Since arriving from our cruise from New York to Rome, we’ve been staying in Split, Croatia.
However, when a friend of ours reached out and said that he’d be in Munich and wanted to meet us somewhere in the middle between Split and Munich, we jumped at the opportunity to see Vienna, Austria. Even though I was stationed in Germany, I’d never really been to Austria. I drove over the border one time after a training exercise just to say that I’d been in Austria, but that was the extent of my time – maybe 5 minutes.
Admittedly, we didn’t know much about Vienna, but our friend had been there before and really loved it, so we were thrilled to meet him there.
Because of the short time there and the last minute nature of the trip, it was not a cheap trip. However, Vienna is AMAZING, so it was well worth what we spent there.
Observations on Vienna, Austria
I’m not going to list every possible thing that you can do in Vienna. There are plenty of articles already written about short trips to Vienna, so I am not going to reinvent the wheel. What I will do is suggest a few things that we thought were must-do highlights of our time there.
- Sign up for a free walking tour for the first full day in Vienna. We love to use GuruWalk (#aff) and their free tours when we first arrive in a city in order to get a lay of the land and the important sights so if there are ones to go back to, we know what’s important and why it is. Since the trip was a very last-second deal, we wound up not being able to go on the first day. Resultantly, the tour went back over some places we’d already wandered around on the first day, but at least we got the context the second time around.
- Go see some music. This is the city whence came Mozart, Beethoven, Strauss, Brahms, and all of their friends. It’d be a shame not to go to see something. Even if you’re not really an opera or classical music fan, you should go. We went to the Musikverein Wien to watch a program. It wasn’t even one of the heavily advertised programs, and it was still fantastic!
- Skip the tour of the Vienna Opera House, but, rather… We did the tour of the Vienna Opera House. It was cool and informative; however, it was very rushed, and, honestly, we didn’t learn that much. You could easily skip the tour and, instead, buy standing room tickets. When we were there, the tour cost 8 Euros, and the standing room tickets were 10 Euros. You could watch as much (or as little) of an opera as you want and then spend the rest of your time wandering around the gorgeous building.
We said that if we were to watch a show, we’d wind up spending most of our time in the stunningly gorgeous intermission hall.
- Go see the St. Stephen Cathedral and grab a snack there. The cathedral itself (and the Votivkirche as well) are incredibly visually stunning buildings. I could say that for half of the buildings in the Innere Stadt of Vienna. However, not only is the St. Stephen Cathedral very easy to see from the Vienna Opera House, there are market stalls surrounding the church so that if you’re hungry or thirsty, you can stop for a snack and refreshments at a reasonable price. It’s a way better deal than most of the restaurants there.
Here are some other things that we discovered during this trip:
- Go in with a plan. We wandered around the first day because the walking tour was not available in English (and I did not want to play translator for the whole tour).
- Find out what is in reasonable walking distance of where you are staying. Because there are so many beautiful buildings and monuments in Vienna, it is very easy to be aimless going from shiny object to shiny object. If you can identify the important things near you, you can maximize your time. Plus, sometimes, it’s difficult to tell what is important versus what is just a random pretty building.
- Get a train ticket for your time there. Oftentimes, from where we were, it was just as quick to walk, but there were times when we could and should have taken the public transportation. It’s excellent, clean, and efficient. We averaged walking 8.3 miles a day, which was wonderful, but probably didn’t allow us to maximize our time there.
- Be aware of restaurant opening and closing times, particularly on Sundays. We were used to restaurants being open at all sorts of hours, but, even in the heavily touristed areas, it was sometimes difficult to find a restaurant that was open and had seating.
- Prices will be higher than you think. Vienna is definitely not a budget destination. For example, according to Numbeo, mid-range restaurant prices are about the same as Fort Worth, Texas. I would agree with that finding. I’d also argue that Vienna has more history and culture (and I live in Fort Worth, so I know what is there).
- They serve red wine straight from the refrigerator. For some people, this doesn’t matter. For wine afficionados, it does. Just beware that you will need to let your red wine (and probably your white wine, to be honest) sit for 15 minutes before drinking it if you order wine at a restaurant.
Costs for a 4 day trip to Vienna, Austria
All in, our trip cost us $1,929.34. We did get a $27.19 credit for using miles from our Capital One Venture Rewards card (#aff). We also went to the Vienna Priority Lounge both upon arriving and before we left, a perk that is included with the card.
Here’s how it broke down:
|Flights from SPU to VIE||$484.21|
|Spent in Vienna on food, travel, entertainment||$535.02|
Was it cheap? No.
Was it worth it? Indubitably!
Have you been to Vienna, Austria? What were your experiences like?