Justin found amazing $500 roundtrip business class flights to Vienna. It was a bit of an impulse decision but rather than do a 4-day weekend like we did when we found cheap flights to Beijing, we decided to extend this trip to a week and half so we could also explore Budapest and Prague.
Traveling on business class flights with Justin is so fun. It feels so luxurious to sit together, sipping welcome drinks and comparing meals. Justin even got a late night ice cream sundae with warm hot fudge (actually hot). Our flight attendant was so awesome and suggested a selfie together (yes, those are are baby carrots I packed because…always travel with healthy snacks. Now cue the ice cream and chips :).
Marriott, is like home
We are Marriott Rewards members so often find great deals and wonderful treatment at Marriott hotels globally. We took the S-Bahn into the city from the airport and checked in at the Vienna Marriott next to Stadtpark. It was a great, central location for us when we only had a view days to explore the city — and they had wonderful breakfasts!
Two days in Vienna
Vienna is beautiful and even in February it was wonderful to walk around the city. We walked all throughout the Historic Center, went up to the top of St. Stephen’s Cathedral (there was practically no wait) and took in the sights of the old buildings imagining wealthy Austrians who once walked the cobblestone streets.
Great, but heavy food
Austrian food is heavy. HEAVY. You won’t see a lot of food that has color (except for the occasional beet). We did manage to find some highlights among a lot of beige — although a lot of our highlights were in the brown family. Speaking of tan food, you can’t go to Austria without trying schnitzel. So after much Trip Advisoring, I chose Figlmüller Bäckerstraße. The reviews were mixed but it did not disappoint and was well worth standing outside in a line to get one of a ton of little tables and be served their specialty. The schnitzels were for sure larger than our faces and actually didn’t even fit on the plates. It seemed like an insurmountable task to finish it, but we came pretty darn close (and my shirt even blends in with the color of Austrian food). We would go back there in a heartbeat.
There was a relatively new restaurant I found called Schachtelwirt that reinvented traditional Austrian dishes. The food was quick, warm and flavorful so it checked the boxes for a great afternoon lunch spot.
We also went out to a fancier dinner at Paul Restaurant Brasserie Bar to celebrate the new job Justin just had just accepted (just before we boarded our flight). They had good brown food — and don’t be fooled, the orange is sweet potato, not carrot — but at least there was protein with our carbs. Best of all was a massive sparkler they brought out Justin’s dessert to celebrate.
And of course there were chocolates, tortes and desserts. We bought tons of Mozart balls (chocolate marzipan balls) that we ate as we walked the streets. We bought extras to bring home and still have some in the back of our cabinets. In case we needed more nutritional balance to the beige food and chocolate, the streets were dotted with dessert-filled windows which enticed us at each corner (and vegan friendly — how do they do that?!?!).
Lastly, we’d be remiss if we didn’t speak about the great sausages. We found incredible, steaming, caramelized sausages at Bitzinger Wurstelstand Albertina, a corner stall in the heart of town. Somehow we don’t have pictures from it (even though we went several times for their currywurst) but that is likely because our hands were full of goodness and we couldn’t be bothered to focus on cameras when were holding deliciousness in two hands.
Things to do in Vienna (and what you can skip)
Go to the opera! It is so worth it. The State Opera House itself is beautiful and worth seeing. We went early (I think we even got a currywurst sausage on our way) and went just over an hour early to get in line for standing room only tickets. You won’t believe what a deal they are — 3 or 4 Euros a ticket! Seriously. And they are exactly what they sound like — a spot to stand, but with a padded bar to lean on and subtitle screens at each spot. We got lucky and the standing room spot was on the ground floor right in the center. We figured for 3-4 Euros we could leave after one act but we loved it so much (and didn’t mind standing) so we stayed for the whole thing. It was fantastic!
We also spent a night out at a Strauss and Mozart concert. The music was wonderful and they even had some dancers accompany them. Not only was the music great, but the performance took place in a stunning building in Stadtpark (conveniently located a minute walk from our hotel). If you go, there is no need to get tickets to this in advance. We booked through our hotel after we arrived.
Skip the famous Spanish Riding School Show
We had heard so much about the Spanish Riding Horses and despite the 3.5 star TripAdvisor reviews, (which should have been a hint) we (I) wanted to go see them. Tickets were plenty pricey even for standing room. Don’t even bother with a seat because you’ll likely be blocked by folks like us who are standing. If you go, get there early so you can stand right up against the balcony and won’t be blocked by too many other folks standing around you. We aren’t quite horse aficionados, but they translate all the commentary into a few different languages before each exercise. There was more commentary than riding so it felt LONG and SLOW. From our standpoint, you can skip this one.
If you go to Vienna
- Fill up on green vegetables in advance of your trip and then succumb to eating schnitzel for the week — and currywurst — a lot of it.
- Winter was lovely but we can’t wait to go back in spring or summer. Going in winter may make it easier to eat such heavy food.
- Take your time walking the streets — they are beautiful and each turn opens into a cobblestone alley or quaint square where you can feel the history of the buildings.
- Enjoy the chocolate, it is great 🙂