In November of 2014, I visited Vienna over Thanksgiving break with my mother for our annual mother-daughter trip. Included below is our itinerary for the trip with pictures and travel tips! This trip continues with 4 days in Budapest.
12:30pm Arrive in Vienna / Purchase Train Tickets at OBB station /Railjet
1:30pm Take Urban Rail to Karlplatz Station
2:00pm Check into Beethoven Hotel
2:30pm Rick Steve’s Ringstrasse Tram Tour
3:30pm Wien Museum Karlsplatz
5:00pm Mozart Haus Museum
7:00pm Haus der Musik
8:00pm Hotel Sacher (famous Sacher Torte and Dinner)
We arrived in Vienna after three flights without any issues. Mom and I both slept on plane (thank you benadryl) to be well rested for immediate immersion into Viennese culture.
We started our journey by heading towards the Wien Museum Karlsplatz (city history museum) but were interrupted by an Adventmarkt (Xmas market) and beautiful views of Karlskirsche.
After soaking up the city’s history, we explored the area surrounding the Opera House, including the famous Sacher Hotel, J & L Lobmeyr Glass Museum, Albertinaplatz, and the Monument Against War and Fascism.
We stopped in to nibble on traditional Viennese desserts (topfenschnitte and germknodel) at a cozy cafe.
To kill time until 8:00pm (when tickets at the Haus der Musik were half price), we walked up the commercialized Kartner Strauss to get a night view of St. Stephen’s Cathedral.
Then we wound our way on quaint back streets to the Haus der Musik at which we enjoyed a classical music concert, created our own waltzes by rolling dice, and came to appreciate the awe-inspiring musical legends of this country.
On the return to our hotel, we stopped to purchase Austrian wine to enjoy before nodding off from deserved exhaustion…
8:30am Explore Burggarten
9:00am Sunday Mass
11:00am State Opera Museum
2:30pm Belvedere Palace and Museum
5:00pm Walk back through the Botanical Gardens and University of Vienna
6:00pm St. Charles’ Church
We started the day with an incredible buffet breakfast in our hotel.
Then caught a near empty Ringstrasse Tram around the city using Rick Steves as a tour guide.
We hopped off to see the canal and take photos of St Ruprechts before continuing on past too many monuments/buildings to name here.
We exited the tram at Hofburg Palace to explore the Volksgarten followed by quick pop in to Marie-Theresien Platz, and tour of the Burgarten with famous Mozart statue.
Next, we popped into both the Opera House and Imperial Hotel on our way past a Soviet monument to the Belvedere Palace.
At the palace we enjoyed a little too much art, including a metal statue of the Hulk that is supposed to look like a balloon doll. While there, we ate delicious soup with wine spritzers for lunch in Belvedere cafe.
After our meal, we headed to see the inside of Karlskirsche. .. which we agree was both the literal and figurative high point of the day. Due to renovations, they have a relatively stable lift and scaffolding available for guests to climb all the way to the top of the cupola! We were both a little shaky. .. But definitely an adrenaline inducing experience.
After the church, we headed back to the Hofburg Palace past the Spanish Riding School to see the silver collection, imperial apartments, and Sisi Museum.
The beautiful Rathaus (city hall) caught our eye with big flashy Xmas market, so we stopped in to enjoy the crowd and eat some bratwurst.
We ended the evening back at to hotel for an evening Beethoven concert and champagne. Whew! Now it’s time for bed….
8:00am Hike to Kahlenberg Mountain to explore and eat lunch
1:00pm Visit Hofburg Palace
3:00pm Tour of Churches:
St. Peter’s Church (Baroque Church built in 1701)
Imperial/Capuchin Crypt (Burial site of Habsburgs)
St. Augustine’s Church (14th Century Gothic Church)
We ate a hearty breakfast to fuel an alp-hiking experience! We decided to go off the tourist beaten path and travel to Nussdorf by train and walk up Kahlenberg Mountain through the Vienna Woods and past vineyards for great views.
The walk up was tough but overall enjoyable (and very cold). Unfortunately, our plans for great views from the cafe at the top were foiled by the intense fog and off-season.
However, as luck would have it, the bus down the mountain seemed to be waiting just for us! We caught the bus down to Heillgenstadt then the train back to the city where we started an intense tour of the city’s churches!
At St. Stephen’s, we rode the elevator up the shorter North Tower, then explored the treasury and nave before climbing up and down the 343 steps in the South Tower, finishing with a tour of the Catacombs, where the organs of the Habsburgs are stored. (As a side note, they couldn’t decide which church should be honored with Habsburg bodies so the hearts are in St. Augustine’s, the organs in St. Stephen’s, and the bodies in the Kaiser Gruft – all of which we visited today.)
Other churches of note honored by our presence: St. Ruprechts, St. Michaels, and St. Peters (6 total).
Amid all our church going fun, we still managed a cafe stop for coffee (and warmth, and toilet), Xmas market “hot Christmas punch” (basically hot alcoholic tang), and souvenir shopping.
We dined close to our hotel on local cuisine. ..me: beef broth, wiener schnitzel, potato salad, and apple strudel; mom: goose soup, goose leg and chestnut dumplings with red cabbage, and chestnut mousse. GUTEN NACHT!!
7:00am Leave for Schonbrunn/buy 24 hour travel pass
11:00pm MuseumsQuartier (and lunch)
2:30pm Danube River Cruise
4:30pm Wiener Wurstelprater/Eat dinner at Christmas Market
On our last morning in this city before hopping a train to Budapest, we slept in until 7:30 to rest up for a full day of packing the rest of the city’s attractions into our schedule. We began this drizzly morning at the Schonbrunn Palace and Gardens. No photos allowed, but I snuck one of the Grand Ballroom (sort of).
The house features the rococo stylings of Empress Maria Theresa who built the palace to rival Versailles. Despite the foul weather, we walked the extent of the gardens to the Gloriette that overlooks the palace, wishing for clear views of the city.
We then caught the train back to town and explored Naschmarkt to find a specific coffee roaster and pharmacy for cold medicine for me (who is sadly getting sick. ..).
When we dropped off our purchases at the hotel nearby, we ate leftovers from last night’s feast before heading to the Kunsthistorisches Museum to look at some more “old stuff.” All kidding aside, the collection of Italian and early northern masters was truly divine.
Determined to eat the famous Sacher Torte before leaving the city, we stopped at the Sacher Hotel before an evening walk through Stadtpark for statue views.
Next door, the MAK, a museum of design, is free on Tuesdays after 6, so we forced ourselves to visit one last museum and are glad we did!
We then had dinner at Zum Weissen Rauchfangkeher, a restaurant open since 1601 in the inner stadt, not far from the Mozarthaus. I had kavalierspitz and mom had schweinsfledermaus.