12 min read
After our Travel Expert Roxana spending 48 hours in Marseille and bringing you some amazing travel recommendations, our Head of Operations Sam takes you on a journey to Vienna, the 'City of Music'.
If capital cities had trophy cabinets, Vienna’s would be packed full! Named the most prosperous city in the world by the UN as well as coming top in the Mercer Quality of Living Rankings for the last ten years, Vienna is the golden child of Europe!
But what is it that actually makes Vienna so special and such a wonderful place to visit? Where to begin! The city was once the seat of the Holy Roman Empire and the capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire as well as being the home of the Hapsburg dynasty before it became the capital of modern-day Austria in 1918. Much of the city’s glamour and elegance is a legacy of this powerful and wealthy imperial past. To clarify, when I say glamour and elegance, I mean virtually countless palaces, majestic baroque streets, dazzling museums and awe-inspiring art collections.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking Vienna is stuck in the past though! Lining Vienna’s streets, you will find innovative architecture, cutting edge shops, a leading coffee culture and a dynamic night scene. This is a place where the modern is perfectly integrated into the city’s heritage to bring out the best of both. The result is a fusion that is guaranteed to take your breath away on more than one occasion.
This unique and charming destination is the perfect place for a weekend full of memory making! I’m here to take all the stress out of navigating around a new city by providing you with the ultimate itinerary to make sure you don’t miss any of Vienna’s best bits. The majority of the experiences on this itinerary are free with a Vienna Pass so it is well worth the pennies to buy one of these for your two days in Vienna. There’s a lot to pack in so prepare yourself for a Viennese Whirlwind of a holiday! Ready? Let’s go!
After a 2 and a half hour flight from London Luton, I land at Vienna International Airport (the main airport in Vienna). I want to make the most of my time in the city so I jump in a taxi and head straight to the 4* Ruby Sofie Hotel to drop off my bag.
Perfectly situated right in the middle of Vienna’s 3rd Landstraße district, Ruby Sofie is great for travellers that love to explore the city by foot. This is one of the city’s up-and-coming entertainment areas and Ruby lives behind the Secessionist-style façade of the renowned former Sofiensäle music hall.
Whilst the bar and the hotel hallways resemble a backstage area, the rooms were kept light and offers a place of retreat. A yoga and meditation room, sun terrace, library, galley kitchen with complimentary hot drinks complete your stay at Ruby Sofie.
Arguably, there is nowhere better to get a taste of Viennese culture than at one of the city’s many jaw-dropping palaces, so start your explorations at the Schloss Belvedere. This palace is not only a magnificent example of Baroque architecture, but it is also the home to one of Vienna’s most valuable art collections.
Photo Credit: @__marei__
The palace’s two main buildings, The Upper Belvedere and The Lower Belvedere, are linked by stunning gardens featuring intricate statues, water features and an incredible reflecting pool that mirrors the palace’s façade. After a leisurely stroll taking in the beauty of the grounds and the palace’s exterior, head into the Upper Belvedere to look at the artwork on permanent exhibition there.
The palace boasts an unbeatable collection of Gustav Klimt’s paintings, including his world-famous piece ‘The Kiss’. In the Lower Belvedere, marvel at the lavish splendour of the Prince’s living quarters as you explore the Marble Gallery and the Golden Room.
Photo Credit: @la_valdina
Next up, walk to the nearby Karlskirche or Church of St Charles. The cathedral, with its green copper dome and enormous twin columns, is another beautiful architectural feat. Hiding inside is an ornate high altar panel showing the ascension of St Charles Borromeo as well as gloriously colourful mural paintings.
Photo Credit: @ricardo_travelphoto
Re-energise yourself with lunch at the Naschmarkt. This vibrant outdoor market has over 120 stalls filled with all sorts of delicious fresh produce. The amazing range of tasty treats will delight your senses as you meander around scoring as many free samples as possible!
Photo Credit: @drechsler_wienzeile
Either fill up on snacks are duck into one of the pop-up restaurants that surround the market and enjoy a meal and some people watching.
From Naschmarkt, march north for just over 10 minutes and you will reach one of Vienna’s most iconic landmarks, St Stephen’s Cathedral. Dating back to 1137, the church has been renovated, extended and redecorated throughout its lifetime so the building that stands today is an awesome mix of architectural styles. The St Stephen’s showstopper is definitely its mosaic style tiled roof which features a double-headed eagle and Viennese coats of arms contrasted against yellow, white and green diamonds.
Photo Credit: @ourlemonadejourney
The two towers which soar high above the streets below are another striking element of the cathedral. Brave the 343 steps to the peak of the south tower and you will be rewarded with stunning views of Vienna from a height of 136m. The church is equally amazing inside, filled with masterful stone artwork, imposing gothic columns, 18 altars and more. Most visitors finish their tour of St Stephen’s here, and make the mistake of missing the macabre but thrilling experience of exploring the church’s catacombs.
Alongside the coffins of notable bishops and royals there are approximately 11,000 people lying in the catacombs. During the Bubonic plague, prisoners were sent into the crypts to perform the gruesome task of moving the bones and neatly stacking them to make space for more bodies.
Photo Credit: @carolinwj
Finish on a less eerie note at Time Travel Vienna, an interactive museum which will take you through 2000 years of Viennese history in 50 minutes. This is the perfect place to learn about the city you are falling in love with and to get some context for your findings as you continue exploring Vienna.
Photo Credit: @igor_mlq
By now I bet your stomach is rumbling! Das Loft is a nearby restaurant and bar located 18 floors up in the air with floor to ceiling windows that offers an unbeatable view of Vienna.
Photo Credit: @dasloftwien
Not a bad setting for a delicious and sophisticated meal! The restaurant is also popular for its remarkable illuminated ceiling art which adds to its elegant atmosphere. Feel fancy as you tuck into a dinner you won’t forget.
Photo Credit: @dasloftwien
Vienna packs a punch when it comes to nightlife. Techno music is very popular throughout the city with a lot of clubs staying open until dawn. Das Werk has a particularly fun atmosphere and often people can be found covering each other in glitter and neon paint here.
Photo Credit: @hobsonandstein
Elektro Gönner is a more chilled spot if you prefer a relaxed night with an easy mix of chatting and dancing.
You might think beginning your morning with a cup of coffee is pretty normal but there is nothing normal about coffee at Demel, the café that served the Royal court. Entering this Kaffeehous is like stepping into Willie Wonka’s chocolate factory as its counters are piled high with confectionaries and sweet pastries.
Photo Credit: @demel_wien
Vienna is famed for its wonderful coffee houses and Demel is definitely one of the finest. With fuel in the tank, it’s time to hit up an art museum. You have the choice between The Albertina and The Kunsthistorisches but don’t stress over the decision too much because you will have a great time either way. The Albertina has one of the world’s largest collections of graphic art with over one million works dating from the Renaissance period to the present.
Photo Credit: @albertinamuseum
Big names here include Monet, Matisse and Picasso. Alternatively, the Kunsthistorisches features pieces by artists such as Titan, Rubens and Caravaggio, alongside fine art that dates back to ancient Egypt.
Admiring other people’s hard work can be pretty exhausting so give yourself a break and grab a bite to eat! It would be rude not to try the classic Viennese street food Würstel (essentially a chunky hotdog) which can be found at stands everywhere you look in the city centre.
Photo Credit: @la_foodografa
Munch your lunch on a bench in Burggaten, a royal park that opened to the public in 1919. Make sure not to miss the amazing Art Nouveau tropical butterfly house which is as huge as it is beautiful.
Next up is another palace! This time it’s the Hofburg, the official home of the Hapsburgs until 1918. As can be expected, this palace is dripping with opulence, from its gorgeous turquoise dome to the imposing Swiss Gate there is so much to leave you spellbound.
Photo Credit: @xtransylvaniax
Inside you can tour the imperial rooms and see how the emperors lived, explore the treasury and marvel at the crown jewels, and visit the famous Spanish Riding School. This is the only institution in the world which still practices classical horsemanship and UNESCO has protected it as an intangible cultural heritage of humanity. Book an afternoon show to see the spectacular Lipizzaner horses and their riders in a performance like no other.
For a special sunset experience, head to Prater where you will find Vienna’s Giant Ferris Wheel. The Wheel was built in 1897 for Emperor Franz-Josef’s golden jubilee, but don’t worry it has been renovated since then and is completely safe!
Photo Credit: @diogomensch
At its highest, the wheel will take you 65m up in the air and offers panoramic views of the city.
For the ultimate end to your trip, book a gourmet dinner and concert at the Wein Opera House. Opened in 1869 with a performance of Mozart’s ‘Don Giovanni’, the opera house stands as magnificent today as ever.
Photo Credit: @vinnieb146
Here, you will enjoy a 3-course dinner at the elegant restaurant where Theodore Roosevelt and The Duke and Duchess of Windsor have all dined. This is followed by a performance from the Vienna Mozart Orchestra who will play a selection of the musician’s most magical symphonies. If that isn’t the definition of going out in style, I don’t know what is!
If like me you love taking short weekend breaks across Europe and spending 48 hours in cities like Barcelona, Prague, Porto, Split, Bologna, Stockholm or Venice, but if like me you hate wasting hours trawling travel sites to plan and research your next weekend break, only to be hit by increased flight prices just before booking, then BeRightBack is for you!
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I hope you enjoyed my 48 hours city guide to Vienna and do not hesitate to use our website chat or to email us if you have any questions!
Sam Norman (Head of Operations at BeRightBack)
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