Wow, Vienna. A grey, wet day and you STILL managed to steal my heart in just 10 hours.
Now THAT’S a fantastic city, if you ask me.
My trip back to Canada to visit my family and friends involved two layovers; one of them was in Vienna, and I’m not lying when I say I absolutely love this city, after spending just 10 hours there. And I feel like I accomplished it well in those 10 hours, so I wanted to share that with you!
MY DAY IN VIENNA
– 11 hours and 57 minutes between flights
and Vienna stole my heart!
Landing around 8:30 in the morning at Wien (Vienna) International Airport; I knew I had roughly 10 hours to get out, see the city and get back to the airport by dinner time. (To be comfortably early for my 8pm flight back to Amsterdam.)
I was determined to make every second count, despite the gloomy forecast.
GETTING FROM VIENNA
AIRPORT TO DOWNTOWN:
My choice was the CAT (City-Airport-Transit), because it’s basically idiot-proof (which, on my first ever solo adventure, I thought was the best decision.) And it was! Stepping into the airport, I was easily led by signs towards the CAT terminals, where you could purchase tickets for round-trips for 17 euro! I had already purchased and printed my ticket before hand, so I found my way to the terminal and stepped onto the first CAT train I saw.
What you need to know about the CAT:
- All CAT trains go from airport to city center without stopping, and then back…so you can’t mess it up!)
- CAT offers check in services for your connecting flights as well as luggage storage lockers at their downtown terminal office.
- Their downtown terminal is called WIEN-MITTE and is actually a stop on the HOP ON/HOP OFF bus tours!
- As previously mentioned, round-trips (from the airport, to the city and back to the airport) are 17 (seventeen) euro!
NOTE: Other choices for commute to and from the city center are the normal trains and buses, also located within the airport (they do make several stops to make between the airport and the city center) or taxi cabs, which are usually lined up outside the airport waiting for passengers.
How do I navigate through the downtown area? GOOD QUESTION! It’s actually pretty easy (if you have an inkling of navigational smarts and/or ask a few cab drivers or some people on the street)!
Once you arrive at Wien-Mitte (CAT terminal) or the general downtown area, the best option – in my opinion – is to locate a bus stop with a huge “H” sign…these are the hop on/hop off bus tour stops. I LOVE HOP ON/HOP OFF BUSES, as some of you may know; and this is how I chose to see Vienna. This choice was rather spontaneous of me, because I had planned (and by planned I mean printed out detailed instructions and maps) to see Vienna by foot. I assumed the buses wouldn’t be running in February, but they were!
A ticket for the bus is 15 (fifteen) euro for one line, but 25 (twenty-five) euro for all 4 lines (which is what I recommend, because “HELLO, good deal!”)
The first stop I noticed was a mere block away from the Wien-Mitte CAT terminal.
MY FIRST STOP – PRATER!
For those of you who have been reading this blog for a while now, you know I was beyond excited (and by excited I mean strangely, obsessively excited) about my first trip to a Madame Toussaud’s wax museum. Not only is Madame Toussaud’s world famous and has a bunch of locations, but I had never been to a wax museum before! And I was not disappointed! This museum was super awesome, had really interesting pieces and was very informational. Wax figures ranging from celebrities of Hollywood to famous scientists to historic Viennese people of the past – this museum seemed to have everything.
Next, within the Prater, I obviously had to ride on the GIANT FERRIS WHEEL (an iconic symbol of Vienna.) The views were nothing short of spectacular!
What you should know about visiting the Prater:
- Combi-tickets (multiple attractions within the park) are available on the park website HERE (example, I paid a mere 21 (twenty-one) euro for my ticket which included entrance to the Md. Toussaud’s wax museum, a free drink once inside and a ride on the Giant Ferris Wheel. Other combinations are available as well!
- The Prater is a stop on the BLUE and YELLOW lines of the hop on/hop off bus tour.
- The park is generally open to the public, meaning you could enter it at any time; however things don’t actually get up and running until around 10am. (Although, being there when it is virtually empty is kind of fun, too!)
- Something I really loved was the PHOTO-POSTCARD maker (located just within the Prater entrance). This machine allows you to take a photo (right there on the spot) and insert it into a post card of your choice … for only a few euro! It was such a lovely souvenir from my first solo adventure, and I obviously have it hanging on my fridge right now!
NEXT STOP – DANUBE TOWER
This was a stop that, in the rain, I was debating not doing. That would have been such a mistake!
This was one of my favourite parts of an awesome day. Treating myself to a decadent desert in their cafe (because their restaurant was being renovated), I was able to enjoy a 360 view of Vienna on a spinning floor! I was there, enjoying my amazing chocolate desert for about 45 minutes, and in those 45 minutes the cafe circled the entirety of Vienna. From mountains in the background to the infamous modern city skyline, eating at the Danube cafe offers incredible views of the city.
What to know about visiting the Dabube Tower:
- This tower is a stop on the BLUE line of the hop on/hop off bus tour
- Entrance to the Danube Tower is 6.50 (six-fifty) euro.
- Eating at the cafe or restaurant is an absolute must. The cafe is reasonably prices, while the restaurant offers more expensive food.
THE REST OF MY DAY – HOP ON/HOP OFF BUS TOUR!
Because it was rainy and grey, and I had only a few hours left, I decided to ride the bus all around the city! Although I would have loved to visit some iconic places (like the Freud Museum or the Criminal Museum), I really enjoyed seeing the city from the upper deck of the bus. In 10 hours, there definitely would have been time to visit some of the places on the bus tour, but I just wanted to sit and enjoy the ride after visiting the Prater and Danube tower. Listening to their information about the city and enjoying their FREE WiFi was a really awesome way to spend my last few hours in the city.
Things to know about the hop on/hop off bus system in Vienna:
- Free WiFi is offered on all lines. FREE. WiFi.
- Costs can vary, but usually are 15 (fifteen) euro for one line and 25 (twenty-five) euro for all four lines, which is a great deal!
- Buses usually visit each stop at intervals of 15 (fifteen) or 30 (thirty) minutes.
- The bus information channels are super informative, and admission to the bus lines come with an information packet for the bus times as well as headphones to listen.
Tips for Enjoying Vienna:
- Winter is obviously off-season for a destination like this, however, there was still a lot to do; so it is an option.
- Souvenir shops are located on the shopping street and/or inside the Prater park.
- From a day in Vienna, I noticed that people seem really friendly to a woman traveling alone (just from my experience), and my only cab driver was very nice, pointing me in directions I asked about and offering tips about the city.
- Keep your camera/phone charged, because this city is so photogenic, you’ll be using them both all day! A great place to re-charge all your batteries is the Danube Tower cafe, where there are some plugs available.
My Vienna Photo-Diary:
I hope you have such a great time if you ever decide to visit Vienna (and I really think you should!) – and look at that; it’s even manageable on a layover!