Seeing Vienna in a Hurry

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Vienna is one of the few European cities I’ve visited where I felt like 3 days wasn’t enough. Not that you can see everything in 3 days, but with London or Paris, for instance, you can see enough to get a feel for the city and have covered the highlights.

With Vienna, I felt like I wanted a full week! And my friend Shawna only had one full day. So we planned to cover some serious ground and get an early start. Unfortunately after a late night at the Vienna Film Ball and the Hotel Bristol’s great breakfast buffet, we didn’t make it out of the hotel until 10 AM.

Vienna Opera House Exterior

We checked out the outside of the Opera House but didn’t have enough time to catch one of the tours so we walked along the old city wall taking in the sights until we came to the to the MuseumsQuartier. We bought the Treasures of the Habsburgs combo ticket for € 20 to the Kunsthistorisches Museum and Imperial Treasury and almost got talked into one of the nightly Mozart performances and a character in period dress.

I actually think the Mozart show would have been well worth it but after the day we had planned we would probably be too tired and wouldn’t fully appreciate it. The Kunsthistorisches was amazing! Well worth a visit for the building alone (complete review to come) which has an amazing staircase and marble walls.

Kunsthistorisches Museum Interior Vienna

We reluctantly tore ourselves away and walked past the Hofburg palace to the Treasury. I was interested in seeing some of the Habsburg jewels but wasn’t prepared for just how interesting it was. Not just crown jewels but other treasures as well. Definitely worth a visit.

Imperial Treasury Vienna Austria

We sauntered past the Spanish Riding School (which I would be visiting the next day) and attempted to go into the famous Demels for lunch, which at 1:30 PM was packed.

Keri Demel Vienna

Food didn’t seem worth skipping any sights, so we continued onto the beautiful St. Stephen’s Cathedral and took part in the crypt tour, which I highly recommend!

St Stephen's Cathedral Vienna

St Stephens Cathedral Interior Vienna

When we emerged it was starting to sprinkle and the wind had picked up, but we didn’t have far to go to our next stop. We walked two blocks to the Mozarthaus.

Exterior Mozarthaus

The house itself was not very exciting. 4 bare stories with lots of information about Mozart and items from his time, but not much original. I’d say take a picture of the outside and skip the tour. We’d hoped to get food there, but the café was only vending machines so we pressed on!

It was a little after 3, so we took a cab (€8) to the Belvedere and bought tickets to both upper and lower museums. Upper Belvedere far surpassed my expectations. They had a Klimt exhibit and after seeing “The Kiss” in person for the first time I could finally truly appreciate his work. I also discovered some amazing new impressionist artists and new favorite picture.

AND we finally got food. This museum café was quite charming with table service. We went with the pumpkin soup (thumbs up) and I surprisingly had the best decaf coffee I’ve ever tasted in a restaurant.

Upper Belvedere Cafe decaf coffee

Upper Belvedere Cafe pumpkin soup

With 40 minutes before closing time, we headed down to the Lower Belvedere, which was a little hard to navigate. To get to the main gallery you have to walk through gift shop (usually found at the exit). Lower Belvedere is architecturally interesting and had some modern art, but honestly it probably isn’t worth the extra cost or time.

View of Lower Belvedere from Upper Belvedere Vienna

Exiting the grounds we found ourselves only a 15 minute walk from the Hotel Bristol and picked up our luggage,wishing we were staying there for the whole trip! Instead, I had booked the Radisson Blu Style for the next two nights, taking advantage of the Club Carlson Business credit card two for one award night benefit).

The Radisson Blu Style is probably best known for being unknown. Few people seemed to have heard of it, only the other Radisson Blu which apparently went bankrupt. Our cab driver had never heard of the Style and insisted Herrengasse 12 was the Steinberger Hotel. I assumed it must have recently been taken over by Radisson so acquiesced, but when he dropped us off, it was decidedly the Steinberger. We couldn’t see a number, but the building across the street was #11, so I went into the lobby to ask. I was half worried my Radisson had also gone bankrupt and no one had notified us.

Turns out the Radisson was next door Smile with tongue out

Radisson Blu Style Vienna Austria (2)

We debated going to one of the many restaurants that had been recommended, but we were cold, wind-blown, and exhausted, so decided to lock in the happiness and spend the evening relaxing and reliving our fun adventures from that day.


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  1. Denise L

    May 5, 2014 at 2:21 pm

    Oh no…I have only planned 2 days in Vienna this summer. I will have to plan very carefully so I can pack in a lot each of those days. Looking forward to reading more about your trip!

  2. Jesse

    May 5, 2014 at 2:25 pm

    This was helpful! Have an upcoming stopover on the way to TLV. Thanks!

  3. Joey

    May 5, 2014 at 3:23 pm

    I feel I’m the opposite of you! I spent 2 weeks in London last summer and felt that wasn’t enough! I spent 4 days in Vienna and I felt that was just right. In fact, I love the architecture and coffee culture of Vienna, but absolutely abhor its smoking policies! Most if not all the coffeeshops, bars, and restaurants I went to allowed indoor smoking and it’s just something I’m not used to anymore. :/ By the way, there is a cafe Demel branch at VIE airport. When I flew OS J back in February, I at first went to the super crowded lounge but instead opted to eat one more slice of sachertorte cake at the cafe in the airport. There was even live piano music!

  4. Jane S.

    May 5, 2014 at 3:29 pm

    Thanks for this post. I’ll be spending two days in Vienna next year and this will help me narrow down all that I want to see. Glad you had a great trip.

  5. Jennifer

    May 5, 2014 at 4:36 pm

    So what is your new favorite painting?

  6. NB

    May 5, 2014 at 5:34 pm

    I found Vienna to be the most depressing European city I have visited. Granted, the Hapsburg Palace was amazing, but the city itself lacked any vibrancy and appeared to be in terminal decline, changing from being the capital of one of the world’s greatest empires to a museum for gawping tourists. Last weekend I went to Dusseldorf. It doesn’t have great museums and it doesn’t have old buildings (we flattened them in the war), but it has energy and vibrancy and a sense of purpose. Vienna had none of these.

  7. LauraPDX

    May 6, 2014 at 12:34 am

    My daughter and I have 4 nights booked in June including two at the Radisson Style and am waiting for your take on it. We are debating heading to Bratislava for a night (or two, CC), vs just staying in town for all 4 nights. (Intercontinental or the new Hyatt for one night, or use the marriott cat 5 free night I just earned at FTU SEA, etc……)

    • Keri Anderson

      May 6, 2014 at 5:35 am

      I’ve heard amazing things about Bratislava! And you can fit in quite a bit of sightseeing in two days in Vienna if you’re willing to push it. I’d say definitely check out the Park Hyatt instead of the Radisson Blu. I’ll try to post my review in a day or two — it’s perfectly fine but nothing special, whereas the Park Hyatt or one of higher end hotels are a special experience in themselves 🙂

    • Tiff

      May 6, 2014 at 4:59 pm

      Having been to both I think I think there’s much more to see in Vienna. Read up on it to see if there’s enough things you want to see, but, if not, I would suggest just taking a day-trip to Bratislava or spending no more than one night there.

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