There wasn’t a ton that we wanted to see in Vienna, so we figured that we would be able to do it all in a day if we moved quickly. It was Easter when we were sightseeing and I was absolutely floored at how many people were around. When I studied abroad in Germany I remember everything in the city shutting down for Easter and the entire city becoming a ghost town. I now know that everyone from my town probably had traveled to Vienna!
The city itself was nice, but after spending almost 3 weeks in Eastern Europe, we felt some sticker shock as things were quite a bit more expensive than we had expected. We put the prices on par with Italy, one of the more expensive countries that we visited on our trip.
Flixbus from Ljubljana
Since we had a positive experience taking the Flixbus to Rome, we decided to use them to get from Ljubljana to Vienna. The tickets were more expensive than they normally are since we were traveling at a peak time – the Saturday before Easter. Even at 40E or $45 per ticket, the tickets were still significantly cheaper than taking the train.
Boarding was a breeze and we didn’t have to worry about printing anything since we had downloaded the FlixBus app on my phone. The bus driver was able to scan our barcode and check us in.
As we experienced during our previous bus ride, the bus itself was new and everything was very clean. The bus was quite full but there were still a few seats which were not occupied.
Part way through the ride, we stopped for a lunch break. There was only 1 restaurant in the bus station that was open so we went there to grab a bite. The menu was limited so Andy selected a hamburger and I opted for a veggie burger since I wasn’t sure how good the meat would be. It turns out that a “veggieburger” was nothing more than cheese, lettuce, ketchup and mayonnaise on a massive roll. It was not good at all but Andy’s burger was not much better. Fortunately we didn’t end up paying much for the lunch.
We were happy when our bus arrived in Vienna early. The bus terminal was connected to the metro so getting to our Airbnb apartment was very easy.
I had done my research and was surprised to see that Schönbrunn Palace was open on all holidays. We headed there first as it was the only place we were visiting which was far away from all of the other sites. Luckily the palace was right off of the metro which made it easy to get there.
I was floored at just how crowded the palace was. There were hundreds of people around and an absolutely massive line to purchase tickets. We waited in the line for 30 minutes to purchase our tickets. It was extremely frustrating when we saw that inside the ticket office there were kiosks where you could purchase tickets and they were not being used. Andy ducked under the rope to purchase tickets while I held our place in line, just in case there were any issues.
We decided to go on the grand tour which included admission to 40 different rooms within the palace. It was expensive at 16.40E or $18.70 but we figured we would only be there once. Since the palace limits the number of people that can enter the palace at any given time, our reservation was 2.5 hours later. We decided to go sightseeing and come back when it was time.
When we returned, we wanted to go to the bathroom before our tour. I was floored and irritated beyond belief when we had to pay .5E or 56 cents each to use the bathroom. I assumed that after paying so much for a ticket that I would be able to use the toilet but that was not the case. We then headed to the entry gate and were annoyed again when we saw that there were ticket kiosks with no line. Had we known that those kiosks existed, we would have been able to save ourselves 30 minutes of standing in line.
Once at the entry, our tickets were scanned, we were handed audio guides and walked into the palace. Since we had to wait so long for our reservation time, I assumed that it would not be crowded when we got inside. That was the opposite of what happened – there were people everywhere. I was floored at the number of large tour groups that were at the palace at the same time as us. Andy and I both despise tour groups, not because we have anything against them, but because seemingly every tour group is completely and utterly oblivious to the fact that there are people that may want to get around their group.
It was frustrating that we were not able to take pictures inside the palace, but can understand why it is not allowed. Nobody seems to know how to turn off the flash on their camera and I know that too may flash photographs would destroy the artwork inside.
After rushing through the palace, we were relieved to get out of the crowd. We headed to the outdoor gardens which anyone can visit free of charge. We liked the gardens more because even though there were still a lot of people around, it was a lot less crowded than the palace.
I’m not sure that I would recommend going inside Schönbrunn Palace. It was quite expensive to go inside, and once you were inside, the palace was extremely crowded. While interesting, I don’t know that it was worth the cost. I would suggest going to the palace to get some pictures of the outside before heading back to the gardens to explore.
When I was looking for things to do in Vienna I stumbled upon the Hundertwasser House. It was an interesting looking building so I thought we would check it out.
Similar to the palace, I was floored at just how many people were visiting on Easter Sunday. It was packed which made getting pictures without a bunch of people in them difficult.
I was sad to see that the house was not as well maintained as I was led to believe based on the pictures I had seen online. The paint was starting to come off some of the buildings and the colors were a little faded compared to what I believed that they would look like.
It was hard to get a good picture of the building since everything in Vienna was built so close. It was impossible to stand far enough away to get the shot that we wanted since there were buildings very close on all sides, plus trees were blocking the view as well.
If you’re into architecture I would recommend a visit to the Hundertwasser House, otherwise I don’t know that I would recommend making the trip over there.
St. Stephen’s Cathedral
It was incredibly easy to get to St. Stephen’s Cathedral as it was located directly off the metro and was within walking distance of the historical downtown area.
I really liked the look of the cathedral as it had the old, European style that I love. Inside the cathedral was very beautiful as well, with ornate decorations all over.
Similar to other sites that we had visited, there were a lot of tourists around. While this was frustrating, it wasn’t quite as bad since we wouldn’t have been able to get the shot that we wanted of us in front of the cathedral because the buildings surrounding the cathedral were all very close.
On our way from St. Stephen’s Cathedral to Votivkirche, we passed the Rathausplatz. This was the first place that we visited which was not crowded with tons of people.
I really liked the architecture of the building which had lots of ornate details and reminded me of a government building version of a church. While we couldn’t go inside, we took a few pictures outside before moving on.
Our last stop of the day was the Votivkirche. I had seen pictures of this church and thought it looked very interesting. I liked how it was similar in ways to St. Stephen’s Cathedral, while at the same time very different.
As is expected with older buildings, there was some restoration work being done on it. Instead of using the scaffolding covering which shows what the building behind it should look like, there was an absolutely massive ad covering the front of the church. I was floored that this was allowed since it takes away from the beauty of the church.
I’m not sure if it is less popular than St. Stephen’s Cathedral, or if the restoration work had scared away some of the tourists but there were very few people around when we were there.
Had there not been restoration work going on, it would have been very easy to set up the camera and get some great shots in front of the church. There was a large green space in front of the church which was nicer than having buildings on top of each other, like we experienced in the downtown area.
Vienna is an absolutely massive city, but is very well connected by an extensive metro system. We used the metro to get everywhere that we needed to go and were very impressed with the way that the trains were run. Everything was clean, trains ran every 5 minutes even though it was Easter Sunday and the tickets were reasonably priced. The entire metro system is essentially based on the honor system as you don’t need to use your ticket to enter the station. If you are caught without a ticket, the fine is an extremely high 100E or $114 fine.
I thought that by visiting the sites on Easter we would not be surrounded by crowds of people. This didn’t turn out to be the case and made me wonder just how crowded the city gets during the summer when it is peak tourist season.
If you move at a good pace, you can easily see the city in a day. I’m glad that we did not give ourselves more time as the city was quite expensive and we were ready to move on.