European Wilderness Volunteer DiaryThe Diary of the European Wilderness Society Volunteers

Vienna: Belvedere, Schönbrunn and Lovely 4 Days in Austria’s Capital City

Olha is here, and I’m thrilled to continue recounting the story of my trip around Austria! In my previous post, I delved into the captivating allure of Salzburg, a city that left me yearning for more as I embarked on the next leg of my journey: Vienna, the majestic capital of Austria. 

Despite the lingering fatigue from the preceding day’s ambitious trek of 24 thousand steps, conquering both uphill and downhill terrains, the sheer exhilaration of my travels easily outshone any transient discomfort.

I let my intuition guide me, and I´ve appeared at the  Karlsplatz – a bustling square alive with art, music, and history, dominated by the magnificent Karlskirche. Dedicated to Emperor Charles VI’s namesake, St. Karl Borromäus, it’s a testament to architecture and history.

Then I wandered without a set path, observing buildings, cafes, and the rhythm of life in the bustling city. Following Kärntner Strasse, I found myself near the Vienna Opera. While my volunteering coincided with the opera’s holiday, I admired the opulent architecture of the building and its surroundings. And each structure exuded stunning beauty!

My evening culminated with a Barbie movie, which, to my delight, was still running. I ´ve polished my English while watching a movie at the Burg Kino on Opernring, a cinema that exudes the old classic charm.

The next morning marked my journey to Belvedere Palace. Beyond its magnificent Baroque architecture, Belvedere houses Austria’s valuable art collection. Around 400 works tell the story of 800 years of art history. A crucial tip: secure your tickets online and several days in advance, as these museums attract a steady stream of tourists.

First and foremost, the building itself is an absolute masterpiece. While its architecture is already awe-inspiring, the art housed within only enhances its splendor. Notably, you’ll recognize works such as Gustav Klimt’s “The Kiss” and “Napoleon Crossing the Alps” by Jacques-Louis David. Every corner of this place, from the paintings on the walls to the sculptures on the floor, even the lamps, is a testament to the world of art. There’s something here for every art enthusiast. You can extend your visit by taking a walk through the Belvedere gardens, exploring the Botanicum, orangerie and spotting squirrels at every turn.

Next, I visited the Hundertwasserhaus, a living testament to the unique style of the artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser, originally named Friedrich Stowasser. The vibrant facade of this iconic house in Vienna is a visual delight, irresistibly drawing one’s attention. Adorned with over 200 trees and bushes on its balconies and roof terraces, the building stands as a lush oasis in the heart of the city.

Traditionally, my day ended with a trip to the cinema, where I watched Oppenheimer, a fitting completion to the Barbenheimer. Christopher Nolan’s films are always a must-watch experience!

On my third day in Vienna, I headed to the popular Copa Cagrana beach for relaxation. Among its attractions an old photo booth for capturing memories occupied my attention.

Later, I found myself at Stephansplatz, the heart of Vienna. This square is anchored by its most distinguished structure, the Stephansdom. Not only is it Vienna’s iconic cathedral, but it’s also one of the tallest churches worldwide. The cathedral, one of Vienna’s signature landmarks, stands on remnants of an ancient Roman church established in 1147. From it, only the Giant’s Gate and the Heathen Towers have survived the test of time.

As the day wound down, I leisurely wandered through Vienna’s captivating streets. The charm of the cityscape compelled me to capture every building through photos.

On my fourth and final day in Vienna, I spent my time at Schönbrunn, the prominent summer residence of the Habsburg rulers. This 1,441-room Baroque palace stands as one of Austria’s paramount architectural, cultural, and historical landmarks. Tracing its history and its expansive gardens over 300 years, one can see the shifting tastes, fascinations, and ambitions of the Habsburg lineage.

Tourists from all around the world have been drawn to the palace since the mid-1950s. If you’re planning to visit, I recommend getting your tickets at least a week in advance.

Consider choosing The Grand Tour option, which reveals the full splendor of the palace. You’ll get to explore the private apartments of Franz Joseph and Elisabeth, the sunlit reception rooms, the State Apartments, and even the quarters once inhabited by Maria Theresa. Someone’s comment I found during my research about this place upped its grandeur: “The only thing more beautiful than this palace is Versailles.” Having experienced it firsthand, I wholeheartedly agree. Keep in mind that indoor photography is not allowed but this only means you’ll have to witness its majesty in person, which is even more enriching.

The palace grounds also host an array of captivating sites. One that stood out to me was the carriage museum. Exhibits like Siri’s Hungarian coronation carriage, often referred to as a ‘throne on wheels,’ and the imperial motorcar adorned in its regal court green, are truly breathtaking.

After immersing yourself in history, you can take a leisurely stroll through the botanical gardens, meander through the vast parks, or explore the orangery. Spending an entire day at the Schönbrunn palace was truly worthwhile!

The following morning, I bid farewell to Vienna. My time there was nothing short of magnificent. It was a joy to turn a childhood dream into reality, though Vienna still holds many treasures for me. The Opera is one I’m especially keen on exploring in the future!

Next and the last stop was Graz – stay tuned for the upcoming story!

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