I am definitely guilty of googling anywhere I am going prior to visiting (who isn’t?). But on this occasion, I really didn’t do too much research into Vienna. Whilst this certainly had its up’s, I thought it would be useful to highlight the 5 things I wish I knew before visiting Vienna.
1. You don’t have to be a history buff to enjoy this City.
I touch on this point in my previous post (if you haven’t read it yet, you can do so here). Vienna was never on my list of places to go, it was on my boyfriends. The research which I had done, would frequently bring up the same top ten museums and palaces to visit. Don’t get me wrong, Vienna is FULL of them, but you don’t need to go inside every single one to have a good time. Not to mention, how expensive that would be!
In fact, we didn’t actually go inside any of them (not on this trip anyway). What I am trying to say, is that the buildings and surroundings are so spectacular in themselves, that they certainly provide more than enough enjoyment to simply walk around and admire their beauty. If I had known this, I probably would have visited Vienna sooner.
2. You need longer than a weekend to fully see the City.
We had two full days in Vienna and it was nowhere near long enough; we barely even scratched the surface! Whilst it is possible to visit the historic centre in this time, if you want to explore further, then a few more days is needed; especially if stopping off at the many Viennese coffee houses are on your agenda.
Something we didn’t get to see due to time constraints was the Schonnbrunn Palace. It is situated about 20 minutes outside of the city centre and I’ve heard you would need at least half a day alone to visit the palace and gardens (it also has a zoo!).
3. Supermarkets close early and are shut on Sundays.
Well, supermarkets close far earlier than those at home, especially at the weekend (before 6.00pm on Saturday and before 8.00pm on weekdays). Being accustomed to the London 24/7 culture, this definitely caught us out on a couple of occasions. We either had to head to the nearest station which seemed to have exceptions, or pop into one of the very overly priced tourist shops on the Sunday.
4. There are some pretty cool day trips you can take.
Something which never occurred to me before was Vienna’s fairly central European location. As a result, Vienna is a perfect base for visiting 3 further countries; Slovenia, Hungary and Czech Republic. Direct trains can take you to the cities of Bratislava (1 hour), Budapest (2.5 hours) and Prague (4 hours). You can also travel across Austria and visit the city of Salzburg (2.5 hours). Definitely something to think about!
5. Popular restaurants book up early!
When in Vienna, I did not want to leave without trying their famous pork Schnitzel. Not only that, but I wanted to try it at a traditional Viennese restaurant. Whilst considered a tourist spot, Figlmüller has frequently been cited to serve one of the best Schnitzels. Opening in 1905, it is still a family run business and they have two restaurants. 2 weeks before we flew to Vienna, I tried to book a table with no such luck, either for lunch or dinner. We ended up going to Salm Braeu which did not disappoint. However, be prepared to queue if you do not have a reservation.