Thursday, May 2, 2019

Vienna City Guide

Hello again, and welcome to my Vienna City Guide!  Writing cities guides has really been something that I've enjoyed writing, so I'm happy to bring you another!  As I've said in earlier posts, Vienna has been a place that I've been wanting to visit for about a year, so I'm so happy that I was able to make it happen!  I travelled there with one of my friends from Montana who came to visit me in London.  As I'm a student and she's working, neither of us have tons of money, so we definitely wanted to make the most of our visit.  Though we tried to save money in most ways, one place we wanted to invest was with the Vienna Pass.  Firstly, let me say that this is not at all sponsored, I just truly feel that you all should know about how great we found this to be.  Not to be confused with the Vienna City Card, the Pass gets you free entry to over 60 attractions across the city.  We opted for the 3 Day Pass, as that was exactly how long we were there for.  Like I said, it's a bit of an investment, so if you only want to do one or two specific things while in the city, this may not be the thing for you, but if you're like us and want to pack in as much as possible, this would definitely be the thing for you!  Every museum and attraction listed below, we went to and were able to get free entry with the Vienna Pass.

Where To Stay
Wombats City Hostel - Naschmarkt
As you know, I'm a student, so I'm definitely travel to make the most of my travels so I can do as much as I can meaning that hostels was the best option for us.  When looking at the different hostels throughout the city, Wombats City Hostel was not the absolute cheapest, but for just a few Euros more per night we could get an amazing location with stellar reviews.  This hostel did not disappoint, and I would 100% stay there again.  We stayed in a 6 bed room with its own bathroom.  Having your own bathroom is a bit of a double edged sword when sharing with six people, as the convenience of it was great, but in the mornings when everyone wanted to shower at once was a bit tricky.  However, it was still a great experience overall, and the beds were surprisingly comfy.
There are two Wombats City Hostels in Vienna, and we stayed at the one located just next to the Naschmarkt.  It was such a great location; not only were tons of things walkable from there, but it was also just a two minute walk from a metro station.  We had a travel pass so we were able to easily use the metro countless times.

What to Do
Belvedere Palace
Vienna has no shortage of museums, but if you can only make it to one during your time there make it the Belvedere Palace. The museum is actually split into two parts: the Upper and Lower Belvedere.  The Upper Belvedere holds all of their permanent collections (which that alone is enough to fill a day), including their most famous artwork Gustav Klimt's, "The Kiss."  The Lower Belvedere houses their temporary exhibitions; we didn't end up making it to the Lower Belvedere as we were exhausted from our day of traveling and exploring the city.  As the museum is split into two parts, it is priced separately, however you can buy a ticket for both sections for €22, which saves you €6 when bought separately.  

Karlsplatz Square
Karlsplatz is one of the largest town squares in the city.  The area is incredibly easy to get to with a large metro station (also called "Karlsplatz") is located within the square.  Though there are many sights to see within the square, we visited the Otto Wagner Pavilion Karlplatz.  The small museum (as seen above) was formerly Stadtbahn Station and focuses on the life of one of Vienna's most prolific architects Otto Wagner.  This small museum has a €5 entry cost and is opposite an adorable cafe of the same architecture style where you can get tasty Apple Strudel and a take on the Sachertorte.  
Also in the square is the gorgeous Baroque church Karlskirche.  We didn't go inside this church, but it fronts a relaxing fountain where lots of people seem to sit, eat, and take the opportunity to take cute photos.

Kunsthistorisches Museum
Okay, so the building above isn't actually the Kunsthistorisches Museum, it's actually the Natural History Museum of Vienna.  I took this picture on the front steps of the Kunsthistorisches Museum, however the two museums have very similar styles in terms of architecture.  One of the many art museums in Vienna, I visited it to see their temporary exhibition curated by director Wes Anderson (which has now sadly ended).  In their permanent collection, they also have a number of famous portraits, including some of Marie Antoinette and Margarita Teresa.  Entry to this museum is €16.

St. Stephens Cathedral
Built in the 1100s, St. Stephens Cathedral is considered to be the most important religious building in Austria.  It's constructed in both Gothic and Romanesque styles and sees thousands of visitors annually.  Unfortunately, my friend and I ran out of time to go inside as we ended up at dinner much longer than we had anticipated.  If I get the chance to go back to Vienna any time soon, I would definitely put going inside to the top of my list, as I've heard nothing but great things about its gorgeous interiors.

Schönbrunn Palace
Located just outside of the city, Schönbrunn Palace is Vienna's number one visited attraction.  It was formerly the summer palace of the Habsburg royal family.  It was lived in by the family through the first World War and became a tourist attraction in the 1950s.  More than just a palace, the grounds has endless gardens, a maze, the city zoo, and a miniature train ride across it all.  The palace is gorgeous, and I completely see why it's the most popular attraction in Vienna, but a word of advice: get there right when it opens.  If you don't get there early, you'll have to wait in far too long of a line, only to find out that the next entrance time they have available isn't for another six hours.  My friend and and I had the Vienna Pass meaning that we were able to go in an express line, but we still had to wait a number of hours before the next opening.  We ended up going back into the city center to see some other sights and eat and coming back in the afternoon for our time slot.  There are lots of different ticket options available for the palace, but the basic ticket is €16.

Imperial Burial Vault
The Imperial Burial Vault is the underground crypt which is the final resting place for the Habsburg royal family since 1633.  This extravagant tomb is fit for any royal family, and the metal sculpture work is a breathtaking feat.  A bit more off the beaten path, this is a nice, quiet sight that won't be as crowded as many other tourist attractions.  They offer daily guided tours as well, with one in German and one in English.  The entrance cost for the crypt is €7.50.

Danube Tower
As Austria's tallest structure, it adds a modern element to Vienna's already beautiful skyline.  Just a bit outside of the city, you can easily get there via the city's metro system.  The quick elevator ride to the top offers gorgeous views of the city, and at the very top there's even a restaurant!  It was a bit outside of our price range, but much like the Seattle Space Needle, this was a rotating restaurant so you can see every angle of the city.  At the base of the tower there's a miniature train the goes all around the surrounding park.  It's a fun ride that last about 30 minutes.  The normal entrance fee for the tower is €14.50 whilst the cost for the train ride is €5.00.

Where to Eat

Cafe Sperl 
Cafe Central is the most famous traditional Viennese cafe in the city, but I've heard that it can be notorious for long lines and outrageous wait times.  I still wanted to experience a classic cafe, and after doing some reading, Cafe Sperl seemed to be the perfect answer.  The Cafe was founded in 1880 and was featured in the film Before Sunrise with Ethan Hawke.  I think it was my favourite restaurant that I ate at in Vienna, as both the food and atmosphere were amazing.  I enjoyed a pork wiener schnitzel for lunch with a sachertorte for dessert.

Swing Kitchen
My friend who I toured Austria with is vegetarian, so we did eat at a few vegan/veggie places whilst we were there.  Swing Kitchen is an entirely vegan fast-food burger restaurant.  They offer veggie burgers, wraps, salads, and even vegan chicken nuggets!  I tried the chicken nuggets, which were actually really good and practically tasted like chicken, while my friend had their veggie cheeseburger.  They make desserts too, and if we hadn't have been so full, my friend would have loved to try their vegan tiramisu.  

Located literally right next to our hostel, this is the most popular market in Vienna.  It has 120 different food stands with food offerings ranging from all over the world.  Be prepared for crowds and numerous sellers yelling at you trying to get you to buy their things.  That being said, the food there makes it all worth it.

Yamm! Naschmarkt
Another great veggie find, this small place is located within the Naschmarkt.  Despite how tiny the interior, it has a large menu that's mostly veggie, but I think it also had a few meat options.  My friend enjoyed this place so much (it helped that it was so convenient to where we were staying) that we ate there twice!  One thing to note, you pay after you eat even though you first order at a counter.  One of the times we ate their my friend nearly walked out without paying because she thought she already had.

L'Osteria Wien Bräunerstrasse
Just because you're in Austria, doesn't mean you can't enjoy a bit of Italian food!  Italian is both of our favourite types of food, and after being in Austria for nearly a week we were both craving some carbs.  She had a pasta dish whilst I had a pizza that was far bigger than I was expecting.  Frankly I surprised myself by eating as much of it as I did.

Visiting Vienna was just as great as I expected it to be, and the Vienna Pass definitely paid for itself.  If I were to go back, I'd probably repurchase the Pass and do all of the things that I just didn't have time to see this time around.

Have you ever been to Vienna?  Did I miss anything great?  Let me know in the comments!

Elizabeth xx

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