Whenever anyone mentioned Vienna to me before I had visited, the first things that came to my mind were Sisi, the New Year’s Concert and lots of pomp and circumstance. And now that I’m back, that’s still what I’m associating with the city. So I guess my view was pretty accurate. Now I only have my own experiences to link to those views.
You definitely won’t be bored when you’re traveling to the capital of Austria. There are a lot of things to do and visit in this city, mainly palaces and museums. Fast-paces as I am, I of course tried to squeeze in as many sights as possible. And we managed to see quite a lot. Many of those visits were okay, but not really spectacular. Others are still taking my breath away just thinking about it. And aren’t you lucky that I’m just about to list up all of those places!
The Austrian National Library
I’ve always loved libraries and the entire atmosphere that comes with a room filled with books. If you then get a lot of old books in all shapes and forms within a gorgeous hall, you can be sure that I’ll want to see it. So the Austrian National Library was high on my list of places to visit.
This library is, with over 12 million items, the largest library in the country and the largest Baroque one in Europe. It was built in the 18th century and is part of the Hofburg. The heart of the library, the State Hall, is known to be one of the most beautiful library halls in the world. And I can only confirm that. From the sight of all those books, to the beautiful sculptures, to the magnificent ceiling paintings; you almost don’t know where to look first.
Entrance to the State Hall is included in the Vienna Pass or costs 8 euros without a pass.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve started the New Year by looking at one of the most beautiful rooms; the Golden Hall of the Vienna Musikverein. As a child I was forced to watch the New Year’s Concert on television at my grandparents’ place, but while the music wasn’t always as interesting to me, I was always in awe of all the gold that was on display. So of course I had to see that hall for myself now that I was so close to it.
You can only visit the Golden Hall by going on a guided tour. This tour only takes 45 minutes and gives you a bit of information on the building of the Musikverein and its history. The construction was finished in 1870 and took three years to complete. From the start it was a very popular place and to date it still offers up to 600 concerts a year.
This guided tour isn’t included in the Vienna Pass. It costs 9 euros and the tours are offered in English, German and Chinese. Considering this is a working concert hall, all tours are around 1pm.
Natural History Museum
After having visited a few natural history museums the last couple of years, I wasn’t planning on visit the one in Vienna. After all most of the objects on display are usually sort of the same. There are only so many stuffed animals and fossils one can handle. But when I laid eyes on the building the museum was housed in, I was instantly curious about the inside of the museum.
This building was supposedly almost a copy of the Art History Museum that can be found opposite the Natural History Museum. We’d visited the Art History museum the day before and I was also in awe of how absolutely gorgeous that one was. Thanks to the free entrance with our Vienna Pass, we decided to just walk in for a split second to check the interior. And it was absolutely worth our time. Another gorgeous building with such breathtaking decorations. It seems like there is no end to architectural beauty in this city.
While we were inside anyway, I couldn’t stop myself from wandering around through the exhibitions quickly. There are some cool dinos and mammoths, but mostly I was curious about the Venus of Willendorf. I still remember learning about the statue of the lady with the fat belly, fat tights and big breasts in high school, so I always find it cool to see things like that in real life. When we rounded the corner to where the statue was on display, I experienced the biggest shock of my life. That statue is only about a thumb big. I swear it was bigger in my text book than it is for real. And I wasn’t the only one to have that reaction. Most of the visitors seemed to have the same idea that it was a lot bigger.
On the day of our arrival, we had planned only one visit; the Karlskirche. The entrance fee to this church was not included in our Vienna Pass which made it the perfect thing to visit then, before the activation period of our card.
We arrived at the church right as the sun was setting and the view of that building against a light pink sky was absolutely stunning. And then we went inside and were also pretty stunning by the beauty of this church. Even though we were unlucky that there were some restoration works going on and there was a big scaffolding set up in the nave itself, the interior still blew me away. Up on the ceiling are two massive glass balls with mirrors which give you an extra dimension. I’d never seen anything like it before and I absolutely adored it.
Within the scaffolding there was an elevator that took us up to the ceiling of the church. We almost missed it as it wasn’t all that obvious that that elevator was available for tourists. It more looked like it was for the workers. But this way you get a closer look to the gorgeous painted ceilings in the dome. Once again reflected in the mirrors of the balls. Stunning!
This definitely was quite the opener to our trip in Vienna. I’m glad we paid the extra fee of 8 euros to go inside. It’s worth it.
Another church, but one that isn’t as well-known as the Karlskirche. From the outside this building looks like a regular, dull church, but inside it’s a true beauty.
We stumbled across the Jesuitenchurch while we were wandering the old part of the city. I’ve inherited my dad’s “illness” of always wanting to take a peek inside every church we pass. So of course this one was no different. It was already dark outside by the time we passed it and inside the building there wasn’t much illumination. But while we could hardly see anything, I could tell the interior was otherworldly as well.
Even the day after, I couldn’t forget about this place, so I just had to return during the daytime. And gosh how happy I am that I did. The inside was just so beautiful! In my opinion a lot more beautiful than the famous St. Stephen’s Cathedral that everyone does visit in Vienna. There are gorgeous swirled columns and the ceilings are painted beautifully as well. A true hidden gem that you cannot miss. Especially since you can just walk in for free!
Those five places are all architectural masterpieces and among the most beautiful places I’ve seen on all of my trips. I knew Vienna had a lot of riches but I’d never expect so much. Even now, three weeks later I’m still stunned by it all. So yup, Vienna definitely managed to secure itself a place in my top 10 of favorite citytrip destinations.