Schönbrunn Palace, Vienna Austria
Located on the banks of the Danube River, Vienna is one of the most visited cities in Europe. Known as the gateway between Western and Eastern Europe it remains a cultural hub today. Its rich history, world's great opera houses, famed art collections, and numerous palaces. The seat of power for the Habsburg's Empire for six centuries.
Prior to taking in any of the attractions, our first stop similarly to most other trips was at our hotel Palais Hansen Kempinski Vienna to drop our luggage off after the four-hour train ride. Vienna is easily accessible by subway, we purchased the multi day subway tickets hence allowing us to cover all key attraction in Vienna but also Schonbrunn Palace outside of the city. As in Prague make sure you validate your ticket prior to boarding the subway.
Hofburg Palace, Austria Vienna
We started at the Hofburg Palace, we purchased a multi-attraction ticket online that would allow us to visit multiple palaces during our stay for one price instead of paying for them independently which would cost more. The Habsburgs used the palace for six centuries as their main residence. Today, it is the official seat of the Austrian President. The complex is massive, and a guided tour is recommended, there are many different architectural types covering the numerous periods from Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and Rococo.
Wandering through the Museum quarter, Rathausplatz, Rathaus, Vienna's State Opera House and Stephsplatz taking in the various public squares. Each platz has its own unique architecture but all are very Austrian. We caught the subway to the hotel to get ready for dinner at a Lola tapas restaurant minutes from the hotel. We did have dinner at Lola's two nights.
Palais Hansen Kempinski Vienna was built in the 1873 as a hotel for the World Exhibition. It is in a historic building but with contemporary luxury and modern architecture. This is one of the best hotels we have stayed in the world, service stellar, and accommodations were splendid. It provides easy subway access to all lines.
St Stephens Cathedral, Austria Vienna
St Stephens Cathedral
After dinner at Lola's we stopped at the cathedral, it is built in the gothic architectual design. As you approach the cathedral you see the multi-color tiled roof, the towers and gate. We went inside to see the Gothic stone pulpit, afterwards we chose to go to the top of the tower to take in the Vienna's city view. Going to the top at night allowed us to see the city all lit up.
Wusikverein Opera House
Wusikeverein Opera House
We headed to the Wusikverein opera house for an evening performance of Mozart after taking in the views for the top of the St. Stephens Cathedral. The next day we would be leaving the downtown area and heading out to the Habsburgs' summer palace, Schönbrunn Palace.
Overall View of Schönbrunn Palace
Take public transportation it is a very easy ride and the train drops you just across the street from the palace. You do not need a tour operator. If you want a tour you can join one at the palace. As we mentioned previously we purchased the multi attraction pass hence we didn't need to buy another ticket but instead joined one of the tours. The setting does have a spectacular 18th-century palace but also worth visiting are the beautiful groomed grounds. It has 1441 rooms, during the tour you will visit the imperial apartments, walnut room and Franz Joseph's bedroom. The rooms are richly furnished. It is considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It took us a few hours to get through everything, apartments and grounds. Since our third day was planned to visit Salzburg, for the afternoon we made our way to Belvedere Palace.
Another popular stop in Vienna, the palace consists of two baroque buildings. The upper palace highlights the ground floor hall, associated statues and ceremonial staircase. The lower palace has the marble hall. There are several other structures to visit as well in the grounds. There is an extensive art collection, on display is the "The Kiss" a well know piece of modern art.
Final Day - Salzburg, Austria - Day Trip
Salzburg is a few hours bus ride or train ride from downtown Vienna. We soon realized why we should have taken the train instead of a tour. We can't stress enough your time is valuable spending it on things you want to see and do should be the priority. Group tours don't afford you these things.
Salzburg, Vienna Details
The city borders Germany with views of the Alps, it is divided by the Salzach River. As with most Austria cities there is mix of medieval and baroque buildings. Home to Mozart, there is a museum you can tour. Walk through Old Town there are many places to stop for local food and wares.
Key Salzburg, Vienna Sites
Fortress Hohensalzburg Salzburger Altsadt Schloss Hellbrunn
It was a full day in Salzburg, arriving back at the hotel instead of going out for dinner we had some small bites at their bar before heading upstairs to pack for the next city. Budapest Hungary.
Overall Austria Travel Tips
Buy a multi-day subway pass because it is easier to get around Buy the multi-day attraction pass because it is cheaper Check out an opera or the symphony performance because they have some of the best sites for music Go to Salzburg, because it is close enough to use the train and sit back to enjoy the Alps views Other Travel Tips