Travel Guide to Vienna, Austria

Travel Guide to Vienna, Austria

Europe

This page contains affiliate links to products and tours that I have used for my own travels, purchased & enjoyed. Clicking these links does not cost you anything, however doing so will support Blue Eyed Compass and allow the site to continue.  THANK YOU!

Vienna has become a highly sought after destination for many in Europe, and it’s easy to see why – the city is full of old world european charm, is bursting with detailed historic architecture and has become the most livable city in the world.

It’s important to be prepared when traveling anywhere, so this post is a foolproof guide to traveling to and within Vienna, Austria.

Included in this post:

  • How to get to Vienna

  • Where to stay in Vienna

  • Best time of year to visit Vienna

  • How to get around Vienna

  • Top things to do in Vienna

  • Day Trips from Vienna

  • And more!

How to get to Vienna, Austria

How to get to Vienna will depend on where you are coming from.

PLANE

If you are arriving from outside of Europe, then you’ll be flying. You can fly directly to Vienna’s airport.

*You can find great deals for flights at Skyscanner!

From the airport you can take the very easy & convenient Central Airport Train, or CAT.  You can learn more about how to take Vienna’s CAT here.

TRAIN

If you’re traveling from within Europe, you can easily take a train into the city center. There are two main train stations.  One is called Wien Hauptbahnhof, or Vienna’s Central Train Station. The other is Wien Mitte.

Vienna Travel Tip: If you choose to take the CAT, know that it only goes from the Vienna airport to the Wien Mitte station. So, be sure to plan accordingly based on where you’ll be staying.

Which leads us to our next Travel Guide section for Vienna…

Where to stay in Vienna (for first time visitors)

There are 22 districts in the city of Vienna. Yet, there are only a few that a first time traveler should stay in. Which calls into question…

Which Vienna districts should you consider staying in & which ones have the major landmarks? Based on my research & time spent in Vienna, I would suggest the following districts:

1st district, Innere Stadt: located in the heart of the city, contains the cities most popular tourist attractions. Good for walkability & sightseeing, but can be touristy & more expensive.

3rd district, Landstrasse: Within the 3rd district is the Wien Mitte station and Belvedere Palace & Gardens. Landstrasse is great for those who don’t want to sacrifice great quality for a budget – in this neighborhood you’ll get both!

5th district, Margarten: home to both the Naschmarkt and Cafe Demel, Margarten is known as the ‘bohemian’ neighborhood of Vienna. It’s a great area for those looking for budget friendly accommodation that is conveniently close to the Innere Stadt

6th district, Mariahilf: this district sits between the 4th & 7th district & rubs against the MuseumsQuartier. It has the largest shopping street in Vienna and is known for having lots of delicious eateries.

7th district, Museums Quartier: the 7th district contains many of Vienna’s famous museums, has lots of places to eat and outdoor hang out spots. It;s very centrally located & convenient for first time visitors, but can be noisy at night.

-7th district, Neubau: Neubau is a small area inside of the 7th district. It has a younger crowd, with less traditional coffee houses mixed with a retro vibe. I’d compare it to the edgy, hipster part of town. It’s great for those who want more of a cultural experience while remaining close to the Museums Quartier and historic sites.

8th district, Josefstadt: a small & charming district that is close to the Hofburg palace and the center of Vienna, although it is not budget friendly.

 

For more budget conscious travelers, it was recommended to stay in these districts:

3rd district, Landstrasse

5th district, Margareten

*Travel Tips for choosing where to stay in Vienna:

  • Stay near a metro station (U-Bahn) or tram stop. If you stay near one you’ll be able to access the entire city quite quickly, as Vienna’s public transportation system is very efficient
  • There are TWO main roads within Vienna that you need to know:

Ringstraße– surrounds the historical inner city of Vienna, also called Innere Stadt, or District 1

Gürtelstraße– surrounds all of the inner districts, think of it as the barrier street from the inner and outer districts of Vienna

The Best Time to Visit Vienna

I may be biased in saying that the best time of year to visit Vienna is during the Christmas holiday season. However any time of year would be a great time to travel there.

Christmas in Vienna is a unique, one of a kind experience that should be on every traveler’s bucket list. The entire city transforms into a magical snow globe that they portray in those cheesy but unmissable holiday movies.

If you are determined to go only during good weather, then summer would be the best time for you to visit. With fall offering light fall foliage.

The best time for sightseeing in Vienna is at the end of August through November when there are fewer tourists in the city.

How many days do you need to spend in Vienna?

The number of days that you spend in Vienna will depend entirely on what you want to do in and around the city. I would say you will need at least three full days and nights in the city. If you are a slow traveler, than a week would be best.

How to get around Vienna

On Foot/Walking

The more central parts of Vienna are easily accessible by foot, and it will be the best way to explore the city and all of its hidden historical gems. If you plan on visiting the Inner Stadt and historical monuments like St. Stephen’s Cathedral than be sure to do so on foot.

Public Transportation

Vienna is known for having one of THE most efficient public transportation systems in all of Europe, possibly outranking Switzerland! So, you’ll want to take advantage of their easy to use metro and tram systems.

Transport maps are placed at all stations and stops, so it’s easy to know where you’re going and how to get to where you want to.

Buses & Trams:

The buses & trams are great because you can transfer between the two on the same ticket.

There are over 30 tram lines in Vienna, which makes it the largest tram system in the world. With that being said, as a traveler and visiting tourist, you’ll want to take advantage of Lines 1 and 2 more frequently. These lines travel along the Ringstrasse and stop along famous historical and beautiful landmarks, like the Vienna Opera House and the Hofburg Palace. More on those places below!

*There are night buses from 12:30am-5am, every 30 minutes

Metro (U Bahn)

Vienna’s metro system has five lines and operates from 5am-12:30am. I loved how their metro lines operate both under and above ground, so you can view the city during your trip.

You can find a downloadable version of the metro lines map and all of Vienna’s public transportation lines here.

*On Fridays, Saturdays & the nights before holidays the metro runs for 24 hours

Cost of a bus, tram or metro ticket in Vienna:

-single ticket: 2.40 euros

-passes range from 24-weekly passes, price range 8-17.10 euros

 

Taxi

Like most major cities, taxis are available at a moments notice, and for a ten minute ride will cost around 7-10 euros

From Vienna’s city center to the Vienna airport a taxi will cost you around 35-45 euros.

Bicycle

Yes, you can bike around Vienna! However I wouldn’t recommend it during the colder winter months. In the spring and summer biking would be a great way to get around the city. You can rent bikes for the day and take them onto Vienna’s public transportation for free.

For late nighters, take the bus- there are 26 night buses that run from 12:30am-5am on over 26 different routes

*Travel Tip: it’s usually cheaper if you purchase your public transportation tickets in advance. You can do so here.

*Travel Tip: you MUST validate your ticket for the metro, tram or bus. The metro stations will have blue boxes near their escalators where you can do so, and the trams and buses will have them on board by the doors.

Top Things to do in/around Vienna

While I could list every little thing there is to do in Vienna, instead, here are the major attractions for first time visitors, because I find it more fun to check off a few major attractions & wander as I please around a city finding the small treasures that many won’t write about- make your own adventure!

Museums in MuseumsQuartier

There are both modern & classic museums in this area of Vienna. Personally, I’m quite particular on which museums I visit, and fell in love with the Kunsthistorisches Museum.

Open: 10am-6pm

Cost: 16 euros +

Hofburg Palace (plus the National Library & Spanish Riding School)

The Hofburg Palace was home to the former Hapsburg dynasty, which if you don’t know was one of THE most influential monarchies in all of Europe. And they did not disappoint when it came to creating stunningly beautiful palaces for themselves.

The Hofburg Palace is in the heart of Vienna and attached to it are other major tourist attractions — the Sisi Museum, the Imperial Apartments, and the Silver Collection are all different places inside you can purchase tickets to visit.

Just around the corner (but to be honest, that ‘corner’ is quite large), is the National Library & the infamous Spanish Riding School

Open: 9am-5:30pm

Cost: 15 euros +

National Library

Open: 10am-6pm (*closed on Mondays October-May)

Cost: 8 euros

Spanish Riding School

Open: 9am-4pm

Cost: 13-27 euros

 

Schonbrunn Palace

Another home to the Hapsburgs is the Schonbrunn Palace. Which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It lies a bit outside of the central part of the city of Vienna, but it is well worth the short metro ride to get there.

The palace is known for its pristine gardens and bright yellow exterior. Schonbrunn Palace is typically the most visited attraction in Vienna, which means there can be wait times for when you want to explore inside. It’s suggested to book a guided tour so that you won’t waste any precious travel time waiting in a line.

Open: 8am-5pm

Cost: 16-40 euros

Belvedere Palace

The Belvedere Palace was a summer home to Prince Eugene of Savoy, and has beautifully maintained gardens in between the two buildings travelers can visit. Personally, I would suggest only visiting the gardens and skipping the museum.

Open: 9am-6pm

Cost: 14 euros for Lower Belvedere, 16 euros for Upper Belvedere

 

Walk around central Vienna

As mentioned above, the Innere Stadt contains the pedestrian friendly & historic center of Vienna. It’s easy to walk to from the Hofburg Palace area and where the popular St. Stephens’ Cathedral is located

Open: 24 hours

Cost: free!

 

St. Stephens’ Cathedral

St. Stephens’ Cathedral stands atop the ruins of two other churches & is the mother church of the Roman Catholic Church in Vienna. It’s located in the center of Stephansplatz (rightly named!), so once you walk through the church, explore the square. You can learn where to get a cocktail with a view of the cathedral and square in this post.

Open: Monday-Saturday 9am-11:30am, Sunday & public holidays 1pm-4:30pm

Cost: free to enter, 5 to 14.50 euros for the other areas (towers & catacombs)

Vienna State Opera House

The Vienna State Opera House has tours during the day, but I would much rather spend my time enjoying a performance inside instead.

Open: depends on guided tour bookings & seasonal event

Cost: guided tours are 9 euros, performance tickets vary based on seat selection

 

Prater

Located in the 2nd district, Prater is a public park that hosts the large ferris wheel Vienna has come to also be known for.

Open: 10am-8pm (open until 10pm, 11pm, or 12pm depending on the month)

Cost: free entry

While this is definitely not a definitive list of things to do in Vienna, it gives you a taste of the major sites to see – I’m an advocate of slow travel & wandering about, so be sure to allow yourself time to soak in the vibe of the city beyond the tourist attractions listed here.

Day Trips from Vienna

There are quite a few places you can visit for a day outside of Vienna. The destinations listed below are in order of length of time it will take to get there from Vienna.

Rust, Bergenland, Austria – 

Known for: Ausbruch, a sweet wine & its temperate climate. Plus it’s located on Lake Neusiedl, which in warmer months you can kayak on

Time from Vienna: one hour by car

Bratislava, Slovakia – 

Known for: its small town charm of old world Europe

Time from Vienna: one hour train ride

Sopron, Hungary – 

Known for: an enchantingly romantic atmosphere with preserved historic buildings

Time from Vienna: one hour train ride

Graz, Austria

Known for: beautiful baroque palaces mixed with modern structures

Time from Vienna: 3 hours by train

Salzburg, Austria – 

Known for: the Sound of Music – kidding! There is much more to this city than just Julie Andrews singing

Time from Vienna: 3 hours by train

 

Don't Forget to Pack:

Fun Facts about Vienna

  • Vienna’s city center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • And Viennese coffee culture is a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage
  • Vienna is ranked as the #1 liveable city in the world
  • Dogs are allowed almost everywhere in Vienna. Maybe it’s the #1 most liveable city for dogs too?
  • Vienna technically has two different climates. It borders on European transitional & Panonian
Laura of Blue Eyed Compass, a Sustainable Travel Blog

Hi!  I’m Laura, a sustainable travel blogger, as well as freelancing web designer & photographer. I share real & honest information about traveling, how to do so sustainably, and ways to earn an income while working remote.

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Christmas in Vienna

Christmas in Vienna

Europe

11 things to do in Vienna this Christmas

This page contains affiliate links to products and tours that I have used for my own travels, purchased & enjoyed. Clicking these links does not cost you anything, however doing so will support Blue Eyed Compass and allow the site to continue.  THANK YOU!

From mid-November through Christmas day, Vienna, Austria transforms into a Christmas holiday snow globe. The city is full of quaint postcard-worthy locations just waiting to be explored. Spending Christmas in Vienna is the epitome of a holiday lovers’ travel dreams. Vienna is known as the Christmas hub in Europe (possibly the world!), in the sense that it oozes traditional holiday cheer, glittery decor and all things festive for Old Saint Nick’s celebration.

From magical Christmas markets to historic sites, and delicious treats along the way, I doubt any other city hosts a more festive Christmas season.

There are SO many posts on what is best to do in Vienna for Christmas, so along with my personal experience, I filtered through some of the bleh things to show you THE BEST things to do in Vienna this Christmas season:

Included in this post:

  • The best things to do in Vienna during the Christmas season
  • A sustainably focused christmas market!
  • Where to stay during the Christmas season in the city
  • How to get around the city
  • Travel tips for visiting Vienna during Christmas season

Top 11 things to do in Vienna, Austria this Christmas Season

(1) Explore all of their Christmas Markets

This list wouldn’t be complete without first mentioning Vienna’s Christmas markets. Imagine rows of sprightly decorated wooden covered stalls, each filled with their own unique, local fare. Some with holiday decorations, others with handmade toys, and the best ones serving a long list of mulled wine-like drinks. (Don’t worry drinking gluhwein is on this list, keep reading!)

Now, depending on how many days you plan on spending in Vienna for the holidays will depend on which Viennese Christmas markets you should check out. There are at least 5-10 Christmas markets in Vienna each season, if not more. Each one is unique with some having more food, or fewer stalls or the focus being on activities versus the vendors. The Christmas markets I would NOT miss while in Vienna would be:

  • Rathausplatz: this Christmas market is the market that you see in the majority of Vienna Christmas market pictures. The square in front of Vienna’s City Hall is completely transformed into an iconic holiday fairytale. With a mile-long market featuring an ice skating rink, a heart filled tree and ferris wheel, Rathausplatz Christmas market should be first on your list of Christmas markets to see when in Vienna.

 

  •  Stephansplatz Christmas Market: In the heart of the historic center of Vienna, the Christmas market at Stephansplatz is perfect for sharing a mug of mulled wine with strangers and enjoying roasted chestnuts. Especially if you are planning to explore the historic beauty of Vienna in between.

 

  • Karlsplatz Christmas Market: In front of the Karlskirche Church is the Karlsplatz Christmas market focused on handmade arts and crafts. This unique market has vendors who must make their items themselves and earn qualification from a jury panel in order to be a part of the market. Meaning you’ll see the most beautiful handmade items here. PLUS, this market has higher quality standards on its food and games as well. Any food or drinks sold here must be free of palm oil and organic. And it enforces strict sustainability foothold, where items like their carousel are built from used goods and runs on pedal power!

 

  • Christmas Village Maria Therisien Platz: centered between three top museums in Vienna, the Christmas Village at Maria Theresien Platz showcases a unique backdrop for visitors. It’s a beautiful traditional Christmas market with the holiday fare you’ll come to expect at these places.

*TRAVEL TIP-  the Christmas market vendors and styles can change year to year. If you are researching for your trip to Vienna during the Christmas season, be sure to reference multiple places for up to date information about the Viennese Christmas markets.

(2) Channel your Michelle Kwan persona & ice skate at Rathausplatz

The ice skating rink at Rathausplatz is not your typical American ice skating experience. Instead of an oval shaped rink, skaters are set up in a looping trail where they can skate in larger areas, but also go on an ice trail (where some areas are set on an incline for faster skating!).

This is definitely something any visitor to Vienna during Christmas should take part in. If at least to mortify yourself at how bad your are at ice skating, and watch young children zip right by you… oh wait, I’m just talking about my own experience with it.

(3) Enjoy a warm beverage & dessert at a famous Viennese cafe

If you’re a food-driven traveler like myself than you’ll be happy to know that Vienna is known for its decadent chocolate cake known as Sachertorte (cake). This cake recipe dates back to the 1830s when a 16-year-old chef apprentice had to fill in the last minute and created this delicious dessert.

Be sure to enjoy a slice (or two) while in Vienna, and hopefully at one of their historic cafes- Cafe Demel, Cafe Central or Cafe Sperl. Each of which is an opulent opposite to the ‘cafes’ we Americans are accustomed to.

However, if you would prefer a more modern cafe setting check out this list by Culture Trip.

(4) See the lights of the Belvedere Palace Christmas market at night

With some serious majestic flare, the Belvedere Palace Christmas market at night is incredibly beautiful. There are two parts to the Belvedere Palace, the Upper & Lower Palaces. The Upper Belvedere Palace has a lake in the front that reflects the Christmas market lights onto the water beautifully. This Christmas market runs through Christmas Eve so be sure to plan accordingly.

(5) Stroll along the holiday-decorated pedestrian streets on Christmas Eve nights

I can’t think of anything more ethereal or romantic than strolling along holiday decorated paths with a loved one. From the State Opera House to St. Stephen’s Cathedral, and then along the Graben to the Hofburg Palace, pedestrians can enjoy magnificently decorated streets, with monumentally large holiday light fixtures and themes in each direction. This stroll is the epitome of holiday romance.

My suggestion would be book an early Christmas Eve dinner and spend the remainder of your evening wandering around the historic center of Vienna.

(6) Experience an orchestra concert inside of a Palace

Each year the Schonbrunn Palace hosts an orchestra concert inside of their Orangery (an orangery is a room at a palace where they used to keep their spring/summer fruit trees safe during winter). Classy, romantic and entertaining, this concert is a beautiful way to spend a holiday evening listening to classics alongside opera singers and ballet dancers.

Click here to grab tickets to this concert at a great low price (compared to other sites)

Want more flexibility with the date(s) of your concert experience? You can also:

(7) Soak in the sounds of Strauss and Mozart throughout the city

At the Strauss and Mozart Christmas concert at the Kursalon – fun fact, the composer Strauss himself performed here once!

You can also watch a choir recital or church concert at the infamous St. Stephen’s Cathedral, the Peterskirche or the Minoritenkirche. You can find more holiday concerts here with tickets below.

(8) Spend Christmas day sipping Baileys Spiked Hot Cocoa at the Schonbrunn Palace market on Christmas day

Vienna is Austria’s Imperial capital meaning we can thank the Hapsburg for the many beautifully constructed palaces throughout the city, like the extravagant Schonbrunn Palace. And what better way to soak up holiday charm & history than at the light yellow Schonbrunn Palace’s Christmas market.

This was by far our favorite market to visit in Vienna, besides Rathausplatz, as the vendors were more unique than in other locations. In fact, we found most of our gifts to bring home at the Schonbrunn Palace Christmas market. Plus you have an actual Imperial Palace as your backdrop throughout the market.

I don’t think it could emulate a European Christmas vibe any more than this place. *If you go on the weekends the Schonbrunn Palace Christmas market hosts advent concerts in the afternoons and evenings. And you schedule your tickets to enter the palace – why not do it all in one day!?

(9) Witness the Vienna Ballet or an opera effortlessly perform their holiday shows

The Vienna State Opera House, or Wiener Staatsoper, is a truly grand masterpiece in Vienna. Rebuilt after World War II, visiting this venue for a classic performance is a bucket list item for anyone visiting Vienna.

(10) Drink Weihnachtspunsch and Gluhwein with strangers

Weihnachtspunsch is Christmas punch & Gluhwein is mulled wine. These beverages can be found at every Viennese Christmas market. In fact, the vendors selling gluhwein will often have a long menu of drink options. My favorite being a ginger-based one, and course hot cocoa with Baileys. There are also non-alcoholic ones!

There are belly bar tables at each market, where it’s a great place to strike up a conversation with a group of strangers. Who knows, you may end up getting drinks with them later that day!

If it’s particularly cold outside during your visit, you can warm your hands on one of the unique mugs they serve their holiday punches in. In fact, you pay a holding fee for the mug and it’s returned when you give them back the mug. With the encouragement that drinkers end up keeping their mugs as souvenirs. I try my best not to be suckered into souvenirs traps but dang it did they have some precious mugs like this heart-shaped one that is currently in my cupboards.

(11) Staying for New Years & need a once in a lifetime idea? Attend the annual Hofburg Silvester Ball!

For those willing to don ball gowns and tuxedos, this could be a once in a lifetime event to attend. Imagine your wildest Disney princess moments coming to life while the New Year’s ball drops at midnight. Find out more here.

Where to stay in Vienna during Christmas season

The majority of sights to see and holiday markets are located within historic Vienna. So, visitors will want to stay within or nearby that area. However depending on your budget, it may be difficult to find lodging during Vienna’s Christmas season in the heart of the historic district.

If that’s the case, then I would suggest staying near Wien Mitte, Vienna’s public transportation hub.

Booking.com

How to get around Vienna, Austria during the holiday season

By train: Vienna, like many other European cities, has an excellent underground public transportation system called the U-Bahn. The stations are all centrally located and easy to find for the OBB. You can purchase tickets at their kiosk machines or ticket windows. Be sure to validate your ticket at the entrance! And each train car has easy to follow labels for which stations will be stopped at next.

By tram: similar to the U-Bahn, Vienna’s tram system is great for those who want to see the city while they ride. In fact, there is a circular tram line that is great for visitors to hop onto if they want a quick tour of the city (or if they’re cold and want to sit inside something insulated… yes, we did this, and enjoyed the 20-minute break from the cold). Again, you’ll want to validate your ticket when you enter the tram for the first time

There are of course taxis and Uber/Lyft’s available in the city, but the fun of travel is to walk around to see everything. Plus using public transportation and walking are two great ways to be a more sustainably focused traveler.

If you’re coming from the Vienna airport, I would suggest using the CAT (City Airport Train). As it’s a convenient and affordable option that the city offers. You can read more about it here.

Don’t forget to pack these items:

Tips for visiting Vienna during Christmas season:

  • Book a reservation for dinner for Christmas Eve & Christmas day if you plan to eat out. Many places will require reservations or be closed. I mean it. Reserve this NOW. We had difficulty finding vegetarian friendly menus for the holidays that had availability, and we booked in early November.
  • Bring cash with you to the markets. While some may accept credit cards, it’s best to have cash on hand to make purchases. Especially if you want a mug of gluhwein.
  • Bring reusable shopping bags with you to the markets. If you’re shopping and expect to explore for the remainder of the day, do yourself a favor and pack a reusable bag to hold your new gifts

Scroll through to see more images of Vienna during Christmas!

Laura of Blue Eyed Compass, a Sustainable Travel Blog

Hi!  I’m Laura, a sustainable travel blogger, as well as freelancing web designer & photographer. I share real & honest information about traveling, how to do so sustainably, and ways to earn an income while working remote.

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Things to skip in Vienna

Things to skip in Vienna

Six things to SKIP in Vienna, Austria

and Six things to do INSTEAD!

Avoid the typical to find the hidden gems

This page contains affiliate links to products and tours that I have used for my own travels, purchased & enjoyed. Clicking these links does not cost you anything, however doing so will support Blue Eyed Compass and allow the site to continue.  THANK YOU!

With any destination that you visit, you should always research with caution as to which things you must see and which you can pass over. Because let’s be honest, not all museums are created equal, five plus churches in one day begins to lose its lust, and we can’t all go into the same ‘famous’ restaurant.

Before any trip I take, I do a lot of research. I see which blogger recommends what, what’s the best area to stay in and what I should be packing with me. And quite frankly, a lot of what I found online was the same places listed out over and over again.

So, after visiting these places I realized what wasn’t worth our time and what was a much better use of travel time. Read on for the Six things you can skip while in Vienna, and six things you should do instead:

Things you should skip in Vienna, & six things to do instead!

(1) Don’t pay to go into ALL of the Hofburg Palace museums/areas

INSTEAD choose one part to pay for and enjoy your time outside marveling at the Hofburg Empire architecture. I would suggest either the Sisi Museum or the National Library. Vienna is full of exciting and exquisite history, but that doesn’t mean you need to spend your entire time inside of museums. Choose one in the Hofburg Palace to immerse yourself in and then be sure to have time to explore other areas of the city.

(2) Don’t pay to go to the top of St. Stephen’s Cathedral

INSTEAD enjoy a view of the cathedral and all of Stephansplatz (St. Stephen’s square) from Do&Co Hotels Onyx bar. Their interior and cocktails are almost as stunning as the views! You can still, and should, go into St. Stephen’s Cathedral, as it’s beautiful and is the city’s most important and standout church since it’s construction in 1160. But don’t pay to go up to the top of the tower. It’s like paying to be inside of the view, when the view should be the cathedral itself.

(3) Don’t visit every palace in Vienna

INSTEAD head further outside of the city to explore the Schönbrunn Palace. This palace is one of the main attractions in Vienna, but it is massive so you won’t feel like you’re walking through a crowded space (although I would still suggest you arrive early in the day to avoid some crowds).

With over 1400 rooms, gardens that are comparable to those of Versaille and it’s own zoo, you will have plenty to explore here all while getting an incredible sense of history of Austria.

Since you’re a smart sustainable traveler, you’ll be purchasing your tickets to the Schönbrunn Palace in advance. I love these ‘skip-the-line’ options!

*Please note- I often will not promote the visitation of zoo’s, as many around the world are not animal friendly and are often seen as abuse to the animals. I personally did not visit this zoo, but have read that the ‘animal enclosure areas’ are quite large and mimic their wildlife habitats. I’m unaware of their conservation efforts at this time (however, I have reached out to them for details) besides careful breeding of endangered species. Visiting and contributing funds to this zoo would be a personal consideration that you will need to make.

(4) Don’t go to Hotel Sacher for the famous Viennese Sachertorte (cake)

INSTEAD go to Kleines Cafe or Cafe Sperl for Sachertorte. Both are smaller and more authentic cafes, with a traditional Viennese cafe vibe. Kleines Cafe is located in Franziskanerplatz, and Cafe Sperl is near the Naschmarkt. Plus both of these cafes are not nearly as crowded as typically tourist frequented Hotel Sacher or Cafe Demel will be.

(5) Don’t eat schnitzel or sausage

I mean for one thing, true traditional schnitzel is to be made with veal, aka baby cow so no thank you 🙁

INSTEAD Enjoy the city’s best bakery, Joseph’s Bakery & Cafe. This is where the locals are enjoying their weekend brunches or lunches. Josephs has a few locations throughout Vienna, and some of the best bread you could enjoy. They also have a handful of vegan and vegetarian options, which pair amazingly well with their delicious coffees, juices and teas.

(6) Don’t visit every museum in Vienna

INSTEAD- visit the Kunsthistorisches museum. Known as the city’s fine art history museum, the Kunsthistorisches museum is incredibly beautiful inside and houses works of art from many famous and well known artists. Such as Caravaggio and Bernini – what can I say, I’m impartial to Italian artists

Click here to get discounted tickets to visit the Kunsthistorisches Museum!

Don’t forget to pack these items:

With Vienna being the most livable city in the world, and home to the center of European history it is chock full of beautiful places to discover, foods to sample and history to learn about. I hope this list provides you with some insight into what you can skip over during your visit to have an even more authentic visit of Vienna.

Happy travels,

Laura

Laura of Blue Eyed Compass, a Sustainable Travel Blog

Hi!  I’m Laura, a sustainable travel blogger, as well as freelancing web designer & photographer. I share real & honest information about traveling, how to do so sustainably, and ways to earn an income while working remote.

Follow Along!

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Set up your blog today by using my discount code for Bluehost – Click the image to get started.

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How to use the CAT in Vienna

How to use the CAT in Vienna

Europe

This page contains affiliate links to products and tours that I have used for my own travels, purchased & enjoyed. Clicking these links does not cost you anything, however doing so will support Blue Eyed Compass and allow the site to continue.  THANK YOU!

You reading this post means you are already an excellent sustainable traveler (and a smart one too!). Researching how to travel from the airport to the city centre using public transportation is imperative when it comes to fast-tracking your vacation enjoyment.

Vienna has an awesomely convenient transportation system called CAT, or City Airport Train, which transports riders from the Vienna airport to Wien Mitte, a central location within historic Vienna.

It is easy to use, cost-saving, efficient, and something I would definitely recommend to anyone trying to get from the Vienna airport to City Centre.

Read on for an easy How-To guide for Vienna’s City Airport Train (aka CAT).

Included in this post:

  • The perks of taking the CAT
  • How much the CAT costs
  • How to buy tickets for CAT &
  • An additional way to get to the center of Vienna from the airport

How to get to Vienna from the airport

What is the CAT?

The CAT is short for City Airport Train and is Vienna’s streamlined train service to and from the Vienna airport to its city centre. The CAT stops at Wien Mitte in Vienna. Which is the main transportation hub in the city of Vienna.

Benefits of using the CAT in Vienna:

  • You can safely and easily check in your luggage so that you don’t have to lug it onto and off of the train
  • CAT passengers can print their boarding passes at the CAT terminal in Wien Mitte
  • Certain airlines have partnered with CAT, so that passengers can check-in their luggage at the CAT terminal in Wien Mitte straight to their departing plane!

Find the airlines HERE : Austrian, Lufthansa, Eurowings, Swiss & Brussel Airlines

  • The CAT is direct to/from the airport and Wien Mitte. There are no additional stops to worry about.
  • It only takes 16 minutes to get to or from the airport- you can beat so much city traffic!
  • If the CAT is delayed more than 30 minutes & you miss your flight, they will cover your flight costs. And if your missed flight requires an overnight stay, they’ll cover those costs as well. CAT calls it their CAT Travel Guarantee
  • They offer storage lockers for your luggage FREE of charge!
  • Their train cabins are spacious & very comfortable
  • There are newspapers & magazines supplied on the trains
  • There are WLAN and power outlets at each seating area

How do I get from Vienna airport to City Centre?

The CAT-platform is a short five minute walk from the Vienna airport entrance, from both the Check-In area and baggage claim areas.

Once you’ve landed in Vienna you’ll want to go to Terminal 3 at the Vienna Airport. Once at Terminal 3 exit to go outside and walk to your RIGHT. There will be signs pointing you in the correct direction. You will then take an elevator down to the CAT station.

You can purchase your ticket(s) at the baggage claim hall from their kiosks or their counter.

Trains depart from the airport to the Wien Mitte station every 30 minutes until 11:07pm.

*Timetable of CAT train in Vienna

Where does the CAT stop in Vienna?

The CAT goes to and from the Vienna Airport to Wien Mitte. Wien Mitte is one of the main stations for all public transportation in Vienna.

How do I get to Wien Mitte from Vienna’s city centre?

Visitors can easily get to Wien Mette and the CAT station by using Vienna’s public subway system. called U-Bahn. The public transportation stations are in another part of the Wien Mitte, so travelers need to walk from the CAT terminal through the mall. It’s an easy walk, and all indoors.

See the map below for Vienna’s metro system.

How much is the train from Vienna airport to City Centre?

The CAT costs between 12-21 euros. See their pricing here

Taking Vienna’s CAT to the airport

Inside of Wien Mitte is the CAT station. It operates like a mini airport terminal where you can check into your flight on their kiosks, purchase your train tickets and potentially even check in your luggage. There is a comfortable waiting room and storage lockers as well.

Once you have your tickets you can hop onto the train. It departs every 30 minutes from 5:37 am-11:07 pm, with only a 16-minute train ride to the airport.

*Timetable of CAT train in Vienna

How to buy tickets for CAT Vienna?

You can purchase tickets for the CAT in Vienna a few ways:

  • At the counter of the Wien Mitte CAT station
  • From a CAT vending machine at the CAT station
  • At the airport: in the baggage claim hall from their sales staff or their vending machines

If you’d prefer to pre-purchase your ticket in advance, you can do so HERE. However, you will pay an extra bit in change. So consider your time of arrival and departure.

How to get to Vienna’s City Centre by train?

In addition to the direct CAT, there is also a public train called the Schnellbahn S7. A regular ticket costs only 3.90 euros, with an average travel time of 25 minutes as it makes multiple stops.

Passengers can find the Schnellbahn by following signs at the baggage claim hall and Check-In hall

Tips for taking the CAT in Vienna to & from the Vienna Airport:

  • Keep in mind once you arrive at the CAT station in Wien Mitte you need to transfer to the Vienna metro. This is a 5-10 minute walk inside of the Wien Mitte mall.

  • CAT is not a part of Vienna’s public transportation system, so you will need to purchase different tickets to use their metro system

Laura of Blue Eyed Compass, a Sustainable Travel Blog

Hi!  I’m Laura, a sustainable travel blogger, as well as freelancing web designer & photographer. I share real & honest information about traveling, how to do so sustainably, and ways to earn an income while working remote.

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Ultimate Italian Bucket List

Ultimate Italian Bucket List

Europe

Dear Italy,

I have to be honest, you’ve been my not-so secret, but also not so talked about on social media, love obsession for years now. Ever since my first visit to Rome back in the spring of 2008, I’ve been head over heels for you.

And while I vowed to visit you often since that first trip, I’ve also cheated on our relationship as you opened my eyes to the world outside of my home. You were the one who showed me that there is beauty in the small things, that the world has more to offer than what I knew by staying put in one place, and that food should not be considered in calories but in mouth watering moments over a bottle of chianti among friends and strangers.

Maybe it’s because my ancestral past stems from the shores of your coasts, but I find myself dreaming of you frequently. More often than I should, or care to admit. With each trip that I plan, I consider my options to come back to you instead, but there is so much in the world to be explored by little me. But just know, I plan to to plant roots to you at some point during this life, and am determined to breathe in the beauty of each place I have on this list.

I haven’t let on to this too much on social media, but I have a slight obsession with Italy. Maybe it’s because of my Italian heritage, maybe it’s because I love to eat great food, or maybe it’s because I’m in love with beautiful places, but no matter how I spin it, Italy will always be my favorite destination.

Now, this love for this beautiful country stems not from the typical touristy reasons to check off something as seen, but because the entirety of its culture is magnifico (in my opinion).

So, in order to share my love for all things Italiano, I’ve put together an epic Italian bucket list of places to visit and what to do there (especially what to eat… I’m a girl who really loves food).

I hope these places become additions to your saved destinations and inspire you to explore even more!

 

*In order of area, north to south

Here is THE

Ultimate Bucket List for Italy

Hike CINQUE TERRE:

Made up of five beautiful coastal villages (cinque means five in Italian), each town is more colorful than the next.

Stroll along the canals of VENICE: 

While you can always take a gondola ride, they tend to be fairly pricey, so I say burn off those italian carbs & meander the streets of Venice by foot. Plus, the small local places won’t be seen or reached from the gondola canals anyways.

Watch glass be made on the island of MURANO: 

A quick boat ride from Venice is the colorful island of Murano. This island is known for its glass blowing artisans. A much more calm place to explore if visiting Venice and the pieces you purchase here will be unique to you.

Drink the best Prosecco one can find in the region of VENETO:

I’m not sure why bubbles make a drink feel more festive and celebratory, but I do know drinking Prosecco from its originating region of Veneto is worthy of clinking a few glasses together in celebration.

Relive a tragic love story in VERONA:

Verona is famous for its connection to Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet. You can visit her home to see the balcony she beckoned to Romeo from… and also cop a feel on her statue below.

Find more of my best sustainable travel resources here!

Marvel at LAGO DE SORAPIS & LAGO DI BRAIES:

Both lakes are within the Dolomites and stunningly bright blue. Hidden gems among all that Italy has to offer.

Hike the DOLOMITES & stay in the cute town of BELLUNO:

If you’ve ever wanted to hike somewhere breathtaking, this would be the place to do it. And after your hiking, you can stay in the town of Belluno. Which is known as the largest town in the Dolomites with wonderful panoramic views.

Transform into a classy individual at LAKE COMO: 

The entire area of Lake Como is considered an upscale resort area, with beautiful hotels and the Alps for backdrops. Put on your best formal wear and enjoy!

Take a food tour in BOLOGNA: 

The city known for gastronomy, you can book food tours that will take you to a Parmigiano Reggiano and a balsamic vinegar factory!

Enjoy a vegan lifestyle in TURIN: 

Back in 2016, the mayor or Turin, Chiara Appendino publicly stated she wanted Turin to be Italy’s first vegetarian city. With over 30 vegetarian & vegan restaurants it seems like a perfect place to enjoy italian food made for those who support animal rights, the safety or our environment their own flourishing health… the close proximity to the Alps in the winter months doesn’t hurt either.

Watch the sunset over FLORENCE: 

From the Piazza Michelangelo: Florence is filled with impactful historic sites and museums, but nothing beats the sunsetting over the city from Piazza Michelangelo. It’s not wonder it was a hub for the Renaissance with all of that beauty.

Shop at Ponte Vecchio in FLORENCE: 

It’s here where you’ll find the jewelry of your dreams… just be prepared to window shop or break your budget

Tour the town of SIENA: 

Best known for its annual horse races (I have not done any research on the ethics behind this tradition, and wouldn’t promote going for that reason), Siena is a charming Tuscan town with a great center piazza for enjoying a warm, relaxing afternoon outside.

Step back in time in SAN GIMIGNANO: 

This medieval town is known for its towers within the Tuscany region of Italy, and well worth a few days visit.

Stay in a villa TUSCANY & enjoy lots of chianti wine: 

Enough said on this one.

Have a sunrise soak at TERMA DI SATURNIA: 

Natural hot springs located in Tuscany.

Heading for a LONG flight soon?

Check out these carry on items to ensure a comfortable flight

See the beauty of ELBA from the POV of Napoleon:

Napoleon Bonaparte, a French military general during the French Revolution was exiled to Elba, and while that in itself sounds like a fascinating reason to visit, Elba is known for much more. Lush landscapes mixed with pristine beaches and Europe’s largest marine park.

Enjoy the Italian Riviera town of PORTOFINO:

And maybe spot a celebrity or two.

Then take a boat to SAN FRUTTUOSO:

A tiny bay and hidden gem in the Liguria region of Italy reached only by hiking or boat.

Take the iconic leaning tower of PISA picture:

Yes, everyone looks ridiculous doing it, and yes you need to do it too because it’s hilarious and we all need to laugh at ourselves more often

Breath in the fresh air of CASTELLUCCIO:

It’s the highest village up in the Apennine Mountain Range

Set up a home base in the Eternal City, ROME: 

This is 100% a personal bucket list item of mine, but I would suggest it to whomever I could. While I could state the obvious ‘tour the coleseo’ or ‘eat gelato’, I firmly believe that there is SO much to experience in Rome.

From underground capuchin bone churches to breathtaking vistas in manicured gardens, layers of history buried in the ground to delicate high fashion around every corner, Rome is a city to fully experience not just planned as a layover pit stop.

Take a cooking class in Rome: 

Learn from the best, Andrea Consoli. We took his full-day cooking class in the heart of Roma & fell in love with the experience. The chef, Andrea was fantastic!  You can’t get food much fresher than in this class.

Step into two different countries within Italy, VATICAN CITY and SAN MARINO:

Vatican City is a country, and San Marino a small independent nation. Both are within the country of Italy, and while you may not get a new stamp on your passport, you’ll have witnessed incredible history.

Get baci (kisses) in PERUGIA: 

The city of Perugia is most well known for its chocolate, due to the popularity of Baci chocolates. Plus it’s beautiful.. As is all of Italy if you’ve been reading this entire post.

Pay tribute to Saint Francis in ASSISI: 

The hill town of Assisi is home to the birthplace of the patron saint of Saint Francis, who is known as the patron saint of animals and the environment.

Tan in Italian style on the beaches of SPERLONGA:

Known for its pristine beaches. All you need to do is rent a beach chair, put on a large fancy hat and relax in style.

Enjoy pizza perfection in NAPLES:

There seem to be misconstrued ideas that the city of Naples is covered in trash (due to workman strikes), but there is so much beauty in this city to be experienced and Neapolitan pizza (yes, food can be beautiful) is one of them!

Discover the brothels of POMPEII:

A ruined city thanks to Mount Vesuvius – that’s both a sarcastic thanks because hello, an eruption of lava destroyed the entire place, and a literal thanks because that destruction created a well preserved, historical landmine for us visitors.

There are so many historic spots in the city of Pompeii to explore, but if you aren’t going with a guide, you are choosing to wander through a petrified CITY on your own. Meaning the place is massive.

So you should go with a plan, and why not have finding the preserved brothels of Pompeii on your plan?

Eat lemon candies in SORRENTO:

Known for their delicious lemon groves, Sorrento has lemon-flavored items exploding from every storefront. While limoncello liqueur is an international favorite, for those who want something for everyday enjoyment I’d suggest the lemon candies many stores sell.

Cliff Jump in CAPRI:

and visit the Blue Grotto (be a pro-Italian when you visit, by pronouncing it the Italian way – emphasize the ‘a’ in Capri, not the ‘i’).

Rent a boat in POSITANO:

The stunningly picturesque town of Positano leaves all first-timers speechless with its buildings carved into the cliffside. Take in all of its beauty from the comfort of your own boat.

Spend a colorful weekend on the island of PROCIDA:

A Mediterranean haven for color & coastal beauty, Procida is just a boat ride away from Naples.

Visit PIETRAPERTOSA, the town carved into stone:

I’m not sure how Europeans were able to build towns right into rock surfaces, but I sure can marvel at it.

Learn all about olive oil in APULIA:

Apulia is Italy’s main region for olive oil production with plenty of thousand-year-old olive trees.

Spend a summer soaking up SICILY:

Sicily seems to be an underrated part of Italy, but meowzahs does it have some stunning places to visit (and some of the most delicious Italian food I’ve ever had). Soaking up all the island has to offer requires a few months of time to truly immerse yourself there.

Spend the following summer indulging in SARDINIA:

Just like Siciliy, Sardinia is not to be missed. Surrounded by beautiful beaches, Sardinia is a must-see summer destination for all

This ultimate Italian bucket list will continue to grow, as I find myself reading about the country, so be sure to come back to see what’s been added every few months.

And if you think I’ve missed one, comment below and let me know!

Laura of Blue Eyed Compass, a Sustainable Travel Blog

Hi!  I’m Laura, a sustainable travel blogger, as well as freelancing web designer & photographer. I share real & honest information about traveling, how to do so sustainably, and ways to earn an income while working remote.

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Eight Reasons why you NEED to visit Interlaken

Eight Reasons why you NEED to visit Interlaken

Europe

Many travelers tend to stay put in the major metropolitan cities of Western Europe, which do indeed offer many breathtaking sites. Yet if you step outside of those major cities you will often be greeted with charming towns. Just a short two hour train ride outside of the major cities of Switzerland lies just one of those places, called Interlaken. Interlaken is a namesake town in Switzerland and for good reason, with the best part being that it hasn’t become over crowded with the buzzword term we call ‘over tourism’.

Here are EIGHT reasons

why you need to visit Interlaken:

(1) The Adventure

Interlaken is one a world favorite adventure capital! Many visitors flock here for extreme sports such as skiing, snowboarding, skydiving, canyoning and more! With a mix of mighty Swiss Alps, low lying lakes and everything in between, it’s no wonder this area sees it’s fair share of adventure seekers and dare devils.

(2) The Hiking

Interlaken’s centrally located setting between the Swiss Alps and lakes makes it a perfect setting for beautiful hikes. We loved how the hikes ranged in length and difficulty so that anyone visiting Interlaken would feel comfortable getting outside and hiking.

(3) The Natural Beauty

There is a reason the Swiss Alps are internationally known. The natural and pristine beauty that accompanies the reputation of the Alps will leave anyone speechless. And Interlaken has a wonderful combination of lakes and mountains, with idyllic swiss homes nestled in between.

(4) To feel on top of the world

We’ve been mentioning seeing the Swiss Alps in Interlaken, now imagine being able to go up to the top of them and see below. There are cogwheel trains that take visitors to the top of the Swiss Alps, such as Jungfrau and Neiderhorn. And once at the top you’ll feel as if you’re on top of the world looking down on the valleys and surrounding mountains.

(5) The Castles & Legends

There are a handful of beautiful castles near Interlaken. Few can compare to the breathtaking Oberhofen Castle curled up on the coast of Lake Thun, except for maybe the Thun Castle, which is settled high up in the town of Thun, Switzerland. Both are filled with lots of history and beautiful views. There is also the legendary St. Beatus caves in between these two castles. Visitors can visit inside the caves where legend tells of a saint defeating a dragon who once inhabited the area.

(6) The Central Location

The convenient location of Interlaken is stellar for those who want the convenience of being near a city without the hustle and bustle. Interlaken and its surrounding lakes are close to the country’s capital, Bern, only a two hour train ride from international hub, Zurich and the up and coming city of Basel. You would be hard pressed not to find time to visit Interlaken if you are staying in one of these nearby cities.

(7) Perfect for Day Trips

While Interlaken is conveniently close to the major cities listed above, it is also great for exploring even further into Swiss country. There are hotels, AirBnbs and more in the surrounding areas of Grindelwald, Lauterbrunnen, and Thun.

(8) It’s self contradicting

Interlaken’s activities are known for having variety and contrast – casual hikes along Lake Thun to skydiving thousands of feet above. Yet, it’s landscape is also vastly unique from one end to the next. With bright turquoise water lakes to white snow-capped mountains, and vibrant green forests in between. And of course it’s colorful small towns with picturesque Swiss chalet homes and storefronts.

People from all over the world flock to the Interlaken area to soak in its beautiful scenery and marvel at all of the possibilities for outdoor adventure. If you’re considering a trip to this area of Switzerland check out this ultimate guide to Interlaken.

Laura of Blue Eyed Compass, a Sustainable Travel Blog

Hi!  I’m Laura, a sustainable travel blogger, as well as freelancing web designer & photographer. I share real & honest information about traveling, how to do so sustainably, and ways to earn an income while working remote.

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