As I hopped on the bright green bus that was going to zip us off to the Austria capital of Vienna, I knew I was in for a long ride; what I didn’t know was that I was about to spend 5 hours in cramped conditions driving up and down the motorways of central Europe (and another 4 on the way back that evening). Arriving an hour and a bit off schedule (having stopped at every service station between Prague and Vienna), I knew instantly it was going to be worth every second of the stuffy bus trip; Vienna is magical (even if we only had 7 hours to take it all in)
We took Flix bus; a German fleet connecting several big cities in mainland Europe. As mentioned above, our journey to Vienna was extended by a driven who seemed to have no notion of where he was going (at one point, his companion left to get directions…. and cigarettes) On our return trip, the driver took to the road like he was running out of time and I feared I’d fly out a window as we skidded around winding bends. For €30 and all the free wifi we could use, it was a handy way of getting across boarders (Though next time, I may take the train)
Vienna also boasts an impressive transport system. We paid €7 for a 24 hour card that allowed us to hop on and hop off as we pleased.
Seeing the Sights
With it’s origins in 16th century and boasting over 100 stalls, I could have stayed at the Nasktmarket all day. You are immediately hit with the smell of delicious foods and it’s such a treat to explore all the fresh fruit and vegetables stalls this historic market has to offer. With everything from oriental to Italian, this places has food for everyone (and fear not fellow veggies, I was able to find myself a nice noodle dish for only €3.50!) I only wish we had of visited on the weekend to explore the flea market!
Walk it Out
We almost fell for the trap of paying big bucks for a Sightseeing Bus Tour. In reality, if you only have a few hours to spend in Vienna and don’t want to waste your cash, walk it. Vienna is designed in a way that most places are in walking distance from one another. We took the metro to Nasktmarket and from there navigated to the museum quarter where we were able to find most of the sights from the station. Follow Google maps (or the crowds) if at all possible.
When ever someone mentions Christmas markets, Vienna is always on top of the Markets You Need to Visit Before You Die. We arrived smack-bang in the middle of Christmas season’s beginning and so got to visit not one but three impressive markets.
St Stephan’s Cathedral.
Nested among hordes of buildings and shops lies the gigantic Gothic cathedral. The instant I saw it, I was reminded of the Catedral de Barcelona which I visited when I was a lot younger. It’s definitely beautiful and a must see picture opportunity. If you have the time, you can take a horse-drawn carriage around the city from the side of the cathedral and nested behind is one of the three Christmas Markets we visited.
Again, the site of another Christmas market, Hofburg palace is the former imperial palace in Vienna. It’s stunning and definitely a step away from other European Palaces I have visited. It felt as we walked and walked there was always a new building, statue or piece of architecture genius to see. We came from the side where the shopping streets lie (stopping to oogle in the windows at Chanel shoes that could never be purchased on a students budget and the dream Fendi) and continued through the palace and across to the National History museum where surprise, surprise, another Christmas Market had popped up. If only we had of had more time to explore inside!
The Warning Signs
- Vienna is a tourist trap and thus expensive. If you’re on a budget, eat at Nasktmarket or a budget supermarket (I had the most amazing pizza bread for 50c in Hofer though beware because many contain hidden meat)
- If you want to visit Primark while in Austria, plan out the trip. There are 2 in Vienna and both are quite confusing for us non locals to navigate to (we gave up our Primark expedition when we got lost for the second time and realized we didn’t have the time)
- Have change ready and waiting for metro tickets. The machines in Vienna only take notes bellow €20
Vienna is definitely a fairytale-like city and I wish I had more time to really explore it. If you, like us only have a brief amount of time in Austria take my advice and walk to as many sites as you can. The stroll alone will uncover so many amazing hidden trinkets and points of interest. Austria, fear not; I will be back soon to finish off what we started.