I doubt there are many people who haven’t heard of Vienna. It is regularly voted as one of the most livable cities in the world, with high life standard in every aspect.It is also a cradle of culture so to say it – a place to admire lavish imperial buildings, visit world class museums, go to Mozart concerts and much more.
Austria originally wasn’t on our travel list for the summer, but we found great flight deals from Vienna to Sicily. We arrived to the Austrian capital straight from Zagreb ( five hours by bus ) around lunchtime. Our flight was scheduled the next day so we roughly calculated we have 24 hours to explore the city. I’ve been to Vienna numerous times many years ago, but for Thane it was a ”new big city”, so he likes to call it.
At the moment we arrived we didn’t feel like doing a thing, the least of all walking around the city in the heat. We’ve been traveling for over three weeks by then, we met tons of people, changed so many buses, slept in so many different beds that when our ‘’Marija and Thane only’’ holiday finally started we were simply too exhausted. That day, a Wiener schnitzel followed with coffee kept us going.
We booked a place close to the main train station and it turned out very convenient for the day. Vienna is a relatively small capital and it’s easy to navigate around by subway ( day ticket costs € 7,60 ). We got off first at Karlsplatz and from there walked through the central area to the main square the Stephanstlatz and it’s church Stephansdom. It is one of the tallest cathedrals in the world and a striking piece of both old and modern architecture. As we walked around the square we stumbled upon a fabulous chocolate shop Leschanz that was a dream come true for two tired souls like us. We got our portion of sugar and continued the walk around the central Vienna.
Thane couldn’t get his head around the opulence of this city, for him everything was beautiful but just “too much”. His familiarity with European history was minimum. The countries and cities of Europe were often mixed up to my amusement. Everything in central Vienna looked perfect – grand buildings with richly decorated facades, beautiful shops, clean streets and well behaved pedestrians. Mozart merchandise followed us all around. One could not escape the most famous Austrian.
Basically, our sightseeing revolved around looking at the city’s architecture – we passed by the world famous Spanish Riding School, Austrian National Library, walked through the beautiful park Volksgarten with its rose bushes and stopped for a coffee by the City Hall ( Rathaus ). We skipped the famous Museums Quartier, because on that day, a museum would put us both to sleep. Instead, we went to Prater, an amusement park in northern Vienna. I’ve been to Prater once many years ago and took the scariest ride of my life. This time we passed on that one because my darling is afraid of heights and instead just watched people on it, spinning around and screaming their lungs out.
There is no entry fee for Prater but you pay for the game or a ride individually. We tried a few rides and played many prize games. We knew it was a rip off but the atmosphere was just too good. As the sun was setting down, it all got even more fun – the colourful rides with smoke machines, loud music, laser lights, all mixed up for our entertainment. Fabulous! We got to see Vienna and a bit of pink sunset from a 117 meters high Merry-go-round where we circled around slowly in our tiny chairs held by tiny chains. Thane’s expression was priceless.
From Prater we took the subway to Schwedenplatz ( line U1 and U4 )just by the Danube River. The evening was perfect to sit outside and have some drinks. We could definitely sense a more alternative atmosphere here – a mix of artsy, punk, student and hipster crowds. We had a dinner on one of the river boats that also had a pool and a mini soccer field on it. Something for everyone! They served great food and beers and we took some time to reflect on the wonderful day we had in Vienna. When you have low expectations – tired and hungry from the trip – you turn out to have the best outcomes – cultural uprising and lots of fun on rollercoasters.
The following morning we reserved our last hours in Vienna to visit the Schönbrunn castle. Read more about it in the next post.
p.s. to answer the question in the title, yes, you can see and do a lot in Vienna in just a day…
Austria: 8 451 860 people ( 2013 )
Vienna: 1.741 million (2013)
Best time to visit: All year around.