As you walk past Ring Strasse, a famous street in the favourite musical city of Mozart, an avenue of ornate baroque buildings wouldn’t fail to enchant you. In addition to it, the alluring aroma of hot Viennese coffee would also accompany you on your walk. Vienna is a not so expensive city if you spend and take your travel decisions mindfully. I had not opted for the Vienna Pass as I knew that I would never be able to visit all the mind-blowing museums and attractions of this city just in 3 days. Thus, I had selected only a few museums which were at a discounted price with Vienna City Card. The Card lets you travel for free in all the public transport and offers a good discount on most things to do in Vienna.
Once I moved out from Stephanplatz Subway towards the Opera House, I collected the Vienna City Card from Albertina Platz. You would also find some well-researched information and brochures in the Info center of Vienna Tourisme.
The things that you must collect from the Tourist Info Centre before you head for an explorations
- A (Square shaped) Vienna City Map (It comes with a free walking guide direction)
- Info about the current city events
- Vienna Card Brochure (To check the list of discounted venues)
- A hop on hop off bus map (Not for the bus but to follow the bus route so that you don’t miss any important place)
Where to start from
Once you have taken your card, you can now walk towards Opera House. This would be the first grand building on your way. Its beauty and grandeur are almost impossible to capture in a camera. Well, if you have started in the morning, keep the session of gazing at this building for the evening.
Move ahead and board on any tram that moves towards the Museum Platz/Burg Ring. This is the place from where you can take a walk through the centuries-old buildings that are giving tough competition to the beautiful buildings of the world.
Things to do in Vienna
As you get down at the Burgring stop, the grand buildings with green boulevards would welcome you with a flabbergasting sight. Enter the Maria Theresa Platz. It is the lane between the two grand buildings facing each other creating a lovely design between them.
Right in your front tucked in between these two buildings, you can see the Museum Quartier that hides the best of Vienna’s museums. You can definitely skip it(the way I did) if you are not a museum lover.
Stroll and Click Around Maria Theresa Platz, Museum Quartier
Though Vienna has been a famous as a musical city, it was also a home to many well-known artists and sculptors. If you wish to time-travel the Renaissance Era and the development of art and architecture in Vienna, you must take a look inside the museum. Or else you can just sit in the aesthetically crafted boulevard and admire the classic view of the historic buildings.
Note that the “Street Art Passage” at the Museum Quartier” is always Free for the visitors.
I would also like to mention a funny story about a golden table structure called Saliera in the museum. It was once stolen and the police couldn’t find the thief until 3 months after its robbery. When the thief was caught, he honestly accepted that as he was drunk he wished to unveil the poor security alarm system of the museum. Thus, he stole it to prove the fact and woke up the security system in a real sense. The structure is now re-installed in the museum with better security arrangements. (Sometimes it needs a thief and a robbery to make the government act diligently hahaha)
Grab your Opportunity of Free Entry to Vienna’s Museums
The most famous Museum of Vienna, the Museum of Applied Arts is Free for All on a Tuesday Evening when even many other museums and exhibitions are open for public. Apart from that, the first Sunday of every month would allow you a free entry to the following Museums:
If, just like me, are not a museum person than you must first check what these museums are going to offer you.
The Viennese Imperial Palace Courtyard
The mighty Burgtor (palace gate) gate leads you to the Hofburg(Imperial Palace) area built during the reign of Habsburg kings. The palace is certainly a sight to devour. When the horse carts trot by in front of this majestic semicircular architecture, you may literally feel the charm of the bygone era. The palace once served as the residence of the Habsburg kings. The front of the palace faces the Volksgarten (People’s garden) while the Burggarten adorns its backyard. This ensured the fresh cool wind filtered through the flowers and fountains of the gardens, straight in the palace.
If you skip entering the museum and move straight ahead towards Michaeler Platz, you will enter a simple yet classic courtyard of the palace. Don’t miss the statue at its centre.
Follow the footsteps of the horses, when it seems to be getting intensely frequent, understand that you are about to reach the Michaeler Platz which is also the horse cart stand.
Entry: 10% discount for the Vienna Card Holder on entry fees to the museum. The courtyard and outer passage of the Palace are free for all.
Explore Michaeler Platz
When you leave the courtyard move towards an exit through a dark passage, you can be excited by the sight of a number of horse riders clad in traditional attires. This site shouldn’t make you miss the view at the back. Yes, the most iconic gateway or you can ‘an identity landmark of Vienna’ guards the palace proudly at Michaeler Platz. Further on its left is a huge fountain of a Roman Goddess.
The traveler in you now have a choice to either Time-Travel through the narrow winding lanes of Vienna or head back to the Ring and visit the Rathaus (The City Hall) and the Viennese Parliament through the Volksgarden.
Entry: Free for all
Admire the Beauty of Nature at Volkgarten or People’s Garden
This historic garden gives you the best view of all the ornate buildings on Ringstrasse. Your summer visit to this garden can make you witness its best rosy beauty. The roses and other flowers in the garden make them look all the more vibrant.
Viennese Parliament Ground
Another iconic building of Vienna is its parliament. During my visit, it was under restoration and I really missed clicking the remarkable structure.
However, it was quite amusing to read a joke about the parliament. They have installed a statue of a Goddess of Wisdom in the parliament. And the local public believes that turning her back towards the parliament only means that there is no wisdom inside. Haha, political jokes and criticism are so common no matter how well the government performs.
Rathaus or the City Hall
Rathahauses are mostly found in all European cities and town. And a tour inside the Rathaus is mostly free on registration or is free on a specific day of the week.
Entry: Free Guided Tours on Mondays, Wednesdays, Friday at 13:00 hours
Kunst Haus Vienna – The House of a Rebellious Painter
We are all taught by this symmetry loving world that as a painter, the straight lines and perfectly aligned shapes are the basic learning. Hundertwasser was one of those painters who rebelled against this concept and focused mostly on the natural art forms.
Among the finely designed gray and pale Viennese building, the Kunst house clearly stands as a rebellious wild child. Right from the stairs to windows nothing in this house follows symmetry. Uneven stairs and elevators are, in fact, a unique feature of the building. ,
Each room has its own color, differently decorated windows and ceiling. Don’t be surprised if you see a huge tree branch peeping out of a room. Co-existence and co-designing architecture and nature was the main concept of Hundertwasser. The rooftop of the building is also a terrace garden. You can enter the café and the building for free. The charges are to be paid for the museum and exhibitions only.
River Front Vienna
Walking along the river and watching different wall graffiti were two of my favourite activities. And it is absolutely free.
St. Stephan’s Cathedral
The Gothic style cathedral is located in the heart of the city at Stephansplatz. The entry to the cathedral is free but a worth having experience is climbing up the tow to have a panoramic view of Vienna. The same main street is also a shopping lover’s favorite place.
Enjoy a Show at Opera house for Free
While walking around Opera House in the evening, you can watch a performance live on a large screen set outside the building. The sitting price for opera can range up to 200 Euros but a ticket for a standing arena is just for 3-4Euros. The ticket is available just an hour before the show starts. So, don’t miss your chance of watching a live opera in this musical city.
Relax at Schonbrun Palace Garden
Travel back in the Era of Empress Sisi, the queen of the Austrian Monarchy. The name literally means “Magical Fountain” and it used to be the summer palace of people’s favourite empress. It has one of the most beautiful parks and fountains. You can also choose to get lost in the never-ending maze of bushes in the garden.
The entry inside the palace, which is Vienna’s own little Versailles, is not free but discounted with your Vienna City Card.
The Garden with the view of the place is free to access.
Trace the Designs at Belvedere Palace Garden
Another royal summer place is also a house to one of the most popular works of the paint Gustav Klimt. “The Kiss” attracts a number of visitors to Belvedere but what I liked the most were the expressive faces and the painting named “The Ship of Fools”. Even if you are not an art lover, this is one of the museums in Vienna that you would love for sure.
Entry: Discounted entry for Vienna Card Holder. Free access to the garden and the fountain.
Cycle For Free for an Hour
The City Bike Wien provides this excellent facility of cycling for free for an hour. After you complete the registration on their app, you can unlock a bike from their stands spread across the city. The first hour of your bike rental won’t be charged. If you park your cycle back in time, the amount spent by you would just be 1 Euro. How? 1 Euro is charged as a registration amount.
Relish Free Food in Vienna
The Krishna Temple located at Loquaipl. 2 in Vienna serves free prasad on every Sunday evening. You can also join the divine dance and chantings prior to the serving. If you aren’t an Indian, you will definitely love the divine madness.
The famous Naschmarkt of Vienna often serves free samples to taste. This can be your little in-between meals bites while strolling around the market.
Apart from that Vienna has many budget street food stalls. ZingerBerger stall outside the Albertina Museum is one of such stalls that serves delicious Viennese Wurstel (sausages). The vegetarians can grab some fries or veg. burger from here.
Travel Tips and FAQ
- Is it worth buying Vienna City Card? I would answer, definitely. Vienna has Europe’s best public transport system. A City Card would ensure a hassle-free hop on hop off in any form of public transport. Each tourist attraction has a tram/bus/subway stop at 2 minutes of walking distance. The card is really worth the price considering the number of times you would be traveling on public transport.
- Take a ride of Tram no. 1 or D. It would take you along all the famous attractions of Vienna. It would be like being on a City Tour Ride without paying any extra penny.
- If you choose not to opt for the card or public transport, it is not impossible to cover the city on foot except a few attractions.
- Do carry an umbrella as summer would be too hot and pre–summer rains are also too common.
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This post is written in collaboration with Vienna Tourist Board. However, the exploration was done independently and the experiences/views are of my own.