Best time to visit:
The best time to visit Vienna would be during spring (April – May) or during Fall (September – October) – good climate and not so many tourists. Summer time would be ideal too (Climate wise) however, you will also expect a lot of tourists during this time and tourist spots can get pretty crowded! You could also visit Vienna during winter if you would love to enjoy the city filled with snow and lights!
Flight tickets from India:
A return ticket from Chennai to Vienna in the month of October will cost you roughly around Rs. 45,000. Here is a screenshot of a flight booking page. I got a return ticket to Vienna for Rs. 45,000. This is actually a little bit expensive. You could get return tickets to Vienna for as low as 35K. Since I searched closer to the time of travel, the price is much higher than what is usually is.
You could get very good places to stay from as low as Rs. 2000 per night if you book via Airbnb. Here is a sample offer I took a screen shot of!
Places to visit:
Schonbrunn Palace: The former summer residence of the imperial family (Habsburg emperors). It is one of Europe’s most impressive palaces. You can either enjoy the beauty of the palace from the outside or for a price, get an audio tour of the palace inside. It may be a little on the expensive side, but my suggestion would be to go for the audio tour if you would like to know a little more about the history and life of the Habsburgs emperors. The palace is more beautiful at night (See cover picture)
Hofburg Palace: The former residence of the imperial family (Habsburg emperors). The great empire of the Habsburgs was ruled from this very palace. A part of the palace is now the residence and work place of the president of Austria. It is right at the centre of the city very close to St. Stephen’s Cathedral. Within the palace you have the Sisi museum, dedicated to the life of Empress Elisabeth or fondly known as Empress Sisi, the imperial silver collection, giving an insight into the dining culture of the royalty, and the imperial apartments, the former living quarters of each member of the imperial family. If you want to enter into any one of the above three, there is a fee. However, you can look around the palace premises free of cost.
St. Stephen’s Cathedral: Right at the city centre, it is one of the most important and impressive buildings in Vienna. Make sure you look at the roof of the cathedral. The 14th century Gothic cathedral is very famous for its multi-colored tiled roof. Did you know this cathedral is where the great Mozart got married and his children were baptized?
Belvedere: Yet another magnificent baroque palace; a former summer residence of Price Eugene of Savoy. There are actually two palaces within the palace complex of Belvedere – the Upper Belvedere and the Lower Belvedere and beautiful baroque garden in between. Over the years, the palace has been home to many important personalities in the history of Austria. It now houses Austrian art work from the middle ages till today. Modern art exhibitions are often held at the lower baroque. In December, the Belvedere Christmas market is a definite must see. The palace is also home to the beautiful art collections of Gustavo Klimt.
The Schonbrunn Palace and the Belvedere palace complex are the two main tourist arrtactions in Vienna.
Day trips from Vienna:
Vienna is the ideal location to cover a lot of central European countries. You can cover Budapest, Prague and Bratislava by staying in Vienna.
Bratislava, Slovakia: 80 Kms (Roughly an hour from Vienna by train); From Vienna’s main railway station (Vienna Hauptbahnhof), trains leave to Bratislava every one hour from 5:20 in the morning to 22:20 in the night. From Bratislava to Vienna, the last train to depart is at 22:40. You can also go to Bratislava by bus from Erdberg, Vienna. The main bus stop is located here. You can also travel to Bratislava by boat on the Danube! It may be a little expensive, but it will definitely be a good experience!
Wachau valley: A UNESCO world heritage site; Around 85 Kms (An hour from Vienna); At this valley the Danube river makes its way toward Vienna and is surrounded with vineyards and beautiful small villages. At the valley you can go for boat rides and visit the Melk abbey which is another UNESCO world heritage sites. You can take a train from the Vienna central station to get here.
Budapest, Hungary: 3 hours by bus; 243 Kms; You can go to Budapest by bus from Erdberg, Vienna. The main bus stop is located here. You can also take a train from Vienna (Wien) Meidling to Budapest’s Keleti (One of the largets stations in Budapest). You can go via the high spreed train or the regional train. Going by the regional train means, you can stop at some of the less visited Hungarian towns and the journey is more scenic. But this will take you much longer (More than 3 hours at times). For the high speed trains, I suggest you book the tickets much in advance to get a good price.
Salzburg: ~300 Kms (~4 hours by the Westbahn train); It is a city located on the Eastern border of Austria, right next to Germany. Apart from the palaces and castles, you must definitely make a trip to the Alps from here. Train is the most easiest and convenient way to travel to Salzburg from Vienna. Trains depart every hour from 6 in the morning till just before midnight. The Westbahn railway that takes you from Vienna to Salzburg travels through some of Austria’s most scenic areas. The Westbahn ticket is a little on the expensive side. It may cost you around 25 Euros one way. But if you ask me, it is totally worth it. You can buy your tickets after you get into the train as well and need not be pre booked. The train leaves from Wien Westbahnhof. The Eurorail is much more expensive than the Westbahn. Try making a trip to St. Gilgen from Salzburg. It should take around 40 minutes. It is a a beautiful and breathtaking village situated on the foothills of the Alps. You can sit, take in the sights or go for long walks through the byways of this village. The bus 150 makes regular trips to this village from Salzburg. Another must go place in Salzburg is Mt Untersberg. That’s as close to Germany as you can get. You can take line 25 from Hauptbahnhof to Untersberg. An the mountain, you can take a cable car to go right to the top.
Prague, Czech Republic: It will take you roughly 4.5 hours to get to Prague from Vienna. A must go. Even if you don’t include this is in your Vienna trip (because it the furthest of the lot and most time consuming), you must definitely visit Prague – as a separate trip perhaps! You can take the Eurocity train from Vienna central station which goes to Prague 8 times a day. You can also go to Prague by bus from Erdberg, Vienna.
There are also several castles in and around the city (20 to 25 minutes away) that you may choose to visit. But honestly, in my opinion, one castle per city should do. They look more or less the same to me 🙂
Restaurants to eat:
Wrenkh & Wiener Kochsalon – Not a completely vegetarian restaurant but you get some really good vegetarian/vegan options here; We ate here twice and were not disappointed both the times.
Adam & Luna – Vegan Mediterranean and fast food.
Delicious vegan bistro – Vegan pizzas, Western, take-out food
Natraj Indisches restaurant – For some good Indian food (Vegetarian and Non-vegetarian)
Nirvana – For some good Indian food (Vegetarian and Non-vegetarian)
Indien Village – For some good Indian food (Vegetarian and Non-vegetarian)
Frauenhuber – One of the oldest cafes in Vienna.
Tian Bistro on Spittelberg – Asian restaurant
Nice Rice – Indian, Austrian and Persian cuisine
Food to try:
Gulasch – Similar to the Hungarian Goulash soup – Usually contains pieces of meat. You can try the vegetarian version offered at some of the restarants (Tian Bistro on Spittelberg)
Apfelstrudel – Apple Strudel
Topfenstrudel – Cheese Strudel
Palatschinken – Similar to pancakes
Sachertorte – Chocolate cake filled with Apricot jam
Tip: A lot of people will try selling you tickets to the opera at some of the major sight seeing places. Unless you are truly a fan of the opera, do not get swayed away. They are too expensive and not worth it.
Budget for one for a stay of 6 days & 5 nights:
Air ticket: Rs. 45,000 (This could have been around 38,000)
Accommodation: Rs. 2,000*5
Food & Beverages: Rs. 10,000
Miscellaneous: Rs. 10,000
Total: ~Rs. 75,000 for one person for an amazing holiday in Vienna! (This does not include the day trips. The day trips wont cost you much if you use the regional trains or any public transport). If you book your air tickets much in advance, this could be much cheaper!