Vienna is cultural rich city and full of architectures with Baroque design, such as St. Stephen’s Cathedral, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna’s State Opera and so forth. Vienna itself is consider a country to travel with low cost, as compared to neighboring countries like Germany & Switzerland. However, given the right tricks, you can squeeze every penny out of your pocket and travel vienna on budget.
St. Stephen Cathedral
The most famous attraction in Vienna is St. Stephen Cathedral where the exterior building looks huge, and gorgeous. What’s more, the interior design is more intricate and beautiful. I went to the church at around 7am (free), and had the opportunity to experience the traditional prayers early in the morning.
Exterior of St Stephen Cathedral
Prayers performing religious ritual in the early session
St. Anna’s Cathedral
Other than St. Stephen’s Cathedral, there is another one less-known church named St. Anna’s Cathedral (AnnaKirche Wien). Unlike the former, St. Anna’s Cathedral is having inconspicuous exterior with the look-alike design with the rest of the surrounding buildings. At the time I was there, I suspected there was another mistake with the Google Maps and nearly given up to look for this hidden gem.
Normal appearance of St. Anna’s Cathedral
Surprising and beautiful interior design of St. Anna’s Cathedral
Austrian National Library
Unlike the churches which are free, I would have to pay 6.30€ (after % discount with Vienna Card) for the visiting the Austrian National Library. However, I do feel that it’s worth the money as it was the first time I see such old library, like those always appeared in the movies.
Austrian National Library
Kunsthistorisches Museum is another famous attraction in Vienna, but with hefty entrance ticket price (18€ after 1€ discount with Vienna Card). Basically, it’s a museum to store some artifacts. Here are some interior images I taken and you can decide from there if the price is justifiable.
Hallway in Kunsthistorisches Museum
Cafe in Kunsthistorisches Museum
Vienna State Opera
I had the chance to purchase standing ticket at price 2€, but with a cost of long queuing time. The story was; I went to the opera house at around 4.30pm, intended to queue for the show at 6.30pm (as shown in their official website). Upon reaching there, I couldn’t see the entrance for purchasing ticket. After searching for a while, there are 1-2 people started to queue at one of the door (which was still closed). I asked them if that was the place to queue and buy ticket, and ‘yes’ they replied. I was glad as I was one of the few in the early queue. After 30 minutes, I asked the person in front of me, and he told me the show that we were queuing for was meant to start in 8.00 pm. What!? It was only 5 pm and there are 3 hrs more we would have to queue.
At around 7.00pm, the door finally opened and we managed to start buying the ticket. I chosen the Galerie ticket, which meant for standing area at upper deck of the opera house. After getting the ticket, the staff directed me to another door for, waiting, again… 20 minutes later, the door finally opened, and everyone rushed to the opera’s hall. One of the main advantages (or disadvantage) for those who are in the early queue, is that they would have the chance to stand at the area at the lower ground, where the visual performance and sounding effect is comparatively better than the decks at upper gallery.
After rounding my scarf at the standing spot, and given 2 min briefing by the staff, we were told to checked-in our jacket outside and free to move around. Immediately I taken the chance to walk from lower to top of the house and snap as much pictures as possible. After moving around for a while, the time was already 8pm. I rushed back to my standing spot at the lower level and checked in my jacket. The thing is, the lower deck was cramped with lots of people and it’s impossible to get out even for toilet.
Ticket price for the show of the day
Standing area (bottom centre of image)
Stage view from the standing deck at upper level
Soon, the show begun and the performers were a couple, talking and singing in Austrian language I guessed. I had no idea what the story was about, as the translator in front of me doesn’t light up, not sure why … After stuck in the standing spot for 1 hour, the show was finally ended, and sorry to say that I was relieved.
Lesson I learned from the experience in Vienna State Opera House:
- Always check the location for every performance stated in official website , as not all of them will be held in the State Opera House.
- Even though queue early has the advantages to buy ticket with 1€ cheaper, it is more costly as more precious time is spent for queuing.
- Standing spot for Galerie at upper deck is much more better if you just want a glimpse of how the State Opera looks like. You can leave the house anytime you want.
Anyway, it’s such a great experience to see the performance live in one of the most prestigious opera house in the world. The sound effect was indeed excellent, with very minimal sound reflection.
Navigation is difficult in Vienna because Google Maps doesn’t work there. I would suggest ones to use MapsMe & HereWeGo maps for navigation around the city. I managed to find out HereWeGo during my last days in Vienna. It’s particularly useful where the trams, trains & metros could be highlighted individually. During my visit, I bought Vienna Card and 2-way return ticket for CAT. Both of them could be bought in the Information Centre at the Vienna airport. I first used the CAT ticket to reach Wien Mitte station, and from there, use the metro to move around in the city.
Vienna works on an honesty system. There are no ticket barriers at stations and no formal ticket checks on trains, trams and buses. You just hop on and off unchallenged. This doesn’t mean public transport is free, though. You need to buy a ticket and validate the ticket using the validating machine. More info …
Ticket validating machine
Internet/ Sim Card
I used Flexiroam for instead of conventional local sim card for data/internet use in Vienna. Before arriving in Vienna, I’ve already ordered the shipment of Flexiroam sim card (more info…). It’s a layer of metallic chip overlay on top of my homecountry sim card. You can gain free data upon registration and referral to your friends. Since I had around 1GB free data, it was virtually free for my internet use during my stay in Vienna. If you are interested, you can use my referral code FREENEOH to get additional 100mb upon registration.
Generally, food prices in Vienna stayed at around 8-12€ for a decent meal with drinks. Try to avoid the recommendation by lonely planet as they are usually meant for tourist, only.
Le Backo – Das Restaurant : Burger Salat with Caipirinha, 11.8€
In Café Bräunerhof, I had a breakfast (2 breads & 1 coffee) at 6.50€. I liked the environment.
Old fashioned Café Bräunerhof
Also, one must try schnitzel in Austria, as it’s the national dishes here. I chosen the Figlmueller schnitzel (pork) at price 14.9€. As a comparison, I also tried other wien schnitzel (turkey) in Merkur-Restaurant at price 7.99€. Personally, I felt that the later is way more tasty and half the price of those in Figlmueller. What’s more, the service in Figlmueller was really bad. It’s a double rip-off for me.
Schnitzel in Merkur-Restaurant