Vienna was how colourful the city was. From all the gardens, rainbow zebra crossings and cute crossing lights, the city was certainly full of life. All of the buildings are enormous in size. They’re not tall skyscrapers that you get in cities such as New York or Dubai but it’s still so easy to feel tiny in comparison.
Vienna has a lot of immaculate gardens right in the city centre and we visited one of these called Volksgarten. It was gorgeous with rose bushes and fountains making it all feel a little Alice in Wonderland like. My favourite thing was how enclosed the gardens felt because all around you are buildings that are absolutely gargantuan in comparison.
The top of my list for Vienna was the Butterfly House (Schmetterlinghaus). I’ve always loved glasshouses filled with plants and to be surrounded by beautiful butterflies seemed like a dream. It was only €5.5 for a student to get in (bargain) and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. You aren’t allowed to pick up the butterflies but they landed on people anyway which truly seemed like a special moment. I really tried to get some good shots with my camera in the butterfly house because I wanted to get photos that did them justice but I did look like a bit of a nutter as I ran all over the place. Overall, I’m pleased with the results I got so it was worth it in the end.
We went for coffee at the Palmenhaus which is adjoined to the Butterfly House. It too was a gorgeous glasshouse filled with plants and I instantly fell in love with the interior but despite this, I’m not convinced I would go back. My cappuccino wasn’t that great for the price that it was and I’ve definitely had better elsewhere. It’s certainly one of the most instagrammable coffee places I’ve been to so maybe I’ll pop back just for photos.
Stephansdom (St. Stephen’s Cathedral)
We walked around Vienna a little more and saw the Viennese Opera before picking up some lunch and heading towards Stephansdom. I was delighted to see a carousel outside complete with hot air balloons (two of my favourite things) even though I didn’t go on it. I loved the inside of the cathedral as it was so intricately decorated. I like to be quiet in cathedrals, even when it’s not required because I enjoy taking a moment to relax and find the surroundings to be very peaceful. It truly is a beautiful building but hugely popular with tourists, myself obviously included.
As a contrast to the tranquillity of the church, we took the underground to Wurstelprater Amusement Park, where the large ferris wheel is. Entry to the park is free but there are kiosks at the individual rides where you can pay, averaging around €5 a turn. There are so many rides to choose from including rapids, labyrinths/fun houses, log flumes, large roller coasters and drop towers. I’m not a fan of plummeting to the ground so I stayed clear of the drop towers but I did go on about four or five other ones and had lots of fun. My favourite was the labyrinth because I have a great memory from going in one when I was about six years old.
There’s a big beer garden at the amusement park too where we indulged in some delicacies. We tried classics such as apple strudel and drank beer from steins almost larger than our heads.
As we were in Nani’s hometown she invited a lot of her friends out to meet us. Her friends then brought their friends and we ended up being a large group of about 30 hanging out and playing games. Beer is a lot cheaper in Austria compared to Scotland so we ended up being a bit of a rowdy bunch by the end of the night. We were introduced to a drinking game called Beer Bowling where the aim is to drink as fast as you can as a team to beat your opposition. I didn’t participate because I’m useless at chugging beer but had immense fun watching how serious everyone else was when playing.
We started off our final day at the biggest, longest and most popular market in Vienna. There are so many stalls from fresh and dried fruit to antiques all scattered amongst restaurants and causal eateries. I had a wee wander around the market but refrained from buying anything and then hopped on the underground and headed back into the inner city.
From the train I briefly saw a lot of graffiti and street art and decided to check it out before continuing on my sight-seeing. I had a lovely walk down the Wolfganf-Schmitz Promenade beside the water where it was significantly cooler than being up at street level. It was also quite quiet even with the occasional train rumbling along beside me so I enjoyed some time to myself.
Hundertwasser House and Village
I’d heard about the Hundertwasser House from a friend and as the photos looked rather groovy I thought I would check it out. It’s definitely a tourist hotspot as the place was extremely busy so I chose not to go in but just admire the house from the outside. I did visit the Hundertwasser Village, just across the road, where there were a few tourist shops and a little art gallery. The village also had some information on Hundertwasser himself and his style of architecture which I found really interesting.
I picked up some lunch from a little supermarket and sat on a bench across from the Anker Clock to eat it. The clock is over 100 years old and is found above street level so make sure to look up. I loved the gold accents but as I visited after midday, I missed the figures do a complete rotation. On the bright side, it meant that it wasn’t very busy and I manged to take a few photos, with few people in the way.
I adore a wee nosey into posh shops knowing full well I can’t afford anything so I wanted to do a bit of window shopping whilst in Vienna. I had a peep into Alexander McQueen, which had a suit in the window that I can’t stop thinking about, as well as Chanel. I also wandered into Valentino but this was a mistake because I did fall in love with a backpack and a pair of sunglasses that I couldn’t buy. I’ve had to settle for daydreaming about them for months after.
I then headed to shop that I was a lot more familiar with, Bijou Brigitte. I bought yet another pair of earrings which are a statement accessory as they are jewelled bugs. They look fab and my mum said they were very 80’s which is a compliment I was delighted with. I did a haul on everything I bought at Bijou Brigitte when I was on holiday which you can check out here.
(Yet Another) Wander Around Town
As I felt a bit rushed by my friends the day before, I went to go back to Stephansdom to absorb it all properly. I wanted to see every nook and cranny the cathedral had to offer and perhaps catch some choral singing if I could. The music student that I am also wanted to have a look at the Mozart Apartment but as I was running low on time before meeting my friends, I never went in. It is strange to think that I stood in the same place as him after studying many of his works at university. I then bought a few postcards of Vienna with the intention of scrapbooking them but it’s been four months since my trip and I’ve yet to start…
Of course, I had some ice cream in Vienna too. We found this little shop tucked away near St. Peter’s Catholic Church. I’m glad it was so quiet because there were so many flavours that I would have definitely held up a line whilst choosing flavours. In the end, I went for chocolate (no surprise) but had to eat it quick because of the high air temperatures.
Dinner at the Vineyards
One of the best nights of the entire trip was spent with Nani’s family at the vineyards. There was nine of us in total out to dinner where we ordered an amazing selection of food as well as wines to taste. Some of my favourite foods from the night were the mozzarella or chicken bites that were both deep fried. Healthy eating truly went up the spout when I was away.
We were seated outside in a courtyard lit by lamps and chatted until the sun went down. When waiting for our food, we nipped up to the vineyards themselves for the sunset and some cute group photos. It’s hard to believe that we were still inside of Vienna at this point because it feels like a world away from the busy city I was immersed in only a few hours before. This evening was on the most special moments of the entire trip and I fully intend on writing a blog post all about it.
I think having the connection with Nani and her family made Vienna extra special. It’s a completely different experience exploring a city with a local compared to one where none of you have ever visited. When I return to Vienna, which I am confident will happen, I’d like to take a day to explore Schönbrunn Palace and its gardens. I’d also want to spend time in some of the museums at Museum Quarter but I could easily spend days in just one of them. Until that time, I will have to reminisce of coffee in glasshouses and vineyards at sunset.