Indiguide: Vienna

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Although it may not offer the landscapes from the Sound of Music, Vienna still tops the list of must-visit Austrian cities. The capital boasts stunning architecture, culture, art and a clear overstocking of Mozart themed souvenirs. Vienna can make for one of the most spectacular city breaks, as long as you don’t mind being stopped and offered tickets to the Opera on every street.

Getting there

Even on a student budget a plane ticket to Vienna is surprisingly affordable, with EasyJet offering round trip flights at the end of June for as little as £83 when flying from London Gatwick. If like me you’re one of the few northern students and Gatwick is too far, Jet2 offer flights from Edinburgh in September at £95 for a round trip.

Vienna can also be reached by rail, and is one of the destinations reachable with the global Interrail pass, which is around £230 for a ten-day pass – this could be a good option for people wanting to explore more of Europe.

Where to stay

Unfortunately, accommodation in Vienna can be pricey, but if you are a fan of hostels then there are a range to choose from. The Palace Hostel has an authentic feel and is located on the U3 subway line, taking you into the city centre in 20 minutes. An ensuite dorm room in the hostel is priced at £17.95 pppn. For a slightly cheaper stay, the Wombats City Hostel is a popular location for student travellers and is priced at a slightly better £13.00 pppn in a shared dorm.

When choosing accommodation do not be put off by the distance from the city centre. The transport links in Vienna are cheap and reliable, so there are no areas of the city that feel disconnected.

If hostels are not your thing, Vienna has a range of city centre hotels too. The three star Hotel Adlon is within walking distance from the centre of Vienna and offers a much more modern and comfortable base for exploring the city, but you really are paying for the luxury with the price of a room over the summer being £40 pppn.  In all honesty, I would rather spend more to be in a modern hotel close to the city centre, but if you’re travelling alone then hostels are a much more affordable option and the social setting means its almost impossible to not meet other students to travel with.

Eating

By far the most important part of planning a trip to any city, in my opinion, is deciding where to eat. If you only take one thing from this guide, please let it be this – you must try the sachertorte. It is a traditional Viennese chocolate cake with apricot jam – basically, a much better version of a Jaffa Cake.

Desserts aside, the streets in Vienna are full of food stands selling bratwurst and almost every pizza possible, which means there is always an affordable option and you don’t have to take time out of your day to plan going for a meal in one of the many restaurants.

With that being said, if you do choose to eat in a restaurant, make sure you visit Frank’s American Bar and Restaurant, it may not be traditional Austrian dishes, but it has some of the best food I’ve tasted and fits well within a student budget. It’s set inside of a small shopping centre and slightly out of the centre (still accessible by taking the U-bahn to Schwedenplatz) and although it doesn’t look like it would have much to offer it really is worth a visit. Try the carbonara.

If you are wanting to taste an Austrian menu, Reinthaler’s Beisl has some of the best reviews, serving traditional Austrian food in a comfortable setting for reasonable prices.
vienna

Things to see

One of the most popular tourist attractions in Vienna is the Schönbrunn Palace, and even though I wouldn’t recommend paying the 16.40€ entrance fee, it’s still definitely worth going to admire the stunning exterior of the building.

Vienna boasts some of the most beautiful churches in Europe – up there with the likes of Rome. The architecture and attention to detail throughout them is second to none. Personally, I would recommend visiting the Jesuit Church and St Stephen’s Cathedral, and whilst in the Cathedral, you can explore the crypts below, offering an insight into the city that most other travelers wont experience. If you enjoy it, there is the Capuchin Crypt too.

For music fans, the chance to experience the sense of pride Vienna has for Mozart may be of interest, in which case you can visit the home he grew up in.

If you want to see even more of Vienna’s culture you can buy tickets for the Vienna State Opera, which is considered one of the most important opera houses in the world.

Nightlife

Although it doesn’t really fit in with the budget theme of the article, it would be unfair to on Vienna’s nightlife without recommending a visit to Le Loft, a cocktail bar at the top of the Sofitel Hotel. Although it is quite expensive, it is completely worth it for the views of the city, and its an experience that can’t be missed – just make sure you’re looking smart, as the bar has a dress code on certain nights.

Vienna does offer a range of bars, so if you’re looking for a quieter night try The Sign Lounge, a neighbourhood bar with some amazing cocktails.

If you’re more of a clubber, then Vienna won’t disappoint, as it offers Donau Techno, an underground club playing techno music all night and projecting images across all surfaces, and unlike Durham nights out, you don’t have to pay an entry fee.

Cost

For a five-night break to Vienna, travel and accommodation would set you back around £200 and so on a budget of £20 a day you’d be looking at spending around £300. Although I’d definitely recommend taking £350 so you can stock up on the Mozart souvenirs.

Illustration: Mariam Hayat. Photograph:

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