Imperial Vienna, the majestic capital city of Austria. Firstly, I will suppress the urge to make the obvious Ultravox pun, so you can now relax and read on.
Although we have visited Austria on a number of occasions this was our first visit to Vienna. What usually happens before you visit a new city is that people tell you over and over how wonderful it is. However, when you actually arrive at the destination it often underwhelms and does not live up to these heightened expectations.
Fortunately Vienna is not one of those places, it does live up to its reputation.
We arrived in Vienna by train from Budapest. There is something romantic about travelling through Europe by train compared to flying. Also the train station is in the city itself whereas the airport is about 25 minutes away.
Sightseeing In Vienna
The centre of Vienna is quite compact and it is really easy to explore on foot. By walking, you often stumble across the strange and unusual places that you miss when taking public transport or taxis.
The Albertina Museum, Vienna State Opera, Hofburg Palace, St Stephens Cathedral and the Museum Quarter are all within walking distance of each other, between 5 to 15 minutes. If you are feeling especially romantic you can splash out on a carriage ride around the old town. Although the smell of horses isn’t an aroma that we were particularly fond of.
Then of course there are the famous Viennese coffeehouses. Our favourite was Café Central, 14 Herrengasse because of it’s historic past. Its former clientele ranged from the intellectual to the infamous including the likes of Sigmund Freud, Leon Trotsky, Theodor Herzl, Lenin and Hitler.
To explore slightly further afield such as the Belvedere Museum or the Schönbrunn Palace there is an efficient underground and tram service. On this occasion we did not have time to visit the Imperial Schönbrunn summer palace but if you have time, it is definitely worth a visit.
We visited during the Autumn and as you can see from the video the parks looked stunning with their golden leaves. This time of year is perfect for exploring the city as it’s not too cold and the summer crowds have subsided.
There were also a lot of food and drink stalls around the impressive Rathaus ‘City Hall‘ as it was just before the Austrian National Day, the date Austria regained status as an independent and sovereign nation after WWII. We tried the “Sturm” a young fermented grape drink popular during the Autumn months, possibly an acquired taste.
Staying In Vienna
We stayed at the centrally located Guest House Vienna, a stylish boutique hotel which was very close to the Albertina. The Terrance Conran designed hotel was a pleasant contrast to the surrounding imperial grandeur, you can read more about our stay at the hotel here – The Guest House Vienna.
We really enjoyed our first visit to Vienna, soaking up the atmosphere, walking through the parks and streets. It was really atmospheric as the sun went down. With the sound of the horses and the dimly lit backstreets you could imagine bumping into Mozart and his friends on a night out.
We would love to go back to Vienna soon, maybe try a river cruise. I (Mr W), am a big fan the film ‘The Third Man‘ and would love to go on ‘The Third Man Sewer Tour‘. Understandably Mrs W is not so keen!
Have you been to Vienna, maybe you are a regular visitor. What are your ‘must see’ recommendations for our next visit.