The beauty of Vienna is too much to capture in one post. It is one of the most beautiful and exciting cities in Europe. It’s elegant, artistic, hip, young and vibrant. Vienna is lovely any time of year: when the trees bloom in spring, when the temperatures rise in summer, and especially around Christmas time. I’ve covered some of the heavy hitters in my previous post on Vienna, but there are also plenty of hidden gems.
Having lived in Vienna for several months, this post is dedicated more to the local side of the city. If you are planning a trip to this fantastic Austrian capital, these are some great things to do:
The Viennese Opera is world-famous for its beautiful Baroque building and the excellent performances. It has been the honor of many great opera singers to perform here. There are performances every day, but tickets to the opera are not cheap, especially if they are not booked in advance. However, you can queue up 80 minutes before the show for standing tickets that cost about 3-4 euro’s. It means having to stand for 3-4 hours, but it will be a unique cultural experience. Look here for specific instruction on how to get standing tickets.
To offset all the old European glamour, Vienna has its very own inner city theme park. The original part of the Prater is actually the oldest amusement park in the world! It is open all day every day, free of charge. Instead of paying an entrance fee, you pay for each individual ride. It is a great place to hang out for a day if the weather allows and take a few spins on the roller coasters and try some Austrian fair food. I especially recommend the ‘langos’ a Hungarian fried bread with garlic.
It is far from a coincidence that all of Vienna’s most prestigious buildings lie along the Ringstrasse. The road was built on the order of Emperor Franz Joseph and took more than 50 years to construct. To build the 5.3 km road, the old city walls, as well as full neighborhoods, had to be torn down. There is a tourist tram, but unless you want the addition of a guide, you can also hop on tram lines 1 or 2 that run the same route. With a Vienna Card, public transport is included so you can hop on and off to visit the buildings along the Ringstrasse: the University, Volkstheater, City Hall, Parliament, Court, Opera, Imperial Palace, the Kunsthistorisches Museum and the Natural History Museum.
Vienna may be most famous for the Baroque architecture, but that doesn’t mean that modern art enthusiasts don’t have anything nice to look at. Vienna’s most unique building is undoubtedly the Hundertwasserhaus. The colorful, expressionist apartment building was designed by Friedensreich Hundertwasser, an Austrian artist. It’s strange shapes and colors are reminiscent of Gaudi’s buildings in Barcelona. The Hundertwasserhaus is still in use and therefore not open to visitors, but you can visit the Hundertwasser Village across the road and the Hundertwasser Museum to learn more about the artist.
There is more to Vienna than art and architecture. There is also a lively food scene and there is no better place to explore this than the Naschmarkt. The Naschmarkt is a favorite among locals and tourists to do their shopping. The open-air market has produce and vegetable vendors as well as some small shops, cafe’s and restaurants, selling all kinds of local and international delicacies. The market is especially fun on Saturdays when it is extended with a flee market. The perfect place to do some souvenir shopping, sit down for some delicious foods or grab yourself some ingredients for a pick nick in one of Vienna’s beautiful parks.
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