The city of art, meet the masterpieces here, there, and everywhere
How would I describe Vienna? All the impression in my mind is the city is really alive, like a modern girl, elegant, smart, and sophisticated. You will feel the air they breathe has such deep western culture in there, but meantime they are humble, polite, open-minded. Every time we walked on the street, I can’t say enough I spot many fashionistas! they dress up with attitude, not too revealing, btw, one thing I heard before we travel to Vienna is girls here don’t wear shorts even is summertime, which is true from our experience, so keep that in mind when you pack! 🙂
Since Vienna has a really good public transportation system, we can go everywhere by metro so easy peasy! but first of all, you will have to go to the metro station, buy the metro pass, they come with different packages, 1 day to 3 days…etc. If you are more like a digital user, you can also download an app: https://www.wien.info/en/travel-info/vienna-city-card/city-card-app
this is their official tourist app, you can have the metro pass and a lot of shop discounts in the app, according to your preference and show the app when checkout. Also, this website has tons of information you will get some ideas, I recommend to plan the trip based on some guidebooks and our blog post!
Highlights of Vienna
1. Stephansdom (St. Stephan’s Cathedral)
This is THE central place you have to see when you visit Vienna. When we were just starting to plan our trip based on the tour guidebook, we saw the picture of mysterious but colorful bricks. we couldn’t believe when we saw it in real life. We thought it was somehow altered but it is actually the tile roof of Stephansdom. the green, yellow and brown bricks composed an amazing image. Above the choir on the south side of the building, the tiles form a mosaic of the double-headed eagle that is symbolic of the empire ruled from Vienna by the Habsburg dynasty. You will need to buy the ticket to see the cathedral. it’s a very popular place, but the staff are very friendly and will give you the right direction to buy the package you want. We bought the pass to see the catacombs (only open at certain times, be sure to check your schedule arrangement), the tower, the front of the cathedral. I will say the catacomb was a pretty impressing and shocking experience! The tour guide will introduce with a very dramatic bilingual speech. So it was also entertaining at the same time! we love it! then the tower shouldn’t be missed! you will have to climb on a very steep and narrow stair to see the tile roof, on the stairway, there is a corner, we saw a lovely dove couple just cuddle together and hatch their eggs, very sweet moment. whoof, the climbing to the top is not so easy at all, but totally worth it! please take a moment there and enjoy the view from above!
Right around the corner of Stephansdom, there is one of our ultimate favorite musician – Mozart’s apartment! you can easily walk to here just in few minutes. This is one of Mozart’s old apartments and the only one to survive in Vienna to this day (the museum in Salzburg is his birthplace).
As Vienna was his home where he composed many of his works, it holds a significant place in the heart of any classical music lover. Visitors can explore Mozart’s historical apartment, his life and even lesser-known parts of his personality! you will have to visit here to find out 🙂 We enjoy the exhibition very much, it’s not a big place but you may need to arrange 1.5 hrs here. Recommend to rent an audio guide for the best introduction for the whole exhibition.
After visited Mozarthaus, we walk around the city a little bit, we didn’t expect to see more museum since it is quite late at that time museums tend to be closed, but we found Albertina was open! And OMG, we feel it is a perfect gem just at the same neighborhood! The outlook of the building is a beautiful ivory, and in fact, if you were a fan of movie Before sunrise, you may notice Jesse and Celine spend time on the stone balcony balustrade of Albertina with a viewpoint to the Wiener Staatsoper (Vienna State Opera). This gorgeous place in the very heart of Vienna is not generally overcrowded, so you can easily take photos of the balcony of Albertina. The Albertina not only has the largest and most valuable graphical collections in the world.
The collection, which was established in 1776 by Duke Albert of Saxony-Teschen, a son-in-law of Empress Maria Theresia, comprises over one million prints and 60,000 drawings. Famous pieces such as Dürer’s “Hare” and his “Hands folded in prayer”, Rubens’ studies of children and masterpieces by Schiele, Cézanne, Klimt, Picasso, Bacon, and Rauschenberg are displayed in the rotating exhibitions. Also, one of the most interesting interior design- The staterooms in shining yellow, green and turquoise, the hall of muses are partly furnished with original furniture, transport visitors back to the time of their inhabitants. You will find yourself amazed by those elegant colors and art in every detail, totally worth a look. you may need more time to visit here, at least 3 hrs. But nicely Albertina museum provides extended time to 9 pm for visit on Wednesday and Friday. YES!
4.Kunstkammer Vienna (Art history museum of Vienna)
This place is fantastic! thousands of valuable objects, which were collected by the emperors and archdukes of Habsburg over centuries, are on display in the Kunstkammer Vienna, one of the most important chambers of art and wonders in the world. From classic Egypt, Greek, and Roman to the middle ages Pieter Bruegel the Elder (c 1525/30 – 1569) Turmbau zu Babel, everything is a high-end standard arrangement, you can definitely feel they put lots of effort to present the best, room by room is a different experience. One of our favorites is the Roman family room, the statues of family member head bring us a vivid image of how they look, not only the historic stories we heard hundred times but a real present is amazing! A solid 3-4 hours is necessary, and you can always take a break at the first floor The Café & Restaurant in the magnificent Cupola Hall is not only a nice place to relax during the day, a great way of spending time with friends and family in this unique gourmet atmosphere.
- Kleines Café
Another location movie Before Sunrise shot here, Jesse and Celine seated at the front table and a gypsy lady came to have a palm reading. This place is close to Stephansdom, only five minutes reach from the StephanPlatz metro station, in an alley which is quiet and have the nice outdoor table. Though it is a tiny place, the day we visited is pretty full, I can see local come here with friend and family after work, which is a sign they provide authentic foods. we came here to enjoy a moment of rest with some German sausage and loaves of bread, the coffee, and beer are also nice too! recommend coming here take a short break after city walk.
Why you should visit Austria?
- people there are extremely friendly and polite. They often speak English too! For a week we travel around the city. there is no single soul we feel uncomfortable with or feel like be treated unfriendly! I remember one night about 11 pm, we had to buy something at the small supermarket in the main train station, they are going to close the shop soon, so many customers are in the shop but the staff is still so kind and polite to handle everything. we were amazed by the attitude and really appreciate it!
- the public transportation is clean and has a clear guide, always in bilingual.
- The historical theater is no doubt, one of the places classical music fan will love to pilgrimage.
- The museum quarter is one of the best museum neighborhood in the world. More than 10 museums from classic to contemporary periods are all covered 🙂
- The nature recreation is amazing! We visit Salzburg and the nearby lake area, it’s totally a remarkable experience that you are going to talk forever!
- The signature Wiener schnitzel (fried veal steak) is awesome! you can go into any restaurant without fail of this dish! And it’s simply addictive.
- Coffee, coffee, coffee… enough said… go into any coffee shop to get a sip of coffee is wonderful!