By Road and Rail – Prague, Vienna and Budapest (Part 2: Vienna)
Austria is well-known as a top destination for snow sports and is the winter sports capital of Europe, and is also famous for being a country where the hills are alive with The Sound of Music. If it’s good enough for Julie Andrews, it’s good enough for me. Austria is landlocked and bordered by Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Slovenia, Italy, Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary. With its prime location and incredible scenery, it is a perfect place to visit when doing a trip to Europe, especially if you’re coming from Prague!
Vienna is one of my favourite cities in Europe – don’t miss out on it!
I lived in Austria for one month in summer 2014 (when this photo was taken) and then again for 5 months in 2015 until about three weeks ago! Austria is one of my favourite countries in the world and I would definitely move back there, although probably to a bigger city this time, like Salzburg or Vienna.
First things first, there are NO KANGAROOS IN AUSTRIA. Sorry about that. The amount of people who have asked me how Australia was has made me go a little bit crazy. Just something to remember…
Second of all, we don’t speak “Austrian” (although if you do speak German, it does sound like a totally different language). Austrian German is a variety of Standard German (a pluricentric language, like English with British English, American English, Australian English, etc) and has a lot of similarities with Bavarian German, in particular.
Here are a few phrases to get you going…
Good day – Grüß Gott! (GROOS got)
Hello (informal) – Hallo (hah-loh) / Servus (SAYR-vuss)
Please – Bitte (bih-tuh)
Thank you – Danke (DAHN-kuh)
Yes – Ja (yoh)
No – Nein (nine)
Do you speak English? – Sprechen Sie Englisch? (Shpreck-un zee Ehn-glish)
Goodbye (formal) – (Auf) Wiederschauen (Ow-f VEE-dah-shauw-un)
Bye (casual) – Ciao (chow) / Pferti (PFAIR-tee)
The currency is the Euro (€) and Vienna is the capital! Austria is an EU nation and part of the Schengen area. Most people – especially younger people – will have a fairly good command of English but it’s considered polite to know a few phrases in German. People will be impressed and warm to you much faster!
If you are following the route I spotlighted (Prague – Vienna – Budapest) then you have a few options:
Student Agency (1,000 HUF = approx £2.50)
Adult fare approx. €17,15, < 26 year old approx. €15,50, student approx. €14,55.
BlaBlaCar is a really handy marketplace where people offer rides and you can “book” a seat with someone! I’ve had a great experience so far and I have travelled Klagenfurt – Ljubljana, Klagenfurt – Salzburg and Linz – Graz. It’s often cheaper and quicker than going by bus and train and you get to meet some cool people too!
However, there aren’t always rides at convenient times so it’s not always perfect for everyone.
Vienna has an extensive public transport system and the central part of the city is easily walkable. Public transport in Vienna consists of the U-Bahn (subway/metro), trams, buses and the S-Bahn (overground trains). My preferred way of getting around Vienna is by U- and S-Bahn.
Pretty much all of the major sights can be reached quickly and easily by train and in my section on where to go and what to see in Vienna you can find the line and stop for easy travelling!
Single Trip Ticket € 2,20 – a single direction uninterrupted trip to anywhere, with as many transfers as needed. (Children, Bikes, Dogs €1.00)
Shopping ticket/Einkaufskarte € 5.40 – valid workdays from 8 AM to 8 PM
24-hour ticket € 7.60 – valid from time stamped
48-hour ticket € 13,30 – valid from time stamped
72-hour ticket € 16,50 – valid from time stamped
Week ticket/Wochenkarte € 16,20 – valid Monday through Sunday only
Don’t forget to validate your ticket – you can get a €100 fine! These are fairly rare, but will decimate a holiday budget if you’re caught.
See & Do
Vienna has a lot to do and I haven’t done the half of it yet. With sights and activities for everyone from history buffs to those of the arty persuasion to people wanting to party, Vienna has something to offer for everyone.
The Hofburg Palace is one of the top tourist attraction of Vienna. The palace and parks were built during the reign of Empress Maria Theresa and the area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
September – June 9 am – 5.30 pm July & August 9 am – 6 pm
Vienna Hofburg ticket with audio guide
Adults: € 12,50
Children (6-18 years): € 7,50
1st April to 30th June 8.30 am to 5.30 pm 1st July to 31st August 8.30 am to 6.30 pm 1st September to 31st October 8.30 am to 5.30 pm 1st November to 31st March 8.30 am to 5.00 pm
Parks: 6:30am until 7pm (with some alterations depending on the season)
Privy Garden: 9am – 5pm
Maze and labyrinth: 9am – 6pm
Tours and prices:
Imperial Tour + audio guide: €13,30, students €12,30 (22 rooms, 30-40 min)
Grand Tour + audio guide: €16,40, students €15,00 (40 rooms, 50-60 min)
Grand Tour + (real live person) guide: €19,40, students €18,00
Stephansdom, or the Cathedral of St. Stephan, is a majestic Gothic landmark that definitely deserves a visit. Admission is €5,50 unless you are attending a service.
Tours and opening times:
Cathedral opening times: Mon to Sat 6am – 10pm, Sun and public holidays 7am – 10pm
High Mass: Sun and public holidays 10:15AM, in Jul and Aug 9:30AM
Cathedral tour in English: Mon – Sat 10:30am (duration 30 min), €5,50
Cathedral tour: daily 3pm (didn’t specify so I’m assuming it’s in German! Price as above.
Other tours: Check their website for more details!
Museums & Galleries
If you’re an art or history buff, these are some of the best museums to check out! I’m not much of a museum person myself, but if you are you will be spoilt for choice in Vienna.
Wien Museum: The Wien Museum (or Vienna Museum) is a collection of museums that document the history of the city. Exhibits date from the Neolithic era to mid-20th century! Entry is FREE if you’re under 19 (and free to everyone on the first Sunday of each month) and there are discounts if you are a student under 27, have a disability, are a senior citizen or have a Vienna Card. The prices and admission times depend on which museums you want to visit.
Museum of Applied Arts: MAK (Museum für angewandte Kunst) is a centre for applied arts, design, architecture and contemporary art. It’s CLOSED on Mondays but they have free admission on Tuesday 6-10pm. Admission is €9,90 or €7,50 for those with discounts (student under 27, those with a disability, senior citizens) and €8,00 if you have the Vienna Card. The museum is open 10am-6pm Wednesday to Sunday and 10am-10pm on Tuesdays.
Haus der Musik: Haus der Musik is a pretty cool interactive museum which provides a “new approach to music on a playful [and a] scientific level”. Open daily 10am-10pm and costing €13,00 (or €9,00 for those with discounts).
Museum moderner Kunst: MUMOK (Museum of Modern Art) is pretty much explained by the name! You can find their opening times on their website and admission is €11 at full price, €8 for those with a Vienna Card and other discounts (those with a disability or senior citizens) and €7 if you’re a student under 27! They also have €5 entry on Thursdays from 6pm-9pm.
Mariahilfer Straße is not to be missed, whether you are going shopping or not! You can basically find any shop there (okay, within reason) and there are so many cafés to choose from! It’s also very close to Westbahnhof (one of Vienna’s main stations).
Eat & Drink
Café Sacher: Yes, it’s cliché, but these things have to be done! Try the legendary Original Sacher Torte in the elegant and ornate café located just across from the Staatsoper. They also do amazing (and alcoholic, if you so wish) hot chocolates.
Crossfield: Not exactly traditional Austrian fare, but so good. SO GOOD. Crossfield is an Australian pub and they do great beer, amazing burgers, and they also have kangaroo on the menu. ‘Nough said. Also pretty cheap, guys.
Kurt: This is my flatmate’s favourite frozen yoghurt place in Vienna, and she lived there for a pretty long time. Sounds good (and healthier than ice-cream) for spring and summer!
Brezlgwölb: If you fancy going somewhere with a name that you’ll struggle to pronounce, but also fancy some delicious Austrian food, then check out Brezlgwölb! The brezeln (pretzels, but real ones, not the rubbish little things we get in the UK) are soft and doughy and delicious and I really want some right now. Also recommended are the beef broth and the Pinzgauer Kasnochen.
I haven’t stayed in any hostels or hotels in Vienna recently as I have friends there (free accommodation, yay!) so I’ll leave it to yTravelBlog:
Where to Stay?
If you are more the hostel-type, I heard good things about Wombats Hostels.
If you want to save money AND meet locals, I can recommend CouchSurfing – you stay with locals on their couch, in their homes, and most of the time, the experience is less touristy than in a hostel or hotel.
COMING SOON: PART 3 – BUDAPEST!
Have you been to Vienna? Where do you recommend to sleep, eat and party? What should a traveller not miss in the city?
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