After an evening arrival in a mid-Spring Vienna and a wake-up to lightly falling rain, the challenge facing us was to make the most of Vienna in the full day and half of the next that we had available. Our Must Do List included
- Schönbrunn Palace, because I discovered online that we could join a strudel making demonstration and taste the results afterwards.
- Sachertorte, I knew there are two claimants to the title, but I wanted to test at least one, if not both.
- a look at the ‘Blue Danube‘ – Vienna and the Danube are synonymous in everyone’s minds and I always imagined myself sitting with a coffee by the side of the river watching the all the cruise boats go by. They probably don’t do it as much as I thought, but….
- and the Prater Amusement Park. Not because I love amusement parks so much, but the Giant Ferris Wheel (Wiener Riesenrad) was the largest in the world when it opened in 1897 and it has an interesting history.
- and perhaps a museum or two and maybe a concert (Mozart? Strauss?) and something Klimt.
and that doesn’t include these two
- The Lipizzaner horses, which I was sad to find would be closed when we were in town.
- The Vienna Boys’ Choir (Wiener Sängerknaben), likewise.
Our AirBnB landlady was very helpful as she lives in the area herself and was able to point us in the direction of the closest tramline which was a great blessing as it didn’t look as if the rain intended to ease any time soon. She also asked us to look out for the Café Zartl along the nearby Rasumofskygasse, which she said should keep us happy for coffee and cake as an alternative if we didn’t find either of the ‘big two’.
How many did we manage?
We were very thankful that we’d bought 48 hour public transport passes because we made very good use of them, especially as the rain made walking challenging each time it became heavier.
We did get to
The Prater Amusement Park in Leopoldstadt was open but clearly gearing up for the summer crowds as a number of attractions looked as if they were being refurbished. The Prater Wheel was running and the Madame Tussaud’s wax museum was open although a lot of other stalls, shops and attractions weren’t. It was getting late in the afternoon and it was really chilly and beginning to rain again, so after wandering around for a while and listening to the music from the statue of the showman founder of the park Calafati in his showman’s costume with huge sleeves we went looking for something to eat.
The Schönbrunn Palace was definitely worth the journey to reach it. We may not have been able to find the strudel making demonstration, but we did manage to walk all the way through the park at the rear of the palace to be rewarded with a great view of the palace and city laid out below. We also found the delicious marzipan chocolate sold in the gift shop which suddenly made us marzipan fans.
Pretty much all of the city proper. The museums, big churches (Stephansdom, (St Stephens Cathedral) in the centre of the city for a start) If you are staying longer and want to visit a number of the attractions, a Vienna Pass may be a good idea as it will get you free entry and no queue to many attractions. The Vienna Card will get you free travel on public transport and some discount on attractions.
Coffee and torte or strudel at one of the ‘originals’. Coffee by the Danube, the Donaukanal seemed a like a possible replacement though we couldn’t find a Café.
We didn’t get to any of the concerts or visit the cemetery where Wolfgang Mozart is buried (St. Marx Cemetery in Landstraße), or visit a Klimt Gallery, but we did buy a small glass plate with a well known Klimt painting and a couple of tiny wind-up music boxes playing well known Mozart pieces along Weißgerberlände by the canal.
Walking along Löwengasse, in the Landstraße area of Vienna, we discovered the Hundertwasserhaus, which we went back to for a better look at the next morning, before we came to a picturesque Catholic Church, St. Othmar unter den Weißgerbern. At that point, we decided it was time to grab the next tram that came along!
The Hundertwasserhaus is an apartment complex built as a collaboration between the Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser (who was actually born Friedrich Stowasser), who provided the idea and concept and architect Joseph Krawina who came up with the designs. There’s also a Hundertwasser artist’s village over the road and a museum nearby.
Café Zartl is a slightly faded but authentic Viennese coffee house located at the corner of Rasumofskygasse and Marxergasse. The service isn’t the slick fast service you’d expect in one of the fancier (and more expensive) tourist cafés, but the coffee was good and we enjoyed our torte, just as much as if it had been the ‘original’. Two large pieces of cake and generous sized coffees cost us €12.90.
Rochusmarkt – a fresh and cooked food market open during the day. We bought a couple of pork shanks for our dinner, thinking they ‘don’t look that big’. We ended getting four meals for two out of them, delicious each time. The market is above the Rochusmarkt station on the U3 line and opposite the 17th century Rochuskirche.
The Rotundenbrücke, this bridge over the Danube Canal was the site of a mass burning of Jews in the 15th century and Vienna’s only witch execution was also carried out here. There is a large dog park below, on the banks of the canal.
Eating on the street
- Apart from the wonderful pork shanks and potato cakes (though a little salty) we found at the Rochusmarkt – .5kg each for €4 per piece,
- we enjoyed a pretty decent cup of coffee and pastry at the bakery above the Schottentor Station (400ml takeaway coffee is €2.50 a cup), where we got off the tram (the ones downstairs aren’t nearly as tasty and are more expensive)
- and the neighbouring stall selling chestnuts & potato wedges in a paper twist was a tasty tummy filler as well.
- The bratwurst and mustard at the entrance to the Prater Amusement Park was not bad, available either on a plate or in a roll like a hot dog.
- A TIP** If you’d like to try the local beer, buy it at the supermarket, sometimes you may be lucky to find ‘buy two, get one free’ if you choose a local beer. We very much enjoyed the local Ottakringer which sells at a regular price of about €1.50 each for a 500ml can.
We may have missed the concert, but…
To get you in the mood for beautiful Vienna, here’s the Johann Strauss Orchestra, conducted by André Rieu playing Johann Strauss II’s “The Beautiful Blue Danube” (An der schönen blauen Donau) at Empress Sisi’s castle, Schönbrunn Palace.