The capital of Austria, Vienna, possesses a distinctive identity, characterised by its rich architecture and famous river, the Danube.
Vienna is filled with immense palaces, residences and the never-ending legacy of the powerful 6-century long Habsburg Monarchy dominance of the region. The city exudes imperial grandeur from every street and corner, in the form of its architecture, museums, public spaces and coffee-house culture. The city somehow manages to be both filled with busy tourists and still maintain a relaxed charm where locals spend entire afternoons hanging around, eating, and reading newspapers. After spending three days exploring the city, Lisa is convinced that Vienna is one of the most beautiful cities that we have visited.
Where To Park Your Camper When Visiting Vienna
We found that the Reisemobil Stellplatz Wien was the perfect location for us to park our camper for three nights, both in terms of its location and affordable price. There is no shortage of accommodation in Vienna of both the hotel and B&B variety, but if you travel by camper you have far fewer options! The Reisemobil Stellplatz Wien is easy to reach without having to navigate through the city traffic, yet only 13km from the city centre. We chose to use public transportation to reach the city centre and this worked very well, both in terms of cost and efficiency. The camper area itself is very neat and simple, spacious enough for a city camper area, clean and well run with friendly staff. If you're interested in what it cost us to Campervan around Europe for 4 months, then head over to our Budget Report section to read our Europe Campervan Budget Report article.
Getting Around Vienna
In order to get around and explore Vienna in our own time, we purchased Vienna Transport Tickets for our three-day visit to the city. These transport tickets are available for periods of 24 hours, 48 hours, 72 hours or weekly tickets and are much cheaper than tourist cards which are focused on free or discounted entry to attractions. A great way to get around and also get a feel for the city is to make use of the Vienna Hop-on Hop-off Sightseeing Bus. Vienna is also a wonderfully walk-able city, so why not hit the sidewalks and stop at a few of the street-side coffee-shops along the way.
The Best Way To Explore Vienna
An excellent way to get a feel for the city is to book a City Walking Tour from GetYourGuide. Once you have an idea of the layout of the city, you can easily walk or cycle all around the city to explore further. As we have done in other cities throughout Europe, we really enjoyed making use of Rick Steves' Audio Tour to provide us with information as we carried out our own Walking Tour of Vienna. If you plan on visiting most of the tourist attractions, then you should consider one of the tourist cards on offer. You can choose between the Vienna Pass Travel Card or the Vienna City Card, which both give discounted or free entry to Vienna’s most popular attractions and museums and also include various free modes of transportation.
The Best Things To Do In Vienna
Vienna is often packed with tourists, and it's really no surprise why. We usually seek out the quieter less-visited spots, however, these are just some of our best touristy things to do in the city of Vienna.
St Stephens Cathedral - With its colourful mosaic-tiled roof and claim as the tallest church tower in Austria, this may well be the most beautiful building in the city. Make sure that you climb up the 343 narrow and winding stairs of the Southern Tower to get a stunning view out over the city. It can get a little crowded at the top, but we still think the small entrance fee is worth the experience and panoramic view. You can see what we're talking about in our YouTube Video.
Vienna Opera House - Even if, like us, you're not a fan of opera, the Vienna Opera House is quite something to behold. We chose to go for a guided tour of the building instead of attending a live performance. The tour was well organised and fun as we were taken backstage and to interesting behind the scenes areas. If you'd like a sneak peek, take a look at our YouTube Video.
Schonbrunn Palace Gardens - The Schonbrunn Palace has been an imposing structure since the 1600s and currently has more than 1440 rooms! Of course, you can visit the Palace itself, but to be honest, we think the extensive Palace Gardens are more of an attraction. Make sure that you allow enough time to climb all the way to the top of the hill for a magnificent view over the gardens, with both the Palace and city in full view.
Café Spanish Riding School, - The Spanish Riding School is dedicated to the preservation of classical dressage and the training of Lipizzaner horses. The building is open to the public and if you're lucky, you can watch demonstrations or training sessions. We popped in to have Sacher Torte and coffee at the Café.
Festivals outside the Rathaus - We got lucky and timed our visit to Vienna during their Summer Festival. This meant live performances, music and a food festival just outside the Rathaus. Take a look at the festivities in our YouTube Video.
Donauturm (Danube Tower) - This is the tallest structure in Austria at 252 metres high and among the 75 tallest towers in the world. It's not a cheap outing, but then again, it might just be worthwhile to be at the very Top Of Vienna!
Less Visited, Free And Fun Activities In Vienna
Having fun doesn't always need to cost a fortune. Vienna is a beautiful city and there are plenty of things that you can enjoy for free.
Free guided tour at the Vienna City Hall - Not many people know that there are daily free guided tours of the Vienna City Hall. All you need to do is find our the times and be there a little earlier to sign up for the free audio guide. We found the tour very extensive and informative and really enjoyed it. You can join us for a section of the tour in our YouTube Video.
Ride a roller coaster at Prater Park - The Wiener Prater is like having a carnival and amusement park in town all the time! The best part is that it's free to get in so you can just walk around enjoying the fun atmosphere. The Prater theme park itself (where the big Ferris wheel is located) is only a small section of the park, which was set up by the emperor as a place for the working class to play, and today contains large fields, sports facilities, a horse-racing track, a couple of baseball fields, the main soccer stadium and a swimming pool. The theme park is enormous and comprises 20 square blocks with old-school ghost trains, roller coasters, mazes and water slides. When we were there in the peak tourist season of August, there weren't even any queues for the rides! You can see just how much we enjoyed the roller-coaster ride in our YouTube Video!
Stroll amongst the Naschmarkt - This market is a good representation of Vienna's heritage and culture. Stroll through the stalls selling anything from fresh fruit and vegetables to herbs, cheese and seafood, to experience an authentic slice of local life.
Cycle around the Vienna Ring Road - This Ring Road surrounds the Innere Stadt district of Vienna and was constructed in the 19th century after the removal of the city walls. If you don't have a bicycle, then ride the tram and walk some sections to take in the adjacent architecture.
Picnic in the Volksgarten - This public park in the Innere Stadt is part of the Hofburg Palace and was opened to the public in 1823. It's a great place to relax on the grass, have a picnic and watch the locals enjoying their beautiful city.
Taste Sachertorte & Mozartkognel - We don't need much excuse to try the local delicacies of new places that we visit. Vienna's two specialities are Sachertorte and Mozartkognel which meant we had to try both! You'll have to try for yourself, but we unanimously agreed that Mozartkognel was the winner and we promptly had to have a few more just to be certain!