Vienna: A Must See List

Vienna, a fairytale capital in central Europe, bustling with music and art. For centuries, musicians and artists have made their way here (my art teacher in university told me it was primarily because it was so central so it was a good base to travel around from! :P). Horses pulling carriages trot by as you stroll down the streets listening to the likes of Mozart, Strauss, and Schubert. If you're a history buff, you will enjoy monuments and stories from WWII, along with the Baroque architecture and of course, the imperial dynasties. 

**If you're a student, almost every attraction in Vienna has student prices. 

Schönbrunn Palace & Gardens

You can't go to Vienna without heading to the imperial summer palace of the Habsburgs! I personally loved the audio guide that I bought; it wasn't too long, but gave a good amount of history, without leaving me overwhelmed with a jumble of royal names. If you don't want to take a tour of the palace, a large portion of the gardens are free, so you can easily take the metro there and just stroll around for the day! Make sure to climb the hill to the back of the garden so you can get a great view overlooking Vienna. Included in my Imperial Pass was also the maze, which I enjoyed, along with all the 5 year olds around me :)

Donautrum Danube Tower

Even though it seems somewhat out of the way, I was really happy that I made my way over to the tower. If you go, I would recommend getting there before it gets dark, as the park that you have to walk through from the metro station is hardly lit! And it looked quite gorgeous. If you get there before sunset, you can take some pictures, head up to the cafe while you wait for the sun to go down, and then take some more pictures with the lights of the city shining back at you!

Vienna State Opera House

If you are interested at all in opera, Vienna is the place to go! Tickets can be expensive, but often you can go on the day of (they even have a special ticket office for ‘day of’ tickets) and get a standing ticket for 12 euro. 

St. Stephen's Cathedral

St. Stephen’s Cathedral is impossible to miss, a gorgeous Romanesque church standing watching over the city center for the past 700 years. 

Museums Quarter

I went to many museums and to me, the top two that you can’t miss are Kunsthistorisches Museum and Belvedere. Kunsthistorisches is just stunning inside, making the architecture and decoration part of the experience in itself. It has a nice blend of time periods, of paintings, sculptures, and items from the imperial treasury. 

Belvedere is primarily known for its collection of works by Gustav Klint (and the sole reason why I went to Vienna!). Here you can see his famous painting, ‘The Kiss’. If you want more of Klint, head of to the Secession Building to see his ‘Beethoven Frieze’ — in its own temperature controlled room! (The three photos prior are from Kunsthistorisches, in the Museum Quarter, and the photo below is from Belvedere). 

Give your respects to Strauss, Beethoven, Brahms, Schubert, and Mozart

 

Naschmarkt

If you make your way around the area of the Seccession Building, the Naschmarkt is a great place for cheaper eats and strolling around. Every restaurant in the market has outdoor seating, so it’s a lovely afternoon break!

Explore the coffeehouses

Talking about food and drink, the coffeeshops in Vienna are beyond impressive! The first coffeehouse for Austria opened in 1683 in Vienna after the failure of the second attempted siege by the Ottoman Empire (ahh I would love to go into that, but should probably save it for a post that isn’t about travel tips!). Coffee beans were kept from the exiting Turks and a Polish military officer, Jerzy Franciszek Kulczycki, added some milk and sugar to give us the famous Viennese coffee of today. 

Try the famous Sachertorte

On the dessert side, don’t miss out on trying a traditional sachertorte! Technically, Cafe Sacher is the only place where you can buy the real one, but there are many cheaper options around the city if you want to save a little money. I love the story behind this cake though: Prince Wenzel von Metternich was having a large gala and his chef was unable to finish the meal. Concerned about not having a dessert for all his guests, a lower assistant, Franz Sacher, was assigned to quickly put together a creation. Sacher stepped up to the task, creating a chocolate sponge cake layered with apricot jam and a dark chocolate icing on top. It is one of the most famous culinary items from Vienna to this day, almost 200 years later! 

 

The Passageways of Paris

The City of Love never seems to disappoint, especially when it comes passageways to stroll through. If you're looking for intricate tile floors, soothing light, and nostalgia to Paris of the 1920s, head to these three passages: 

Galerie Vivienne

Passage des Panoramas

Passage Jouffroy

Personal favorite, only because of my near obsession with Chopin :)

Personal favorite, only because of my near obsession with Chopin :)

There aren't as many passageways left today in Paris as there were a century ago, due to modernization and the taking over of larger shops, but if you keep your eyes open, you will most likely stumble upon another hidden way!

All three of these passages are within walking distance. You can see them on my map here, represented with the stars:

A Day Trip to Salzburg

When you're in Munich or Vienna for more than a couple of days, there is no doubt that you will find yourself thinking about going to Salzburg -- and you should! Whether it be for a quick day trip or an overnight trip if you have more time, Salzburg is a packaged sized quaint city that you can stroll around and always have a sight to see. Home to Mozart and and the von Trapp family, you will hear music playing across the city in celebration. 

If traveling from Munich, you can purchase a Bayern ticket from any of the ticket machines in the metro or central station (ours was 31 euro for two people). It will take you straight to the central railway station within a couple of hours and from there you can either walk to the city center or hop on a bus!

Visiting Neuschwanstein Castle from Munich

As Germany's top tourist attraction and one of the most iconic castles in the world (thanks to Disney!), if you're in Munich for more than a day, you will most likely end up taking a trip to Schwangau. 

Thankfully, it's quite easy to get to the castle. With public transport, it takes 2.5-3.5 hours from central Munich.

-- Make your way to your closest U-bahn or S-bahn station. Instead of purchasing a day-ticket, on the bottom left you can purchase a 'Bayern' ticket. These are regional transport tickets which let you travel on the same ticket in the whole of Bavaria, for the entirety of the day. Up to 5 people can travel on one ticket, so put in how many people will be under this ticket. For two of us, we paid 31 euro. (I did see a blog post by someone else that only paid 28 euro, but we went on a bank holiday, so maybe it accounts for that..)

-- After getting your ticket, head to the central railway station and look for the next train to Fussen. Gather up on snacks, head towards the train, and make sure to sit the direction the train is going, so that you can get great pictures when the Alps pop up!

-- Fussen is the last stop and you will see all tourists running off. Run off the train with them, out the door, and turn to the right. The busses to the castle only come once an hour, so if you miss it, you are stuck waiting at the bottom! (Of course, we didn't know this and arrived as the bus was there, but I insisted on getting a snack and alas, we missed the bus.... If you're like me and can't go more than an hour without eating, there are restaurants and snacks at the top near the castle!) You want to take either bus 73 or 78; they both go to the same place. Your Bayern ticket works for this bus also, just show it to the driver!

-- Exit the bus at the top, if you get confused, just wait until the entire bus unloads and there is your cue :) from here, walk straight and follow the road to the right. After a couple minutes, you will see the ticket office on your right. From the ticket office you can either turn left and walk up to the castle yourself (it's quite uphill and about 15-20 minutes of walking) or you can go straight and down to the right and buy a ticket for the bus ride up. You have to buy this ticket because the bus is a private bus. It was 3,60 for both of us one-way. We chose to take the bus up and then walk back down ;)

-- And that's it!

Note: The train back to Munich only goes every so often, so when you get off the bus at the bottom of the castle you can walk into the info office on the right of the bus stop and usually on the lefthand wall they have a train schedule listed. 

Enjoy your day! Xx