Vienna is one such city that mesmerized its visitors with its architectural beauty and so it was inevitable that we sisters would not be prone to its charm. The imperial palaces, gardens, squares, and quirky neighbourhoods, everything is a sight to behold in this Capital city of Austria. Once part of Hitler’s Greater Germany, Vienna has seen a lot of changes over the years, but the city nonetheless has managed to retain its true essence till date.
Even though we had a very short stay of 2 days in Vienna, and the nonstop rain did not really help us much while exploring this gorgeous historic city, we still managed our best and visited most of the places that we had in our list. The pending places in the list just convince us that this is a perfect opportunity to revisit Vienna once again in the future and explore the unexplored. Since we were traveling with our family, we had to carefully curate the itinerary which everyone would like and enjoy. So here are the things to do in and around the City of Music:
1. Schönbrunn Palace & Gardens
If you are a sucker for palaces and imperial buildings like us, then Schönbrunn Palace & Gardens of Vienna should be on top of your itinerary. One of the top visited sites of Vienna and a UNESCO Heritage site, Schönbrunn Palace was built in Baroque style with spanning 1,441 rooms. We spent a fabulous time touring its opulent halls and rooms and it was a perfect way to escape cold and rain outside. Do not miss out on the imperial garden which includes the tour of the Great Parterre, Gloriette, Maze and a lot more, which is nothing less than a fairytale ride.
2. Belvedere Palace
A magnificent palace complex which houses a collection of 2 different, spectacularly designed Baroque styled palaces and their gardens is also a must visit in Vienna. Belvedere Palace Museum also houses some of the World’s finest art collection and are very unique. Also, the palace grounds and gardens are an amazing location for photo shoots and capturing portraits with the Palace on the background.
3. The Hofburg Palace
Until the reign of the royal family of Habsburg, the Hofburg Palace was used as their winter palace but currently it the official residence of the President of Austria and his office. The palace sits in the heart of Vienna city so this palatial structure would not miss your attention, especially in the night when it’s all lit up to its finest glory. The tour of the palace displays the life of the royals when they inhabited here and many of the artefacts used by them. Although most of the tour was not up to the mark, the tour of the Imperial Treasury Museum made up for it. The Imperial Treasury Museum treasures and displays some of the royal jewels and expensive artefacts.
4. Prater Amusement Park
Taking a break from imperial palaces and buildings of Vienna, we planned to explore and unleash our inner child at the Prater Park. Prater is one of the oldest amusement parks in the world and has the oldest operating Ferris wheel, which was constructed in 1897. The ambience at the amusement park was very energetic and we spent a delightful evening exploring the park. We tried all the rides that looked exciting and the rides sure gave us an adrenaline rush in the end. The park is a perfect place to relax and unwind with friends and family after a hectic day of exploring the city.
5. Stephansplatz & St. Stephen’s Cathedral
One of the most prominent landmarks of Vienna, for its striking multi-colored roof and vibrant interiors, St Stephen’s Cathedral is a must visit as it is one of the beautiful cathedrals in the world. Although the initial construction was commissioned in the 12th century by Leopold IV, archaeological digs have revealed that the site was used as a cemetery during the Roman era, which was in the 4th century and also a parish church dating back to 5th century. The cathedral interior, as well as the exterior, is filled with stunning details which would leave you awestruck. As the cathedral sits in the central square Stephansplatz of Vienna, after touring the cathedral you can explore the square as it is filled with tons of shops, restaurants and pubs.
Naschmarkt is one of the most eclectic places in the city, which is an open-air market filled with regional produce. The best time to explore the market would be in the morning where the locals display their products and you can grab some delicious breakfasts. Naschmarkt is not just limited to Austrian products but you can also find restaurants and snackers from all over the world. If you are in the city on a Sunday then do not miss on the flea market which is held here.
7. Vienna State Opera
Although we are not really into opera, we decided to tour the world famous and legendary Vienna State Opera or Wiener Staatsoper as it is called in German, for its architectural beauty. The guided tours last for 40 minutes which takes you through the grand foyer, impressive staircase which are still preserved in its original state, (as most part of the building was destroyed during World War II) the auditorium and the staterooms, which are Tea salon, Marble Hall, the Schwind Foyer and the Gustav Mahler Hall. After having a peek at the backstage and mesmerized by the glamour and the grandeur of the Opera House, we were tempted to watch at least one show but unfortunately, the tickets were sold out.
8. Hundertwasser House
You might have come across numerous pictures in Instagram and Pinterest of this colorful and quirky structure of Vienna. Hundertwasserhaus is a row of apartment buildings which was built based on the idea and imagination of the local artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser. Since these apartments are occupied by the residents, visitors are not allowed to tour the interiors but the vibrant exterior makes a beautiful site to capture some amazing pictures. Opposite to this there a museum cum shopping center called KunstHausWien designed by the same artist, which is again an interesting structure with uneven floors and colorful interiors.
9. Sachertorte and Apple Strudel
One of the most popular and iconic Viennese dessert Sachertorte is a delicious chocolate cake topped with apricot jam created by Austrian Franz Sacher in 1832. Although it looks like an ordinary chocolate cake it tastes heavenly. Another top favorite dessert is the Apple Strudel or famously known as the “Wiener Apfelstrudel”, a layered pastry with spiced apple and raisin filling.
10. Seegrotte ’The Lake Cave”
If are looking for something to do outside the Vienna city, then visiting one of the largest underground lakes in Europe would be fun as well as a less touristy option. Seegrotte is in Hinterbrühl, Lower Austria which is approximately 40 minutes (27 kilometers) drive from Vienna. This was once a gypsum mine and when the blasting operation inside the mine went haywire it resulted in mine getting filled up with 20 million litres of water. Take the guided tour of the underground mine and get to know many of the historic events which took place here as well as a fun ride on the lake around the grotto which is 60 meters below the ground.
Related Post: Tour of Seegrotte ‘the Lake Cave’
A short drive from Vienna city (40 minutes) and you will arrive at Kahlenberg hill another lesser-known location with scenic views. It is located on Vienna Woods and has a breathtaking view of the Vienna city on a beautiful sunny day. Kahlenberg is one of the popular day-trip excursion among the locals and would make an excellent location to view the uninterrupted, panoramic view of Vienna.
One cannot visit Vienna and not hit one of the Kaffehaus/ coffee house. The Kaffehaus or coffee house in Vienna is considered to be an institution that contributed majorly in shaping Viennese Culture. If you are a coffee lover, then do try the “Einspänner” Viennese Coffee, which is a black coffee topped with whipped cream. As we are not really fond of black coffee we tried out the Weiner Melange, which was more or less like a cappuccino. Combine this hot beverage with the desserts we mentioned above and your trip is complete :).
Hope you guys enjoyed reading about top things to do in Vienna City. Do leave comments on your take on this gorgeous city! Also, do share and subscribe to get future updates from Tales of Travelling Sisters!