Ah Europe, where do I even begin?!? Well, I can begin by moving there, but alas a girl can dream. Anyway, my friends and I spent a few weeks trying to decide where we were going to travel in Europe, and we eventually settled on a popular route: Vienna, Prague, and Budapest.
Note: If you’re traveling with others I would highly suggest using Splitwise to keep track of all expenses and split costs with ease. We would simply add in the items we each paid for, and the app would split the costs accordingly. You can even assign costs and designate payments as needed. It’s one of the best apps I’ve ever used, seriously.
Below are some of my suggestions for those visiting Vienna. Skip forward to read about our adventures!
We booked a one-bedroom apartment (Old Vienna Apartments) in Leopoldstadt (Vienna district 2) for $132 per night. Four nights total = $175 per person
* I suggest staying in district 1, which is in the heart of Vienna. District 2 is also a good option, although you’ll have about a 20 minute walk into the city center. Districts 4, 5, and 6 are near Naschmarkt and are fun, hip places to stay as well.
– Fabios (great for a fancy Italian dinner and people-watching in the city center)
– Cafe Mozart (overpriced but in a great location and is apparently great for lunch and dinner)
– Sacher Cafe (worth visiting for the famous Sachertorte – take it to-go if you don’t want to wait)
* I suggest indulging in the delicious street food around Vienna! Don’t worry if you’re not a meat eater, you can always just live off of all the delicious desserts.
– Volksgarten Disco (indoor and outdoor space with various types of music and beautiful people)
– clubs along the Danube Canal
* We clearly failed at exploring the nightlife, but the two places I listed seemed to be some of the most popular hangouts in the city!
– Hofburg Palace
– Schonbrunn Palace
– Naschmarkt Flea Market
– St. Stephen’s Cathedral
– Opera house
– Parliament building
– Spanish Riding School
– Ringstrasse (the road that circles around the city and houses many prominent buildings and museums
Our trip started in Vienna, the capital of Austria. We arrived in the morning after zero sleep on the plane, and immediately set out to explore the city after checking into our apartment.
Side note – I would highly recommend renting out entire apartments in Europe through sites such as booking.com. Not only are they often the same price as tiny hotel rooms (if not cheaper), but they are so much more comfortable because of their larger sizes, multiple rooms, and fully equipped kitchens. Airbnb is also a great option!
The weather was fairly cold in every city we visited, but at least we lucked out on our first day in Vienna!
Dresses + sandals permitted
We went to the Sisi Museum and the Imperial Apartments at Hofburg Palace. I learned about Austria’s famous empress – Empress Elisabeth of Austria AKA Sisi. She was basically a badass who lived life however she wanted. She apparently loved exercising, was obsessed with her weight (interesting considering the time period), and enjoyed traveling. A modern woman stuck in an old-fashioned environment, fascinating!
My new favorite quote, it’s the perfect description of…me:
Photos were not allowed inside the museum, but it was definitely very similar to what I’ve seen in Versailles and Saint Petersburg. Ah royalty and its distinct tastes.
Vienna is beautiful. The architecture was reminiscent of what I saw in Saint Petersburg and Russia in general, albeit better.
We continued to stroll around the main city center…
…and eventually settled down at an outdoor cafe to rest.
We noticed everyone drinking bright orange drinks served in wine glasses, and couldn’t resist ordering our own. They’re known as Aperol Spritz and are quite tasty! Prosecco is always a good idea.
I’m slightly embarrassed to admit that we barely planned anything for our travels, but I honestly preferred it that way. I’m not a planner and absolutely hate having to function around a schedule. Our go-with-the-flow approach worked well for us. We stopped into a seemingly upscale restaurant, Fabios, on the way back to our apartment and made reservations for dinner that evening.
Now, for those of you who haven’t experienced the mellowness of European-style dining, let me tell you that it is quite a long and leisurely experience. Unlike Americans who are in and out of restaurants in less than an hour, people in Europe sit around for hours eating, drinking, and chatting. I.love.it. It’s such an enjoyable experience and something that I wish people here in the states would embrace.
And then our evening adventure began. We had nothing planned for our post-dinner nightlife festivities and ended up stopping by multiple places that were not bustling at all, which was surprising considering it was a Friday night. We finally found an awesome club / lounge filled with people, but the line was super long and we were all too exhausted to wait. So we went home and slept instead…well my friends slept and I suffered from jet lag.
I felt myself getting sick the day before our trip, and it really hit me on my second day in Vienna. I’m pretty sure the extreme sleep deprivation played a major role in exacerbating the illness – I felt exhausted, feverish, and completely lost my voice for a solid two days. But somehow it didn’t bother me too much. I was in Europe after all! The next day we set out for the city center again and stopped into a local cafe for a leisurely breakfast.
We were all craving eggs and ordered some, but of course I also allowed myself to enjoy a traditional European breakfast of cold-cuts, cheeses, and bread. Delicious.
The one and only thing I missed about the United States? Massive cups of coffee and free refills. That’s it haha.
After breakfast we set out for Naschmarkt, which ended up being one of my favorite experiences in Vienna.
What an incredible market! It was filled with restaurant stalls and food vendors. I highly recommend exploring this mile-long market, just make sure to come with an empty stomach!
Oh the free samples. My goodness, we sampled so much food! It was basically like a second meal.
I wasn’t complaining though!
I bought these candies for my parents after sampling each and every single one of them.
All the vendors were so generous and encouraged us to eat everything.
I also walked away with so much fresh fruit, which I deeply missed after eating mostly carbs and meats for multiple days.
Our next stop was a tour at the world-famous opera house. For those living under a rock (like me, because I honestly had no idea), the opera is a huge deal in Vienna.
We procrastinated and couldn’t score tickets in time for our trip, but at least we got to see the inside of the most famous opera house in the city.
There is a new performance every single day of the week, so you can only imagine how difficult it is to change the stage decorations daily!
Our dinner plans were simple – we purchased some freshly made ravioli at the Naschmarkt and set up a lovely dinner at home while getting ready for the evening.
Dessert = the famous Sachertorte! I thought it was phenomenal.
Our evening was truly special. We purchased tickets to see a classical music concert at Schonbrunn Palace, because how could we visit Vienna without enjoying the cultural aspect of it?
So we dressed up and enjoyed the sounds of Mozart and Strauss in the grand ballroom.
Beautiful, is it not?
After the concert, we decided to give nightlife a second chance given that it was a Saturday night. So we came back to Volksgarten Disco, the same nightclub that was jam-packed with people the night before. Sadly, I was still feeling crappy and couldn’t even talk to people because I had no voice, so I convinced the others to head home at the “early” hour of 2AM. Plus, we had to be up super early the following morning to catch our train to Salzburg (I’ll save that for another post).
Sunday = Salzburg. Fast-forward to Monday, our last day in Vienna 🙁 We had breakfast at Cafe Mozart, a landmark in Vienna, and then did our best to knock out the final must-see locations around the city.
Up first was the stunning St. Stephen’s Cathedral:
It’s majestic, grand, and powerful a sight to see:
And then we hopped onto the subway to Schonbrunn Palace and took a 1.5 hour tour around the palace grounds.
The palace gardens were lovely:
But our favorite part was this view of Vienna from the Gloriette:
Actually, it was more of a goodbye to Vienna…
Afterwards, we chose to make our way back home slowly while exploring the unseen parts of the city.
and a circus!
We opted out of a fancy dinner and chose to sample some classic Austrian street food. My friends don’t eat meat (with the exception of chicken and fish), but I knew I couldn’t leave Vienna without tasting a few traditional dishes like veal schnitzel.
I didn’t love it, mainly because I don’t handle fried foods well, but it was definitely worth a try!
We also sampled a popular Viennese snack called langos, which is essentially an airy fried dough pancake topped with cheese (and sour cream + garlic if you desire).
Oh and this dessert! It was called Kaiserschmarrn – it’s a chopped up pancake fried and served with applesauce and jam. And it’s scrumptious.
And then it was time to go home and pack because we were traveling to Prague the next morning!!!