Last time in Vienna I was 19. I was backpacking through Europe with 5 friends, and we were staying in the cheapest hostels we could find and eating bad deli meat sandwiches day in and day out. I believe we visited 8 cities on that trip, so places blend together in my mind and the memories that linger are that one glorious nap we took next to a fountain in Dubrovnik, or realizing just HOW BIG Berlin truly is while trying to reach our hostal on foot.
So when I visited Vienna this time around, I didn’t remember much. I believe we sat down in front of a Rolex store close to the cathedral to eat our sandwiches, and that we got some judgemental looks for it, and that we saw a Kilmt exhibition somewhere baroque and elegant (a.k.a everywhere in Vienna)… but that’s about it. For this trip I went with my boyfriend’s family, who I believe were a bit disappointed that I couldn’t guide them around this time. And let me tell you, it was a different kind of trip.
We stayed in a hotel. A hotel with private bathrooms and breakfast buffet, like true adults do. We also payed to go into museums, instead of just looking at them from the door. Aaaand, we went into cafes, and restaurants, and had something to eat other than bread. Living the life, am I right?
We were only there for a couple of days, and didn’t stress too much about hitting every single monument in the city, so please don’t expect a complete city guide… but I have compiled my highlights of the city bellow.
1. The Albertina Museum
I took the skeptical family of my boyfriend into The Albertina during one rainy afternoon, and (this is how good the permanent collection is) everyone loved it. Now, cultural activities in Vienna are expensive. In a lot of other cities museums are cheaper, or free, or have free days or hours… None of that applies here. You have to pay 16 euro if you are an adult, and I think it was 12 for students (??).
But I think it was worth it. The permanent collection has everything from impressionism to contemporary art, and if you are a bit rusty in your art history, it has very helpful little paragraphs explaining the key characteristics of each movement, the lives and main work of each artist… everything in a very approachable and comprehensible way.
It is a bit heavier on the austrian/german art that I would have liked, but hey, when in Rome… Also, I feel like the temporal exhibitions are a bit of a hit or miss, and wish we hadn’t spent so much time in them. But other than that, LOVED IT! And the views from the entry are beautiful ❤
2. St. Setephans Cathedral
This was another favourite of mine. Keep in mind, I have travelled to a good amount of European countries, and have seen my fair share of cathedrals, and this one still made my jaw drop. There was a choir singing live when we walked in, which definitely added to the experience, but even without that, the architecture is truly impressive. Entry is free, so you absolutely should step inside if you are in the area, and you can even go up to the tower (this part isn’t free) for some stunning views of the city.
3. Motto Restaurant
Now you may already know that I live in Germany, so I wasn’t very excited about the Austrian food because (don’t come for me) it’s pretty similar to German food. However, a colleague from work recommended this restaurant which was kinda chic and modern, and served all sorts of cousines, and I loved it! Of course we still had the mandatory schnitzel and Sacher cake in other places, but this was a lovely break from all the Austrian food, and gave us an excuse to get a bit more dressed up and enjoy a nice evening out.
I had the calamari and my boyfriend had the mini steaks, and they were both delicious! The bar turns a bit darker and the music gets louder around 9pm, so if you want more of a family-friendly dinner you may want to book a table for 7PM.
4. City Walks
Last but not least, my favourite activity in any new city: aimlessly walking around and getting lost. It’s free, it’s fun and it removes some of the “ihavetoseeitall” preassure that some tourists may experience. We walked around the city center, which is quite grand and monumental, but my favorite walk was around Prater and Praterstern where the vibe was younger and more modern. It was an area where I could actually picture myself living.
Et Voliá! As much as I love city breaks, I do also love a weekend spent at home. Especially now with the colder days approaching, and the leaves turning red, I am gonna be spending some time under my blanket on my couch. What about you?