Four Continents and 37,000 Miles in Two Weeks: Exploring Vienna

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My family is from Germany, so back when I was growing up I would spend about a month every summer in Germany with relatives. While they live in the Frankfurt area, we would always travel for 1-2 weeks to different parts of Europe, so I saw quite a bit of Europe when I was younger.

Then when I started traveling on my own I focused more on Asia for a couple of reasons. For one, it was a completely new world for me, one I found fascinating. But equally importantly, the Euro was appreciating like crazy, making Europe even more expensive than it was before.

So I’ve actually not traveled to Europe that much lately aside from visiting family, so it was nice to be able to make it to Vienna.

After spending only an afternoon in Vienna, I think I’m once again hooked on Europe.

Vienna isn’t a city you hear all that much about. Everyone seems to want to go to Italy and France, both of which are nice, though overrun by tourists.

While I haven’t been everywhere in Europe, I have seen quite a bit, and I have to say that Vienna is now easily my favorite city in Europe that I’ve visited.

The issue with France and Italy for me is that the cities that are in theory “charming” are so overrun with tourists that it takes most of the fun out of them. Vienna had that same charm minus the touristy feeling. When I was in Paris a couple of months ago I almost felt like I was at Disney Epcot…

The Le Meridien has a great location on Opernring Street, added to the fact that Vienna is a very walkable city.

Vienna has beautiful architecture, plenty of pedestrian zones, and lots of parks/trees. The fact that it was also one of the most beautiful days I’ve ever witnessed didn’t hurt…

Given that I just had an afternoon I employed my usual “city in an afternoon” strategy. I asked the concierge for a map, put on walking shoes and walked and walked and walked.

No, I didn’t go to any museums, though I saw every landmark on the map, and more importantly got a great feel for the vibe of the city.

Vienna, I’ll be back very soon!

(I couldn’t help myself with the last picture…. yes, I’m sure their tour guide was just trying to get them a great deal on jewelry.) 😉

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  1. Vienna is lovely and pleasant, there’s just one problem.

    “Sind Sie Oestereicher?” “Sind Sie Österreicher?”

    “Nein, Ich bin Wiener”

  2. While I agree with the message of this post — that one might find exploring the lesser-known parts of Europe rewarding — I still think that you’re doing Paris wrong if you think it’s overrun by tourists. There’s entire districts of the French capital where it’s difficult to spot an American tourist in the crowd, and that authenticity is what I miss most about Paris. Same thing with Milan, Rome, Venice, and Florence. Might I suggest learning French and Italian before rushing to such judgements? (And also suggest that this is probably why you find German-speaking lands more welcoming…?)

  3. I also love Austria and, in particular, its smaller cities and towns. Try Innsbuck or Salzburg, for example and some of the mountain towns are beguiling.

    Having said that, for much more than a couple of days, I find even Vienna to be claustrophobic. Everything is too ordered, too predictable. It doesn’t have the dynamism that a Paris or Rome or even Florence has, let alone London. But as a very short break, it’s just great.

  4. Lucky, I have to agree with @deux centimes. It’s all in how you go about visiting a city like Paris. Staying at a chain hotel in the tourist center would color your view of the city. I actually feared the tourist feel of Paris when I went, but since we rested an apartment on Rue Malesherbes near Eglise St Augustin we were close to the tourist sites, but hidden enough to experience real Paris… and fall in love with the city.

    Though as a country we fell in love with Luxembourg so much more.

  5. Michael, one was just waiting for that comment. To tell you the truth, the US are absolutely and blatantly anti Muslim, Hispanic, Black, you are shunned if you do not quote Jesus every few seconds, and may he help you if you are not White. And being poor is definitely your own fault. And you might be deported to certain parts of Cuba if you so much as mention any of the above. Don’t forget, habeas corpus is dead. Remember what that was? So one rather goes to Austria. And I don’t even particularly like them.

  6. We’ve been to Vienna 5 or 6 times in 20 years. We’ll be there again in September for 4 days. I like it best of all of the big cities in Europe that I’ve visited. London, Amsterdam, Rome, Frankfurt, Munich, Zurich, etc., etc.

    Never been to Paris and little desire to go based on multiple visits to other parts of France.

    Definitely devote time to Vienna’s museums. I’m still working my way through them. One wonderful museum that is relatively little known is the Lichtenstein. It’s fantastic and small enough to see in one day (but you’ll want to return!).


  7. Have you been to Munich?
    I made a quick trip around that general area of Europe and visited Munich, Vienna and Prague last summer. Out of those three I liked Munich the most. In fact, it is now one of my favourite European cities. The architecture is great, just like in Vienna, and there are nice parks and places to visit. I got the impression that the people are more fun than in Vienna (it might have helped that I was there as Germany was playing in the World Cup semifinal though).

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