Vienna was somewhere that was always on the cards. First, I tried visiting for the Christmas markets, the second time I tried for a quick city summer break and by that point I lost interest in trying to make my way to the Austrian capital. It wasn’t until we had a day spare on my recent trip to Prague that Vienna became an option again. Vienna isn’t close to Prague by any means, it’s actually a four hour train ride between the two capitals but you know what the famous saying, “if there is a will, there is a way”.
Sometimes travels work out in in the weirdest, spontaneous ways, doesn’t it? I found myself booking tickets close to midnight for the following morning to catch a 5am train from Prague to Vienna. As something i’ve never done before, I was a little apprehensive to say the least but luckily my best friend and I were travelling together, what’s the worst that could happen?
Arriving into Vienna just after 9am, the city was a blank canvas, bar one attraction that has been on my mind for the longest time, the Spanish Riding School. Yes, you guessed it guys. Of course the equestrian enthusiast would think of that as the first stop. Between visiting the Spanish Riding School and eating some Viennese cake, I wasn’t that bothered about seeing or doing much else. Close minded for an adventurous travel blogger? Certainly. However, Vienna surprised me in more ways than one, because its simple and elegant beauty knows no bounds and it was the perfect way to spend a day in the city.
Want to know how we spent ten hours in Vienna? Let’s go!
1. VISIT THE SPANISH RIDING SCHOOL
The Spanish Riding School is a must visit experience when in Vienna. It was an extra special visit for me, with my love for horses and Lipizzaner breed. When I visited, the stallions were on there holidays and instead there was a special stud visit, from where some of stud farms best graded mares and their foals visited. It was amazing to hear about how the mares are chosen for stud, each of them going through vigorous under saddle training and showing to see their talents. Only the mares with exceptional talent, scope and confirmation get put forward to the breeding program. Same with the colts, if they don’t reach the potential to be top stallions for breeding or to take part in the show, they are gelded and sold on to private homes. The magical, floaty paces on some of the horses, including the young stock was just magical.
2. VISIT ST. STEPHEN’S CATHEDRAL
St. Stephen’s Cathedral is known as the mother church of Vienna and is often seen as a symbol of the capital. This holy space is known for its gorgeous tiled ceiling and its almost 500-foot tall Heathen South Tower, which has some show-stopping views of the city from great height. The gothic architecture represents eight centuries of architectural history. However, all that remains from the original 13th-century structure are the massive gate and the tower.
3. INDULGE IN VIENESSE CAKE
When in Vienna, you cannot miss out on the cake. It’s one of the specialities of the city with so many little cafés popping up around many of the street corners, it’s hard to resist. We visited Café Central, which is known as the cake lovers paradise for all the right reasons. As you walk in, you’re greeted by grand interiors with gold detailing which grabs your initial attention until you spot the extensive range of indulgent cakes on offer. The counter sits in the centre of the restaurant and spans round three sides, each with unique offerings that will make you salivate uncontrollably. Pick your choice of sweet temptation and enjoy!
4. HORSE AND CARRIAGE TOUR THROUGH VIENNA.
If you want to experience in the capital from a different point of view, try one of the many horse and carriage tours that take you round the city. If you’re on a time limit, it may be the preferred option or for those that cannot walk too far, for long periods of time. Horse and carriages are what gives Vienna that old school charm too – hearing the sound of horses hooves through the city was music to my ears and a sound I could definitely get used to.
Disclaimer: The horses are well looked after and are given the required food and water required while working.
5. EXPLORE VOLKSGARTEN PARK
Volksgarten is one of Vienna’s public parks , but it’s not just any old park. It’s known as the back garden of the Hofburg Palace, which is what brings its grand presence to the city. Attracting many visitors and locals to enjoy the floral scents that are brought by the 200 varieties of roses that span across 3,000 different rose bushes, that brings a gorgeous vibrant colour to the garden. It is a rather romantic place, it almost makes you want to pluck one whilst nobody is looking.
6. VISIT SCHÖNBRUNN PALACE
Schönbrunn Palace’s bright yellow colouration is enough to bring a smile to anyones face, but beyond that lies great importance. It was once a imperial summer residence but is now represented as one of the prime architectural, cultural, and historical monuments in the country. The building was listed as an UNSECO world heritage site back in 1996, together with its gardens, as a remarkable Baroque style ensemble and example of synthesis of the arts.
7. VISIT THE BELVEDERE
The Belvedere is another of the buildings in Vienna with a Baroque style and is Prince Eugene of Savoy’s summer home but it also houses the Belvedere museum too. The world’s largest collection of paintings by Gustav Klimt (an Austrian symbolist painter) also reside here. Klimt is known for his paintings, murals, sketches mainly of women. The grounds of The Belvedere have a slight gradient, boasting gorgeous, decorative tiered fountains and Baroque sculptures. It’s the perfect place to have some down time whilst exploring the city.
What are your favourite things to do or see in Vienna?
Until next time…