Last weekend, I headed to Vienna with an old uni friend, Anna. It was the second time I’ve been to Vienna, with the first time being about 5 years ago during my last year at uni. Trying to sway away from the typical diary-style I usually write in when writing about a place I’ve been to, I thought I’d give a few hints and tips on what to see and do if you ever found yourself in Vienna, the capital of Austria. So here goes nothing!
1. Eat Schnitzel
Very, very obvious. But maybe not so much if you don’t know much about Vienna. Vienna is the home to the Wiener Schnitzel, with the German word for Vienna being Wien. So, it goes without saying that you should have a Schnitzel or three during your trip. Try not to get caught out in a tourist trap though! We had Schnitzel at a winery which I’m going to write more about in the next tip…
2. Go to Fuhrgassl-Huber
Fuhrgassl-Huber is a beautiful winery on the outskirts of Vienna. Recommended by a friend, it was admittedly a good half an hour away by bus. But we decided to still go for it and were not disappointed. Located right near the bus stop, Fuhrgassl-Huber offers tasty wine and a really nice view of the vineyards. It also has a restaurant where you go up and order your food, and it’s all very traditional. We went for Schnitzel and… om nom nom. It was definitely freshly made! The prices were good too – about 10 euros for a schnitzel and salad, and about 1.5 litres of wine and 1.5 litres of fizzy water was around 28 euros. If there’s some sunshine, you can easily spend the whole afternoon there! Here’s their website: https://www.fuhrgassl-huber.at/
I believe this only happens in certain months on certain days, so you should look it up in advance. We were lucky enough to be able to watch some free opera that was being live streamed on a huge screen outside the opera house. Though it was quite windy and we only watched about 15 minutes of it, it was a very cool experience with people stood in crowds watching – and there were also seats that had been put out too. It’s definitely worth it if you’re even slightly intrigued to see what it’s like because, of course, it’s free and you can rock up and leave whenever you want. Just be ready to stand or sit on the floor. Wrap up warm if it’s windy!
4. Go to Bratislava
The capital of Slovakia is about 55 minutes away by train, and if I remember correctly it cost around 16 euros there and back from Vienna – an absolute bargain! I’m not going to write a separate blog post for Bratislava because we were really only there for around 6/7 hours, but I would recommend doing a free walking tour to get to know the city a little bit, particularly if you are there for such a short period of time. Oh, and they also have garlic and cheese soup which is oddly very good, as weird as it sounds.
The Palmenhaus can be found in the centre of Vienna and is kind of like a huge conservatory that has been made into a café/restaurant. We went there for a break after lots of walking and got the traditional Melange coffee and Sachertorte. The Melange, if I’m not mistaken, is basically a kind of latté (please correct me if I’m wrong but I didn’t see why it was such a big thing…) and Sachertorte is a delicious traditional chocolate cake. Although it is a bit pricey, the inside of the Palmenhaus is pretty impressive. If you’re lucky, you might get a seat near the window to the Schmetterlinghaus (Butterfly House). Which is something that you won’t actually find on this list – the Schmetterlinghaus, as cool as it was to have loads of butterflies flying round you, it really wasn’t worth the money in my opinion. It was quite a small place and before you knew it, you’d already walked around within 10 minutes and you paid over 5 euros to get in…
Another classic thing to do – go on the giant ferris wheel at the Praterstern theme park! We stupidly went in bad weather so it was quite windy up there (the carriages, or whatever you call them, are quite wobbly – not for those who don’t like heights), but you do get a really good view of the city. Definitely a lot better than going up the tower in Stephan’s Cathedral – 343 steps to get all the way to… a souvenir shop. Very disappointed!
Ulrich and Erich are both chains if I understand correctly. They’re both restaurants, though I would say Ulrich is more restaurant-style and Erich is your typical bar. Admittedly, they weren’t anything out of the ordinary, but we enjoyed them because they were a bit outside of the city centre – meaning less tourists and less busy. The food was also delicious, even though we went for plain old burger and chips – you need a break from Schnitzel every now and then!
8. Go on a free walking tour
To be fair, this is something that one could recommend for every city. But it’s vital, as we have learnt from our travels over the past couple of years. We did a free walking tour with this small company: https://www.annalovesvienna.at/english/free-walking-tour/
You basically get a walking tour of Vienna with a personal touch – with recommendations of restaurants, bars and things to eat and drink that you may not have been aware of at the start. You then give as much money as you want at the end depending on how much you enjoyed the tour!
9. Have Kaiserschmarrn
We started with food and we’ll end with food. Kaiserschmarrn is basically a fat pancake that’s cut up into bits. We went to this place for it: http://www.deutsch.palatschinkenkuchl.wien/
Regrettably, we’d just had waffles for breakfast at our hotel and then went straight to this place to have the Kaiserschmarrn with a plum jam. So much food. But, it was delicious and I would definitely recommend it to any sweet tooths venturing of to Vienna any time soon. Just make sure you maybe don’t have breakfast beforehand, or that you don’t order a “Pfandl” which is a huge portion as you can see below, unless you’re going to share it between at least 3 people. You can also get smaller versions which looked a lot more manageable for one person!
So those are my hints and tips for Vienna. Of course, there are more things to see and do, but I didn’t want to just list all of the obvious things. Of course – go see Palace Schönbrunn and the Naschmarkt as they’re really great places! But check out some of the things above if you want to stray away from a purely typical tourist trip.