Vienna, where a part of my soul resides. I believe our souls can feel at home in many places, but Vienna is the first city where I truly felt that spark within me.
Table of Contents
I’m lucky enough to have witnessed the beauty of this city twice now. My first adventure to Vienna was through the Institute of European Studies (which I am now an abroad ambassador of!), and my second trip was for leisure after a music festival in the Czech Republic. (It’s safe to say, I couldn’t get enough!) Before my first trip, I was battling major anxiety about living in a completely different country for 6 weeks. I had never traveled alone before, and I had many sleepless nights before my 9-hour flight across the pond.
But the moment I stepped foot in Vienna for the first time, my nervousness melted into excitement. I let the city absorb me fully, I fell into her trance. Since the 19th century, Vienna has been the main hub for Western Art Music, with composers such as Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, and Strauss holding residency here (and you guessed it, they adored Vienna). With inspiration from the most famous composers of all time found at every street corner, it is impossible to not let creativity and awe seep through your veins. During my time there, I was fortunate enough to study horn with a member of the Vienna Philharmonic. I witnessed one of the best orchestras in the world rehearse their operas and symphonic concerts- all for free. Alongside playing the double horn, I picked up the Viennese horn, a type of horn strictly used by horn players in Vienna. I grew so much as a musician and a player.
Vienna healed my wounds. She showed me I’m courageous enough to thrive in a completely new culture and language. She showed me that I’m capable of achieving my dreams of sharing my travel experiences and beautiful music with the world. By the time the 6 weeks were through, I basically had to be dragged out of the city for my flight home back to the United States.
Thank you Vienna for everything. You will always have a special place in my heart.
Like I said, part of my soul resides in the heart of this city. I know I’ll be back to see her again soon.
Before we begin…. All photos were taken by me. Please ask for my permission before using my photos, and credit me if you do! Lastly, I only recommend places that I myself have visited. I understand there are many amazing sights to see in Vienna, but I have only included those I have experience with! Without further ado, let’s get started, shall we?
Culture and Interesting Tid-Bits
- Austrians speak German and have an Austrian-German dialect. (Think standard textbook German, but smoother and sexier.) Like many regions of Europe, there’s tons of different Austrian dialects due to Bavarian and Alemannic influences. (Beginner phrases I would encourage you to learn is found below under “Helpful Words & Phrases“)
- Austrians are generally more reserved than their Spanish and American counterparts, however they are incredibly friendly and helpful once you begin to talk to them. This being said, when an Austrian does open up to you, you should feel really good. And I’ve heard, they are incredibly loyal friends and will stick with you for life.
- The Austrian Stare– Oh boy, was I so intimidated by this. People stare. A lot. On the streets. At the grocery store. On the U-Bahn. (Especially the U-Bahn.) I remember little ol’ me getting so self-conscious about this. But…it’s normal. People just stare. They might just be curious about you. They very rarely stare for judgmental reasons (unless you are acting like a screaming buffoon on the U-Bahn at 9:30am, then yes, the stares you might receive will be 150% judgmental). Just own it. Pretend you are an international celebrity or something, if that helps your confidence. Or if you’re really brave (like me) then just stare back until it is so uncomfortable that he/she breaks eye contact.
- Oh, and while we are talking about staring, it’s considered weird (or even romantically suggestive) to smile at strangers on the street. Where I’m from (USA) people do this all the time, but try to avoid doing so during your visit here.
- A note on dogs… there’s a lot of cute and extremely well-behaved dogs in Austria. But avoid freaking out about them or asking a random guy/gal on the street if you can pet his/her animal. It’s considered weird, like asking a stranger if you could stroke their baby. (I’m just reiterating what my Austrian roommate told me!)
- Shelf Toilets- just for fun, I’d like to address this. Although they are going out of style now, many of the older buildings in Vienna have this particular model of toilet. You’ll find out what they are in due time. 😉
- The public transportation is incredibly easy to use and very reliable. (I use Google Maps for everything and it has not failed me yet).
- The U-Bahn is the underground subway system shown in various colors on the map. This is definitely the fastest mode of transportation. From the Orange U3 line, Landstrasse has a direct line to the airport (click the link below). From here, it only takes around 20 minutes by train to reach the Wien Flughafen (Vienna International Airport).
- The S-Bahn is the tram system above ground marked by the Blue line on the map. Most likely, you will mainly be using these two forms of transportation.
Provided is a link to the transportation map:
- Vienna uses the honor code in regards to transportation. However there is a hefty fine if you get caught so make sure you buy and always have a ticket! Daily, weekly, and monthly passes can be bought at the large red ticket kiosks around each train station (and sometimes even on the newer trains!)
National Emergency Numbers
- Euro-emergency number 112
- Fire brigade: 122
- Police: 133
- Ambulance: 144
- Vienna is literally the safest city I have ever visited in my life. I truly felt more comfortable wandering around the city as a foreigner than I do in my home country. But of course, always exercise caution.
- Not exactly a safety tip, but it truly is the worst thing I could imagine happening. Near the music venues, there are men dressed up in 17th century clothing that will try to sell you overpriced orchestra tickets. Just ignore them (more links to legitimate and knock-your-socks-off concerts found below!)
- Jaywalking is very illegal here in Austria, even when there are no cars in sight (I’m looking at you, New Yorkers). Avoid the temptation!
The tap water is completely safe to drink (truly the best water I’ve ever had has been from Austria). The water comes straight from the Alps so you know it’s good.
- Austria uses the Euro currency. I would recommend coming prepared with Euros before arriving in Vienna if possible to avoid transaction fees. However, Vienna is lined with many ATM’s all around the city so you will have no trouble finding one. They are easy to spot due to the green and blue symbols above the machine!
- Always carry cash. Although Vienna is the most tourist heavy of the Austrian cities, it is still more customary to pay with cash. Even in Vienna, some places do not accept card.
- Vienna is a relatively expensive city to visit. However, many museums and attractions have student, child, and senior discounts. I would also highly recommend visiting the Naschmarkt and the Billa and Hofer‘s around the city to save some mulah.
- I have only experienced Vienna in the summertime, and the weather truly is lovely (perhaps I’m biased, considering I’m from Spring, Texas where it’s very hot and humid much of the year). It can rain somewhat frequently in the summer, so I would recommend packing rain boots. But the heat during the summer is dry and the sky is usually partly cloudy. For warm weather related activities, it would be best to visit Vienna through May-September.
- Vienna does get very cold between November-March, with the lowest temperatures usually found in the month of January. Just be prepared!
- For my fellow American friends- forgo the flip flops, baseball caps, Nike shorts, and baggy T-shirts. Vienna is a very classy European city, so think more along the lines of “Sunday best”. (Work out clothes, for example, are only worn if you are working out.)
- For men, you’ll see a lot of stylish loafers, button-downs, leather satchels, casual blazers. For women, you see a lot of nice sandals, heels, dresses, culotte pants, scarves, etc. If one were to wear sporty sneakers, it is dressed up to look rather chic.
- This being said, you don’t have to buy a whole new wardrobe! If your Nike running shoes provide the comfort you need to sightsee, please wear them. These are simply suggestions based off of my experience with fashion in Vienna.
Helpful Words and Phrases
- Hallo! / Servus! / Grüß Gott! – (hah-low) (tsair-voos) (gruss got) All can be used to greet someone.
Servus! /Tschüss! / Auf Wiedersehen! – (tsair-voos) (choo-iss) (auf wee der sayhen) All can be used to say goodbye.
Dankeshön – (dahn-kuh schun)Thank you (Danke for short!)
Entschuldigen Sie – (ent-shool-dee-gong) Excuse Me (Formal)
Ich spreche Englisch – (ich sprechuh Englisch) I speak English.
- Hofer– my saving grace. Truly. (19 cent pizzas!) If you are familiar with Aldi, Hofer is exactly the same thing. Such good quality food for cheap prices.
- Billa- You can find these all over Vienna as well. Also a bargain.
Cafes and Restaurants
Palaces, Churches, Town Halls
Parks and Recreation
Museums, Libraries, and Historical Places
Shops and Shows
Opera Houses and Theaters
If you visit any of these sites or found my tips helpful, please let me know!