Vienna, Austria’s Imperial capital is a blend of imperial traditions and stunning modern architecture. The city is famous for its cultural events, imperial sights, coffee houses, cozy wine taverns, and the very special Viennese charm.
Vienna’s history dates back to the first post-Christian century when the Romans established the military camp Vindobona. Today’s cityscape is characterized by the abundance of Baroque buildings created mostly under the rule of Empress Maria Theresia (1740 – 1780) and Franz Joseph (1848 – 1916).
There is so much to do and experience in Vienna and you need minimal of 3 days to really enjoy the city.
The splendid baroque Belvedere Palace today houses the Austrian Gallery displaying the largest collection of works by Klimt (The Kiss) and Kokoschka as well as famous paintings by Schiele. Vienna’s prime landmarks are the gothic Stephansdom (St. Stephen’s Cathedral), the Giant Ferris Wheel in the Prater, Vienna’s old recreational park, and the Spanish Riding School with their world-famous Lipizzaner horses.
How to get to City Center from Vienna Train Station
Vienna’s new Central Railway Station, including the new Bahnhof City mall, was opened in 2014. It was constructed as a through station and for the first time, trains arrive in the capital from all directions to destinations in all directions.
It only takes five minutes to go from Vienna Central Station to the city centre (St. Stephen’s Square station) by underground, and a mere 12 minutest to reach Vienna International Centre (Kaisermühlen-VIC). U1 trains come in at short intervals, averaging three to four minutes during daytime on weekdays.
How to get around
Vienna has a well-developed public transport network. Buses, trains, trams and underground lines will take you almost anywhere in the city in no time at all. Vienna public transport Wiener Linien operates five underground lines, 29 tram and 127 bus lines, of which 24 are night lines. Night lines only operate between 0.30 am and 5 am. On weekends and public holidays the Vienna underground remains at the service of its passengers all night. The Wiener Linien vehicle fleet currently consists of over 500 tramcars and more than 450 buses. A single ticket costs EUR 2.40 and can be bought at the ticket machine and at Tobacco shop. There is also passes for longer periods of time. Passes are available for 24 hours and 72 hours, or as weekly, monthly or annual passes.
Austrian public transport in general is also family friendly, especially the Metro. All of their metro underground stop has elevators which made our life easier as we didn’t have to carry Alyssa stroller if she fell asleep. The train station also always have elevators.
This morning we hopped on the train to Vienna from Prague. This time we knew how to find the non-reserved seats. I have prepared Alyssa’s books and color pencils so she can make herself busy while we catch on with sleeping in the train lol. We also brought food with us so Alyssa didn’t get cranky if she got hungry. We bought the train ticket to Vienna from Austria train website here which I find is more user friendly Vs the Germany website.
Our Hotel in Vienna is also located in front of the train station and as the train station is also connected to a Mall it is easy to find food. Sari was not feeling well so we used the afternoon to rest and only went out in the evening to meet Ebke for dinner in Stephanplatz.
The Stephansplatz is a square at the geographical centre of Vienna. It is named after its most prominent building, the Stephansdom, Vienna’s cathedral and one of the tallest churches in the world.
We hang out in one of the outdoor cafe and as it got dark we walked to find a Asian Restaurant to have dinner
We headed to Naschmarkt first thing in the morning for breakfast and bought all kind of olives and truffle cheese for snack to go before meeting Ebke in front of Albertina museum. Naschmarkt is Vienna’s most popular market. Located at the Wienzeile over the Vienna River, it is about 1.5 kilometres (0.93 mi) long. Nowadays, people can buy fresh fruit and vegetables from around the world, exotic herbs, cheese, baked goods and seafood. There are also many small restaurants which offer e.g. sushi, kebab, seafood, traditional Viennese food and stalls which offer clothes and accessories.
Vienna has many museums and galleries of international reputation from Kunsthistorisches Museum has world’s largest collection of Bruegel paintings, Museums Quartier with the Leopold Museum, Museum Moderner Kunst (Museum of Modern Art), Architekturzentrum (Architectural Centre) and Kunsthalle rank among the city’s most important cultural venues. There is also Albertina Museum, home to the world’s largest collection of graphic arts and prints (60,000 drawings, 1 million prints).
Vienna is also home to many celebrated composers who lived and worked here including Strauss father and son, Mozart, Beethoven and Haydn. The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra is one of the world’s best, the Staatsoper one of the world’s leading opera houses, and the Vienna Boys’ Choir one the world’s most famous. Vienna has established itself as a great musical metropolis.
We spent our day 2 strolling around the city, visiting many cultural attractions around Vienna and bought musical concert for tonight.
Tired from walking we finally took the horse carriage ride to make Alyssa happy. It turned out the adults were more excited than Alyssa who was trying her best to look cool.
We took the metro to The Prater later in the afternoon to ride its famous ferris wheel. The Prater is a popular public park and green space in the city, and is home to one of the oldest amusement parks in the world. Its ferris wheel, at over 200 feet (65 m) tall, is one of the symbols of Vienna. Used for centuries as the imperial hunting grounds, Vienna’s Prater was opened to the public in 1766. In 1895 the amusement park, Wurstelprater, was opened, of which many of the original attractions have been perfectly preserved, contributing to the charming historic feel of the park.
The Giant Wheel
Since being opened in 1897 during the celebration of Franz Joseph’s Golden Jubilee, Vienna’s Riesenrad, or Giant Wheel, has been one of the city’s most iconic symbols.
Throughout its history, the ferris wheel has lived on through war and disaster. It managed to survive the threat of demolition and lay unused for two years during World War I, but in the final days of World War II, it was bombed and burnt down. While it was reconstructed in record time, only 15 of the original 30 gondolas were restored.
Those remaining gondolas now form an exhibition space underneath the wheel, where visitors can explore the different eras of Vienna’s history: the Roman Empire, the Middle Ages, the World Exhibition, and the different wars fought in the city.
Mozart and Strauss mini concert
We head back to the city square for dinner and parted with Ebke as we are going to watch Mozart and Strauss mini concert by Wienner Royal Orchester at Beethovenplatz.
We have bought the ticket impulsively from the guy selling ticket on the street because he told us the venue was low key and perfect for family and the orchestra was also only a 1 hour performance. I thought it would be a good introduction of classical music for Alyssa.Turned out she was enjoying the orchestra and managed to sit still during the performance.
The music and performance was very good quality, we had a mix of some opera singing and ballet performance. Recommended for people who wanted to get a taste of Vienna orchestra in a casual family setting.
We originally wanted to do a day trip to Bratislava which is only 1 hour by train from Vienna. However Sari was not feeling well and started to cough because were caught in a rain on our way back from the opera the night before. So we cancelled Bratislava plan and went to see Schonbrunn Palace. We were going to Schonbrunn again later tonight but we thought it would be good to see it during the day also.
Schonbrunn Palace was the main summer residence of the Habsburg rulers, located in Hietzing, Vienna. The name Schönbrunn (meaning “beautiful spring”) has its roots in an artesian well from which water was consumed by the court. The 1,441-room Rococo palace is one of the most important architectural, cultural, and historic monuments in the country. The history of the palace and its vast gardens spans over 300 years, reflecting the changing tastes, interests, and aspirations of successive Habsburg monarchs. It has been a major tourist attraction since the mid-1950s.
Schonbrunn Palace open from 9.00-17.00 while the garden open from 06.30-20.00 How to get here:
Underground: U4, get off at Schönbrunn
Trams: 10 and 60, get off at Schloss Schönbrunn
Bus: 10 A, get off at Schloss Schönbrunn
Schonbrunn Palace had a large and beautiful garden. we could walk further to see Gloriette. Gloriette is a building in a garden erected on a site that is elevated with respect to the surroundings. The structural execution and shape can vary greatly, often in the form of a pavilion or tempietto, more or less open on the sides. The largest and probably best-known gloriette is in the Schonbrunn Palace garden in Vienna, built in 1775 and was the last building constructed in the garden.
I didn’t have energy to walk up while pushing a stroller so I only walked to certain extend and saw the Gloriette from a distance. You could easily spend one day to properly explore Schonbrunn Palace and Garden to see the museum inside and explore the garden. There was even a zoo and a maze inside the garden.
From Schonbrunn, Sari went back to Hotel to rest while Alyssa and I went to Stadtpark. Stadtpark had a playground where Alyssa could play and burnt her energy.
Stadtpak is the oldest public park in Vienna located right in the heart of Vienna’s centre. Stadtpark stretches over 28 acres of land in the city and divided by Wien River. One of the park’s most photographed monuments is the statue of Johan Strauss, a gilded bronze sculpture built in 1921 in honor of the iconic Austrian composer. A stroll throughout the park would not be complete without a visit to one of its most important buildings, the Kursalon. Opened in 1867 as a spa pavilion where visitors could enjoy hydrotherapeutic treatments, it was soon turned into a concert hall instead, and to this day hosts around 500 concerts and balls every year.
Shakespeare Magic Flute Marionette Opera
Marionette Theater Schönbrunn Palace is a unique, original puppet theatre located directly at the Schönbrunn Palace that cultivates the Viennese tradition of artistic play with precious, hand-made marionettes. At the Imperial Palace, the tradition of telling stories with puppets dates back 250 years.
The theatre plays classical music operas such as “The Magic Flute” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart or “The Wedding of Figaro” just as you would experience at an Opera House – except for here, the operas are presented by traditional puppets. The puppets, rigorously hand-crafted, are made of Swiss pine and lime wood and wrapped in silk and lace. Decorations and lighting are fantastic as well – constantly changing and moving, thus adding dynamics and excitement to the performance.
We wanted to watch performance while we are in the cultural city like Vienna but we also did not want to bore Alyssa by sitting in a 2 hour performance. Watching Marionette performance is a good choice because they are are the same performance pieces as the classic ones designed for an adult audience, but the children´s versions are shorter. Each performance take about 70 minutes to keep small children focused and amused.
You entered the theatre from Schonbrunn Palace’s main gate. Schonbrunn Palace were closed in the evening but the main entrance was left open for people who were going to see the marionette theatre which was located in the back of the palace.