I arrived in Vienna by train pretty early. It’s a long walk from the train station into town: now I know I could have taken the train and nobody would have noticed that I didn’t have a ticket. I guess I’m too London for these European honesty box systems.
I stayed at Westend City Hostel. It was very clean and nice, but I do have less love for these larger corporate-y hostels. There was a social room which I never went in to because I got weirdly scared, which is a shame because maybe I missed out. However there is this awesome restaurant/pub at the end of the road with very reasonably priced beer and really good food and no tourists!
I stayed for five days, four nights.
What I’m glad I did
Got a travel card
This literally changed my life. It was a 72hr unlimited travel card and covered the whole of the wider Vienna area. This meant I could get any bus, tram or train that I wanted. Usually I wouldn’t bother since I love to walk around cities but Vienna is different. It’s a huge, real capital city with proper main roads and distances to travel.
Trust me, it’s €16.50 and it’s very worth it.
Visited dead composers
Vienna is the city of music and, therefore, the city of dead musicians. You can visit Mozart in St Marx Cemetery (although nobody knows where the actual grave is). You can also visit Beethoven, Hayden, Brahms, several Strausses, Schoenberg et al. in Zentralfriedhof.
My favourite was visiting Mahler in the cemetery at Grinzing. He didn’t get to be in a properly prestigious cemetery because he was born Jewish. It was quite difficult to get to which made it so much more fun. Also, there’s a falafel stand by the tram stop in Grinzing which is delicious.
This Baroque palace is a major tourist attraction. I arrived just when it opened so I managed to avoid the crowds. I didn’t bother to go into the state rooms (cost, queues) but the gardens are great. Go up to the very end of the garden to get an excellent view over all of Vienna. You should also just chill under the tress because there are lots of red squirrels and they are very tame.
This monastery was great for two reasons. First, I went on a Sunday and the church was filled with Austrians in traditional dress doing Sunday church stuff. Second, I had to get a train and like three buses and I still made it in a reasonable and un-embarassing time. It’s on top of a lovely village and also they sell wine.
Walked around at night
Lots of cities are most beautiful at night and Vienna is no exception. I spent one evening hanging around the Ringstrasse and another evening I went to the Prater. Going to the Prater was a little scary but that was kind of the point.
What I could have given a miss
Thanks to my unlimited travel card, I went on an afternoon trip to Baden. This is a spa town on the outside of Vienna. It’s quite pretty and the park on the hill is good fun but there are other places I could’ve gone with my travel card that may have been better.
It’s big, it’s old, but it just didn’t inspire me or fill me with joy in the same way that some things just do. The best thing about it was watching the tackiest wedding party take photos in the garden. We’re talking light up dresses, glitter, 6 inch heels. It was great.
What I wish I had done
Vienna is famous for its schnitzel. I wanted to eat some but nothing overpriced and touristy. I got so hung up on buying the perfect schnitzel that I ended up not getting any. I should have got over myself.
Gone inside more
I saw a lot of the outside of buildings in Vienna. There are really cool outsides of buildings. Inside were paintings (I think) but more importantly you can see the state rooms that these buildings were actually made for. You can also poke around the Opera House, where Mahler worked, and I think maybe also the building Mozart’s operas were performed in.
Similarly, I only went inside the cathedral on my last day when I was carrying my backpack already. It would have been more fun to have a proper poke around without all my stuff! Also I think you can go up the tower which would have been good fun.
Vienna is a strange city. I saw businesspeople going to work on miniature scooters. I saw teenagers hanging out in public areas and nobody minded that they were drinking. I didn’t really enjoy being there since it didn’t have much atmosphere compared with Prague and Budapest but the history is unparalleled.
Next time: Budapest. Over and out x