Vienna card---It won't save you money
I bought Vienna Card like in other cities(Berlin, Amsterdam, Brussels), but this one turned out to be a total mistake. 1. It doesn't entitle you a big discount, not like in other places, you'll have free entrance to some museums, it only deducts the prices for 1 or 2 euros. 2. If you are a student, you get bigger discount with your student ID than Vienna Card, and it's not mentioned at all in the manual! 3. It has only 3-day version, not like in other places you have the choice of 1 or 2 days.
This product by Vienna official tourist board did a bad job in showing a good image of Vienna to tourists, I would say...
- Budget Travel
- Study Abroad
Don't take the City Bus Tour!
The City Bus Tour is the Hop on and off bus tour, where you can visit the main tourist site and get off and then get on later. For this, you pay almost Euro 30 and you get a crappy headphone with audio guide, then circle around the city and maybe visit a few sights away from Vienna (e.g. Schonbrunn, etc.).
Unique Suggestions: Do the city bus tour when you don't have much time in Vienna. The bus tour is good for busy people because the bus will bring you easily and directly to the main major attractions without much hassle. If you take this tour, get off at every stop and enjoy the sights as much as possible.
Fun Alternatives: Go to the tourist office and get the map of the city. Then you should walk to every tourist attractions; you don't have to walk far because most of the attractions are close to each other. You can take the Tram # 1 or # 2 and enjoy the ride around the "Ring" road. You get to see the Hofburg palace gates, the Empress Maria Theresa square and the 2 museums, the Parliment, the Town Hall, the Votiv church (from far), then around to Schwedenplatz, the Stadtpark and the Schwazenburgplatz. You just pay Euro 1.50 for the Tram ticket and you can use the ticket for the underground as well, as long as it is within one journey or 60 minutes, whichever is earlier.
Pretty much everything
which calls itself "Authentic" , "Original" or "Typical Viennese".
The most horrible things are the "Inner City Authentic Heurigen" ... there are no "Inner City Authentic Heurigen".
A "Heurigen" implies that somebody is selling wine from his own production. If you wanna go too one go too Grinzing (but lots of tourist traps there too).
Fun Alternatives: Best ones are outside Vienna though ... I ll post a tip on how too get there too
Mozart-people all over the centre of Vienna
Mozart-People will be found all over the centre of Vienna, mainly in front of St.Stephans cathedral and the opera or Schoenbrunn palace. When-ever they can, they try to catch the tourists and sell concerts-tickets to them. They will give you a voucher for the concert and for the reservation you will pay between 10% and 20% of the final price as a deposit right away and the rest has to be payed directely to the ticket-box, when you come to the concert-hall.
Unique Suggestions: Most of them will work for just 1 single company and so you should be prepared, in case that you intend to go to a concert like this, there is one that offers just chamber-music with 4 musicians in a small, BUT very ornate room and you pay around 42 euros for the best ticket, others offer a show with 20 musicians, including operettas, waltz, singing of Arias etc. and it will be 56 euros for the most expensive places.
Fun Alternatives: At the tourist-office (opposite of Albertina) and at many other places, also at your hotel-reception you will find brochures of most of these concerts, take a look there first and decide for yourself, BEFORE you get into the "claws" of a talkative Mozart in the streets....
You could buy these tickets at your hotel-reception as well,the final prices will always be the same as with the Mozart-people or when you go there to the concert directely without a reservation-ticket and hope for a free place. Then you pay the full price at the cashier.
- Arts and Culture
- Theater Travel
Overrated Sacher Torte at the Hotel Sacher
Almost every Vienna guidebook will tell you that you must try the infamous Sacher Torte, an extremely rich Viennese classic made with layers (usually three) of chocolate cake filled with apricot jam and enrobed in a creamy-rich chocolate glaze. And, they say you must try at the Hotel Sacher. Well, I do enjoy the occasional sacher torte but not enough to pay top money (a small whole cake will cost you over 30 euros) when I can get a nice torte in another coffeehouse or Oberlaa Cafe
Unique Suggestions: Go ahead and have your cake. At the very least, soak up the glamour of having cake & coffee at a famous fancy hotel
- Food and Dining
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
The opera House - Nothing to Sing About!
The guided tour of the Opera House is very expensive at Euro 6.50 per person and is simply not value for money. Extremely large groups are herded around and you don't really see anything.
Unique Suggestions: Make sure it's a fabulous day, when all the other tourists want to be outside - that, at least, would make for smaller groups!
Fun Alternatives: The Austrian Parliament - terrific value at Euros 4 (Euros 2 for seniors). Excellent tour, with loads of information.
- Historical Travel
- Arts and Culture
A guided tour around the Opera House is really not to be recommended, as the groups are extremely large and you really don't see much. The cost is Euro6.50 for about half an hour and this is definitely not good value.
Tourist stores do offer a lot of "made-in-China" stuff, which has nothing to do wth Astria or Vienna. Music CDs are cheaper, if you buy them in a local warehouse. Chocolates are cheaper from a local supermarket. Austrians do not wear grey alpine hats and also the wine and liquor in the tourist stores is heavily overprized.
Fun Alternatives: Typical Austrian quality products are:
- pumpkin seed oil, which you can get in very beautiful bottles at the local BILLA supermarkets for half the price you pay in toursits stores or at the big "Naschmarkt"
- dont buy wine at the "Naschmarkt" - better enter small wine stores in the inner circle districts or also check the BILLA for higher-priced Austrian wines
- Svarovski is an Austrian company producing jewellery. Not everyone's taste - but for sure produced in Austria
- further products, where Austrians are leading in high quality: ski and skiing equipmment, hiking boots, outdoor gear
- if you can bring it over the border "mountain cheeese" (Bergkaese) and Salami or other dired saussages (partially also from Hungary) are very delicious
- Food and Dining
- Business Travel
- Work Abroad
City Tour by Bus
The city tours by bus (I have done them when friends were here with 2 different companies) are all horrible and put you to sleep. If you dont sit on the upper level directly in the front you hardly see anything. Furthermore, the audio-tapes have a lot of breaks - instead of giving you useful information in between - lets say 2 magnificent buildings - there is simply nothing at all.
That at least applied for the city tours which start at the "Hofburg" close to "Sissi museum" and the Inner City Palace.
Unique Suggestions: I would only do a guided city bus tour if you have difficulties walking / have no travel guide or if your guests or people you show around are too old to walk 2-3 hours.
Fun Alternatives: I would suggest to get a nice travel guide and then walk around the ring road by yourself. This will take you 2-3 hours, but you can always take a break in nice cafees or restaurants. You see much more, have time to look at the buildings, can take pictures and it will give you a btter feeling of the city to explore it by foot.
- Family Travel
- Business Travel
Many people buy "Mozart-Kugeln" as a gift to bring home. I will not translate it to "Mozart's balls" ... it is chocolate with nougat and other fillings inside. Try one before you buy load for your friends. Wrapped they look very beautiful, but 90% of people I know say that they taste much too sweet and somehow dry - just not good.
Fun Alternatives: If you want to buy chocolate from Europe go to the local supermarkets named BILLA and buy some chocolate of the brand MILKA (purple-blue wrapping) - many different kinds (plain one is the best) and also available as nice-looking huge 300 gr bars.
- Business Travel
- Food and Dining
- Family Travel
Money changer in West Bahnhof
I wouldnt use this place to change money. I did only because it was Lira I was getting rid of and knew already I was leaving for the states before I would return to Italy. So I just wanted to get rid of it. Money exchange places are never a good value.
Fun Alternatives: Go find an ATM and pull out the money you need. If you are carrying cash from other countries use a bank.
It may be older than the London Eye and it may have become famous from its starring role in "The Third Man" but the Riesenrad is over-priced for a mediocre view. The visitors centre is also not really much to write home about and the souvenir shop is the most appalling tat emporium in Vienna.
Unique Suggestions: Go on a day when it is not hazy - the view is not outstanding, but if hazy you'll not see anything.
Fun Alternatives: Go up to Kahlenberg - or up to the Gloriette - the views over Vienna are free and much better.
The seventh commandment
We had a few small beers at the Trzesniewski sandwich bar (see restaurant tips). These beers are really small (0.125 litres) and are called "Pfiff". Now you might know that I like to keep special glasses as a souvenir. These tiny glasses which look like the beer glass of a Barbie doll are really special, they even feature the logo of Trzesniewski and the word "Pfiff".
Of course I wanted to keep one. I put it into my pocket and left earlier than my colleagues who finished their beer slowly. After a while Thomas came after me and told me to return my glass because the others are "kept hostage" by the waiter. He refused to let them go without giving the glass back. Apparently he counts all glasses because he has to pay for them from his own money... I brought my glass back secretly and left as quickly as I could ... totally ashamed ;)
Unique Suggestions: Apparently the glasses cost 2.50 EUR. Maybe you can ask and buy one? Or then, be smarter than me and leave quickly with your whole group...
Fun Alternatives: Thou shalt not steal.
Versailles take two...yawn..the Belvedere
It IS impressive, but honestly...after 1,234 rooms that all are a funky yellow and very large it just gets boring. I would save my time and money for something else.
Unique Suggestions: Skip the palace and walk through the estate
Fun Alternatives: Go to the Hundertwasserhaus
In front of the Council Hall (Rathaus) there is a little park.I was there in June,so the sweet scent from the lime trees flowers,the low sound from the fountain and the classic music from a loudspeaker....I was on the verge of falling asleep.
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