Greetings, Internet Stranger! When I say Vienna, what’s the first thing you think of? (I’m ignoring one of my uncles here who I am quite sure is in the process of responding “Vienna sausages”. Freud? Mozart? Wigs? Whatever you are thinking of, I’m sure it’s related to high culture and general fanciness. With 24 hours in Vienna, you can experience all the culture you can shake an ivory walking stick at.
Come and join me for my favorite 24 hours in Vienna and we’ll have class out the wazoo. But there will also be bizarre fish people, spies, role-playing, breaded meats of all kinds, and The One Mustache to Rule Them All.
24 Hours in Vienna
Where to Stay?
I can’t recommend the exact hotel where I stayed in Vienna because it has “gone out of business”. But I can definitely steer you to the right neighborhood. I always believe in staying as centrally located as I can afford, especially when traveling solo. It helps save valuable travel time, and it usually means staying in the safest part of the city. That’s why I suggest getting as close as you can to the historic part of Vienna, aka the Innere Stad. You’ll thank me later!
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24 Hours in Vienna
What to Pack?
The weather in Vienna is unpredictable, and it definitely rained during my 24 hours in Vienna. So the two most important things you’ll need to bring are an umbrella and some rain boots. My favorite travel umbrella is the Repel Teflon Waterproof Umbrella. It is strong enough to stand up to the sometimes-quite-strong winds of Austria.
For rain boots, I recommend the Asgard Rain Boots. They are comfy/cozy and keep my feet dry all day. Plus they’re cute enough that I can wear them about a classy city like Vienna without feeling like some gauche American with gross feet.
Finally, if you’re not from Europe, you need a universal adapter if you’re going to plug in electronics. European electrical outlets don’t work with either American or British plugs. I suggest the NEWVANGA travel adapter. It’s usable with any electrical outlet in the world, so you won’t need to keep buying new adapters. I always carry two with me, just in case something happens to one.
24 Hours in Vienna
Morning: Kunsthistoriches Museum
The Kunsthistoriches Museum literally translates to the Art History Museum. I don’t speak German, but if you are a culture fan who spends any time in a German-speaking country, you’ll learn that Kunst means art very quickly. It was created in the late 19th century by everyone’s favorite mustache, Emperor Franz Joseph I.
There are SO MANY photographs of Franz Joseph and his mustache in the Public Domain, and I intend to use them all on this blog. Franz Joseph’s family, the Habsburgs, were famous as patron of the arts, so you can imagine that their museum has an overwhelming collection! I will help you narrow it down to…
Approximately top 5: vienna kunsthistoriches museum
1) I’m getting ver-klimt
If you want to see some of the most notable art in the Kunsthistoriches Museum, look up! Before you even get to the art galleries, you can see these amazing paintings by legendary Viennese artist, Gustav Klimt, that are set around the museum’s marble columns.
When Klimt was but a wee Symbolist, his brother Ernst, his friend Franz Matsch, and he were commissioned to decorate the museum with images representing different periods of art. Of course Klimt’s golden, sexy ladies are more reminiscent of his work than they are of any other period of art.
2) Madonna of the Meadow by Raphael
This is obviously Raphael because it’s really, really pretty. Any time I see a painting and I think, “Wow, whoever painted that was super good at painting people,” it usually ends up being a Raphael. I also appreciate the adorable way Jesus and John the Baptist are playing with each other in this painting. My preference is always for any painting in which Jesus looks like a real baby and not a very small old man.
3) Hunters in the Snow by Bruegel
The Kunsthistorisches Museum has an outstanding collections of Breugels. I never even knew it was possible to have an outstanding Bruegel collection before I came to the Kunsthistorisches Museum. Bruegel was a 16th century Dutch landscape painter, and his works are notable for their realistic depiction of peasant life, says my high school art history textbook.
I say that this painting is my favorite Bruegel because it allows me to experience the beauty of a Dutch winter without actually having to be outside in the cold. It’s the magic of painting!
4) Summer by giuseppe Archimboldo
Any regular followers of this blog will quickly see that this is going to be my favorite painting in the museum. This is just so weird! Is this dude’s nose a zucchini? Are his teeth cherry tomatoes? Would it be acceptable for a vegetarian to eat this person? Archimboldo painted all four seasons, but the other three seasons are at the Louvre. Vienna is stubbornly holding on to this one. Suck it, Paris!
But fellow Archimboldo-heads will be happy to know he did other portraits that were absolutely tripping balls. This is his representation of the element of water.
Try to look happier, Fish Dude! That’s one sweet pearl necklace you’re rocking. Two of Archimboldo’s element paintings are in private collections and I really want to meet the person who has one of these puppies hanging on their walls. I suspect we would be friends.
5) Joseph II and the amazing technicolor Painting
Well, there it is. A classy painting of one of the original Habsburg patrons of the arts. This portrait was done of Joseph II and his younger brother back when they were princes doing their Grand Tour of Europe.
The Kunsthistoriches Museum says this painting is “simple” and “renounces external pomp”. I strenuously object! If the KHM really wants to see someone renounce pomp, I suggest they come visit my apartment. I currently have black plastic garbage bags covering up my windows so cold air can’t come through the holes. No pomp in sight!
24 Hours in Vienna
Afternoon: Explore Vienna
Now that I’ve kept you cooped up in a museum all morning, I’m sure you’re going to want some freedom to explore the fair city of Vienna! There is so much to do in our 24 hours in Vienna! We will eat chocolate cake, we will learn about spies and anarchists, and we will pretend to be cats. But first, lunch!
The approximately top 5: 24 hours in vienna
1) Kasekrainer at bitzinger sausage stand
You’re going to want to eat something after all those calories you burned looking at paintings of freaky fish people. And what could be a more appropriate choice in Austria than a sausage! I suggest stopping at the nearby sausage stand, Bitzinger, for a fresh meat stick surrounded by bread.
But you can do better than just a simple hot dog. Chow down on the Austrian delicacy, the kasekrainer. This is a pork sausage with gooey Emmenthaler cheese mixed in with the meat. It is a little bit spicy, but the cheese helps mellow the sass. Be warned, though! It is the least Kosher dish I can possibly imagine.
The Hofburg is, of course, a former palace belonging to the Habsburg. It’s pretty safe to assume that anything both nice and old in Vienna at one point belonged to the Habsburgs. Now it is the office of the President of Austria, which blows my mind. Everyone must want to be President of Austria if they get to work here! I don’t know why Schwarzenegger didn’t just stay in Austria and become president instead of becoming Governor of California.
Even though the President works here, tourists are still allowed to come for tours. You can even buy a combination ticket that will grant you admission to both this and the Schonbrunn Palace. There are three different museums inside the Hofburg, which gives me more than enough information for…
Three fun facts about the hofburg
A) What’s the fanciest thing inside?
The first museum in the palace is dedicated to the Habsburg silver and porcelain collections. Perhaps the most famous piece was the Minton Dessert Service, which was a gift from Queen Victoria to Mustache Extraordinaire, Franz Joseph.
I’m really serious about making this mustache known throughout the land! Of course, the porcelain service was too delicate to actually use, so the Habsburgs just put it on display for all the admire. I really don’t get the point of having dishes that you can’t actually serve food on, but maybe that’s why I am not a Habsburg.
b) Who’s that lady? (Real fine lady)
This is a portrait of the Empress Elisabeth, better known as Sisi. As I mentioned in my last post about Vienna, she is one of the most legendary beauties who ever lived. In this picture she has real diamonds all over her dress and diamonds in her hair.
Apparently she was so attached to his image of herself as a great beauty that once she got older she stopped allowing herself to be painted or even seen in public. Hearing that makes me feel depressed. Age is a state of mind, Sisi! (She can’t hear me because she was assassinated by an anarchist.)
Also Sisi was married to the Emperor of All Mustaches, Franz Joseph!
Remember, remember, the 5th of Movember.
c) OMG, where is Marie Kondo when you need her?
My favorite thing about the Imperial Apartments is that they serve as a reminder of how incestuous the royal families of Europe were. Every object is a gift from someone’s cousin/uncle/grandma-in-law.
The tapestries in this picture were a gift from Louis XVI of France to his brother-in-law Joseph “Too Many Notes” II. I feel like the tapestries were lucky to get out of France when they did because Joseph II, unlike his unfortunate sister Marie Antoinette, got to keep his tapestries and his head.
3) Sachertorte and coffee
Of course you can’t visit Vienna without trying the famous Sachertorte and coffee combination. A Sachertorte is a chocolate cake layered with apricot jam and chocolate icing. It was actually invented in Vienna in the 19th century, unsurprisingly as a gift for one of Austria’s 11 million princes.
We’re not going to be able to make it to the famous Hotel Sacher for their torte on this itinerary, so we’ll have to stop instead at the Konditorei Heiner. Some say it has the best Sachertorte in Vienna. I can’t vouch for that because it’s the only Sachertorte I have ever eaten. But the cake was moist, the icing was smooth, and the jam packed a fruit punch without being too sweet. That’s good enough for me when it comes to Sachertorte!
4) Third Man Walking Tour
If you regularly read lists of the greatest movies of all time, you will often see The Third Man pop up at the top of the list. Not only is it a classic film noir starring Joseph Cotten and Orson Welles, it is also set (and filmed) in post-war Austria.
I watched it just before going to Vienna, and I loved it to pieces. (So many great scenes! The Ferris wheel! The funeral! Remember the sewers? And the bit with the cat? If you have no idea what I am talking about, put this blog down right now and go watch it. GOO!!! No one wants you here! And then come back and finish reading this post.
I was excited to find out that there was a walking tour available to show you the famous places used in The Third Man. Even if you’re not very familiar with the movie, it will teach you a lot about post WWII Vienna. And there will be nary a Habsburg in sight in our…
Three fun facts about the third man
A) Who wrote The Third Man?
Graham Greene, who was the screenwriter for The Third Man, spent time in Vienna and his depiction of life in Vienna after WWII is accurate in many ways. The city was divided into four sections: American, British, French, and Russian. Officers used to have to patrol the city with four soldiers to a car. One had to be from each nationality, but apparently the Americans insisted on always driving. That’s because we’re the only ones who drive on the correct side of the road!
b) Any cool artifacts from the movie?
Graham Greene also stayed at the Hotel Sacher when they were filming in Vienna. Perhaps this is because it was the headquarters of British intelligence at the time. Greene was a British spy himself, and his boss was Kim Philby, the notorious British double agent who was eventually revealed to have been spying for the Soviets.
The hotel has on display a note from Orson Welles thanking them for making the best Bloody Mary in the world. We can see Welles had his priorities straight.
c) Can you recreate scenes from the movie?
This door is where the famous Scene With Orson Welles and a Cat takes place. (No spoilers for those of you who have not seen the movie. But I really shouldn’t be so nice to you. GO SEE THE MOVIE!)
Our guide helped us recreate this scene by playing the famous Third Man zither theme song and taking our pictures. I didn’t participate because you need two people to be Orson Welles and a cat, but this father and son did.
I will let you figure out which one is the cat and which one is Orson Welles.
5) st stephen’s Cathedral
You really can’t leave Vienna without seeing St. Stephen’s Cathedral. It’s often called one of the symbols of the city. Before you walk inside, take a stroll around. The building is pretty much spectacular from any side.
Parts of the building date back to the 12th century, which is old even for Europe. Like most beautiful things in Western Europe, the Nazis tried to destroy it when they found out they were losing the war. Fortunately, a German captain refused to obey the order and the building is still standing. Stories like this always leave me ambivalent. I’m very glad that captain didn’t destroy the cathedral…but couldn’t he have also refused to murder people? Just a thought.
If you go to Stephansdom after the Third Man tour, you won’t be able to climb the tower or take a tour. It will be too late! We need to save that for another 24 hours in Vienna. But you’ll still be able to go inside and visit for free!
But honestly, who needs to see the inside when your building has a roof like this.
Between those tiles on the roof, the Klimt paintings, the Imperial dessert service, Franz Joseph’s mustache, and that father and son pretending to be Orson Welles and his cat, I don’t know when I’ve seen so many beautiful things in one day.
24 Hours in Vienna
Evening: Ef16 Restaurant Weinbar
As much as the Austrians like beer, never forget that the country is also famous for its wine. That’s why I decided to conclude my 24 hours in Vienna with dinner at Ef16 Restaurant Weinbar. Where else could I pair an Austrian white wine with some classic Wiener Schnitzel?
A Wiener schnitzel is a breaded and fried piece of veal. It is traditionally served with warm potato salad. Mine also came with a lamb’s lettuce salad. I suppose the lettuce has magical powers to make a giant piece of fried meat healthy. That’s just science!
Even though the dish is basically a baby cow carcass covered in bread and oil, it tasted crisp and light. The schnitzel is so large, I felt no need to order an app with it. Unfortunately, my meal was almost ruined by a very rude Viennese man who leaned over to tell me that he could tell I was a tourist because I was ordering schnitzel.
I’m pretty sure you could tell I was a tourist because I have a heavy American accent and was speaking English with the waiter! Now leave me to schnitz in piece, schnob!
My dessert, the confusingly spelled kaiserschmarrn, is as traditionally Austrian as the schnitzel. As you can not really tell from my awful photo, it is shredded pancake served with warm jam. Why do Austrian desserts have so much jam in them? (Not complaining, just asking.) Apparently it was named after Emperor Franz Joseph because it was one of his favorite dishes. I gots to love a man who can rock a sweet ‘stache and popularize pancakes!
That’s a Perfect 24 Hours in Vienna, Austria!
What would you do with 24 hours in Vienna? Are you ready to start booking your hotel in Vienna? What is the point of having a dessert set you can’t serve kaiserschmarrn on? And has anyone in history ever had a cooler stache than Franz Joseph? (No.) Please leave your thoughts below!
Note: If you want to know how I put my travel itineraries together, just click here. Keep in mind that while each article is about how to spend 24 hours in a place, that doesn’t mean you should ONLY spend 24 hours in Vienna. If you have another 24 hours in Vienna, try this itinerary!
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