Could you stay in Vienna for years, and never see it all? Absolutely. But when time is tight, there are still ways to get the most out of your trip to this unforgettable city.
However you choose to travel to the capital city of Austria (we drove a rental car from Slovenia...would not recommend to a friend), once you're there, it is not necessary to have a car to get around. We never used the one we had on hand-preferring to walk, take public transportation, or use cabs for further locations. We chose to use Airbnb (my favorite method of housing for budget travel..will explain in detail why in a future post), which landed us in a cozy, cottage like apartment in the heart of the city. There are many museums and historical sites to fill your 24 hours, but these are the ones we chose:
1. Christmas Markets - we took the trip during the Christmas season which was PERFECT because the Vienna Christmas Markets are the best of the best. The space in between the Natural History Museum and the Kunsthistorisches Museum (conveniently located along Ring Road, which circles the heart of the city. You can follow this road to find just about everything you want to see throughout the day. The market is filled with booth after booth of gifts, treats, and most importantly: punch. You will definitely be chilly in Vienna at this time of year, but tossing a few mugs of this back will take care of it. It is inexpensive to tour museums, but even just taking in the impressive architecture from the plaza is worth the trip.
2. The Freud Museum- we chose to take a cab over to the museum because of the rainy weather. The whacky, well preserved home of Dr. Freud features rooms that used to be his private quarters, as well as his office and study. The audio guide is comprehensive, and the house is small enough that it doesn't take much of your time to see it all. Take an espresso break in the cafe downstairs when you're done!
3. Saint Stephen's Cathedral- in the center of the old town, is another good one to see at Christmas time. It's decorated with evergreens and is ringing with hymns and carols. Stay for a mass, or simply tour around for a few minutes to take in the magnificent architecture.
4. Kaerntner Strasse- the city's most notable shopping street is just steps from the cathedral doors. Wander past eye-popping store fronts that contain top of the line designers, as well as Austrian staples. These streets are magical at night when the Christmas lights mix with the lights from the shops.
5. Rathausplatz- Vienna's City Hall is a stunning building that can be found along Ring Road. There is a park nearby where you can take a breather and enjoy some street food. There are food trucks lining the way, so grab yourself a wurstel, and find a bench!
6. Traditional Austrian Dinner- the food options in Vienna are endless, and I assure you, wherever you end up, you won't be disappointed. As a vegetarian, I was able to find a few options, but Vienna definitely caters to the carnivore. If you're brave, go for the boiled beef cheeks- then send me a picture...I'm fascinated.
Wherever you choose, you are SURE to have a magical day in this city full of history, music, culture, food, and punch...remember the punch ;)