What do you do when he wants the cafes, culture and wild swimming of Vienna, you want to eat a specific Italian pasta dish you saw on Stanley Tucci and the kids just wanted anywhere with a pool? You hatch a plan where everyone gets what they want.
Where we went: Vienna, Venice, Adriatic Coast, Rome, Amalfi Coast, Pompeii, Naples
When we went: July/August
Part 1: 48 Hours in Vienna
Where: London Stansted to Vienna
How: Ryanair Priority (hand luggage only)
Price: £60 per person
Arriving in Vienna I was immediately embarrassed that I had prioritised visiting so many other European cities ahead of it. Our short taxi ride from the airport revealed not just impeccable architecture and classic cafes, but also achingly cool vintage kilo shops, innumerable art galleries and a home crowd that was cooler, more cosmopolitan and significantly younger than I was expecting.
Our apartment in the neighbourhood of Neubau was accessed by entering a huge door, nestled between a photography shop, pharmacy and a natural wine store. On the other side was an inner-city oasis. A courtyard overlooked by apartments, including ours. It proved to be the perfect base for adventures.
Explore on foot - Neubau, MuseumsQuartier, Naschmarkt, Karlsplatz
I have a habit of starting every city break by insisting we explore every inch of it we can on foot.
We set off through Neubau, stopping to put coins into a ‘Kunst Automat’ (a vending machine filled with affordable local art) and walked east until we hit MuseumsQuartier, a vibrant cultural quarter filled with iconic outdoor lounge furniture and surrounded by some of the city’s most exciting museums, including mumok (Museum of Modern Art), Leopold Museum and Az W, The Austrian Architecture Museum.
Next we headed south to Naschmarkt on the hunt for food, before again heading east to Vienna’s historic centre, starting with Karlsplatz, known for its picture perfect church, Karlskirche.
Joining the crowds gathered around the square’s central fountain, enjoying a live music stage and street food vans, we had some fun photobombing people’s Insta attempts on the church steps, before strolling over to see the now disused Karlsplatz Stadbahn Stations.
These two identical stunningly ornate buildings are Accidentally Wes Anderson points of interest with good reason, boasting grand entrance archways, eye-catching accent colours and glimmering gold floral designs. When we visited, the small square in front of the stations was home to a pop-up vintage market, packed with preloved treasures starting for as little as €1.
We walked back towards Neubau on a different route, passing lots of the places we desperately wanted to see, but knew we might not have time for this visit (or that we daren’t take two hot and tired pre-teens into). Starting at the awe-inspiring Art Nouveau Secession building close to Karlsplatz, we crossed to see the Vienna Operahouse, before winding our way north via The Hofburg, Heldenplatz and Museumsplatz.
We decided to focus our attention on two museums on this visit, my choice was the Albertina.
One of the largest and most important print rooms in the world, here we took in work from the likes of Monet, Miró and Magritte.
But my favourite thing about the Albertina was its palatial interiors. Top tip: Don’t feel tempted to bypass the dry sounding ‘State Rooms’. It’s where all of the imperial Austrian magic happens.
Open 7 days a week. Tickets €18,90 (free under 19)
Determined to explore more of the work of Vienna’s own Gustav Klimt, my husband’s museum pick was the Belvedere. Set in its own beautiful grounds, this 18th century palace is an imposing Baroque beauty. Surrounded by huge walls and only accessible via certain entrance points, it’s best accessed at the very south of the grounds, right by the palace itself, or at the very north ‘Lower Belvedere’ section. This is something we’d failed to research beforehand and led to us spending what felt like hours stuck on the wrong side of the wall.
Driven crazy by extreme August heat and the wall confusion, by the time we’d got in and seen Klimt’s works, including The Kiss, the kids declared they'd had enough Klimt, so I took them outside to play in the sprinklers, while my husband enjoyed the artworks in peace (I am not especially nice, I had just also seen almost enough Klimt).
However, everyone’s highlight was nothing to do with the art or the sprinklers. It involved my husband standing in one of the palace windows and flashing his phone torch, while we all waved at him from almost a kilometre away down in the palace grounds. Possibly not as cultured as we thought after all.
Open 7 days a week. Tickets from €15,90 (free under 19)
The outdoor and wild swimming opportunities in Vienna were a total revelation to me.
With no coast for miles I wasn’t expecting beaches and bathing on this leg of the trip, but I was wrong. Vienna’s Alte Donau (Old Danube), has it all.
Just seven subway stations away from central Stephansplatz, as soon as you arrive at Kaisermuhlen station, it feels like you are in a totally different city. From the station you can see leisure boats on the water, beach bars and enviable waterfront chalets.
Sitting on a calm lake created in the 19th century by a diversion in the Danube, Gänsehäufel’s tiny €7 per family entrance fee gives you access to a whole leisure island and its multiple outdoor pools, beaches, changing facilities, shops and cafes.
Here we spent a day enjoying the impeccably clean facilities, swimming in the lake looking onto the city’s skyline, having fun on the slides and in the wave pool, playing table tennis and eating amazing street food from the cute kiosks.
It was so good, we found it hard to not be a little bit bitter about this city-run gem. If this was in the UK it would be ten times the price and not half as good (or clean).
Gänsehäufel is open daily from May to September. It can get busy during peak times, so advance booking is recommended, but not essential, we booked the day before we went.
Another Vienna gem that I had no prior knowledge of, but found totally irresistible, was Prater theme park. This free-to-enter fairground opened to the public in 1766, making it one of the world’s oldest amusement parks. Its crowning glory is the world’s oldest operating ferris wheel, Weiner Riesenrad, which at over 200 ft tall rotates over the park in all its retro wonder.
Even if you’re not tempted to take a ride in one of Weiner Riesenrad’s cool cabins, a walk around the park is an experience in itself.For unrivalled views of Vienna, be brave and buy a ticket for the world’s tallest chairoplanes, the park’s Praterturm ride.
Entry to Prater is free, rides cost around €5 each, with the exception of the Weiner Riesenrad which is €13.
Open Daily (with exception of some midweeks dates in January and February)
St. Stephen’s Cathedral
It seems a shame to visit Vienna without exploring one of its most famous landmarks, St. Stephen’s Cathedral. Especially as it’s free to enter.
Set in Stephansplatz, the colourfully-tiled cathedral is as stunning as it is imposing… looming over the square and surrounding shops and eateries in all its Gothic glory.
While my husband and son couldn’t resist paying to explore the Catherdal’s catacombs, my daughter wasn’t keen, insisting instead that we wait for them close by in a huge H&M, housed in the breath-taking former home of the E. Braun & Co. department store.
Open Daily. Free Entrance to Cathedral. Catacombs tours available at times throughout the day, €6 per adult, €2,50 per child.
Vienna is known for its long-standing coffee house culture, but with two kids in tow, we felt we needed to choose wisely.
Cafe Hawelka was the number one recommendation, but on closer inspection, its dimly lit, intimate interior and quiet charm looked like it would be instantly ruined by the presence of my children.
Instead we went for another recommendation, opting for the pleasingly pink mid-century magic of Cafe Prückel. While it originally opened in the early 1900s, it underwent a refit in 1954 and little has changed since.
While the staff wore formal black tie, we were welcomed inside despite having no booking and went for their signature Viennese breakfast (coffee, tea or hot chocolate, two warm rolls, butter, jam, honey and an egg), some add-on gouda and an apple strudel with cream that we just couldn't resist.
We are huge food market fans, in part because being able to eat from a selection of stalls suits our family’s often high maintenance requirements (two meat lovers, a pescatarian and one child that basically only eats chips).
A mix of produce stalls and cafes, Naschmarkt has lots to offer, even when it’s not a full market day (there’s a huge flea market here every Saturday).
After an initial stroll to asses, the meat eaters headed straight for Heisse und Kalte Wurstwaren, market institution selling traditional sausages.
Meanwhile, my chip baby and I opted for the market’s outpost from Vienna burger joint RinderWahn, for a veggie burger and fries.
Open Monday to Saturday.
Anyone who knows me, knows I love bakeries, almost as much as I love travel.
Not only did we loved the baked goods on offer at felzl’s six outlets scattered throughout the city, there’s also a BREAD VENDING MACHINE on Schottenfeldgasse that is stocked daily at 8pm, for those who need to get their doughy kicks out of hours.
Sometimes you really strike gold with airbnb host local food guides. Alongside some more traditional dining options, our Vienna host had recommended Berliner Doner, a small but perpetually busy kebab kiosk across the road from our apartment.
While it might not be what I expected of Vienna, our summer evening sat out on the street with locals, enjoying bargain veggie and meat kebabs from their small menu (and of course, chips) was one of my city highlights. They even kindly flung me an extra handmade flatbread for the child who only eats beige food.
Zieglergasse 33A, 1070 Wien, Austria
Grandfather’s Workshop, 7th District
We stayed in a stylish open plan loft apartment, with one bedroom and another large sleeping area separated by a curtain, all skylights and colourful ceramics.
A former workshop, we loved the industrial touches, unique interior, modern bathroom and kitchen. But the best bit was arguably its quiet location in cool Neubau.
Other Properties on My airbnb Wishlist
Nr 7 Apartment 70m² courtyard location in Biedermeierhaus
Sophisticated home in prime location
Vienna Flair near Imperial Park
PRATER EXCLUSIVE DESIGNER APARTMENT
The next part of this adventure, Vienna to Naples: Planes, Trains and Automobiles, Part 2: All Aboard the Night Train from Vienna to Venice will be with you soon.
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Laila Robins: Susan Page
Jump to: Photos (6)
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Del's Black Eye
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In fact, there have been several notable examples of flying cars, such as the Curtiss Autoplane in 1917, Airphibian in 1946, Aerocar in 1946 and Convair in 1947, to name a few. But all these projects never reached the public— some because of lack of funding and others because they simply couldn't fly properly.Why is flying safer than driving? ›
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Martin called Candy one of his best acting partners. "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" still holds up today with its holiday themes of family and thankfulness, making it one of John Hughes' best movies.Why does John Candy have a black eye at the end of planes? ›
For Del's black eye, it's actually from a deleted shot of the scene where Del tells Neal that he didn't get the insurance for the car that he has just destroyed. Neal reacts by punching him in the face. You can find this scene in one of the full scripts online HERE .Did Henry Ford say when everything seems to be going against you remember that the airplane takes off against the wind not with it? ›
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