Five Faves in Vienna

Gilded statue on Graben street in Vienna, Austria

Go with Oh is running a competition to be their autumn blogger in four European cities. Sadly, I haven’t a whole month available this autumn, at least not in one go. However, I’m happy to join in to talk about one of my favourite cities, Vienna.

Five faves in Vienna

I’ve been in Vienna many times. Most often for work, during my civil servant days. While I sometimes managed to sneak in a few hours or even a day to look around, I haven’t seen half as much of this beautiful city as I would have liked. Here’s what I’ll do next time I’m in town:

1. Spend a lazy afternoon strolling through the gardens of Schönbrunn Palace…


…imagining how it would have been growing up here 250 years ago. Especially if I were a young princess named Maria Antonia, about to be married off to the French crown prince, move to Versailles and have my name Frenchified to Marie Antoinette. Had she but known her fate, she might have preferred to remain at Schönbrunn, the poor girl.

2. Take the metro out to Prater

Vienna Prater before storm

Vienna’s famous amusement park was opened to the public in 1766. You may have seen the Wiener Riesenrad, it’s a movie star! The park’s giant wheel has played parts in The Third Man, a cool 1940s film noir, in the James Bond flick The Living Daylights, and many more.

3. Cross a border or three

Along the Danube, outside Bratislava

Like James Bond, I’ll just pop across the border. In Vienna, you see, you can easily get 4 countries for the price of 1. Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic are all next door, and chock full of quaint towns, villages, lakes and castles.

A few favourites:

  • In Hungary, I like to stop in Sopron or Györ to gawk at the artistic medieval architecture, eat a hearty Goulash and drink Egri Bikaver, ox blood from Eger. (Don’t worry, it’s red wine. Nom nom!)
  • In the Czech republic, I enjoy exploring the Moravian castles outside Breclav. Or I might take the slow local train to Mikulov, a sweet medieval hill town. Mikulov is also part of the Moravian Karst with its caves and canyons, of the UNESCO-protected Pálava biosphere reserve, and, not least, of the Mikulov Wine Trail.
  • In Slovakia, Bratislava is a given. Arriving by boat along the Danube is simply wonderful. And on the old market square, there’s a sweet shop with a fabulous four-tiered chocolate fountain.

25 years ago, these were all behind the Iron Curtain – so close, yet so far away. Today, it’s all within the EU. All are about an hour away from Vienna – by bus, train or boat. No visas, no red tape, no border control, no hassle.

4. Baden bei Wien

Baden bei Wien, herbstliche Straße

Baden is a more personal quest. After a fire at the University of Oslo in 1943, the German occupying forces wanted revenge. They rounded up the male students and sent them off to Buchenwald concentration camp. A few were medical students in surgical training. They were sent to work in SS hospitals.

My father was one of these doctors and his involuntary sojourn was in Baden. He died when I was two, so I never heard his war time stories. His diary, however, details various horrific experiences, such as having to perform surgeries with a gun to his head. Yet, he returned to Vienna after the war. Today, Baden is an elegant city in Wienerwald, a thermal forest outside Vienna. I’d like to amble about here for a bit, trying to imagine what his life here must have been like.

5. Christmas Markets

Christkindlmarkt, Rathausplatz, Vienna

I’ll time my visit to the six weeks before Christmas. During Advent, Vienna Christmas markets are the most gorgeous of all: at Schönbrunn Palace, in the deliciously spooky narrow alleys at Spittelberg and at City Hall. This time, I’ll take my youngest daughter along. She’ll be 11 by then, so it’s probably the last chance to see her rosy-cheeked at Christkindlwerkstatt, the children’s Christmas workshop in City Hall. 80 000 kids stop by every year, to make all kinds of wonderful homemade Christmas presents.

Christkindl Werkstatt, Vienna

That’s it! Only five faves. Of course, the list could very easily have been twice or even three times as long. I’d love to have a look at some of Vienna’s quirky museums, like the Sigmund Freud Museum or any of the strange little museums dedicated to tobacco, undertakers, chimneysweepers, contraception or torture. Or the more palatable Demel’s Marzipan Museum. And of course, there’s the Lippizaner Museum, all about Vienna’s beautiful dancing horses.

I’d also love to do a Third Man movie walk, and find Mozart’s unnamed grave. And I’d adore a closer look at the houses created by eccentric architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser, where the floors are wavy, where, in fact, there are no straight lines, and where trees grow inside.


Photo credits:
Schönbrunn: Wojciech, Wienerrad: davus, Along the Danube near Bratislava: Author, Autumn in Baden: atopisches_ekzem, Vienna Christkindlmarkt: Author, Children’s Christmas workshop: Author, Hundertwasser House: twicepix



40 Responses to “Five Faves in Vienna”

  1. Happy Hotelier 4 April 2012 1243 #

    Hi Anne-Sophie

    Nice Post!

    Vienna is my fave as well!
    You might like to follow my link here;-)


    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 5 April 2012 0035 #

      Thanks, Guido!

      I see you have lots of interesting posts on Vienna – including a very interesting birthday cake for John Cage 🙂

  2. cmichaelsny 4 April 2012 1417 #

    I wanna know where i can buy that candy ” nipples of venus” or if there is a recipe so i can make it…

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 5 April 2012 0025 #

      Ah, you have seen the film “Amadeus” 🙂
      I think the Capezzoli di Venere have a ganache of chocolate and whipping cream.

  3. ItalianNotes 4 April 2012 1649 #

    Great inspiration – I especially like Hundertwasser and would love to see his museum in Vienna.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 5 April 2012 0013 #

      He’s such an interesting architect, isn’t he? We saw his toilet in Kawakawa in New Zealand – only Hundertwasser could make a public toilet a work of art.

  4. Victor 4 April 2012 1933 #

    Vienna is very comfortable for living sity, but I like small towns like Bad Hofgastein for example.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 5 April 2012 0014 #

      I haven’t been to Bad Hofgastein yet, but Austria is full of little gems.

  5. David Bennett 4 April 2012 2045 #

    I remember seeing Hundertwasser’s buldings in Vienna and wishing there was more of it around the world.

    It’s a city full of such mystique that I find myself wondering where Harry Lime is going to pop up.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 5 April 2012 0018 #

      All of a sudden, on a narrow, cobbled street, wet with rain – under a street lamp late at night 🙂

  6. Turkey's For Life 4 April 2012 2224 #

    Well, after a post like this, I hope you get to go with oh to Vienna! Good luck. 😉

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 5 April 2012 0018 #

      Thanks, Julia.

  7. Lisa 5 April 2012 0414 #

    Love your post – and it came at a very opportune time! We have been discussing where to go in 2013 (I like to plan ahead) and I have been lobbying for Vienna but I can’t get my husband onboard. Maybe if I make him read your post! 🙂

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 6 April 2012 2247 #

      It’s certainly a beautiful city. Child-friendly, too.

  8. Angela 5 April 2012 0958 #

    This is a part of Europe I haven’t explored properly, great initiative, I’d love to participate but I’m aiming to be in Asia in autumn..

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 6 April 2012 2248 #

      Look forward to following your Asia travels 🙂

  9. inka 5 April 2012 1826 #

    I am debating if I can participate. If so, I’d like to choose Venice. Your impressions of Vienna are, as always inspiring and enticing. I like Hundertwasser too, A man with that name can only be an outstanding artist.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 6 April 2012 2250 #

      Isn’t he, though? Hundertwasser… and Friedensreich? Destined for creative greatness with names like that.

  10. Christy @ Technosyncratic 5 April 2012 1941 #

    Ha, you shocked me by slipping ox blood in there! You shouldn’t have clarified that it’s wine. 😉

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 6 April 2012 2251 #

      Oops, maybe I said too much 🙂

  11. Laurel 5 April 2012 2049 #

    I’ve heard nothing but amazing things about Vienna and you’ve given me even more reasons to go. Sorry to hear about your father, that’s terrible. I can understand why you would want to spend more time where he was.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 6 April 2012 2251 #

      Thank you, Laurel.

  12. Andrea 5 April 2012 2212 #

    Wow – clearly I have much more exploring to do in Vienna! Such a great city. I need to make a trip back there just to see all the museums I missed.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 6 April 2012 2253 #

      I think it would take weeks to see all the interesting things in Vienna.

  13. Emme Rogers @ Roamancing 6 April 2012 0640 #

    Love Vienna! It’s a city filled with historic beauty and tantalizing chocolate.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 6 April 2012 2253 #

      Oh yes, how could I forget the chocolate.

  14. Ayngelina 6 April 2012 0930 #

    I didn’t like Austria very much so I would love to see your take on Vienna.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 6 April 2012 2256 #

      Sorry to hear that, Ayngelina. It’s a lovely country. Though Austrians may perhaps be perceived as a bit reserved.

  15. Mika Park 10 April 2012 0500 #

    Wow, the amusement park’s awesome. I think I might have seen that giant wheel in the movies. It has a lot of exposures already, I wanna visit Vienna someday! 🙂

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 21 October 2012 0034 #

      In James Bond perhaps?

  16. Julie 10 April 2012 1935 #

    Oh Vienna is my all.time favorite city! I’ve been a student there for one semester, and I really love that beautiful city! The downtown is really gorgeous with its eclectic buildings!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 11 April 2012 0045 #

      I really like it, too. So elegant.

  17. Alexa Meisler 13 April 2012 2219 #

    I am mesmerized by castles, mansions which is why Schönbrunn Palace is definitely the first place I’d go see if & when I visit Vienna. There’s always a fascinating story about the people that reside in these structures. Great photos!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 21 October 2012 0035 #

      I agree. Interesting to think of the child Marie-Antoinette running around at Schönbrunn, and then consider her sad fate…

  18. Amy 20 April 2012 0900 #

    My favorite city! I’ve studied in Vienna, I have to say it is one of the most wonderful cities of Europe. I’ve studied architecture at the Vienna University of Technology, the school was in the downtown so I’ve got to know the city very well. I think Vienna (or Wien like they call it) is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. My favorite building is the Secession, it is next to the university and the Hofburg.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 21 April 2012 0903 #

      Don’t think I’ve ever noticed that building. Definitely next time…

  19. Vicky 20 April 2012 1611 #

    Awww, nice post. I went to Vienna two years ago and loved the Prater Park. It was quite derelict and sad that there weren’t more people around, but it made for some great photos!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 21 April 2012 0901 #

      You know, I’ve noticed it does derelict when few people are around. Or perhaps it’s just more noticeable when there’s not so much visual noise.

  20. I love the idea of being able to see 3 other countries while based in Vienna. We’ve never been, but it looks beautiful.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 21 October 2012 0036 #

      I think you’d enjoy it heaps 🙂

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