In November I stopped by imperially romantic Vienna, Austria for two days on my way to a consulting job in Sri Lanka. The holiday season was just starting and the city was awash in Christmas lights and markets selling spiced wine, dried meats and just about any type of cheese you could ask for.
Vienna has so much history that it is a challenge to tackle the city in the short time I had. I was assaulted with recommendations by friends, guidebooks and internet sites about what I had to see. However, unlike other cities, I felt no pressure to spend my days locked in old palaces and in quite museums (although you would not be wasting your time if you did.) Instead, I spent my days walking the medieval city streets, exploring the architecture and fabulous statues, and of course drinking glühwein, spiced wine, at every Christmas market I found. When I only have a day or two in a city, I find walking the best way to soak in the atmosphere. Of course it was also nice to get a head start on my Christmas shopping.

I got lost immediately and enjoyed every minute of it. Every corner held a different feast for the eyes and I soon didn’t care where I was.

Four shy statues

Naschmarket, a curious blend of Viennese culture and oriental flavor. Dating back to the 16th century there are plenty of delicious delights to buy, or just sit at one of the many cafes and restaurants and soak in the atmosphere.

Spices

The Museum Quarter is a must see

A Christmas market.

Statue in front of the Austrian National Library in the Hofburg Palace

Fountain near the Spanish Riding School

Don’t smite me…smite the snakes…

There you go…

Christmas and shopping was not complete until first I walked down Mariahilfer Strasse, the cities main shopping street, and then down the pedestrian avenues leading to Stephansdom Cathedral.
Stephansdom (St. Stephen’s) Cathedral. Begun in 1359, it was not completed until the 20th Century. Even today constant renovations hide parts of the building. Luckily the city prints pictures of the building on the scaffolding so as not to disrupt the beauty too much. Can you spot the scaffolding in the picture above?

Inside the Cathedral

No matter where you look in Vienna…someone is watching you!


If you go

Bring a lot of money, Vienna is expensive. I stayed at the Radisson SAS Palais, on Stadtpark. The location was great, but not necessarily worth the price of $200/day. However, there are cheaper options in hostels which can be found here.

When to go: Vienna is generally mild and the weather reliably follows the four distinct seasons. Average summer temperatures range from 20°C to 30°C, the average winter temperatures are around 0°.

Getting there: The Vienna Airport has connections all over the world and can be accessed from just about anywhere. Trains run from the airport often and are the best way to get into the city. The two best choices are:

The City Airport Train Vienna-Card leaves every half hour from the city center (Landstrasse/Wien Mitte) and the airport – the ride lasts 16 minutes (single ride 10 Euro, round trip 18 Euro, with the Vienna Card 7.50 Euro instead of 10 Euro ).

With the Airport City Train (Schnellbahn) S 7 and S 8 you can get a discount with the Vienna Card or with another ticket of the Vienna Transportation Authorities. You need only buy an additional “Aussenzonen” (outer zone) ticket for 2.20 Euro (1.80 Euro if bought in advance) and have it punched before entering the train. Without the Vienna Card, you need to pay two zones (4.40 Euro, or 3.60 Euro if bought in advance). The trip takes 20 minutes and is the best deal considering it only takes 4 minutes longer than the City Airport Train.

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2 Responses to “Vienna Walk About”

  1. Vienna has its magic turned on all the time, but the real thing must be around Christmas. Great pictures of the fare and the buildings, it makes me ache not being able to experience them this time.
    Lively Vienna´s recent [type] ..Lively Vienna Attractions

  2. PremNo Gravatar says:

    Excellent Post!!
    The great looking sculptures and architectural beauties of Vienna are truly magnificent. The markets look very natural and aromatic. Discuss all about Vienna at http://bookvienna.ning.com
    :)
    .-= Prem´s recent blog ..The good, the bad and the ugly. A candid blog about Vienna =-.

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