Ohhhh Viennaaaa. That gets me every time. You know that famous song by Ultravox in the 80s? Yep, I wanted to sing it at every opportunity whilst I was in Vienna, hence the weird jumpy pose in front of every pretty palace I could find! I had the pleasure of visiting this gorgeous city at the end of March on a whirlwind tour of Slovakia and Austria with one of my fellow travel blogger friends and had a wonderful time. Vienna is full of opera houses, palaces, museums, churches and is even home to one of the world’s oldest amusement parks. Set on the River Danube, Vienna makes the perfect destination for a city break with tonnes of things to see and do at any time of the year… here are my top 5!
1. Climb the North Tower at St Stephen’s Cathedral
Located right at the heart of the city, the Stephansplatz district is home to the Roman Catholic St Stephens Cathedral. With history dating back to 1147, when the church was first consecrated, this medieval, gothic building boasts some incredible architecture both outside and on the inside too. With its ornate 136m high spire, stunning altar and hidden catacombs, this Romanesque cathedral is a must see when in Vienna. You can purchase an all in one ticket giving you access to all areas of the church if you have time to check them out, but we just opted to climb the North Tower (well, we were taken up in a lift) and were treated to breath-taking panoramic views across the entire city once we were up there!
2. Explore Schonbrunn Palace
One of the most important buildings in the entire country, Schonbrunn is arguably the most iconic palace out of Vienna’s top three with Hofburg and Belvedere coming in a close second and third. Built in the 1700s, the Baroque palace boasts over 1400 rooms and enormous gardens and is a former imperial summer residence. Meaning “beautiful spring”, the palace really is absolutely stunning from every angle and offers views over the Gloriette towards the rear of the gardens. The palace is now a major tourist attraction bringing visitors from all over the world, and it’s not hard to see why! You can purchase tickets to go inside the palace or just simply wander around the grounds and the gardens like we did to get the most spectacular photos.
3. Watch a show at the State Opera House
Sadly this is something I didn’t get chance to tick off my bucket list, but I would recommend that EVERYONE goes to try and watch an opera at the iconic State Opera House during their time in Vienna. First opened in 1869, this Renaissance Revival style building is located right on the Ringstrasse, Vienna’s famous ring road which links all the landmarks together. You can purchase tickets for the opera just about anywhere in the city as there are touts outside pretty much every major tourist attraction. The opera house seats almost 2000 guests and is a sight to behold in itself – I’m definitely going to try and get tickets to see a show if I ever return to Vienna and will put it at the top of my list!
4. Wander around Museumsquartier
I was lucky enough to be staying right at the heart of Museumsquartier during my visit to Vienna, and it made the perfect location from which to explore the rest of the city. This Baroque district is one of the liveliest places in the whole capital and is home to bars, restaurants, cafés, hotels and yep, you guessed it, lots and lots of museums! We spent hours wandering around this edgy, vibrant, 60,000 metre squared area, passing Hofburg Palace, the Austrian Parliament Building, Rathaus City Hall and many other interesting buildings along the way. We didn’t have time to go inside any of the museums, but I’d recommend spending a day wandering around and exploring everything properly if you get chance as there is so much to see and do!
5. Visit Hundertwasserhaus
Opened in the 1980s, this relatively new tourist attraction is a hidden gem in Vienna and is actually a residential building! The apartment house was designed by Friedensreich Hundertwasser in an expressionist architectural style and attracts hundreds of visitors every week – although I did feel a little sorry for the residents who live there and try to go about their normal everyday business! The unusual colours on this building really make it stand out and make for the most AMAZING Instagram pics! Located in the Landstrabe district, Hundertwasser is a little out of the way but a shortcut through the pretty Stadt Park will get you there in no time, and I promise it’ll be worth the walk over there!
So there we have it, my top five things to see and do in Vienna! I only spent two nights there so I feel like I barely scratched the surface of the Austrian capital, but I saw as much as I could during my short time in the city and really enjoyed it. The only thing with Vienna is that it is absolutely HUGE, so it’s necessary to use public transport to get around as its impossible to explore on foot. My friend and I used the metro to get around everywhere which was quick and convenient, but it just took the fun out of travelling as I hate using the underground at the best of times! I think if I visited Vienna again I’d make more use of the trams or the open top buses as at least that way you can get around and actually see a bit more of the city whilst you’re travelling from landmark to landmark! Having said that though I really enjoyed my time in this picturesque place and would recommend it to anyone looking for a fun filled city break at the heart of Austria!