Austria: Visiting Vienna for a long Weekend

Written by Sandrine Published on 29/06/2017

With the return of summer weather, seasonal air travel resumes. The ideal opportunity to go on a city trip in Europe for a long weekend. And this year, we focused on the Austrian capital Vienna at an invitation from ASL Airlines and the Vienna Tourst Office.

For 3 days, from Friday to Monday, we were able to discover Vienna and let ourselves be carried away in a dynamic, welcoming and very pleasant city. A beautiful discovery that we will make you relive in this article. Of course, our comments are completely free and the vlogs will soon complete it within a few weeks. 

Under the spell of Vienna!

First steps in the capital

As soon as we arrived in Vienna, we were charmed by its beautiful buildings, wide avenues and numerous gardens. Our plane arrived in the middle of the afternoon and the time to settle down at the hotel and have a drink, it must be around 7pm when we decide to go storming downtown. We head towards the centre, randomly from the tram lines and end up along the Ring, this wide and pleasant avenue that goes around the historical centre of Vienna.

The city is clean and the walk is more pleasant, especially when the sun begins to go down. We're lucky, it's a sunny day!

We cross the Burggarten Park where couples dance in front of the esplanade behind the Hofburg Palace. The atmosphere seems to be at the party, the weekend looks good! We then arrive in front of the Palmenhaus greenhouses before heading towards the opera house. Our stomach crying starvation, we stop at a kiosk to taste the delicious Viennese sausages that do not fail to their reputation!

In the history of only a few hours, Vienna begins to score points!

A lively night around the opera

The night begins to fall and the buildings light up! The city is dressed in its ornament of light, and it is another Vienna that we discover!

We pass in front of the opera house whose square has been transformed into an open-air theatre. During the spring, from April to June, but also in September and on the occasion of the New Year, operas and ballets can be discovered live in front of the national opera house on a big screen.

Despite the crowds, the square is quiet and everyone listens attentively to the opera that is currently being played in one of the rooms of the building. We spend a few long minutes enjoying this free outdoor show, a very enjoyable time.

It's getting late, so we decide to go back to the hotel, but we don't want to take the tram. Outside, the air is still warm so we want to enjoy it! We then take Mariahilfer Straße, the huge shopping street that has become a pedestrian street, for almost 1.7 km. The shops are already closed but the terraces of the restaurants are still crowded. The atmosphere is pleasant, we would have stayed for a drink. But our feet call us to order, so we go back to our hotel.

Between history, leisure and gastronomy: the other side of Vienna

Musical ambience in the historical centre

We draw the curtains from our room, the sky is radiant and a beautiful day is coming. It is time to deepen our discovery of Vienna and we start by going to the place where it all started: St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna. Located in the heart of the old town, the building dates from the 12th century. Its history is closely linked to that of the capital, which makes it a good introduction to understand the city's past.

The Stephansplatz, the famous square in Vienna, is a place where drummers disguised as 18th century characters try to alpine us to sell us a carriage ride or an opera ticket. Even if these practices are rather annoying, the scene is quite surprising! But fortunately, they're not too insistent.

We're heading south. Here the area is totally pedestrian, like a good part of the historical center. We quietly walk towards the Graben, one of the most famous streets in Vienna, when our ear is attracted by a sweet folk melody.

We are delighted to discover a street orchestra, where all the musicians are dressed in a traditional Austrian costume. After finding out more, we discover that an outdoor music festival is taking place today and that many concerts are organized all over the city! As we walk through the city, we will pass in front of several orchestras, something not to plunge a little more into the Viennese universe and its traditions! Our walk is rhythmic to the sound of violins and other instruments, it's relaxing and totally immersive. We love it!

Viennese pastry tasting and beautiful walk

We then push the door to one of Vienna's most famous bakeries: Demel. I heard Sissi even came to order her ice cream! It's time to try Viennese gastronomy, starting with the famous Viennese pastries! Our fork slips over the chocolate and sinks into the creamy cake. It's a treat!

After this chocolate temptation, we are now in Michaelerplatz, a place where horse-drawn carriages are parked while waiting to take on new tourists, an opportunity for us to approach the horses. The famous Spanish riding school is just a few meters away.

We pass through the gate of the Hofburg wall and now we cross the pretty courtyard in front of the imperial palace and the apartments of Sissi, which we will discover the next day, to reach the Volksgarten park. This is one of the green lungs of the capital! The park is superb, the flower and rose beds are impeccably maintained, so it's a good place to walk!

Vienna is a very green city with 50% green spaces!

After wandering through dozens of roses, we are now on the other side of the Ring. We take the tram to the Prater of Vienna, an immense green and wooded area that was once the hunting reserve of the Habsburgs, the Austro-Hungarian emperors. Today, part of the area has been converted into a leisure park.

Small jump to the Prater, time for a ride on the Ferris wheel

It is with surprise that we discover this unusual place. Here, the party is permanent and the attractions are open all year round! This Saturday, families are having fun and meeting each other. We take advantage of the opportunity to take the famous Vienna Ferris Wheel, located at the beginning of the park on the other side of the Danube Canal. It was built at the end of the 19th century, and is still standing today, despite the bombardments of the Great War.

Strangely enough, we get into big wagons that are 15 today. Some can even be privatized! The wheel takes us to 65 meters from the top to dominate the capital, the time of a rotation which lasts about fifteen minutes.

Back to the Hofburg Palace: books, greenhouses and butterflies

Now it's time to break the crust, and for that, we go back to the restaurant we had seen the day before, the Palmenhaus. The restaurant's interior has been laid out in a huge greenhouse, which gives it a very pleasant setting.

There is a rough map with local specialities such as the famous Viennese escalope, Wiener Schnitzel, or asparagus dishes. It's very good, but the score is pretty high.

Then we go right next door to the butterfly greenhouse, the Schmetterlinghaus. The opportunity to see very beautiful colored specimens and large wings. Nevertheless, the fog is quickly inviting on our lenses and we end up being soaked in sweat because it is so hot and humid inside. Hurry up, we're going out after taking some pictures! Price of the visit: 6,50€ or 5,50€ with the Vienna Card.

We now take the opportunity to visit the beautiful Austrian National Library and its shelves full of dusty books in the Hofburg Palace. It takes a long time to find the entrance because it was not very well indicated (the entrance is done since the Reitschulgasse).

The library is no longer in use, but its sublime room and thousands of books make us dream. Alas, we arrive at 5 minutes from the closing time and the 7€ entry fee (6,30€ with the Vienna Card) for a visit to the race track discourages us from doing so. Never mind, we'll console ourselves with nice pictures.

End of the evening, chic and nice cuisine

The evening is approaching and it's time to eat again. Florian, the head of the Tourist Office takes us to a famous and very good restaurant that we recommend (no, we haven't been paid to say so, it was a really great experience!). This is the Salon Plafond, a rather strange name in relation to the decoration of the place. On the other side of the restaurant is a large inner courtyard, or rather a garden. It's beautifully wooded and the tables are set on a large wooden terrace.

The setting is really charming and the dishes are excellent. The cooking is not specifically local, but we recommend the meat cooked at low temperature, it was very good!

It is now time to get back to our duvet to make the most of our last day in Vienna.

Vienna: the capital under the sign of the empire

Sunday morning, Vienna wakes up

Even today the sky is radiant! We leave for the city centre, for a day of empire. But just before that, we make a short jump to the Herrengasse metro station, from where we try to get lost in the small lanes of the northeast. The day is just beginning and the streets are quiet. It's good to be walking around this Sunday morning. Coffee terraces are just beginning to fill up and some families are having breakfast there.

We walk to a small square where small chalets are set up like a Christmas market. Once again, the music plunges us into the traditional atmosphere! Then we head towards the Hofburg Palace, Sissi's summer residence.

In the footsteps of Empress Elizabeth (Sissi)

It's off for a visit of about 2 hours where we discover the museum and its impressive collection of dishes, as well as the apartments of Empress Elisabeth. At the entrance we are given an audio-guide in French (included in the entrance ticket) which will be very useful for us to understand the life of Sissi. The emphasis here is on the Empress and her life, joys and sorrows are recounted. The visit is very complete and allows us to really understand who Elizabeth was. For the prices, count €13.90 for admission, (€12.90 with the Vienna Card) knowing that you can take a combined ticket with Schönbrunn Castle for €29.90.

After the visit, we walk towards the Rathaus, the beautiful and imposing building that today serves as a town hall! Dozens of benches were lined up on the front for relaxation in the small gardens. The place is very cute, we could see ourselves staying there a little bit, but we still have a lot to discover!

Schönbrunn Castle visit

We now take the subway to Schönbrunn Castle. Schönbrunn Castle is one of the most touristic and emblematic places in Vienna, situated on the south-western outskirts of Vienna. Dating from the end of the 17th century, the castle served as a residence for the imperial family until the middle of the 20th century.

From the subway exit, you have to walk a little to reach the building. Once we have arrived, we begin by discovering the immense gardens that rise up towards the Gloriette. We pass in front of the large fountain which can be approached from behind, before continuing the ascent. The climb is rather long and will have been the reason for our strength under this blazing sun! But fortunately, the view from the lookout is worth the effort! We take advantage of the same time for lunch.

After being satisfied, we go down towards the castle to discover the apartments. Today it is possible to visit some of the 1441 rooms in the building, such as the beautiful Hall of Mirrors or some more symbolic rooms such as the room where Napoleon's son died, or the room where John F. Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev met during the Cold War.

The visit is carried out once again with an audio-guide in French (included in the entrance ticket). Two tours are available. The first "Imperial Tour" allows you to discover 22 pieces, while the "Grand Tour" will cross 40 pieces. As long as we're there we'll make the Grand Tour.

The visit to the apartments is interesting and completes the first visit to the Hofburg Palace. However, we were rather embarrassed by the many groups of tourists throughout the visit. Visiting Schönbrunn Castle on a Sunday afternoon was not the best idea we had!

There are also other attractions to do, and accessible directly from the gardens of the castle, such as the children's museum, the greenhouse, the orange grove, the labyrinth or the zoo, but unfortunately we did not have time to discover them. In any case, know that you will have enough to spend a full day at the castle if you wish! For the price, as there are a multitude of possible combinations, it is best to go to the official website of Schönbrunn Castle to get the different possible prices.

The Wiener Schnitzel, or the Viennese escalope

For our last evening in Vienna, we wanted to taste the famous Wiener Schnitzel, the Viennese scallop with its tender meat and mallet!

For that we have an appointment at the Lugeck, a restaurant that was recommended to us. The escalope was pretty good but as we don't have enough distance to compare, I won't say if it was really better than the others... Maybe you have some recommendations on that?

Vienna: our review

Finally, our 2.5 days on site passed very quickly. Vienna really enchanted us because we didn't expect a city so nice and pleasant to discover. We were pleasantly surprised to find such a green, restful and clean capital! Maybe the weather may have contributed a lot, but for this month of May, this getaway will have been a real hit.

Usually we are not too connected "cities", but nevertheless we were delighted by this stay. One regret, two to be exact. This short stay was far too short to fully immerse yourself in the Austrian capital and discover its little secrets. It was just enough to arouse our curiosity and make us want to come back to deepen the visit. There are so many things we didn't see, but in 2.5 days, our program was already very busy.

Finally, we were very surprised to see that some merchants do not display menus in English. In Vienna, almost everyone speaks English, but some small traders (kiosks, ice-cream shops, etc.) had no indication in English. I don't tell you about the trouble to command knowing of course that there was no image to point us. But when you think about it, I don't find any other inconvenience on this beautiful stay in Vienna :)

Useful tips to prepare your trip to Vienna

How to get to Vienna from Toulouse or Bordeaux

If like us you come from Toulouse, ASL Airlines offers direct flights from Toulouse and Bordeaux in 2 hours 10 minutes between the end of June and the beginning of September. In fact, we didn't know about these connections until we were told about them! The price is attractive, starting from 59€ per one-way ticket.

On the experience side, we appreciated the welcome of the crew, the captain's information throughout the journey indicating the sites flown, as well as the kindness of the cabin crew, especially on the way back!

It should be noted that the company's aircraft are also used for freight transportation, and that the interior fittings may appear to be old-fashioned. But the seats are a little more spacious and comfortable than on most low-cost airlines. Finally, two small things: service on board is not included in the ticket and online check-in is not yet possible, so you will have to come to the counter for check-in.

Where to sleep in Vienna?

We stayed at the Ruby Marie Hotel.

We mention it because we really liked the performance of this chic and trendy hotel, with a glass shower overlooking the room (but don't forget if you come between friends ^^).

We also enjoyed the very pleasant terrace situated on the 5th floor, as well as the hotel's amenities (yoga room, sports, cinema, co-working...). Breakfast is also very full. However, it should be noted that the hotel is not located in the historic centre. You will have to take the metro (100 meters) to get to the centre.

Getting around Vienna

Vienna is very well served by public transport. The metro is very clean and pleasant and many tram lines run throughout the city. We therefore recommend that you use a Vienna City Card , which will allow you unlimited access to transport (metro, bus and tram) for 24, 48 or 72 hours.

The Vienna City Card will also give you discounts at selected museums, leisure activities and restaurants in the city.

Don't forget the tip

Here is an information to remember! In Vienna, the service is not included in the price, so the tip is obligatory, unless indicated on the menu. It is about 10% on the bill. It is also customary to announce the amount of the tip when paying the bill. If you pay by credit card, you will be asked to add the tip on the receipt.

Electrical sockets

If you ask yourself the question, the electrical sockets are the same as in France, with the same voltage.

The translation may not be accurate. If you detect any errors, please let us know , and we will correct them immediately. Thank you and sorry for this inconvenience. Sandrine & Flo

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