Vienna was the most anticipated of city on our 3 city European trip in Feb 2020, but was unfortunately by far the most disappointing.
Looking back at our visit, I think the problem might have been down to 2 reasons – the time of year, and the weather while we were there. It was bitterly cold, and rained for most of the time we were in Vienna, which I think (literally) put a bit of a dampener on things, and kept some of the locals indoors!
As a bit of a theme park nerd, I was looking forward to seeing the Prater amusement park, but it was unfortunately closed because of the wild weather.
While Vienna didn’t quite live up to our expectations, we made the most of it and had a good look around the city!
Anyway, here’s what we got up to in Vienna!
Day 1 – Arriving and being blown across Vienna!
We arrived into Vienna train station from Prague late afternoon, and got straight on to the U-Bahn (Metro) towards Gasometer, where the hotel was, so we could drop our bags off and head in to the city for the evening.
Gasometer is named after the 4 enormous gas tanks which were used from 1899 to 1984, which have now been converted in to enormous shopping and leisure buildings. Quite interesting!
When we surfaced from the metro stairs near our hotel, we were literally nearly blown away because of the force of the wind and rain blowing down the street!
I have never known weather like it – We held on to our bags and fought against the wind until we eventually made it the 200 meters to the hotel’s front doors to check in!
We stayed at the Roomz Hotel in Gasometer, which is more of a budget hotel on the outskirts of the Vienna. Being out of town wasn’t an issue though since the U-Bahn station was just a block away.
The hotel itself was quite nice, especially when you consider it’s a budget hotel, however the lack of a bathroom door was a bit odd!
After checking in we headed back out in to the hurricane conditions, this time being blown down the road in to the U-Bahn station, faster than I think I’d ever walked before, then went in to the city for the evening for a first look around and to find something to eat.
I had been looking forward to trying some Austrian Schnitzel as soon as we arrived, but we struggled to find anything ‘Austrian’ that was open in Vienna – there seemed to be very few restaurants open, so we had to delay the much-anticipated Schnitzel and eat elsewhere.
Seemed strange, it was mid-week and only about 7pm, nearly everything was closed?
Day 2 – Our busy full day in Vienna!
The next day was our full day in Vienna, so we made the most of it by leaving the hotel and heading to the centre for some breakfast.
When we got off the U-Bahn in the centre of Vienna, our first impressions were how grand and modern it actually is!
The first building we saw after leaving the Metro was the Domkirche St. Stephan cathedral, which is an enormous and very impressive building.
We went in search of some breakfast, which was surprisingly difficult to find in Vienna in our experience. We really struggled to find anywhere that was open. We wandered the city centre trying to find a nice café 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.
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!
Eventually we settled for one of the take-away bakeries, and took our food in to Starbucks for a coffee since it was one of the only open coffee shops we could find that offered indoor seating.
The pastries were amazing though – the Viennese whirl especially was delish, and was as good as anything from a French bakery/patisserie!
So. Viennese whirl – ✅ check!
Just my Schnitzel left to find!
Next we had a look around the city for a while, and went in to the enormous St. Stephan’s Cathedral before heading back on to the U-Bahn towards Schönbrunn Palace.
Schönbrunn Palace is absolutely enormous, and is definitely worth a visit.
It’s clear why this is Austria’s most visited attraction.
A guided audio tour is included in the ticket price, and was very interesting to learn about the history of Austria, and to spot the small details you’d otherwise miss.
I particularly enjoyed seeing the secret passages behind hidden doors in the walls in the rooms that the servants used to move around the palace without being seen.
The fireplaces are all double-sided as well, so the servants could access them from behind and stoke the fires without disturbing the residents.
When we’d finished our tour around the palace, the time had come to re-start the search for some Schnitzel, but it wasn’t to be. Once again, the city appeared to be almost completely closed! In the end we booked at the Trattoria La Scala, which I was very pleased about because it ended up being the best Italian restaurant I’ve ever been to! (I haven’t been to Italy yet!)
Since the entire city was basically closed by 7PM, we headed back to Gasometer, and battled up the road against the unbelievable wind again, back to the hotel for the night.
Seriously, what is with the wind?!
Is Gasometer renowned for being a wind tunnel?
I wonder if it’s down to the shape of the huge gas towers channeling the wind?
Day 3 – Continuing East to Budapest
On our final morning in Vienna, we got up and headed out of the hotel to go and find some breakfast. We found another bakery and bought some more amazing pastries, before heading to the station to sit and have some coffee and wait for our train.
The Station in Vienna is absolutely huge, and has a lot of shops and cafes to spend some time in while waiting for trains.
Before long we got on our train which followed the River Danube East to our next city, Budapest.
So, Vienna. In my opinion it didn’t live up to the hype unfortunately. It was a very strange experience, seeing so many shops, cafes and restaurants closed (before the pandemic normalised that!)
I definitely enjoyed my time in Vienna and I’m glad I’ve been to see it, however I think this is the first time I’ve traveled somewhere and felt a little let down by what I found.
I’m not sure if it was because of the time of year, or because of the weather while we were there, but Vienna seemed very closed while we were there in February 2020.
If I return to Vienna, I’ll definitely go to Prater to have a go on some of the vintage rides there, and visit some more of the museums. I’d also make an effort to visit the famous Café Central next time!
I think the moral of the story for me is: If you can help it, don’t try to do Vienna on a budget!
The next stop on the trip was to one of the most incredible cities I’ve ever been to – Budapest.
The next leg of this 3 part trip was in Budapest. Click below to read about it!
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Fun! We’re going (back) to Vienna soon.