Vienna has been on the list for a while, largely because of the cakes (which didn’t disappoint) but it was so much more than that. We often spend 48 hours in a city in case you hadn’t guessed and for me it’s often enough but if you do have time to extend your stay I’d highly recommend it.
We took a flight from Gatwick to Vienna on Easyjet, catching the S7 to our hotel, but if you’re heading right into the city centre take the CAT City Airport Train. It’s not often we choose to stay a little further out but the Renaissance Imperial Riding school gave us the opportunity to pay with Marriott points.
Upon arrival, we did the best thing Vienna has to offer. Cake. Our walk into the city took us through pretty Stadtpark and we went to Café Landtmann after we’d seen Rick Stein’s long weekends. It was a nice experience but in honesty it was expensive (around £22 for two cakes and two coffees) so we also visited Naschmark which offers a combination of market stalls and small restaurants and bars. Early evening Dachboden provided some good views across the city, a popular rooftop bar with a great atmosphere.
In the evening, we headed to Paul, which I can’t recommend highly enough. A thoroughly modern twist on Austrian food without any of the pretentious aftertaste. I elegantly managed to sit at a high stool table without falling off.
The breakfast scene in Vienna isn’t as good as some other European cities (in my opinion) and hasn’t jumped on the avo on toast bandwagon just yet. It has stayed more in line with its traditional routes so don’t turn up expecting eggs three ways and French toast on tap. On the plus side you don’t have annoying people (like me) taking pictures of their food every five minutes.
Spanish Riding School
Our first stop of the day was the Spanish Riding School to see the ‘Ballet of the White Stallions’; the famous Lipizzans horses. You can go and watch morning exercise midweek but at the weekend you will need to book tickets for a performance. This was something I’d always wanted to do in Vienna. The horses and their riders are a wonderful example of the connection between humans and these incredible animals and the performance was truly magical. Get there early to secure a good view. Photo’s of the horses are strictly off limits during the performance but you’ll always find some idiot ignoring the signs.
Choosing to do the 40-minute guided tour allowed us to see some incredible behind the scenes elements that you’d never see as an audience member. The building itself is beautiful and dates back to 1869.
The tour cost 9 euro each but note the theatre is closed in July and August.
The Albertina museum is home to some of the most impressive, valuable and largest collections of art in the world and boasts pieces by Picasso, Monet, Klimt, Ruben and Durer to name a few. The building itself is part of the Imperial Palace on one of the last remaining fortress walls in Vienna. We bought our tickets on the day, costing 16 euro per adult. I’ll be honest, the gift shop is the best part for me, I’d give it 7/10.
Dinner and drinks – Lugeck, Das Loft
Schonbrunn Palace is one of Austria’s most important cultural assets and draws millions of visitors each year. It’s not hard to see why, designed by Baroque architect Johann Berrhard Fischer von Erlach, for Emperor Leopold 1’s son, the original Hunting Lodge design grew into a palatial imperial residence over the course of the eighteenth century. We chose not to go inside, instead explored the gardens and took in the magnificent view of the building.
One of Europe’s most stunning Baroque landmarks, Belevedere Palace comprises upper and lower Belvedere is and listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It houses a huge collection of Austrian art and plays host to a number of exhibitions throughout the year. Tickets start at 16 euro for one area of the palace and again, we were happy to view from the outside. A fan of a audio tour I am not…
We made our way to St Stephen’s cathedral, which has one of the most beautiful roof tile patterns I’ve seen.
Then onto the Austrian National Library. I love reading, books were always my thing as a child and I always wanted my own library like Belle in Beauty and the Beast. Complete with ladders to reach the high shelves, ceiling murals, books so old they were in glass cases and the hushed silence you only get in a library, this one didn’t disappoint.
Our flight was late afternoon and we took the S7 train back to the airport, but not before we had a final piece of cake in this beautiful city.
Tip – if I was return I would head to the museum quarter, something we ran out of time to do. I’d also visit to the summer to experience one of the outdoor operas.