Whirlwind Travel – Vienna in a Day

Wien. The capital of Austria, home of the Habsburgs, and the seat of power for the historic Austro-Hungarian empire.  When I thought of Vienna, I envisioned palaces, Viennese balls, Mozart, and Empress Maria Theresa. While all of Austria appeals to me, with only one day at my disposal I decided to spend it in Vienna.

I used to travel to Romania for business. The flights in and out of Cluj-Napoca, from the major hubs, were often at weird times and required some real creativity to get them just right. Fortunately for me, because of this it was cheaper for the company if I had long layovers in the hub cities so I could match up the flights. So, on one of the trips to Romania I took a long layover in Budapest, and another in Vienna.

I arrived in Vienna early in the morning. I stayed at the NH Vienna, which is literally right across the street from the baggage claim at the airport. I considered staying in Vienna, but my flight the next morning was very early and I didn’t want to get up any earlier than I had to. Also, Vienna has this fantastic service called the City Airport Train (CAT): A very clean, comfortable, inexpensive train that goes from the the airport to the city center every 30 minutes (trip lasts 16 minutes). Once in town, there are plenty of options to get around.

With only one day in the city, I went with my usual choice for short trips: the hop on, hop off tour bus. Overall I spent about 10 hours in Vienna, and between the bus, touring, and walking around, I saw most of the major city sights. Vienna is a city that would be better seen in 3-4 days, but given the time I had, I feel satisfied that I got a good “taste of Vienna.”

Best Moments:

Ring Boulevard

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Vienna Opera House

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St. Stephan’s Cathedral

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Schönbrunn Palace

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Travel Learnings:

  • Schönbrunn Palace is enormous, and completely awesome, and deserved more than the two hours I gave it.
  • The Danube is nothing terribly special.
  • Cab rides are EXPENSIVE. Not recommended unless you’re in a rush.
  • Bratislava, Slovakia is a very short boat ride from Vienna. I wish I had known that ahead of time, as I could have planned slightly more time and seen another country.
  • Rush hour in Vienna sucks. Wasted over an hour sitting in traffic.
  • You could spend an entire week just touring palaces in Vienna. And it would be worth it.
  • My expenses for the day included the tour bus, a ticket into Schönbrunn, a light lunch, and a few souvenirs. Overall, my day in Vienna cost around $60 USD.
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