Why Vienna and Beyonce are kind of similar
It’s not often that I equate a city to a celebrity. But being in Vienna reminded me of a conversation that I had with Lissette recently.
Lissette: “What do you think of Beyonce?”
Me: “She’s ok”
Lissette: “I would think you’d love her. She’s beautiful and has a sexy body. And she’s got a great voice”
Me: “Yeah, I guess. But there’s something about her eyes. I don’t know, I just don’t feel it”.
And that kind of sums up Vienna for us. And I’m not quite sure why because Vienna is a beautiful city full of impressive monuments, grandiose churches, and pretty parks. I’ll get back on that topic below. But first, a few photos:
Above: The Vienna Opera House which might look familiar if you’ve seen the latest Mission Impossible movie “Rogue Nation”. The tourist office is situated right behind it and it is the usual starting point for walking tours.
Above/Below: The Michaelerplatz, one of Vienna’s most famous squares. On one side is the Michaelerkircher (St. Michael’s Church), on the other is the entrance to the Hofburg, Vienna’s Imperial Palace (photo below).
Below: statues and monuments in the Hofburg (the palace was the seat of government since 1279 and has expanded over the centuries).
Below: the Wiener Rathous (built 1872-1883) is the city hall of Vienna and is very impressive for its Gothic facade and high central tower. Especially nice in winter when they have a large skating rink (artificially cooled) in front.
Below: Right next to the Rathous is the Austrian Parliament building (built 1874 – 1883).
Below: quiet streets of the old town with the Minoritenkirche (Minorites Church) in the background.
Below: Although not highlighted by the tourist brochures (probably because there are so many other great churches within a small area) the Minorites Church was one of our favorites, partly because of the impressive copy of Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘The Last Supper’ adorning one of the walls.
Below: art and buildings. Yes, most of Vienna’s old town looks this pristine…
Below: Mariensäule (“Column of Mary” which built to commemorate beating Swedish forces in the 30 years war, 1618-1648) in the Am Hof square.
Below: A few steps from the above you’ll come across a beautiful square which holds the Judenplatz Holocaust Memorial.
Below: Peterskirche (St. Peter’s Church) is another impressive church.
Below: Graben is one of the busiest shopping streets in Vienna. The monument below is the Pestsäule (the “Plague Column”) and was erected after the Great Plague in 1679.
Below: The Stephansdom is the most important church in Vienna and its tower the highest in the city (136 m – which you can climb).
Below: The Karlskirche (St. Charles Church), considered the most outstanding Baroque church in Vienna [it’s also the only church you have to pay to get in, only because of the access to the upper dome where you can have (disappointing) views of the city. Tourist trap]
Below: The Hofburg (covered up top) was the official residence of Austrian monarchs – but Schönbrunn Palace was their summer residence. Located away from the city center, it is today Austria’s most famous tourist site. Lots of rooms and we’re told that the gardens are spectacular in the summer.
Back to our feelings on Vienna (and comparing it to Budapest)
Prior to leaving Budapest we had diner with another couple. I found out that one of them had lived several years in Vienna prior to moving to Budapest. So I asked him what he thought of Vienna. His answer? “Vienna is beautiful and nice place to live. But unlike Budapest, it has no soul“.
We would think about that over and over again while wandering the city. Vienna is an incredible testament to arts, architecture and history. I get it, I know that and can appreciate it. But finding passion in Vienna for me is like looking into Beyonce’s beautiful – but soulless – eyes. I didn’t feel inspired. Neither did Lissette.
Related: Our Guide to Austria
– The tourist office is right behind the Opera House:
1st district, city centre
Albertinaplatz, corner of Maysedergasse
Daily from 9.00 am to 7.00 pm
Most of the stuff they have is commercial but they do have an excellent free map featuring a recommended walking tour. It’s worth picking up. Otherwise this map is also very useful.
– The train from Budapest to Vienna took 2 ½ hours and they have trains every hour. Use the DB website to check schedules/buy tickets. I’ve documented our recent travels from Romania through Hungary and now Austria on our most recent newsletter. You can see economic disparities just crossing borders: coming into Austria from Hungary you suddenly see huge wind turbines and solar farms all over the place. Amazing.
Airbnb. Vienna is expensive and we saved money by staying in this Airbnb apartment (good price, convenient location, very comfortable). If you’ve never stayed in an Airbnb apartment, don’t forget to sign up using our link to save money.
Hotels. A few recommendations: wombat’s CITY Hostels Vienna – Naschmarkt (an excellent budget option. Mostly dorms but they have private double rooms with bathroom. Centrally located), Austria Trend Hotel beim Theresianum Wien (nice modern rooms, not far from center, good value for money), Hotel Domizil Great hotel in historic building right in the center of Vienna. A bit more of a splurge than the other options but excellent value for what you get.
Vienna International Airport is 18 km (11 miles) from the city center. The Airport code is VIE.
Below: We use CheapOair to find the cheapest and most flexible flights
You don’t get many deals in Vienna but this 2 hour Walking Tour is inexpensive and a great way to get orientated with the city.
We might not have loved Vienna but it is a place worth seeing, even if only for a few days. Who knows, maybe you’ll feel totally different about the city than we did.
Have you been to Vienna? What did you think of it?
Related: Is Bratislava worth a day trip from Vienna?
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