Hello Rod! I'll be visiting Vienna soon, so what things should I go see first? :)
Oh, so you choose to come and visit what is considered to be among the most beautiful places in the world, as well as the best city in the whole fucking planet to live in. That’s so nice of you~
I’m feeling kind and I’ll give you a quick tour. You can pay me later and ja, you’re welcome~
If you want to visit Vienna, first thing first: get yourself a Vienna Card (or Vienna Pass). Ask for it at the station or in any public place: they’ll either have it or tell you where you can buy one. Don’t be shy, we, as austrians, are friendly and 99% of us perfectly understand and speak English. The card allows you to use public transport as much as you wish without having to pay the ticket. And I guarantee you’ll b using it A FUCKING LOT. Vienna is huge and there are a ton of things to see. Luckily for you, our public transport is on time, clean, very efficient and you can get anywhere using even only the subway (which I recommend and don’t worry: it’s safe even late at night, you must have some damn bad luck to have any kind of troubles). Look around you for some “U” signs: that stands for “U-Bahn”, the subway. They’re everywhere. Also, the Vienna Card comes with a map of the city, a booklet with a lot of suggestions of what to see, tickets to have a discount in many shops and restaurants and it grants you a discount on most tickets for museums and various attractions. It’s a must-have.
Now you’re ready to explore. As your first step, travel to the Stephansdom, Vienna’s cathedral and one of the tallest churches in the world, There’s a (well, there are two) subway exit right in front of it. It’s not only breaththaking, but you’ll find yourself in Stephansplatz, the perfect centre of Vienna. Take your time and have a long, relaxing walk in the surroundings, getting used to them: it’ll help you to understand the structure of the city and you won’t get lost. There are a lot of shops around here, you can find bot tourist stuff but, if you search a bit better, you’ll find yourself in one of the most expensive and high-class areas, with fine restaurants and renowned brands shops (such as Swarowski, Armani, Prada).
Next, take a walk along the Ringstraße (Ring Road). You can also rent a bike or take the tram if you’re lazy… but hell, walking will give you a so much better experience. It’s the most beautiful boulevard in the world, and it surrounds the oldest historical city centre. A lot of the things you probably want to see are located along the road. It’s fucking unique, it has been called the “Lord of the ring boulevards” for a reason, and you’ll understand why as soon as you’ll set foot on it.
Your first big place to visit must ABSOLUTELY be Schönbrunn Palace. The U-Bahn will take you straight in front of it. It was the summer residence of the Habsburg family, pretty serious stuff here. Don’t be fooled, there’s not only the palace to see here. Of course, you can visit it, and it’s damn gorgeous, but don’t forget the huge park surrounding it. It’s a public park, you won’t have to pay anything to visit it. A lot of people come here to do some jogging and relax together. Also… squirrels! Ah, I love those black little bastards.
If you’re interested in nature, think about visiting the Palmenhaus, a huge greenhouse featuring plants from all over the planet (also among the largest botanical exhibits of its kind in the world!). On the opposite side of the park you’ll find the Wüstenhaus, a desert botanical exhibit.
A must see is the Tiergarten, Schonbrunn’s zoo. It’s the oldest zoo in the world, and it’s a-fucking-mazing. A few hours won’t be enough to see everything here, if you’re curious about animals and want to be amazed, you’ll spend even more than a whole morning here. You’ll be also able to visit an aquarium and a rainforest house, where animals are free to roam (don’t try to pet the sloths, those son of a bitch are cute as fuck but also bite hard. Also, don’t be afraid of the bats. They fly around you but they couldn’t care less about harming you).
While you are around Schonbrunn you can also take a look at the Wagenburgmuseum, a collection of carriages and vehicles used by the imperial household of the Austrian Empire, or have a coffee at the Gloriette, a building on the top of a hill: relax and enjoy you coffee, cake and a spectacular vista of Vienna.
If you feel you NEED to see some more damn animals, get back along the Ringstasse and walk to the Hofburg Palace, the former imperial residence.
Here you can visit the Winterreitschule (Winter Riding School), where our best Lipizzan horses of the Spanische Hofreitschule (Spanish Riding School) perform. Of course you have to be interested in dressage, or you’ll be quickly bored to death.
While you’re visiting the palace, if you want to jump back in history, you can visit the Sisi museum, a wing dedicated to our beloved and most famous empress.
For more culture, it’s back once again on the Ringstrasse (you’ll be walking a fucking lot up and down it), now we’re heading toward Maria-Theresien-Platz.
Here you’ll find the Naturhistorisches Museum, also known as the NHMW. This is the biggest museum of all Austria, and among the largest natural history museums of the whole world. You can see incredible stuff here, touch real dinosaurs bones and see the famous Venus of Willendorf. Don’t miss the opportunity.
Right in front of the museum of natural history, there’s the Kunsthistorisches Museum, (Museum of Art History", also often referred to as the “Museum of Fine Arts”), the largest art museum in the country. It’s impossible to describe all the damn stuff you’ll find there: if you like art, it’s another must-see.
While you’re here, you can cross the road and take a look at the Schmetterlinghaus. Also known as the “Imperial butterfly house), housed within a stunning palm house, built during the Art Nouveu period at the beginning of the last century. No, it’s not a creepy exhibit of sad, dead butterflies pinned down on wooden boards: you’ll find yourself in a tropical environment where hundreds of butterflies are free to roam. Don’t miss the chance to feel like a fucking Disney princess.
Not too far from here you can also find the Albertina, one of the largest and most important print rooms in the world with approximately 65,000 drawings and approximately 1 million old master prints, as well as more modern graphic works, photographs and architectural drawings.
If you want even MORE art stuff (goddamn, REALLY?), hop on the subway and head to Schloss Belvedere (Belvedere Castle). It consists of two two Baroque palaces (the Upper and Lower Belvedere), the Orangery, and the Palace Stables. First, take your time to visit the gardens, it’s free. And -do I have to repeat myself again?- amazing.
What you really want to see is the Österreichische Galerie Belvedere. It houses the greatest collection of Austrian art dating from the Middle Ages to the present day. But what you’re REALLY here for is the Klimt collection in the Upper Belvedere.
To complete your cultural tour (food for the brain, I guess), head back toward Stephansplatz: in this area search for the Haus der Musik (House of Music). It’s something both modern and traditional, and it won’t disappoint you. You’ll be amazed by a range of hi-tech interactive and multimedia presentations which will introduce you to the world of music, from the earliest human use of instruments to the music of the present day. Yes, it’s another museum, but it’s also damn funny.
Time to relax. You’re a lucky boy or girl, since I’ve brought you near the Café Sacher. It’s a fine place where you can experience a taste of the traditional Viennese coffee-house atmosphere, and try a slice of our legendary Sachertorte. I hope you like chocolate, because it’s a chocolate cake, with a thin layer of apricot jam in the middle and covered in.. well, more goddamn delicious chocolate.
Right in front of the Café you’ll find the Wiener Staatsoper (Vienna State Opera). If you want to spend an evening at the theater this is the place for your. A great, grand building which will provide you some grand music and performances.
On the other hand, if you prefer to relax in a more easy-going way, head toward the Donau (the Danube river). Remember, the U-Bahn will be your best friend, hop on it for another ride. In this area you’ll find the Prater, a large public park. You’ll find a lot of people jogging here, in a very clean and relaxed environment. There’s also a planetariumm a stadium and another damn museum (ja, ANOTHER ONE).
While you’re here, take a look at the Wurstelprater, our amusement park, and have a wonderful look at the city from the top of the Riesenrad, our famous Ferris wheel!
Oh, and don’t forget: in the park you can also pay a visit to Republic of Kugelmugel! You can’t get TOO close, but when else will you be able to see a micronation like this?
But, if you want to see something TRULY amazing, get on the U-Bahn again, because you’re very close to the Donauturm (Danube Tower). It’s 252 metres (827 ft) tall, located near the north bank of the Danube River, and you can get on top oh it with a high-speed elevator. There are also two rotating restaurants up there and believe me: at night the view on Vienna is incredible. I’ll never get tired of it.
Last thing: food. I’m sure you won’t have any problems with it. Street food is very common here, from wurst to ramen, and it’s not expensive. Just look around you and you’ll find restaurants of all kind: French, Italian, Indian, Greek, Mexican, Chinese, Japanese, Hungarian, Australian… you name it. You’ll fin Irish pubs, Chinese all-you-can-eat, American fast-food (mostly Burger King and MC Donald’s), as well as Starbucks.
But, really, try our stuff, it’s delicious. You’ll find bakery shops at every corner and sweets and chocolate will cross your way at every damn step. If you like sweet stuff you’ll have to do your best not to gain a fuck ton of weight, ‘cause temptations are everywhere (ESPECIALLY CHOCOLATE).
For a sweet treat and a wide variety of coffee, try Aida, our franchise chain of espresso bar and pastry shops.
And, for the evening, have a taste of traditional austrian food and beer at 7 Stern Bräu, one of only few true breweries in Vienna. Its specialities are renowned throughout the city. Try their Schnitzel, Käsespätzle, Viennese potato soup, grilled meat and strudel. You won’t be disappointed.
…there’s so so much more to see, especially if you’re coming in December. The whole city goes crazy, I mean FUCKING CRAZY for Christmas, and you’ll have to take your time to navigate around infinite Christmas markets. We take this shit pretty seriously. But around this time of the year Vienna is even more beautiful, to the point of being something hard to describe or believe. You’ll be welcomed with tons of Christmas ornaments and light, snow and carriages pulled by horses at every corner.
There are so many more things to do and see, but I’ll leave to you the pleasure to discover them for yourself as you walk around the city. Try to find the Mexikoplatz (Mexico Square), the Secessionsgebäude (Secession Building) and its golden sphere, the huge flea market or the Haus des Meeres (House of Sea), the public aquarium. Enjoy exploring.
What else to say? Pick your sweet poison, keep our city clean, remember to bring warm clothes (it can be damn cold here in winter) and have a nice stay, it’ll be an experience you won’t easily forget.
[ …bonus: sneaky little Mun being curious and amazed about everything he sees around him on his first day in Vienna. ]
These are my first experiments with my new Canon 60mm EF-S macro-lens but I could only use a monopod which means that I still had to struggle with camera shake.
The images were taken at the “Butterfly House” in Vienna and I was quite amazed by how close this lens lets you get and how undisturbed these little creatures seemed by me breathing down their necks … I guess when they are feeding, everything else becomes secondary …
Unfortunately, the ambient light was not too bright and I had to bump the ISO quite a bit which introduced noise … I am thinking of getting a ring-light rather than a flash … will see …
These pictures were taken seconds apart in the Schmetterlinghaus (Butterfly House) in Vienna. Two almost identical butterflies rest on either side of a pane of glass, each obscuring the presence of the other one with its reflection in the glass between them.