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May 23 - 27:
Vienna, Part 2
(Free time)

We stayed several days after the group tour ended, leaving us with a lot of free time. Because we did so much, we have categorized the information on this page by theme rather than day.

 

We roamed all over Vienna, taking in art museums, opera, palaces, catacombs, dancing horses, and Art Nouveau. We even had time for cake and coffee.

Jungendstil (Viennese Art Nouveau)

Cultural Delights

Schönbrunn Palace

Schönbrunn Palace forbade photography of the interior, so we can't show you the glittering galleries, sumptuous salons, and rich rooms of the palace. As the summer residence of the Habsburgs, Schönbrunn was the height of excess. We purchased the Grand Tour ahead of time, as recommended by our Rick Steves guidebook. It included a tour of 40 rooms with a free, highly informative audioguide.

 

After our tour of the palace, we strolled around the gardens, enjoying the roses and perfectly manicured shrubs. We then headed across the Great Parterre, an expanse of symmetrical garden behind the palace dominated by a monumental fountain of Neptune, who triumphantly holds his trident among a stampede of men on mer-horses.

Further behind the palace and up a steep hill lay the Gloriette, a colonnade that offered spectacular views of the palace grounds.

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Coffee Culture

Art and Architecture

Kunsthistorisches Museum

The Kunsthistorisches Museum was designed to house the Habsburg's formidable art collection. As a showcase, the building itself is unsparing in its grandeur, both inside and out. It is a museum befitting an empire. 

The museum is handily split into two wings: Northern European art and Italian-Spanish-French art. With a helpful map from the information desk that showed the highlights of the gallery, we were able to effectively tour the museum in a couple of hours. However, we were really only there for one thing: more Pieter Breugel the Elder. The museum had an entire room devoted to him, and Lindsey made several laps. 

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St. Stephen's Cathedral

We explored the entire cathedral, from the lowest catacombs to the tallest tower. Photography was not allowed in the catacombs, so we can't show you piles of bones or jars of Habsburg guts, but it was allowed everywhere else in this photogenic cathedral. We bought the combo ticket, which Rick Steves described as "overkill". We thought it killed just the right amount. We also followed the "Vienna Cathedral of St. Stephen's" tour on Rick Steves' Audio Europe app, which provided a thorough history of the cathedral, inside and out.

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St. Stephen's South Tower

Don't let the smiles in the photo fool you: we were exhausted after climbing 343 steep, winding stone steps. At the top was a viewing platform with a full view of Vienna. The day was so clear, we could see for miles. On our way back down, we tried to encourage people who were heading up. They all looked very weary.

Eating in Vienna

Though Vienna is better known for its desserts, like Sachertorte, Kaiserschmarren, stollen, and apple strudel, we still ate well. Vienna is not known for its street food, but we found plenty of little kiosks with delicious offerings, for a snack on the go. 

Follow our Vienna tour on the map!

 

Click on the square icon to load the map in a new window, or click on the square with an arrow in it to see the legend. 

Blue marker = Imperial tour

Red marker = Culture tour

Purple marker = Free time

Green marker = Food and lodging

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