Our Mini Guide to Vienna, Austria
As Ian’s birthday was slowly approaching, I decided on not just one city break but two……..Vienna and Budapest. For this post I’ll talk about our three night stay in wonderful Vienna, at the end of November, which was a perfect time to visit with the Christmas markets dotted around the city – making me feel all festive and ready for Christmas! Many friends have visited Vienna and they’ve absolutely loved the city and I’ve always been tempted by the food of course 😉 With Vienna being only two hours away from the UK, it’s a hop, skip and a jump…perfect for a mini break.
Where we stayed
Ian and I are the kind of couple who love the small, cute, boutique hotels and tend to stay away from the large hotels with vast numbers of rooms lacking that intimate and personal touch.
After a few hours of searching and reading a number of reviews both on Tripadvisor and various blogs, I went ahead and booked the Altstadt Hotel (for more info click here), situated in the Museum Quarter of Vienna, and within easy reach to all the sites and attractions. Each room at the Altstadt Hotel is different and unique and I also read up that the breakfasts are super delicious, with tea and cake being served in the afternoon. BONUS! Tea and cake = happy Lana! And of course Ian likes tea and cake too! … Sometimes 😉 Ian
I knew I had made the right choice when we were greeted with smiles and friendly faces at reception, which made us feel very welcomed.
Where to eat
There are many affordable restaurants/cafes through to high-end, fine-dining and ‘Michelin Star’ restaurants to try in Vienna, it just depends what you’re looking for. During our stay, we tried one local affordable place and two fine-dining restaurants to celebrate Ian’s birthday. With the Christmas markets lining the streets, you’re able to eat really tasty food and drink ‘gluwein’ at the market stalls cheaply.
On the first night, we wanted to try the local favourite schnitzel and were advised by the hotel reception that Figlmüller is very popular for schnitzel, but can be very touristy and crowded. I tend to shy away from very touristy restaurants and seek out good quality food with less competition for seating 😉 We didn’t venture very far, only round the corner from the hotel to find an Amerlingbeisl restaurant tucked away in a little courtyard.
This local restaurant was recommended by our hotel – the service was so-so and the restaurant seemed very busy midweek. We were offered an English menu and quickly scanned the menu for the schnitzel! There were two varieties of the schnitzel, pork or chicken; we ordered the pork and chicken each served with potato salad. The potato salad was a little bit tangy but it married up very well with the schnitzel which was super tasty. Must say the dishes were very affordable and it’s such a good spot for a casual dinner.
The remaining two nights we dined in a couple of fine dining restaurants which we would definitely recommend:
Mraz and Sohn
The second night we visited Mraz and Sohn, a Michelin-Star family run business serving contemporary Viennese cuisine – the food is very creative and experimental. Impeccable service and stunning food served here, definitely one to visit if you fancy fine-dining. Here you have a choice of 4, 6 or 9 courses and excellent pairing of wines. Don’t forget to try the cheese course! We enjoyed ourselves here so much we ended up leaving the restaurant quite late in the evening.
Check out our review of the restaurant here.
For the last evening I had booked Silvio Nickol as a surprise for Ian’s birthday; the two Michelin Star restaurant located in the beautiful Palais Coburg serving international cuisine. The restaurant was lovely with a relaxed ambience. The food was truly delicious and the service was excellent. The price is a bit more expensive when compared to Mraz and Sohn but well worth the visit. I recommend making a reservation well in advance to avoid disappointment.
Click here for the review of Silvio Nickol.
What to do in Vienna
Vienna is a beautiful city rich in culture and music, mainly due to Mozart, Beethoven and Sigmund Freud. The city is filled with grand palaces, museums, Art Nouveau and Baroque buildings. Let’s not forget that the people are very helpful and the friendliest I’ve ever met for a while, always smiling and saying ‘Guten Tag’ (Hello). You can walk to many parts of the city, however with some areas taking the U-bahn might be easier.
Here are a few places we visited on our quick three day trip:
The baroque palace grounds were filled with Christmas market stalls selling little bits and bobs, mugs of glüwein (the glüwein definitely warmed me up on that cold, windy day) and lots and lots of sausages! The palace is very grand with the picturesque gardens and has the world’s oldest zoo.
Don’t miss visiting the Hofburg Palace, which is home to the National Library, Imperial Treasury and many museums.
We took the subway to Praterstern tube station (was very easy so we didn’t get lost) and as we approached Prater, we immediately saw the famous Ferris wheel. Prater park has a small amusement park, the pleasure pavilion and the Ferris wheel (Reisenrad). It was quiet at Prater, so we decided to bundle into one of the red cabins of the Ferris wheel to try and capture views of beautiful Vienna! Before getting into the rickety old cabin, there was a little museum showing the history of the Ferris wheel and the city and photos were taken by the photographer to buy as souvenirs (two photos and free download were €18). Its a bit out of the city centre, however it affords good views of Vienna on a clear day.
This gothic cathedral is easily spotted in the city centre and you can enjoy the views of the city from one of its spires.
Have a stroll across the square to the Museum Quarter filled with Baroque buildings and modern architicture and visit the many large museums – Museum of Modern Art (MUMOK) and Leopold Museum.
The Ringstrasse circles the first district of the city. Walk along the Ringstrasse and take in the sights and enjoy the historical architecture along the way. Why not enjoy the views by tram or even horse and carriage.
If you happen to visit Vienna towards the end of November or in December, definitely have a browse around the many Christmas markets in the Spittelburg area or in the Rathausplatz. You never know, you might be able to pick up a bargain! I loved sampling the different flavoured glüwein and taking the cute little mugs home – we tried so many we ended up with a little collection in our hotel room! Oh and the mugs are all different, depending on where you buy the glüwein, so each stop was even more enjoyable and making for happy ‘forget-me-not’ moments when you get home…
Pop into the many cafes and sample the famous Sacher torte – the cake is covered with apricot jam and then coated with chocolate. Why not try the famous Cafe Sacher or Cafe Demel. Who doesn’t love chocolate! All I can say is…mmmmmmm amazing!
Our trip was too quick and there was still so much to see. What did you like about Vienna ? Where would you recommend us visiting next time?
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