Using Google Maps, I centered Munich, Germany and looked at all the possible weekend spots within a four hour drive. We did not feel up for Italy this time and our friends are taking us to Prague next year. Our choices were narrowed down to Zurich, Switzerland and Vienna, Austria. Less than 5 minutes later, after a quick Facebook poll and a room search on Hotels.com, it was clear Vienna would be much more budget friendly.
If you are planning a trip to Vienna, please read on for our trip reviews!
In Vienna, we stayed at the Imlauer Hotel. It is outside the Ringstrasse but nicely located between two subway lines and a tram stop. Nearby were several bakeries and Augarten, perfect for walking our dog. Our room was on special for 62€ a night and we earned points toward a free night in the future by booking through hotels.com. In addition, the Imlauer staff members were outstanding with answering my million questions and booking us reservations at restaurants around town. The hotel also gave out drink vouchers if you skipped a day of cleaning services and had a swanky sauna that was perfect for relaxing. This hotel had all the perks Husband and I were looking for during our short stop in Vienna.
Augarten- Mozart and Beethoven both played here!
Husband and I are also keeping a list of castles and palaces we have visited. When planning our trip to Vienna it was not surprising to see two palaces as our must sees for Vienna. Friday we toured the Hofburg Palace and Saturday, Schönbrunn Palace.
The Hofburg Palace is where some of the most powerful people in European and Austrian history resided, including the Habsburg dynasty, rulers of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In modern day, the current president of Austria calls the Hofburg Palace home. I scheduled a guided English tour of the Hofburg Palace and Sisi Museum. We were not impressed with our tour because our guide rushed us through the rooms and it was very crowded with others listening on audio guides. I would recommend skipping the guided tour and doing a self audio tour so you can look at your own pace. I did find the Sisi Museum, dedicated to the life of Empress Elisabeth of Austria, very interesting with antique photographs and personal items on display. What girl wouldn't love looking at actual Victorian era, Empress ballgowns flowing with Hungarian handmade lace and teardrop pearl details? Afterwards, our ticket was also good for the Imperial Silver Collection. Oh. My. Room after room lead us through 7,000 pieces of porcelain, bone china, hand painted, gold plated, ivory accented, cut crystal glasses, plates, serving pieces and silverware. You would have to be the Empress to have a china cabinet big enough to fit it all!
When people recommended that we visit Vienna, nearly everyone also said how amazing Schönbrunn Palace is to see. It is the 1,441 room former summer residence of the Habsburg monarchs. It had similar architectural details as the even more well known, Palace of Versailles. This time Husband and I did not take a guided tour. We instead opted for the self audio guide through 22 state rooms. Afterwards, we both agreed it was the best audio tour we have experienced. The audio guide told you just what you needed to know, without the elaborate, over-the-top details. In fact, afterwards we regretted not paying for the extended 40 room tour. The outside gardens were equally as impressive with elaborate water fountains, tree lined walking paths, and even a Imperial Zoo! Since we visited at the beginning of November, the summer flowers had been pulled out and the fountains turned off, but the fall foliage made for beautiful scenery. I would love to go back in the warm weather and see the garden blooms. Everyone was right, when in Vienna, you must see Schönbrunn Palace!
Vienna State Opera:
Standing in the former bedroom of the Emperor for me was okay, but stepping foot inside the Vienna State Opera House I became giddy like a silly school girl. Dressing up with Husband and going to a Saturday night ballet performance in one of the world's grandest opera houses felt like Christmas. Would you be impressed if I told you we went to the movies and bought a bucket of popcorn? Probably not. What if I told you that our evening at the ballet with a live orchestra cost about the same as a night at the movies? During the daytime anyone can purchase a tour ticket of the opera house or for just a few more euros go see an actual event and get the true experience. This was one of my all time favorite trip experiences and it was a dream come true!
Vienna State Opera
In between these three big events, Husband and I enjoyed walking around the areas within the Ringstrasse. We stopped in and listened to opera worship music at Stephansdom, one of the tallest churches in the world, and at Augustinian Church next to the Hofburg Palace. Several times we road the tram around to see the elaborate buildings lining the streets. We walked around the Rathouse (City Hall) and through several gardens.
Is Vienna on your travel list? I am already thinking about our next time in Vienna and the places we should see!
Inside the People's Garden