Before we start…. I don’t hate Vienna!
I enjoyed visiting back in February this year, and I’m really glad I’ve been.
The point of this post is that people had told me that Vienna is incredible. For weeks I’d heard from people how amazing and beautiful this city was – someone even told me it was the best city he’d ever visited.
Well…. Yeah it’s a cool place, but I don’t really get it.
Maybe we visited during an “off” week?
Maybe we just went about it all wrong?
Maybe my expectations were too high?
Or maybe it was because we were so blown away by the other 2 cities we had visited on the same trip (Prague and Budapest) that Vienna just couldn’t compete with those? (Just my opinion!)
Who knows. Either way we couldn’t really understand the hype, and it didn’t leave us with that fuzzy “wow I can’t wait to come back” feeling that most European cities do.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m so glad to have been! We had a good time wandering around and seeing one of Europe’s big capitals. It’s just not what I thought it would be.
Reason 1: It felt ’empty’ and ‘closed’
And by that I mean it was literally empty. There was barely anyone around! Everywhere we went there were very few locals or tourists (except at the big attractions of course).
Fine, we went in February, but in my experience capital cities are full of life no matter the season.
Whenever we found ourselves hungry for lunch or fancying a coffee, we really struggled to find anywhere that was open. We wandered the city centre trying to find a nice cafe or restaurant, but all we could find were the occasional street vendor or “hole in the wall” type place where you could get a takeaway coffee or pre-packed sandwich, or patisseries selling take-out food – we really struggled to find a ‘sit-in’ kind of place.
My wife had her eye on a particular vegan shop she’d read about, bit after we spent the best part of an hour navigating to it, we were greeted by a pretty beaten up old paper sign stating “back soon”. (They weren’t.)
Where is the Viennese ‘coffee culture’ I have heard so much about?
It seems that unless you want to pay a lot of money to go to the likes of Café Central, coffee houses are a bit hard to come by in Vienna!
Reason 2: It felt a bit ‘stand-offish’
Maybe it was the welcoming nature of the locals in Prague and Budapest that set the expectations a little too high, but I can’t say we felt particularly welcome in Vienna…
Walking in to all the empty shops was very uncomfortable – it was clear that many of the staff would rather we left, so we did.
Perhaps they get a lot of thefts from tourists?
Even the big attractions, Schönbrunn for example, felt like a “can you all just pay, quickly shuffle through and leave please” kind of experience.
We were really looking forward to seeing the palace and its beautiful grounds, but were disappointed when we were inside and all the window shutters were closed… If you wanted to see the grounds, you have to buy an additional ticket for that!
Reason 3: It’s pretty hard to navigate
We’ve traveled to quite a few big cities now, and are confident navigating around using metros and trams, but in Vienna we found ourselves struggling several times.
It’s also very spread-out.
It’s not a place you can wander around the city centre and stumble upon things, you really do have to research and plan your routes to get where you need to be.
When we did manage to get somewhere, we were glued to Google Maps constantly because there are no signs to indicate what anything actually is.
We saw some really beautiful buildings, but had no clue what they were without looking them up all the time.
I completely understand that the city doesn’t exist for tourists, but it’s not geared towards tourists at all (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s just not what I expected).
Reason 4: It’s overpriced
Things in Vienna seemed unnecessarily expensive to me.
Attractions, restaurants and shopping were definitely pricier than other European cities I’ve been to.
Should you visit Vienna?
Yes, you definitely should!
Just because I didn’t enjoy Vienna as much as other European cities, that doesn’t mean I hated it, and it certainly doesn’t mean you’ll think the same as me.
Vienna has a lot of fans, so chances are you’ll be one of them!
Go and see it for yourself – maybe I just missed the point?