The real pleasure of exploring Vienna is early in the marking. Grab a Viennese style coffee and pair it with Viennese cake such as Sachertorte or Apple Sctrudel and after that you can venture out to the old town for shopping and enjoying the beautiful architecture. In this article, I will tell you the best way to explore Vienna. It will feature details about the main tourists attractions and it will also guide you step by step where and how you can utilize your limited time to explore Vienna the best way possible.
There are tourist attractions and churches all over the place. It’s really pretty and an experience by itself. On the way you get to see horse-drawn carriages and vintage-looking cars which are not at all vintage in reality. Most able and smart travelers explore Vienna on foot. This is because all the landmarks here are located within one square kilometer. Since it’s Vienna, a popular family tourism destination, you would always find it crowded.
During the months of June-July, the weather is a little warm and quite pleasant, so the city is filled with tourists. Also note that people from other parts of Europe also travel here. The best time to visit is April-May or September because during this time there are less tourists and accommodation is quite cheap. The historic art of Europe is truly a sight to behold. This was a Royal family so their art collection, the type of buildings and the type of paintings on the ceilings are truly amazing.
So, let’s begin exploring one of Europe’s most culture rich cities starting from the city’s dead centre.
St. Stephen’s Square
You can start exploring Vienna starting from St. Stephen’s Square, named after its historic cathedral, St. Stephen’s Cathedral. St. Stephen’s Square is the main square of the city. All tourist attractions are within a 5-7 minute walk. There are tiny lanes which you can use to navigate to various parts. Whether it’s cafe Demel, the royal pastry shop, Hofburg palace, Imperial museum, everything is just a 5-7 minute walk away. The first visiting spot will be the St. Stephens Cathedral as it’s in the dead center of the city. A cathedral is basically the main church of any city. St. Stephens Cathedral is based on the 10th Century Gothic style of architecture. Certain parts of this church are over 1100 years old. One of its highlights is the altar piece which was made in 1472. Since all the small lanes converge at St. Stephen’s Square, it’s often really crowded. This square also leads to the main market street which is headed directly towards the Hofburg palace.
Hofburg Palace Complex
Heading towards the Hofburg Palace from St. Stephen’s Square, you will reach Vienna’s once-powerful Hofburg Palace Complex. But, before exploring Hofburg palace, do remember to stop at the National Library Courtyard on your way. It’s located a bit further ahead from the main entry gate of the Hofburg Palace. This library is really old. This is actually a part of the Royal Palace, hence it’s incredibly beautiful. The ceilings of this ‘Grand Hall’ are not to be missed. They are made in the Baroque style of architecture. This is because their king, Joseph-The Second was born during the Baroque times. He is one of the most celebrated kings in Vienna. He was the eldest of the Queen’s 16 children. Though he didn’t rule as a King for too long, he is known for his good deeds and big heart. This is because he used his inherited treasure to pay off the entirety of Austria’s debt. Back then, Austria was not a small state like it is in present day. Austria, back in the day was the capital of the glorious Hofburg Empire. The Austrian-Hungarian empire was huge and it used to rule on several countries. The most celebrated Queen of this empire was Queen Sisi. There are plenty of free walking tours here in which the guides will tell you about the various landmarks and their history. You don’t have to pay for it, but leave a tip. This library is marvelous.
Hofburg Palace Complex most highlighted site is Hofburg Palace where the Hofburg Empire administered one of Europe’s biggest empire, the Austrian-Hungarian Empire for over 100 years. The office of Austria’s President is also situated in the palace. Sisi museum, Imperial silver collection, the ornaments museum, the royal treasury, all of these are located in Hofburg Palace. This is the most must-watch place once you come here. This is the historic center point of Vienna.
Neue Burg Castle Complex
After walking ahead from the Hofburg Palace, you reach the famous Neue Burg Castle Complex. These Baroque architecture buildings of the Newburg Castle Complex are a favorite of photographers from all around. People enjoy the visual beauty of these palaces. National Art Gallery, Museum of Natural History buildings and Newburg Castle are all located at this complex.
So after moving away from Neue Burg Castle, you reach the Museum Quarter which is dedicated to the memory of Queen Maria Theresa, one of the most popular queens in Austrian history. As the name suggest, it’s filled with several museums. The Art Gallery of Austria and Museum of Natural History are present at this square. These gorgeous museums were built in 1889. Both museums are quite big and popular. The entry ticket is quite costly but, if you plan to get a museum pass or a Vienna City Pass, you can visit both of them with a low cost.
Vienna City Pass
The Opera House of Vienna has the Tourist Information Center and Vienna Sightseeing Offices. Here, you can purchase tickets for Vienna City Pass and the hop-on hop-off tickets. Vienna City Pass costs around 85 Euros. It features almost all the historic palaces, museums, libraries and cultural activities of Vienna. You can choose from around 60 tourist attractions within a 48 hour timeframe. You can get these at tourist information centers as well. The hop-on hop-off buses and city guides start right in front of the Opera House.
Volksgarten – (Eng trans. The People’s Garden)
After leaving from the Museum Quarter, you reach the famous Ring Road. After walking for a bit on the pedestrian side of the Ring Road, you reach the Volksgarten, also known as People’s Garden. A little ahead is the Volkstheatre or People’s Theatre which is a historic building as well. A little further ahead is the Parliament Building and then comes the City Hall. If you come here, do check Volksgarten because during the summers, it’s in full blossom. There are a lot of wonderful flowers here with their species name written below. On the other side of the garden is a classic statue of Mozart. Once you cross all these buildings, you’ll reach the University of Vienna.
Behind Neue Burg Castle,there is the famous Austrian music composer Mozart’s statue. He was born in 1756 and at the age of 6, he gave his first performance. This performance was in front of Queen Maria Theresa at the Schönbrunn Palace. After that there was no looking back for him. There are a lot of music compositions by Mozart that you might have heard but you might not know they were composed by him. The place of his statue is very beautiful, and if you come here, make sure that you pay him a tribute by passing by and appreciating his work.
If you move ahead on Ringstrasse or The Ring Street, you reach the beautiful and historic Opera House. This historic theatre was inaugurated in 1869. It’s quite royal from inside. If you come here, do consider buying the expensive ticket which will enable you to experience the musical compositions of Mozart and Johann Strauss live.
St. Charles Church
After paying a visit to Opera house, you can come to St. Charles Church. If you don’t take a selfie with the church in background, your Vienna trip would be incomplete. This church was built by the famous, King Charles-IV in 1739. It’s been here ever since. If you go inside, do look at the ceilings. They have Roman style paintings. They wanted to show that they were the descendants of Romans, hence their architecture, whether it’s Baroque style or pillars, you will get to see that Roman touch. Why was this church built? Back in the day, this city was hit by a dangerous plague which resulted in a huge number of deaths. The King prayed to God, saying that if he removes plague from his city, he would build a church in his honor. So once the plague was over, he built this church in his honor. Whether it’s P.O.P work, golden lining or Italian marble on the pillars and walls, or even the striking paintings on the rooftop, each and every nook and corner looks decorated. By looking at the church from inside and outside, you can tell that the King spent quite a lot of money on it.
The City Hall
The Neo-Gothic style building, The City Hall was completed in 1883. It’s an amazing architectural beauty. In the winters, Christmas markets and Christmas trees are set up in front of City Hall which bring families outside of their homes. In the summers, a plenty of cultural and music festivals are organized here.
How Clean Is Vienna
One of the most livable cities in the world, Vienna is unmatched when it comes to cleanliness. Apart from the streets, the pedestrian touristy centers are also sparkling clean. You won’t find trash even after actively looking for it. Not just the tourist sites, even the normal lanes are clean and organized. Everyone parks in an orderly fashion and not in a haphazard way. The lanes have names of the cities they lead to, written on them. Traffic follows their respective lanes and trams are so frequent that almost everyone gets to sit while traveling. If you observe closely, you would notice how the road has reserved lane for tram, and how the buses and cars travel in a systematic way. Even the pedestrians cross as per the lights and most importantly, cycles have their own tracks and lights. Here, cycles and electronic scooters can freely move. The security arrangements here are top-notch.