Anyone been to Vienna?

The ladyfriend and I will be going to Vienna between the 5th and the 9th of July, and I’m wondering if anyone lived there or spent a considerable amount of time there who can give us some pointers.

What do we have to see? Where should we go? Where should we eat (cheap)? etc.

Also, if there are some small town near Vienna that would be interesting to visit for a day or two, those suggestions are welcome too…

Spent a couple of days there in 2001, during a backpacking trip around Europe.
Austria is a pretty Catholic country, so you’ll find a lot of things are closed on a Sunday, if that’s going to be an issue on your last day (i.e. don’t leave any shopping until the last minute).

My friend and I spent a day in the Kunstmuseum (art museum), a lot of museums are around the Rathaus and University. The market is also nice, and we had very yummy, and pretty cheap lunches and snacks there. The Cathedral is worth a look too.

There are lots of nice cafes where you can get coffee and sachertorte, or something like schnitzel or goulash for not too much money. We were travelling on a shoestring, so you’ll probably be able to find nicer places than we did!

Around the Rathaus and cathedral are the best places for culture, shopping, eating etc, and generally just wandering around should lead you to something to do. A Lonely Planet or a Rough Guide or something should give you some more pointers.

Salzburg is lovely, if you want to travel that far.

I’m sure someone will be here momentarily to offer more help!

I lived there for half a year but in the early 90s so any food/drink tips are vague, but culture doesn’t change much.
Ok, top of the list-- Stephansdom with the crypt.
The Hapsburg Crypt below . . . St Michaels, I think.
Kunsthistorisches Museum if you like art. The Natural History museum across the way is interesting if you like hideous dead things in jars. if you like Klimt/ Kokoschka and that crowd go to the gallery at the Belvedere. The Secession building exhibits are only so-so-- interesting if you like contemporary art but unless you really really like Klimt enough to be a completist and see the mural downstairs save your cash for beer and look at the pretty exterior. If you really like Mozart his house tour might be interesting. Oh, Schonbrun Palace is pretty cool-- if you’ve been to Versailles it might seem a little small but otherwise it’s impressively Rococo absolutist.
Tour the Ringstrasse to look at the neo-architecture from 19th century.
St Ruprechtskirche (?) is probably the oldest church in town-- Romanesque but not really big.

If you like shopping I think Graben is still the place to be, although if you’re not boutiquey-rich Mariahilferstr has a lot of shops-- just outside the inner ring in the southwest/ south direction.
If you’re into art and architecture (like REALLY into it or into a particular style/ time period) I have a lot of other suggestions. The Hundertwasser house is worth a gander, as is Wittgenstein’s house.
As far as nearby towns, I’d recommend Klosterneuburg-- an old monastery with some important artworks and pretty cute in general. Or a bit further out is Melk, an important old Baroque Benedictine monastery.
Maybe a winery tour?
On eating-- don’t panic. ANYTHING extra, even if it is sitting there on the table, is extra-- they will charge you by each individual roll you eat. The waiter will add up the bill in front of you by hand, and his handwriting will be illegible. Don’t panic.
I highly recommend the sausages at the corner stands. Tasty buggers in nice breadrolls with good mustard. I can’t think of any terribly good Austrian beer (except Samichlaus which doesn’t count) so I hope you like generic yellow pilsners. A 1/3 liter is called a Seidel and a half-liter is called a Krügel-- if you just order a beer they’ll go ahead and bring you whatever the house lager is. Your schnitzel will be pork except in exceptional circumstances, so don’t fear veal-guilt.
Go to a classic old Grand Cafe and have a wiener melange and it will change your concept of coffee, even if you’re from Seattle or another coffee-snobby city.
You can see opera for cheap if you stand in line for the standing-room tickets-- helps if you’re student age. Go see some Wagner or something. There are also free concerts on the platz in front of the Rathaus. Or there were several years ago. . . I’ve never seen the boy’s choir or the horsies, so someone else will have to testify as to whether that’s worth it.

I’ve spent some time in Vienna. In the summer there is an outdoor cinema shown on the side of the Rathaus and an accompanying food festival. It’s a great city to walk around the old parts.

I live in Vienna, Virginia. Does that count? :slight_smile:

The Hapsburg crypt (Kaisergruft) is beneath the Capuchin church (Kapuzinerkirche).

Karlskirche is a baroque masterpiece whose exterior incorporates columns modeled after Trajan’s victory columns.

The Stadtpark made for a very pleasant stroll.

The Schonbrunn Palace and its gardens are spectacular, but I didn’t get out there myself.

With the compact historical centers of European cities, I always get alot out of just walking around. After the Stadtpark, you can wind your way around the Hofburg, the Ringstrasse, the Opera, Parliament, etc. For a different twist on this, rent The Third Man before you go, then see how many of the locations you can find. Bonus if you see the balloon seller!

The Sezession Museum is another spot I really wanted to visit but didn’t get to.

I only got one day in Vienna during my tour of Europe. We took a night train from Bern to spend that one day in Vienna, and then it was off to Paris on another night train. It was worth it, though. Beautiful city. Yummy pastries and sausages.

The only think in the guidebook that I really really wanted to see, besides St Stephen’s, was the Anchor Clock . Of course, when we found it, it was covered in scaffolding. A friendly sign across the scaffolding advised us to return in October. We saw lots of scaffolding in Europe. I don’t think we have one picture of a famous building or monument in which you can’t see scaffolding. Or a crane. But that was last year, so maybe you can go see the clock in its scaffolding-free state. Enjoy it for me!

Once. In 1982. For a few hours.

I was there ages ago when I was in my 20’s and found it to be culturally interesting, but the nightlife (for a 20something) was sorely lacking. I do know I met lots of younger people from Vienna when I lived in Berlin - they had all fled Vienna due to the boredom and small town mentality.

I also remember that all of their museums seemed dusty, if not outright dirty…which I found odd as I had never run across that in museums before in Europe - most are quite clean. Again, this was ages ago, so who knows how things have changed since then.

Do try some of the pastries in the cafes…quite tasty. Not cheap, but worth it. And the wine tasting area of town - one outdoor garden after the next, was quite fun. Then again, after that much wine, even Gary, Indiana would have been fun…

I was there about a year-and-a-half ago, took the Friday night train from Nuremberg, via Munich, and then back again Sunday afternoon.

Of all the places I went to, Vienna was the most like what I expected an old European city to be. The parts I went through were very well preserved, and looked like they hadn’t changed much in decades, or even centuries. Which I think is what DMark hinted at, there isn’t that sense of activity and dynamism that I associate with a thriving city. It’s like they’ve got it the way they want it and are keeping it just so for the tourists; a theme-park version of a real city. Or maybe I just didn’t get around enough.

I rode the Riesenrad, the big ferris wheel seen in The Third Man (and The Living Daylights). Interesting landmark, and a good view of the city.

Took a tour of the Winter Palace. I tend to think of royals as pure figureheads, but there were meeting rooms where the emperor would actually meet with his subjects. And lots of displays about Archduchess Elisabeth, sort of a nineteenth-century Diana.

Near Schönbrunn Palace is the science and technical museum. Very good, if you like that sort of thing. (And I still want to know what was driving that perpetual motion machine on the first floor.) Oh, if you go there, would you pick me up some postcards?

Most of all, walk through the park, take the trams and subways, speak the language as much as you can, and just be part of the city.

Thanks for all the suggestions. I haven’t actually had time to sit down and read through (just a quick scan). We’re in the process of moving out of our appartment (this trip is a last shebang before moving home), so I’ll read them this afternoon.

I wanted to add, though, that both of us are interested in a lot of the early twentieth century happenings in Vienna. My girlfriend (and I, but to a lesser extent) is a fan of the artistic movements with Klimt, Schiele, etc. I’m interested pretty much in the whole atmosphere during that period: the music, the philosophy, the science. If anyone has any special insight on what would be interesting in that sense (if it hasn’t already been mentioned), I’d be grateful.


I almost forgot about the Third Man! There is a walking tour you can take that visits many of the sites of the movie. If you are a fan, it is really cool.

Much of Vienna is actually rebuilt after the bombing of the world wars. The architecture is beautiful, but has been largely replaced using old plans and photos. It’s a beautiful city.

The ferris wheel is at a very famous park called The Prater.

The public transit is excellent. You can ride from one end of the city to the other very cheaply. Eat at corner cafes for a cheap meal. The best ribs I ever had were at a floating restaurant on the Danube. Can’t remember the name of it.

Yes. Vienna waits for you… :slight_smile:

Ok, as you probably know, at the turn of the century Vienna was a center of an art nouveau style caleld Jugundstil and a kind of german expressionism–sort of a proto-Bauhaus called the Wiener Werkstätte that did great design and applied arts.
Probably the most important Jugundstil architect was Otto Wagner and also his pupil Joseph Hoffmann-- things to see include a bank (post office? Both? (I think it is the Postsparkasse, actually) up on the northeast side of the Ring, the Karlsplatz U-Bahn station, and,if you’re really interested, some things out in the 14th district or so-- the chapel at the Sanitorium at. . . Am Steinhoff. I got there on a bus-- it takes some hunting but it’s cool. There are also a couple of houses you can see from the U4, and a couple of houses out in the 14th district but I don’t know if you can tour them-- the Otto Wagner villa somewhere out there. Also a nice pavillion in the Stadtpark, I think.
Don’t miss the Belvedere for the paintings, of course. Go ahead and see Klimt’s Beethovenfreize in the Secezzion (Olbrich) basement-- they used to also have a pile of his drawings down there. The Angewandte Kunst (applied arts) Museum has a great collection of various stuff (I think they have the Stoclet frieze which they yanked out of a Brussels house). Most interesting there is of course the Werkstätte stuff-- Koloman Moser et al. Whileint own check out the early high modernism of Adolf Loos-- the Steiner Haus is a architectural history survey classic.

I highly recommend the visit to the salt mines in Salzburg if you have the time. I lived in Europe for 3 years (I was young, 9-12 years old) and one of my favourite trips in all that time was to the salt mines. It was just so awesome to be so far underground, and to see salt glistening off the walls, and that wooden slide that goes down towards the underground lake was just amazing. Who thought salt could be so fun?!

If it’s a movie you like, the Sound of Music was largely filmed in Vienna, and you can take tours (or, I think, go on your own) to the various locations seen in the movie. I loved that movie as a kid, so it was fun to see for me.

You can also go see one of the homes Mozart lived in.

One other thing that I remember is that bylaws and such limit the type of advertising business can have, in order to keep the city looking old and historic. As a result, I distinctly remember seeing a sign for McDonalds that was about as unobtrusive as you can get! It was a small, ironwork sign, like a guid sign, hanging over the door. Even the signage in the window was pretty subdued…you pretty much had to know there was a mcD’s there to find it!

That’s all I really remember, but clearly, it was one of the trips that stuck with me over the years!

A thing worth realising about Vienna is that although small scale maps show it as on the Danube, in fact it’s a long way from the city centre. So if you’re looking forward to a river cruise through the heart of the city, forget it.

Vienna feels a bit like London without the Thames - a big city with an imperial past.

There’s a lake in the mine and a boat that you can take across it. I guess you could call it a saline ship.

You would not believe how long I’ve been waiting to use that joke! :smiley:

I think The Sound of Music was filmed in and around Salzburg. There are several Sound of Music tours available there

I lived there for several years. Nothing to contradict the previous, as it is deadly accurate.

Add: The art history museum: There’s a room full of Bruegels (Pieter the elder). Go to an opera. You can get last minute and ‘standing at the back’ tickets on the night, cheap.

Sacher Torte at the Sacher hotel (has this one been mentioned?)

Klosterneuberg, just outside Vienna is worth a visit.