I left the other half of the Clock Out Check In team at home for my latest trip to Vienna with one of my closest friends and oldest travel buddy, Emily. We first went on holiday together over 10 years ago now and it is so much fun to be able to explore with a fellow vegan. With no boys in sight and a whole weekend to explore the capital of Austria, what were our top 5 things to do?
1. Schönbrunn Palace
Schönbrunn Palace is a cultural world heritage site and one of Austria’s most frequently visited attractions. The beautiful architecture and well maintained gardens make for a great tourist destination. I loved the gardens. Being able to explore the area freely was lovely and it felt like there were picture-perfect viewpoints around every corner. Neptune Fountain is the focal point to the garden, but be warned that due to the large amount of tourists you might want to skip walking behind the fountain for a view back to the palace.
Schönbrunn Palace offers a wide variety of passes and tours which we didn’t have time to explore on this visit. Next time, I would go on a tour to see the orangery, the maze and the interior of the palace. If it’s anything like the gardens, then it will be well worth the admission price.
When we arrived at Prater in Vienna’s second district, we couldn’t believe how big the amusement park was. There were rides everywhere, from Roller Coasters, Dodgems and a Ferris Wheel for the adults to Ghost Trains and Carousels for younger children. Needless to say, we went straight for the larger rides and a particular highlight for me was the ‘Wild Mouse’. It looked fairly tame from the outside but I was very wrong. We were screaming at every turn!
Entry is free all year around and prices for the rides vary between €1.50 – €5 per adult. When you consider the cost of going to a theme park in the UK, I felt that this was great value. The location is so convenient, the attractions are great fun and there was a lot of food and drink on offer too. Prater is a must visit on your trip to Vienna particularly at night when the park really comes alive in glorious neon technicolour.
3. Albertina Museum
One of my favourite things about the Albertina Museum was the huge amount of variety on offer with artists ranging from Monet and Degas to Gauguin. In the museum is one of Europe’s most important collections of modernist art, the Batliner Collection. Although it is one of the pricier museums in Vienna, your ticket grants you access to all of the exhibitions within the Museum and is well worth the admission price. But be warned – the Albertina Museum gets very busy and we had to queue outside the museum for 15 minutes even though we arrived very early in the morning.
The most memorable part of the Museum was the Maria Lassnig exhibition – Ways of Being. The artist’s collection tackles many themes such as gender relations, body language and the human form. Her work really focuses on what she was physically feeling at the time of painting and a large amount of her work hints at being a self portrait. I particularly enjoyed the use of colour in her art, sluggy pastel greens were seen throughout the series. The content of the paintings was sometimes hard to look at, the human form sometimes deformed or entwined with an animal. The Maria Lassnig exhibition is open until the 1st December 2019.
Entrance costs €16 for adults but kids under 19 can go for free.
4. Museum Quarter
The Museum Quarter is bursting with options for tourists in Vienna. There are so many different options that you will keep finding yourself being dragged back to the area. Whether it is the cinema, sightseeing, cafes or the huge variety of exhibitions, there is something in the Museum Quarter for everyone.
If you are a contemporary art lover then I would highly recommend visiting the Mumok museum! Entry is free on a Sunday, which really draws in the crowds, so it’s cheap but not necessarily for the faint hearted. The Museum Quarter is also very family orientated so if you are traveling with kids then there is also lots to see and do. Vienna Zoo or the Kindermuseum are great options for a day out that the whole family will enjoy.
5. Indulge in the coffee and cake culture
Austria is known for its coffee and cake culture. With beautiful patisseries and artisan coffee visiting some of Vienna’s cafes was a must. Cafe Central is one of the most well known in Vienna. It has become a bit of a tourist destinations but it is still well worth a visit.
One of the other cafes we enjoyed, Cafe Am Hof, is situated in the heart of the city and has a lovely outdoor seating area – perfect for people watching. The service was great and of course the coffee was perfect too. The food was excellent as well. I ordered avocado toast for brunch and it was enough for two!
Another coffee house I have to mention is Palmenhaus which is in the largest greenhouse in Vienna. Palmenhaus is a wonderful place to go on a rainy day as a welcome break from the rain. We loved sitting inside the building looking out on the world surrounded by plants. We sat at the bar, ordered two cappuccinos (the Austrain baristas love a lot of foam!) and soaked up the scenery. It has a busy family friendly vibe and you can tell that they must also have a large amount of tourists due to the butterfly house next door. Schmetterlinghaus is also a great rainy day activity and would be wonderful with children.
What are your favourite things to do in Vienna? Let us know in the comments below.