A quick train ride up river from Budapest had us in The City of Music in less than three hours. Home to Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert and Johann Strauss this romantic city is perfect for sightseeing opportunities. The capital of Austria, Vienna with over two million inhabitants, is situated on the iconic Danube. A variety of activities keep Vienna lively. The architecture will transport you back to an Imperial Age as you stroll through the courtyards of the historic center. The coffeehouses are legendary. A classic elegance surrounds the Austrian capital.
Where to Stay
In Vienna we choose to stay in another Airbnb that was located a bit outside the beaten path of the city. Our host taught us how to use the metro system and this became our primary mode of transportation. However traveling underground has its limits when you want to capture the changing views of the city.
Our host also recommended checking out Naschmarkt, Vienna’s largest and most popular open-air market. Stretching a mile and a half long this market has everything from sit down restaurants to fruits, veggies, meats and cheeses.
Nashmarkt left us with plenty of choices for lunch. Our only goal before leaving Vienna was to sample the original Viennese apple strudel (Apfelstrudel).
St. Stephen’s Cathedral
We emerged from the metro system in front of this gothic masterpiece amid the hustle and bustle of the surrounding shopping district. It wasn’t two seconds before we were spotted by local salesmen selling tickets to see a choir performance. Somehow we were pitched the sale in Spanish. We listened patiently but in the end politely declined the concert. At the moment it was a little out of our price range.
Historic Center of Vienna
As we walked casually around the city center at night we felt completely safe. With shops and cafes around every corner there was no shortage of people out for a night stroll themselves. Horse and carriage tours provide added ambiance to the night scene. For approximately 55 euros you can hop on for a 40 min tour.
Even more delightful are the musical street performers who all seem to be performing mini classical concerts for donation. The music and the instruments are both classical in nature. If these classical stringed instruments get together with friends for a jam session it turns into a mini street performing orchestra.
Schloss Schönbrunn Palace Gardens
Schönbrunn Palace is the former summer residence of the imperial family. The land had been in the possession of the Habsburgs since 1569, when the wife of Emperor Ferdinand II had a summer residence built there in 1642, which she called “Schönbrunn”. The palace and garden complex were built in 1696. From the Hapsburgs to Emperor Franz Joseph and his wife Sisi, the palace has seen its fair share of important figure heads, and for this reason resides on the UNESCO cultural heritage list.
Being selective in what tours to take we opted to stick to the outside gardens which were beautifully manicured and exploding with green! The entire garden area goes on for miles and requires some good walking shoes, although we managed in our flip flops. Stop to observe Neptune’s fountain, then climb the winding trail to the top of the hill to take in the view. Don’t forget to drink water along the way to stay hydrated.
Tiergarten Schönbrunn – Vienna Zoo
Part of the palace gardens includes the Tiergarten Schönbunn Zoo. Known as the World’s oldest zoo, we couldn’t pass this up and bought two passes with an hour to spare before closing.
The zoo took us on a tour of world continents with every animal. More than 700 animal species, some of them threatened, have found a home here and a chance for survival.
Quick! If you were going to paint yourself in gold and pose motionless for hours as one of the worlds most influential composers from Vienna who would you be?