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I came across this in more than one tourist location in Vienna and hence, I was forced to conclude this as a tourist trap. To me it was simple. These men dress like royal staff and offer you tours around the palaces and it might be easy for tourists to get convinced by their attire and book with them. I don't see any other logic, i'm sorry.
I came across one set of 'Royal tourist guides' at the Hofburg palace and the other at the Schoenbrunn palace.
Written Dec 25, 2008
This is just a word of caution regarding the Schonbrun Garden. Although the main garden is free, the smaller but more spectacular Princes Garden, has an entry fee. That aside, it is still well worth a visit.
Written Oct 12, 2008
Viennas airport is situated in Schwechat, 18kms from Viennas city center and lies in the federal state of Lower Austria.Flagging down a taxi in Vienna for a ride to the airport may become expensive, because some drivers may try to get paid also for the ride back to the city.
Unique Suggestions: You can avoid this either by taking the CAT (City airport train) from Schwechat to Central Vienna (and hire a taxi there to your hotel) OR by making a reservation by phone in advance at one of the cheaper taxi companies, like most Viennese already do !
At the moment the best rates are by Airport-Service (+0043 676 351 64 20) one way EUR 27,- and C&K (+43(1) 44 444) EUR 29,- The drivers will expect you in the arrival-hall,carrying your name-plate.The Viennese telephone-taxi company tel 60160 will charge EUR 31,-
In Schwechat you should go to the official taxi-counter in the arrival-hall, the ride to the city will cost also around EUR 31,-
If you flag a taxi in Vienna or at the airport, you have to bargain: you should never pay more than EUR 31,-
The first address has now a new website at: http://www.airportservice.at/airport.htm
Both companies as well as the telephone-taxi 60160 are reliable, I tried them several times !
Fun Alternatives: Another choice would be to take the CAT or the (slower and cheaper) train to the citiy:
See more details on trains and CAT at my Transportation-tips !
Updated Jun 10, 2008
Even though it was restored, a visit to Prater is just a trip to lose as much money as you can. They charge adults between 3.50 - 8 Euros / ride in this amusement park. A quick way to lose money - since no ride will last longer than 2-3 minutes. In other amusement parks you can buy a daily pass for 30 Euros and use as many of the attractions as you wish - not so in Vienna. Do not support it!
Unique Suggestions: Look around, the Ferris Wheel (Riesenrad) and the Parterallee (an avenue of trees full of green vegetation) are nice and walking around there doesn't cost.
Fun Alternatives: Better and cheaper amusement parks in Europe (e.g. Efteling in The Netherlands).
Updated May 6, 2008
You will see many men dressed in Mozart-like costumes trying to sell you tickets to a classical music concert. While the product they sell isn't at all bad, don't be afraid to haggle a bit with them. You will often be able to get a much better deal if you don't jump at their first offer...including a free ticket and some free champagne tickets. Don't seem too anxious at first, and you will get a much better deal.
If you do pay for tickets, there will be different prices for different 'quality' of seats. Don't be fooled... the difference between gold, silver and bronze is very limited, and not worth the extra cost, unless you're getting a deal from the seller.
BOTTOM LINE: HAGGLE!
Unique Suggestions: Despite the marketing ploys, definitely check out some classical music while in Vienna! Grab some Mozart chocolates on the way out and make the most of your stay!
Written May 5, 2008
Vienna is famous for its coffee houses and they are indeed something special. Now, with that comes the exploitation of tourists, unfortunately. Luckily, most of the coffee houses, even those listed in guide books are decent and still offer "the real thing", ie. old-fashioned atmosphere and simply good coffee and a selection of newspapers (at least in German language), and it is fine that you stay for a couple of hours even if you only order a small coffee. There are still a few tourist traps among the coffee houses:
- Cafe Diglas: Big screens showing the cliches of Vienna; horses, cakes and balls. Bad enough. Worse is: The coffee is often not even drinkable, some of the too tempting looking cakes in their gorgeous exhibition barely have any taste at all, and even if Viennese waiters are generally grumpy and unfriendly, which is part of the fun, these haven't even got any grumpy charisma. Location in Wollzeile behind St. Stephansdom must be the one thing that saves this otherwise beautiful place from a total disaster.
- Cafe Westend: Good looking cakes from one of the pastry giants, ie. not very home-made. Amazing decoration, but very expensive and with waiters who cheat you. Practical location vis-a-vis the West Train Station (Westbahnhof) and near Mariahilferstrasse shopping area.
- Cafe Sacher/Hotel Sacher: Here you get the real Sachertorte, a verdict states so even, the true Austrian way. Still, arrogant waiters, complete lack of charm and the most boring cake ever, no matter how real, makes this a place you go to maximum once. Been there, done that. Wasn't even worth it.
- Cafe Mozart: Stylish coffe house with cakes from one of the most successful, and righteously so, pastry families in town. Located next door to Hotel Sacher and the Opera, vis-a-vis Albertina, famous from "The Third Man". The lack of charm, style and personality is as impressive as the pastry selection.
Unique Suggestions: Order a small coffee or a small beer and enjoy some ogling.
Fun Alternatives: - Alternative to Cafe Diglas: For an equally great selection cakes plus the sight of Viennese ladies eating them; go right accross the Wollzeile street, and walk a bit upwards, to the left to pastry shop Heiner. This is not a place to spend many hours. If the coffee, newspaper and watching other guests are more your cup of tea, walk down Wollzeile until you almost reach Ringstrasse. On your left side is a true gem, Cafe Prückel. The cakes are way better than Diglas' although they look less pro. Coffee is always good and the lounge-like atmosphere is something special.
- Alternative to Cafe Westend: Some worn-down but wonderful cafes are just a short walk away, such as Cafe Jelinek in 6th district in Otto-Bauer-Gasse, right off Mariahilferstrasse. Another world and homemade cakes. Not many tourists find their way here. Even fewer find their way to Cafe Weingartner in Goldschlagstrasse in 15th district. More interesting and local than stylish. Or take tram no. 5 for approx 10 minutes to 8th district and Cafe Hummel in Josefstädterstrasse. Cakes are delicious, a coffee house loved by construction workers and politicians alike. The waiters are either incredibly nice or Viennese-style grumpy.
- Alternative to Hotel Sacher and Cafe Mozart: Although Demel lost the Sachertorte battle, they do not have the best Sacher alternative. Cafe Tirolerhof in Tegetthoffstraße, between Albertina and Kapuzinergruft, is certainly a better option. Stylish place with properly grumpy waiters. A decent coffee house experience. If cakes are less important, check out Cafe Bräunerhof in Stallburggasse. If the cakes are crucial and you've already picked out one or five you just have to try, Cafe Landtmann near Burgtheater is where you should go. You get the same cakes. Very upscale cafe, always a couple of tables with seriously misfit tourists. If you want to check out further cake options, go to Demel in Kohlmarkt. You may not believe what you see though and you will seriously wonder what the boring Sachertorte is all about after all.
Written Apr 21, 2008
In a beautiful greenhouse in the Burggarten, part of the Hofburg complex, is the Schmetterlinghaus, advertised as "Vienna's Historical Butterfly Greenhouse". The advertising literature invites you in to "relax and get away from it all" and be "astounded" by colourful butterflies, waterfalls and exotic plants through "incredible light-infused surroundings".
In reality, we found this to be an attraction that promised more than it delivered. Yes there were some beautiful butterflies but many of the plants were artificial and the area to explore was a lot smaller than it first appeared. It didn't seem to be very well maintained and we saw lots of dead butterflies that hadn't been cleared up. The glass was dirty and the whole place looked like it could do with a good clean. It was hot, humid and smelly and we wished we hadn't wasted 4 euros each on the tickets.
Unique Suggestions: I'd avoid this attraction altogether.
Fun Alternatives: Enjoy a walk in the adjacent gardens instead.
Updated Apr 10, 2008
I see people queuing (sometimes for hours) just to get into the Sacher cafe and then to have an over-priced, not really nice tasting Sacher cake. What is this fuzz about this piece of chocolate cake? Believe me, you WILL survive having been to Vienna and NOT been to the Sacher cafe. By the way, they might have the "original" recipe which does not mean, it is the best! You can get tastier Sacherkuchen or Sacherschnitte in any KONDITOREI or CAFE in Austria.
The Sacher is a place for people who want to spend too much money for a cup of coffee or a piece of cake and sit among the pseudo-riches and riches of the world.
Unique Suggestions: Simply don't go there.
Fun Alternatives: Eat a Sacher cake in any other Konditorei, it is much tastier and cheaper.
Written Jan 27, 2008
I had an unpleasant experience in one Pizza-restaurant. I haven't been reading the Menu, and just ordered Capriciossa (standard pizza with tomato,cheese, ham, mushrooms and an olive). Only this time I got a Capriciossa but with sardines on it and I didn't knew that. However, I'm allergic to fish-oil so I don't eat any tipe of sea-food or river-food. The result was, when I tasted just one small bite of pizza, my stomach got up in my throath and I almost vomit (this is how my allergy manifests) on the table, the lucky thing was that I was sitting near the toilet so was able to get there on time.
At first, I thought they made something wrong, that I got the wrong pizza. So, I read the Menu, and it clearly said: SARDINES.
Unique Suggestions: Always read menus. Simple as that. I'll be more careful next time.
Written Jan 27, 2008
Please - if you want to see a concert - do NOT book any of the street selling ones! Ignore the ridiculously Mozart-dressed people running around the city trying to sell you low-quality tourism-trash concerts or whatever. The good stuff is NEVER sold on the streets, be it a concert, a restaurant or whatever. Go to the opera, the Volkstheater, the Raimundtheater or the Theater an der Wien for example (see other tips that I will write on that topic). Your money is much better spent there ...
Unique Suggestions: ignore the streetsellers, don't buy anything
Fun Alternatives: as mentioned above, go to the good places, the opera, the Volkstheater, the Burgtheater, Theater an der Wien, Raimundtheater, etc.
Written Nov 27, 2007
6 Reviews and 236 Opinions The buffet breakfast is spectacular. The two men at the concierge desk are two of the most handsome...
6 Reviews and 272 Opinions the hotel imperial is located downtown within walking distance of many of the sights of vienna. this...