austria

A Day Wandering Beautiful Vienna

When I think of visiting Austria, I don’t necessarily think of Vienna. I think of Salzburg and the Sound Of Music, or the Alpine city of Innsbruck, or more recently, the phenomenally pretty town of Hallstatt (if you don’t know it, I suggest you google it immediately).

Meanwhile, my mum, as seldom as she ever comes up with anywhere she wants to visit, has always wanted to go to the Spanish Riding School in Vienna. Ash wants to see the grand architecture there, and take in all the art and culture of the city.

Graben street in Vienna, Austria

I felt like I ought to head over to another new country seeing as I was in such close proximity, so I gave myself three days in Bratislava in order to head over to Vienna for one of them. For most people, it’s the other way around, and I will concede that I could have spent longer in Vienna, but a day was a good amount of time to get my feet stuck into the city to see what all the fuss is about.

The best part? I paid 6€ return for the trip (just over an hour’s journey – I went with Regiojet), and the bus was more luxurious than any of the damn flights I took!!

Bus from Bratislava to Vienna
My experience with Regiojet: extremely positive!

The only downside is the bus drops you off pretty far out of the centre of town, and if you’re a regular reader, you’ll know that I stubbornly walk everywhere. So to make the most of my 40 minute walk into the city centre, I strategically planned out a route through the Belvedere Palace (Schloss Belvedere) gardens.

I knew I wasn’t going to have time to get to Schonbrunn Palace, which is partly why you should aim for more than a day in Vienna, but Belvedere Palace is a fantastic alternative, and to be honest I was stunned by it the second it came into view.

Belvedere Schloss palace, Vienna, Austria

Belvedere Schloss palace, Vienna, Austria

This sort of set the precedent for the rest of the day, because Vienna is ridiculously beautiful.

And I really do mean ridiculously, because after a while, it started to feel like Disneyland.

Pretty street, Vienna, Austria

I realise that’s an ironic observation, given that Vienna is one of the cultural capitals of the world and therefore is about as far from Disneyland as you can get. But when every single building on every single street is curated and perfectly formed, I began to form an illusion that perhaps this city can’t even be real. After rolling out of the Belvedere gardens with only a rough sense of the direction I should be going in, I found myself wandering random side streets to get into the city centre, and EVERY SINGLE ONE WAS IMMACULATE.

Pretty street, Vienna, Austria

And I wasn’t even in the city centre yet, so it was only going to get even more so.

I wound up at Schwarzenbergplatz with its imposing Soviet War Memorial, and a while later at Karlsplatz. Both were incredibly pretty.

As I suspected, once I found the city centre proper, the architecture went bananas.

The first thing I stumbled across was the impeccably gorgeous Vienna opera house.

Vienna Opera House, Vienna, Austria

Vienna Opera House, Vienna, Austria

From the photos I’ve seen, it looks even better at night.

I immediately enjoyed wandering the pedestrian shopping streets, because even though they were similar to every other shopping precinct in major cities, they also weren’t, because they were approximately 250% more magnificent (even Edinburgh, which has an exquisite view of the castle the entire way along Princes Street, with the layers of Old Town sweeping across the horizon, has got nothing on these buildings).

I stopped in a café for a cuppa, partly because it was the first chance I’d had to sit down, and partly because I needed caffeine. And partly because, obviously, people watching is fantastic.

Also, I was given tea candy with my tea. Not sugar. Tea candy.

Tea with tea candy, Vienna, Austria

Around the corner, I was swept off my feet by St Stephen’s Cathedral – not just for the fact it’s a lovely cathedral plonked into the city centre, but the roof is so striking that I couldn’t stop staring at it.

St Stephen's Cathedral, Vienna, Austria

Close up of St Stephen's Cathedral roof, Vienna, Austria
Look at that roof!

From there, I found myself wandering aimlessly down The Graben, one of the most distinctive streets in the heart of Vienna.

Graben street, Vienna, Austria

Of all the photos I took in Vienna (spoiler: an embarrassing amount), I’m pretty sure approximately half of them were taken on this street.

Pestsaule, Vienna, Austria

I have to admit I didn’t even know what this was, but I’ve learned since that it’s called the “Pestsaule” and is there to commemorate victims of the plague. To be honest, it looks like a bit of a shambles with all the netting on, but then the plague wasn’t exactly a fun walk in the park either, so I’ll forgive it.

St Peter's catholic church, Vienna, Austria

One thing that became quickly apparent was the number of horse & carriage rides trotting along wherever I went. It’s not exactly unique to Vienna, but with the surroundings they’re quite a spectacle, even once you’ve seen a load of them.

I was heading in the rough direction of the creme de la creme of central Vienna, Hofburg Palace, but first I wanted some unhealthy food and I couldn’t think of anywhere better to fulfill that than the famous Cafe Central.

Cafe Central, Vienna, Austria

Cafe Central, Vienna, Austria

Cafe Central has an uber posh interior that would normally make me feel completely out of place, but people from all walks of life were there, and I knew that the queue was going to be worth it. As it happened, the queue moved really fast too, so within five minutes I was seated with a menu and a huge decision to make.

Do I have cake or something else? And if I have cake, WHICH ONE DO I EVEN GO FOR?!

I was slightly overwhelmed, so I went for apple strudel instead. When in Austria…

Apple strudel in Cafe Central, Vienna, Austria

It was DELICIOUS! I did get a better photo, but I didn’t angle it right and managed to catch a girl’s face distorted in my wine glass. And as funny as it is having someone’s face being stroked inside a glass, I’ll spare her the embarrassment.

Naturally, I then had cake as well.

Me in Cafe Central, Vienna, Austria
The only photo of me in Vienna!

Cafe Central, Vienna, Austria

I stayed in Cafe Central for a while, people watching and listening to one of the waiters who was literally one of the friendliest people I’d ever seen (he also took my photo, which is the only photo of me in Vienna!), catching up with a few things online and savouring my delicious goods.

But eventually, it was time to move on and check out Hofburg Palace.

Hofburg Palace, Vienna, Austria

Hofburg Palace, Vienna, Austria

…yeah, so that’s one of the most stunning buildings I’ve ever seen in my life.

After how impressive everything else had been in Vienna, I wasn’t sure quite how anything I’d seen would be topped. I walked through the palace to the other side.

National library, Osterreichische Nationalbibliothek, in Vienna, Austria

I mean COME ON! That’s a freaking LIBRARY.

Anyone else seen a more elegant library? Answers on a postcard, please. (Bonus points if the library is ON the postcard, because that means it’s a highlight of the destination.)

Of course, I managed to find a ridiculous statue on the palace.

Statues on Hofburg Palace, Vienna, Austria

Do I feel bad laughing? Not at all.

And while Vienna is all about the high brow arts and the souvenir shops are full of Mozart-themed items, I was happy to see they’re still not afraid to show a silly side.

No Kangaroos in Austria t shirts

I didn’t buy a t shirt – but I did buy a postcard with this on!! Because of course!

And I found this very curious sign that almost made me want to go in and get a tattoo.

Tattoo, honey, coffee, juice sign, Vienna, Austria

You can put me in a highly cultural place, but I will still manage to find weird things.

The rest of my afternoon was spent wandering many more streets, taking yet more photos of The Graben, and eventually walking alllllllll the way back to the bus station (which I regretted around half way).

Graben street in Vienna, Austria

Dancers in front of St Stephen's cathedral, Vienna, Austria
Love the mix in this photo – traditional dancing, an incredible cathedral, and a modern complex

Graben street in Vienna, Austria

Central Europe is fast becoming my favourite region of the continent (although the Balkans are fighting for it). I already love Prague, Bratislava and Budapest, and although I didn’t click with Vienna quite as much (I know, I’ve just spent an entire post gushing about it, but remember what I said about Disneyland? It just felt a little too curated), it has won me over enough to want to return.

In fact, if Mum wants to come to the Spanish Riding School then I am more than happy to jump on a plane back to Vienna with her for a couple of days!

I’m really glad I decided to spend a day in Vienna, but I think the city needs a little more time than that to give it true justice. So if I do go back, it’ll definitely be for a little longer.

Have you been to be Vienna? What did you think of it?

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How To Spend A Day Wandering Vienna, Austria

45 thoughts on “A Day Wandering Beautiful Vienna

  1. Great post and fantastic photos. This year, we travelled to Bratislava and had to jump over the border to visit Vienna too. Even on a dark and gloomy day, the city left a last impression with its beautiful architecture and grand churches. Safe travels and thanks for sharing. Aiva

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much! Yeah I can imagine it would be very atmospheric on a cloudy day. Did you prefer Bratislava or Vienna? They’re totally different cities but I adored the old town in Bratislava. Vienna’s far bigger and grander though so it’s hard to compare them.

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  2. I only spent a day in Vienna, and I managed to visit the Schönbrunn Palace and the city center (although the latter was very rushed). It is a pretty city, and one of the most-cultured I’ve been to anywhere. Did you get coffee at one of its historic cafes? Cafe culture is huge there!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahhh so glad you made it to Schonbrunn! I probably could have if I’d tried, but I didn’t want to end up rushing myself and I really enjoyed just taking in the city.

      Also *whispers* I don’t like coffee…!!!! I just had tea in a couple of places, the first place was a bit “trendier” (which really surprised me lol) whereas Cafe Central was very grand!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha I kind of get you as Prague is very fairytale-like! But it felt a lot more… I’m trying to think of the word. Rustic? Like where Vienna is incredibly curated, I didn’t feel like Prague was. (I almost said “authentic” but then realised that would be ridiculous hahaha). I think Budapest is my favourite out of the four!

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  3. Yes, several years ago we were there for three or four days. Really liked it. Inside the Hofburg is really cool. Did other things, too. A return trip to Austria would have me seeing Salzburg and Innsbruck, though, since I’ve not been to those places.

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  4. Perfect timing with this one. I’m off to Vienna in three weeks. Don’t know how much I’ll see, what with the Xmas markets, but the cafe is a must. Maybe a palace. Thanks for some great tips.

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  5. I totally see what you mean about the architecture going bananas! What a perfect turn of phrase for those way-too-perfect buildings. It does make me wonder if Walt Disney ever visited Vienna before designing Disneyland. To me it looks even better as it is beautiful, but also real and lived in.

    p.s. Caaaaaake

    Liked by 1 person

      1. You know, I have a friend who HATES this kind of architecture because it reminds her of all the fake versions she’d see in Asia. She also hates daffodils because she grew up in Australia and always saw fake daffodils at Easter…when she moved to the UK she hated the “real” versions because they reminded her of the fakes.

        It makes no sense, and totally makes sense all at the same time 🤣🤣🤣

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  6. What an absolutely amazing looking place, I’ve been wanting to visit Vienna (and the rest of Austria) for a while. The cakes look delicious, and I love how you found some funny and wonderfully weird things in Vienna too. I can’t believe how clean it is, for a European city (as much as I love Europe), I mean come on! Wow! How many days would you recommend there?

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    1. Haha you can always count on me to find the weird things! 😂 I’d recommend at least a couple of days. Two would probably be fine, actually! The main thing I didn’t do was Schonbrunn Palace. It’s a huge city but I feel like you can be confined to the centre most of the time and still see a lot (like I did!).

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  7. Vienna’s somewhere I went for a day when I was inter-railing years ago, so long ago I don’t remember much about it other than that I liked it. I really should make an effort to go back and spend a few days there and see it properly.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know what you mean, especially once you’ve been to a place and then you prioritise so many other places that you haven’t been instead. There are quite a few European cities I’d like to go back to! (Basically all the main central European cities!)

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    1. Oh honestly – I barely spent any money there, but it was so nice just walking around! I think it can be really expensive (which is partly why I did it as a day trip from Bratislava instead of the other way around!) but I don’t think doing it on a budget takes away from the enjoyment of it at all. 🙂

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  8. I’ve been planning a trip to Salzburg/Hallstatt/Innsbruck but hadn’t thought much about Vienna…it definitely looks like a lovely place to wander! Great photos. Perhaps I’ll have to fit Vienna in…

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I loved Vienna so much, The Graben was my favourite street too, but you’ve just taught me the name of it! Didn’t know what that monument was either. Great read, bringing back good memories!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I went to Schonbrunn Palace when I was in Vienna, or I should say, I went out there and decided not to go on the house tour because it was expensive and crowded, and just wandered the grounds instead. This was a good move, because I found a stand selling the biggest most delicious pretzels I’ve ever had! The pretzel was seriously bigger than my head! Highly recommended if you ever make it to Schronbrunn.

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  11. I went to Viena a few years ago and I agree it is beautiful and you def need like a week to be able to see the two royal palaces and museums. Def wanna see Salzburg and Hallstatt as well. By the way, I have been to Cafe Central and we loved it. And I totally got one of those kangaroo signs as a fridge magnet lol

    Liked by 1 person

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