I had the pleasure of visiting Vienna for a couple days in February of 2016 on a trip to Central Europe.
(Here’s how I was able to do it for next to nothing using points/miles)
Here are 5 thoughts I had after my trip.
1) Compared to other major European cities, Vienna is just “Ok”
Vienna checks all the boxes that make for a fantastic place to visit. History, culture, food (more on this later), museums, activities, etc.
The problem is that Vienna is not particularly notable for any of these things. It’s just “ok” at all of them. Which makes for an experience that is best described as “just ok”.
Sure, there are a ton of museums in Vienna. But none of them contain any can’t-miss works of art or historical artifacts.
Vienna also has a ton of history, serving as the cultural hub of Europe for much of the 19th century. And then World War II happened, destroying much of the city and culture of the people who lived there.
Today Vienna feels like a white-washed, generic European capital city that is only a shadow of its former self.
2) Vienna is Touristy
One of the unfortunate side-effects of rebuilding an entire city is that it creates opportunity for the usual touristy crap to move in.
I’m talking luggage stores, souvenir shops, hookah bars, etc. There seems to be one on every corner throughout the entire city. Walking through the streets of Vienna feels like browsing a scammy website filled with dozens of pop up ads everywhere.
Even worse are the hundreds of people dressed in cheap Mozart costumes, trying to sell piano concert tickets to anyone with a pulse. You can’t stand still for more than 30 seconds without being approached by one of them.
“Would you like to see a Mozart concert tonight sir??”
3) Vienna Explorer Tours Was a Blast
The one redeeming quality about my time spent in Vienna was my day trip with Vienna Explorer.
My friends and I opted to take the Private Wachau day trip, which was about a 9 hour experience from start to finish.
Vienna Explorers picked us up at our hotel and we spent the day touring the Wachau Valley by van.
Our ride for the day with Vienna Explorers
Our daytrip featured stops in a variety of small Austrian towns, a guided tour of Melk Abby, lunch, and two separate wine tastings.
Exploring small towns throughout the Wachau Valley, Austria
“Bryce, stop drinking for 2 seconds so we can take a picture” –The rest of the tour group
Everyone had a blast and the service offered by Vienna Explorer was second to none. They even volunteered to take another couple from our group straight to the airport to catch a last minute flight.
The Wachau Valley tour is one of many offered by Vienna Explorer and I can only hope for the opportunity to try the others someday.
4) Vienna isn’t exactly known for its food
And the locals will be the first to admit it.
Schnitzel is fun to try (just once) but beyond that options were limited.
If you love starchy food, you’ll love Vienna. Otherwise, stick to the less authentic food options.
5) Hotel Bristol was insanely cool
I was able to book this beautiful property for just 12,000 Starpoints per night, earned from my Starwood Preferred Guest credit card by American Express.
I’ll let my pictures do most of the talking.
Hotel Bristol Lobby
The foyer in our suite
Panoramic shot of our suite – Hotel Bristol, Vienna
Fresh flowers and fruit delivered daily
The Vienna Opera House was right outside our window
Welcome bottle of champagne
I had fun in Vienna but I can’t say I have any desire to return for a second visit.
If you find yourself in Central Europe it’s worth a stop, but I certainly wouldn’t go out of your way to see it.