It's been about 10 days since I got back from my Europe trip and I have finally fully recovered from my jet lag!
This time round, I went to 4 cities in 4 different countries — Zurich, Vienna, Bratislava, and Budapest — in a span of just 10 days. Yes, it was way too little time, but both my husband and I were greedy and wanted to "stop by" since they were all "on the way." Out of the 4 places we visited, however, the one city that I have already decided to go back to is Vienna.
Read on to find out why!
I Needed More Time at the Hofburg Palace
So I initially thought the Hofburg Palace was just a palace, but it turned out to be a complex that has a lot more to offer! You can see the imperial apartments here, but you will also find the Sisi Museum and the royal family's grand silver collection in the palace.
In total, my husband and I spent about 3 and a half hours there, but we could've easily stayed for the entire afternoon (or the whole day)! The tour of the apartments was very well-organized and informative. I learned a lot about Franz Joseph I of Austria, who was the longest-reigning Emperor of Austria and King of Hungary.
And then Sisi Museum, dedicated to his wife, Empress Elizabeth of Austria, tells the story of her life and houses a lot of her personal items. You get to see the famous painting of her with flowers in her long, beautiful hair in this museum, too. It was a really interesting experience!
I really wanted to see the morning exercise at the Spanish Riding School
In the same complex, you can also find the Spanish Riding School, the world's only institution which has practiced for over 4 centuries and is still today cultivating classical equitation in the Renaissance tradition of the Haute Ecole, which is the most elaborate form of dressage in horsemanship (you can find this on UNESCO's list of intangible cultural heritage of humanity, by the way).
You can actually watch morning exercises with the white Lipizzaner stallions here but it is better to purchase tickets in advance. There are also guided tours, too. Unfortunately, tickets were all sold out during the few mornings we were there, so we had to miss it. This is on the top of my to-do list when I visit Vienna again.
There were more than 1 walking tour i wanted to participate in
I've never gone on a free walking tour but my husband heard great things from friends who've been on them, specifically in Vienna. So we decided to give it a try! When we looked online, we found several different options but in the end decided to go with Good Vienna Tours just because it was highly recommended by a friend.
The 2.5-hour tour turned out to be one of the highlights from the trip because not only was it enjoyable, but we both learned so much about the Austrian history and the city! While most free walking tours are led by students or younger adults, it is a requirement for all tour guides in Vienna to pass exams before they can qualify for the job. And that itself, I think, ensured the quality of the tour.
After that tour, we both agreed it would've been so nice to go on other walking tours that focuses on specific topics, even if they weren't free. One of the tours we thought was interesting to join, for instance, was led by the last reporter who interviewed Jewish Austrian writer and Holocaust survivor, who's also known as the Nazi-hunter, Simon Wiesenthal. The theme of the tour was called "Hitler's Vienna," talking about the city from Hitler's perspective. It still is a sensitive topic but one that cannot be ignored.
I wanted to go to the opera
The Vienna State Opera is one of the busiest opera houses in the world! They're known for producing a different opera each day of a week, so you can literally watch something different throughout your stay in Vienna.
If you're a fan of the opera and don't want to break the bank, the opera offers standing tickets! If you go to the opera house 90 minutes before each performance, you can get standing tickets for less then €5 per person! It was a bit hard for us to do standing "seats" just because our legs were sore from over-walking throughout the day.
The below shots were taken at the Albertinaplatz, in front of the Opera House by Akos Vincze.
There were so many museums to visit
Even though we managed to visit several museums during our trip, there were still so many of them that we had on our wish list but didn't get to visit.
One of them was the Mozarthaus Vienna, which is actually Mozart's only surviving residence. It is located near St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna's Old Town.
Another one is the Sigmund Freud Museum, featuring Freud's life story, as well as the Natural History Museum and the Leopold Museum, which houses the largest collections of modern Austrian art.
The KunstHausWien, a museum designed by the artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser, wasn't on my list originally. However, after our visit to Hundertwasserhaus, a cluster of storybook-looking, quirky apartments, I really wanted to learn more about the artist.
We wanted to shop and eat at Naschmarkt
Naschmarkt was the one market we wanted to go but we didn't get a chance to because it was slightly out of our routes. We did pass by it on our way to the Schönbrunn Palace on our last day, but never had the chance to actually walk around in it.
The market is special because it has been operating around that neighborhood since the latest 18th century! It has had several names but the current name was created in 1905. By 1910, there were already more than 100 stalls! Now, it's been modernized but visitors can still see a lot of the traditional market buildings in the area.
I miss the balcony view from Hilton Vienna Plaza
One of my highlights from the trip this time was actually my stay with Hilton Vienna Plaza!
So my husband is a Hilton Diamond member and we use his points to get two free room nights; however, the hotel's PR team was kind enough to upgrade our room to a corner suite!
The best part of the corner suite, other than having a separate living room and bedroom, was the L-shaped balcony! The city view was amazing and we especially enjoyed watching the beautiful sunset from the balcony. We bought cheese and salami to snack there and chill on our last night in Vienna, and really enjoyed it!
Designed with a 1920s Art Deco flair, the hotel is really conveniently located, too; we were able to walk to a lot of places from the hotel, including, the State Opera! The suite we stayed in featured really elegant furniture pieces, but my favorite was the large windows and the super comfortable bed! I think if we had an extra day in Vienna, I probably wouldn't have minded staying in the hotel all day!
Thank you for reading!
Tricia Chen is co-founder of Key To Radiance. She loves having fresh flowers in her apartment, putting on face masks, savoring cupcakes and a daily cup of grande almond latte. She works in PR and Marketing, and is currently based in New York.
Skin Type: Combination skin with an oily T-zone area (forehead and nose). Changes in climate, diet and/or lack of sleep irritates skin and causes inflammation, which then leads to large pores. High moisture level required on dry cheeks.