Vienna: Travel Impressions

Written by | Austria, City Break, Review

The imperial capital of Austria, a model of civilization and good taste

Vienna still maintains today, more than any other city on the old continent, its status of imperial capital. It is, however, a capital of culture and civilization, good taste and above all of good sense. This quality of its inhabitants impresses you as soon as you step on its streets for the first time.

Nobody pushes you to step aside, the people do not throng no matter how crowded the place is, the streets are impeccably clean, and so are the subway stations or the various means of public transport.

The public transport system is one of the most well-organized in Europe. There are no access gates at the entrance to the subway stations, as there usually are in other European capitals. The only duty of the travelers is to validate their ticket at their first entrance in a station at one of the devices located from place to place.

For those who are visiting Vienna for the first time, here is my advice: Come by plane or if you have arrived by car, park it somewhere and forget about it. Instead use the public transport system and you will not be sorry.

For the transfer, from the airport to the city, take the special train CAT (City Airport Train) which takes you from the airport to the city center in just 16 minutes. The price of a one-way ticket is of Є12/person and for a round-trip ticket the price is of Є21/person. The train leaves every half hour and is extremely clean. Tickets control is done on the train by a controller who is usually extremely kind. The CAT ticket is valid only on this special train line.

Don’t worry about where to buy tickets. The machines are everywhere, and the color code (each line has a specific color) is observed everywhere, in stations and on the ticket machines. For example the CAT’s color is green.

If you are at least four people and do not have much luggage or have a little more money you can take a taxi from the airport. The price of a taxi way is regulated and established at the fixed amount of Є36/trip. However, if you order a taxi from the hotel, for example, for the airport, you must say this from the beginning, otherwise you will be charged for each kilometer as soon as you have ordered.

For those who want to visit the city, the best solution, depending on the time you have available, is to purchase public transport tickets with time limit (the company is called Wiener Linien). There are tickets for 24, 48 or 72 hours. They can be used for any means of public transport (metro, tram, bus, etc.) during the respective time interval. Their price is about Є 8, 14 and 17 respectively.

Here are some of the most important objectives that we liked and we recommend you to visit them if you are in Vienna.

Hofburg Palace

The Hofburg Palace is the former winter residence of the Habsburg dynasty and it is located in the center of Vienna. It is nowadays the residence of the Austrian Presidency while hosting several museums and art collections at the same time.

Its address is: Heldenplatz , 1010 Wien

Among the most important sights to be visited are: the Sisi Museum, the Imperial Apartments or the Spanish Horse Riding School.

A visit to the Sisi Museum (a “must have” for ladies) allows you access to aspects of the intimate life of Empress Elizabeth, an atypical personality for her times, detached and independent, obsessed by the cult of her own beauty, who unfortunately never loved the emperor. However, because of her beauty, she was loved by the people, who quickly turned her into a myth – the Sisi myth. The myth is commercially used today and it still sells very well, the proof being the endless number of touristic souvenirs and attractions that bear her name (Probably only Mozart surpasses her on this topic!).

The exhibition begins with several collections of porcelain and silverware, then presenting different outfits of the empress, as well as her daily rituals.

From the imperial apartments, you can visit the rooms of Empress Elizabeth (Princess Sisi) and of Emperor Franz Josef. During the visit you will pass through 24 rooms from the imperial staircase, to the audience room and work room and till the salons and bedrooms of Franz Josef and Empress Elizabeth. In this area it is prohibited to take photos.

Stephansdom

Stephansdom, or St. Stephen’s Cathedral, is the most important Gothic construction in Austria and it is the most visited place in Vienna. The cathedral has a dome with a height of 107 m and four towers, of which the tallest, the southern one, measures 136 m. Up in the tower there is a cell that can be visited by ascending 343 steps. From there you can see a magnificent panorama over Vienna.

The Gothic arabesques carved into the stone and the giant stained glass windows will impress you, for sure.

But the thing that impressed me the most at Stepansdom is the facade of the cathedral.

Almost completely destroyed by the Allies’ bombing in the World War II, the cathedral was wholly restored afterwards.

However, as an eternal reminder of the horrors a war brings, the restorers have kept untouched the stones blackened by the smoke of the fire that destroyed the building.

Even today, the facades of the cathedral remind to passers-by both the greatness of humanity and humans’ ability to instantly destroy everything that they have built.

 Schonnbrunn Palace

No visit to Vienna should miss the Schonbrunn Palace!

The summer residence of the imperial family, Schonbrunn is a domain of epic dimensions. Because there is not just the palace of the same name but also the extensive gardens that include countless attractions, including: artesian fountains, statues, monuments, trees and alleyways of roses (rosaries), the Glorietta building, the museum of imperial carriages, the crown prince’s garden, the orangery, the labyrinth, the zoo, the palm glasshouse and the desert glasshouse.

Being the most visited tourism attraction in Austria, long lines at the palace ticket office and at the wardrobe are commonplace. That is why I strongly recommend you to purchase tickets in advance from the official website: www.schoenbrunn.at.

It is important to note that audio guides are also available in the Schonnbrunn Palace and in Hofburg, in Romanian, as they are available in all the languages of the former territories that were part of the Austro-Hungarian empire.

Besides the palace, along with other objectives, what is worth mentioning is the zoo, which opens on the right side as you ascend to the Glorietta building, being the oldest zoo in Europe. It is impeccably arranged and presents to visitors various species of animals, including a famous Panda bear.

I recommend the labyrinth to the romantic people having a good sense of observation. It is really a challenge to get to the center pavilion on the first try!

Hundertwasser House

The Hundertwasser House (Hundertwasserhaus) is the most original building in Vienna.

It is actually a private apartment building, built in 1985, designed by the artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser.

What is surprising is the fact that on the entire facade of the house you cannot find any straight line, from balconies, windows and roofs, there are green trees and plants coming out that refresh the look of the building.

The address of this building is: Kegelgasse 37-39, 1030 Wien

In the neighborhood, the same artist created a similar atypical space, called Hundertwasser Village, where there are shops, a cafe and a bar, which are out of the ordinary as well.

Vienna at Christmas

If you have decided to visit Vienna during the winter holidays, you have made an excellent choice!

Virtually every little square available accommodates a Christmas fair. The streets are adorned with lights and everyone participates in this beautiful ritual.

The main Christmas fair is organized in the center, in front of the town hall building. From the little houses lighted with light bulbs, the sellers will lure you with a lot of products, from boiled wine and snaps of different types, to colored globes and other handmade items. An equally large fair is also organized in the square in front of Schonnbrunn Castle.

You must take with you two things: warm clothes and a good mood!

A meal up high in Donauturm

For a great experience, I recommend having a meal up high in the Donauturm (Donau Tower) restaurant

The Donau tower is the highest building in Austria, measuring 252 meters and was completed in 1964. It is located in a park in the Donaustadt quarter, an island on the Danube, transformed into the hosting place of the most important congress center in Austria.

The tower can be visited daily between 10:00 and 24:00, a ticket for adults costs Є14.5.

The restaurant on the upper platform of the tower is highly sought after, being accessible only after a prior reservation. So if you want to dine surrounded by this absolutely fantastic decor you must first make an online (or telephone) reservation at www.donauturm.at. It’s not difficult and generally a table is to be found at least one hour before arrival.

The restaurant is placed on a rotating platform, which rotates slowly allowing those who are having a meal to admire in a 360 degree perspective the city of Vienna, the Danube and its surroundings. We also tried it and we guarantee that this experience is “worth every cent”.

Conclusions and recommendations

These are just a few of the most important sights in Vienna that should be visited. We liked them and that’s why we warmly recommend them.

However, they represent only a small part of what Vienna has to offer. But we will let you discover them and tell us how it was.

Until then keep in mind these tips:

  • Vienna is perfect for a city break;
  • If you travel to Vienna by plane, remember that if you check-in online you can drop-off your luggage directly in the CAT station in the center. This way you will get rid of your luggage quickly having more time to visit the city on the last day!
  • Use the public transport. It takes you anywhere you want in just a few minutes.
  • Do not walk on bicycle tracks. Cyclists take them seriously and will scold you if you do not leave the track quickly.
  • If you go there for Christmas, pack warm clothes and a roomy luggage 🙂

We wish you an enjoyable vacation!

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Last modified: 11 October 2019

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