Music and sound in perfect harmony- it has to be Austria. I was very keen on visiting the capital city, Vienna and I am glad that I made it there in 2019, just after Berlin. In fact, there were a lot of places where I wanted to go, especially Salzburg, Innsbruck and Hallstatt but Vienna won my heart and due to paucity of time, I couldn’t travel to other cities or villages. I was in no hurry. As you know me, I am an addicted traveller, who is on a lookout for authentic food, lifestyle and cultural experiences. Vienna has enough of it, thus 4 days were spent very tastefully and delightfully. Interestingly, this year was very exciting for Vienna too as it was named as the world’s most livable city for the tenth time in a row by Mercer. Read to make your own itinerary of 4 days in Vienna.
VIENNA – The smallest of Austria’s nine provinces but stylish of all
Vienna is the federal capital and stretches from the banks of Danube river to the north-easternmost foothills of the Alps. Located in the heart of Europe, the Austrian capital exudes its own class and identity. The city has the highest quality of living. Before my visit there, I was not aware of the fact that it is the only capital city in the world that has a significant wine growing region, within city limits (A region of 660 hectares).
When it comes to culture, art, music and heritage, Vienna is incomparable. The city has not only been an interface between different cultures for centuries, but also named the world cultural heritage site by UNESCO, thanks to archaeological finds hinting Paleolithic era, Roman settlements,ancient transport routes & Habsburg dynasty which ruled for 600 years. I had 4 days in Vienna and I was really excited to learn more about its history and heritage.
Vienna is divided into 23 districts. The Innere Stadt is the first district, an old center, located in the center of the capital. Graben is the street to look for shopping. Leopoldstadt (2nd District) and Landstrasse (3rd District) are known for Prater park and Stadtpark respectively. Schwarzenberg Palace and Belvedere Palace are very popular in 3rd district. Naschmarkt in the 4th district and boutique shops, bars, restaurants, theatres and art galleries in 7th district are not to be missed. It is obvious though, but I would still emphasize that you must book your accommodation somewhere, between 1 to 7 districts. I bet you will never be far away from the gorgeous attractions of Vienna.
What makes Vienna, Vienna?
“‘The City of Dreams’ or ‘City of Music’ is Vienna!
I must tell you that some of the most amazing musical geniuses have lived and worked in this city: Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, Schubert and Brahms.
Vienna is definitely the world capital of music and its State Opera always looks magical with its sights and sounds. 2019 was the year of 150th anniversary.
The era of Red Vienna – 1919 to 1934 is a cherished period in the Austrian history. 100 years of Red Vienna were celebrated in 2019.
Painting, architecture, music, dance, sculpture, poetry are some of the areas for which Vienna is known to have an incredible taste. The Music Film Festival at Vienna’s City Square is Europe’s largest cultural and culinary event.
Each summer, the main courtyard of the MuseumsQuartier Wien is transformed into a popular hangout. A lot of artistic and cultural events take place there.
Check for the Musical concerts that take place in Schonbrunn Palace. Elisabeth, the most successful German language musical of all time, tells the dramatic and touching tale of the life and tragic demise of Empress Elisabeth of Austria.
A city in Literature – This special exhibition will go on until Feb 16, 2020. This is about texts relating to the city from 1945 to the present day.
Till Jan 6, you must head to Albertina, Albertinaplatz. It is showcasing the world’s most important collection of drawings by Albert Durer.
Vienna is not just one of the four UN Headquarter cities, it is also ranked second best among conference destinations, worldwide.
Vienna Rathausplatz takes the form of a huge ice rink, becoming Vienna Ice Dream.
Below is a quick itinerary for 4 days in Vienna. I will talk about the individual places in detail, in the follow up blogs.
Day 1 in Vienna
In the third week of August, my friend and I traveled from Brussels to Vienna. We had booked Austrian Airlines for our travels and it was pretty comfortable. We reached in the day and the airport was bustling with activity. Before making our way to our hotel, we located the tourist information center first. I had a media kit waiting for me at its counter at the airport. I was really looking forward to the maps, guides and helpful notes. To my surprise, there were many more experiences waiting to be discovered. I am still very thankful to Vienna Tourism Board for making my visit so worthwhile.
I would advice everyone to take some time and walk towards the tourist center. Its very helpful as they assist you with some of the best places to see in the city, as well as guide you with the public transport. Depending upon your interest and number of days of stay, you may chose your Vienna Pass or Vienna Tourist Card. I was impressed to learn that 38 percent of all journeys in the city are by public transport.
Soon, we figured out the train route and reached our accommodation in the 7th District. After freshening up, we decided to walk towards the most popular neighborhood of Vienna, also the 1st district, where I found the historic attractions like Stephen’s Cathedral, the Hofburg Palace, the Spanish Riding School, the Albertina, the Opera, and Hotel Sacher. The idea was to get a hang of the place and then figure out the walks and itineraries for the remaining days. I really liked Peterskirche ( St Peter’s Church ), which is absolutely stunning and extremely calming, despite being located in the most bustling street of Vienna. The Opera is inspiring. In few hours, it was easy to conclude that Graben pedestrian area is the place for dinner, coffee, wine and shopping. It is the favorite street of tourists as well as locals.
Day 2 in Vienna Woods
I planned to spend the day in the Vienna woods at Kahlenberg. I had read about the stunning views and how one can see the entire city on a clear day. At the height of 484 metres, Kahlenburg is the place for walking through the vineyards and admiring the panoramic views of the city and Danube river.
Take bus 38A to Kahlenberg from Wien Heiligenstadt Bahnhof. The church at Kahlenberg is pristine. From there, you must do a small hike towards Leopoldsberg. If you want to get a beautiful view of Vienna, then this is the place, but you have to make sure it is a clear day. Ours was not a very bright day but I still loved the nature, calming colors and prettiness of the place. On our return, we also stopped at Grinzing, an old wine village. The bright colored houses of this village and the whole set up is one from the fairy tale books.
We returned to Schwedenplatz and walked along the Danube Canal. There is lots of street art to explore in here. District 1 is closeby and lots of eateries line the main road. The evening was spent at the Prater, a large amusement park located in District 2.
We had sparkling champagne experience at the Swaroski megastore. I would love to advice to explore the gorgeous store of Swaroski at Kärntner Strasse 24. Swarovski crystals are gems created in Austria.
Day 3 – Independence Day celebrations in Vienna
It was 15th of August and I joined the 73rd Independence day celebrations with the delegates of the Indian Embassy in Vienna. This will always be one of my most memorable experiences of the Euro trip. I had already been traveling for 3 weeks and the idea of celebrations in the company of people from home, looked very promising. The event did turn out to be amazing and I will definitely not forget to mention the vada, idli, chutney and halwa that we got to eat. University of Vienna is an architectural marvel and I did explore it after the event. After that, I was headed towards the Rathaus. It is one of the elegant locations of the capital and the pedestrian area has some impressive flagship stores around this place. A long queue at Cafe Central reminded me that I read about it being as one of the oldest, loved, centrally located and most popular of the Viennese kaffeehauses.
Just there, do look out for Hofburg, the former principal imperial palace of the Habsburg dynasty rulers. With the Vienna Pass, one can also visit the neighboring Imperial Apartments, Sisi Museum and Imperial Silver Collection. These are the areas which tourists prefer to cover on horsedrawn cabs, known as the Fiaker.
We had authentic Austrian dinner in one of the restaurants where the Street Art Passage is located. This is also quite a popular area, centrally behind the city’s Museum Quarter. The Museum Quarter is the largest museum complex in Europe, covering an area of 60 square meters. It has 70 cultural facilities.
Day 4 in Vienna was about Schonbronn Palace.
We went to the Schonbronn Palace. This is quite an investment of the day. It is exhaustive and you must dedicate atleast half a day for this. I loved being here for the whole day. Do take a tour inside. The palace has a magnificent architecture as well as a beautiful park. You must reach the palace right in time to take the tickets for your tour.
The Schönbrunn Zoo is the oldest in the world, also having won the coveted title of being the best zoo in Europe. The views from the park are amazing.
It was the last day so I went to check out some more places like Vienna Stock Exchange (the oldest in Europe). Belvedere Palace is splendid. We also took an offroute and visited Hundertwasserhaus, a house created in the most interesting way. It is all about balance between human and nature. I think 4 days in Vienna were nearly perfect, though I would have loved a day extra.
And while you are in Vienna, don’t miss to have the hot dog sausages and Original Neapolitan Wafers (Manner’s classic).