What To See and Do in Vienna, Austria
Updated: Dec 22, 2019
You probably already read our announcement about our first destination on our 1-year European Adventure.
Today we're sharing that our second month abroad will be in….
As with most European flights, traveling from Lyon (our first destination) to Vienna is incredibly affordable. When we checked Skyscanner for our specific travel date, the current price is only $34 for a 2-hour direct flight, which is a mere 4% of what we’ll pay for a one-way transatlantic flight!
Vienna has 23 total districts and we’ll be staying in the 16th district known as Ottokring, which is made up of 36.7% green space. It will take us ~20 minutes to get to the city center via public transportation.
By The Numbers
Vienna is the capital of Austria and also its largest city.
As of January 2018, the population of Vienna was about ~1.8 million people, which is about one-fifth of the total population of Austria.
The weather in Vienna appears to be quite similar to the Midwest United States, where we’re from. Doing some historical investigation, it appears that at its coldest, Vienna is around ~30 F (-1 C) and at its hottest, gets up around ~80 F (26 C). The spread is a bit bigger where we're from (especially this year with the crazy polar vortex that took us down to - 20 F one day!) but is close enough, on a typical basis, to compare.
Like Berlin, Vienna was also divided into four parts after WWII, and occupied by the United States, France, the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union. The first district of Vienna, the inner city, was administered by all 4 powers. The occupation, and division, of Vienna ended in 1955 with the Austrian State Treaty.
Known as the City of Music, several classical music geniuses once lived there (Mozart, Beethoven, Haydn, or Schubert).
The Vienna Boys Choir was founded 521 years ago, making it one of the oldest musical organizations in the world.
Vienna was home to the world’s first psychotherapist, Sigmund Freud. It is now known as the birthplace of psychotherapy.
The snow globe was invented in Austria and mass production began in Vienna in 1905.
The croissant actually originated in Austria, but it wasn’t known by that name until Marie Antoinette brought it to France.
There are over 450 balls held in Vienna annually, from New Year’s Eve to the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday (but unfortunately our packs don’t allow room for our “formal ball attire”).
Vienna was named the second most livable city on the planet after Melbourne, Australia, by the Economist Intelligence Unit’s study ranking 30 factors, ranging from safety and education to infrastructure and healthcare.
Mercer has other ideas though, indicating that Vienna continues its reign in the top spot for overall quality of living, followed by Zurich (2), Auckland (3), and Munich (4).Vancouver (5). The Mercer article is a few years old at this point, but we still like to think of Vienna being #1!
Food & Drink
Fresh spring water comes through two pipelines directly from the Alps. Can you say “free fancy water”?
Vienna is the only global capital with significant wine production within city limits. There are over 630 wine producers in the Vienna metro area and 180 total so-called “wine taverns.”
The Heurigen Express is a sort of hop-on-hop-off tour of the local vineyards which runs April thru October. And yes, we will be in Austria while this magical wine bus is running! They produce primarily whites, but also some reds.
The coffee from Vienna is known around the globe. There are several “coffee houses” and we’re particularly interested to check out Palm House and Meinl coffee roasting company (founded in 1862). We’ve read that people often linger at coffee houses for hours whether they order one cup or several and that it’s more like a “2nd living room.”
A trip to Vienna wouldn’t be complete without sampling a local hot dog from a street vendor. Expect to be asked “süss or scharf?” which translates to “sweet or spicy?”
The German name for Vienna is Wien, which is where wiener schnitzel gets its name. The proper serving of the dish is breaded veal with a side of parsley potatoes or a potato cucumber salad.
Can’t leave out food stalls when you’re talking about a country's capital city! Naschmarkt appears to be the most popular “food stall” location with over 100 to choose from! The 2nd most popular is in Ottokring (Brunnenmarkt). We’re going to be in Austria for over 1 month and we probably won’t be able to make it to all of them.... this trip.
A common restaurant recommendation we came across was for Das Loft (this is the English version of their site), which is described as a “contemporary setting for innovative haute cuisine, with city views through floor-to-ceiling windows.” It’s located on the Sofitel's 18th floor.
If you order a "Sechzehner Blech" ("16-type tin"), you want a can of Ottakringer beer - the tin obviously refers to the can, the 16 to the number of the district. Especially if you are not a German native speaker, this will earn you a great deal of respect and recognition among Eastern Austrians.
Sites to See
The Vienna Zoo, or Tiergarten Schönbrunn, has over 700 different animal species and was voted the best zoo in Europe. It is also the oldest continuously operating zoo in the world.
Vienna has more than its fair share of palaces, given its significant history. Schönbrunn Palace is one of the largest and most impressive. Fun fact: it has more than 1,440 total rooms!
The Belvedere consists of two baroque-style palaces, stables, extensive gardens (which are free to for visitors to explore), and the Belvedere Museum.
St. Stephen’s Cathedral has a bell tower that you can climb (it’s 343 steps to the top so one of us is going to have to remember their inhaler!).
There are over 240 kilometers of hiking trails in Vienna. City Hiking Trail 1 begins at the end of tram line D and is 11 kilometers long, which is estimated to take an average person 3.5-4 hrs (although we will undoubtedly try and beat this time just to prove we aren’t “average.”)
The Sigmund Freud Museum is open Monday thru Sunday 10 AM – 6 PM. Admission is 12 euro per person.
Prater is a large park open 24 hours with old-time amusements including a landmark giant wheel dating from 1897 (the oldest in the world!).
There is a Clock Museum with over 1,000 clocks on display including a 230-year-old astronomical clock calibrated up to the year 9999. [Insert apocalypse note here.]
In general, Austrians love winter sports such as alpine skiing and ice hockey as well as more traditional European sports like football (i.e. soccer to us Americans) and rugby. We’d be really stoked if we were able to ski and catch a rugby match in the month that we’re there.
Rumor has it that two of our family members might be visiting us while we're in Austria (you know who you are) and we love the sound of that ;) Book your flights soon, mmmk?
We’d love to hear from others who have been to Vienna or anywhere in Austria really! What were the highlights of your trip? Anything you didn’t get to do but wish you had? What about the local culture surprised you?
Eddie & Megan
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Jobs fill your pockets, but adventures fill your soul.
- Jamie Lyn Beatty