The Austrian capital Vienna has incredible imperial, artistic and intellectual roots from residents such as Mozart, Beethoven and Sigmund Freud. Once the centre of the powerful Habsburg monarchy, historical palaces, monuments and opulent buildings line the streets in a seemingly never-ending display of grandeur.
Such a grand city can easily burn a hole straight through your wallet and your trip budget. Due to our trip timing we spent only one whole day in Vienna which barely scratches the surface of this great city. However we did manage to keep within our budget of $100AUD (€70) for two people, including accommodation. Read on to see how we did it!
We Spent: €17.50/$24.60AUD
Camping is by far the cheapest option for two people. We picked Camping Neue Donau which is on part of the Danube River called “Neue Donau” with bays for swimming, sunbathing, picnicing and watersports such as wakeboarding. EuroVelo 6 follows much of the “Donauradweg” Danube Bike Path and goes directly past the campsite. It has great facilities such as free showers, kitchen, refrigerator and free WiFi (but only around the reception area). The train station Donaustradtbrucke is 100 metres away with trains directly to the city. Public transport schedules and city maps are free of charge at reception.
We were also looking at cheap deals for hostels. Hostels have the best deals on Tuesdays and Thursdays and sometimes breakfast is included. It’s better to book well in advance to get a better deal as Vienna is a very popular destination. Try Trip Advisor, Hostel Bookers or HostelWorld.
We Spent: €8.50/$11.95AUD
All public transport in the area around Vienna has joined the fare union Verkehrsverbund Ost-Region (VOR). This means that any ticket bearing the VOR symbol can be used on every means of public transport in the area. You can use the same ticket for a journey that involves trips by bus, tram, metro and/or train, and you can change as often as you have to without having to buy a new ticket. Check out Vienna’s subway website in English here.
We Spent: €0/$0AUD
The quickest way to tick off a lot of major sights is Vienna’s Ringstrasse, a 5.3 kilometre long showcase of the grandeur and glory of the Habsburg Empire. Issued in 1857 by Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria the Ringstrasse was to replace the obsolete city walls and moats which had become an impediment to the growing traffic. In his decree, he laid out the exact size of the boulevard, as well as the geographical positions and functions of the new buildings.
Although the buildings look like they’re from different centuries they are actually imitations of admired styles, built at the same time. Along the way are important buildings such as the State Opera (built in the style of Neo-Renaissance), the Parliament, City Hall (Flemish Gothic), the Burgtheater (New Baroque), the university (Neo-Renaissance) and the Votive Church (New Gothic). Other architectural gems are the Museum of Fine Arts and the Natural History Museum (Neo-Renaissance style).
On a budget, grocery stores, bakeries and markets are going to be your main sources of sustenance. We brought a water bottle with us as Vienna has drinking fountains and taps all around the city so it’s easy to refill. Breakfast was a couple of huge pastries from the bakery chain Strock, a wholemeal custard berry danish and a lemon raisin scroll with toasted almonds. Our snack was a couple of bananas from the grocery store Billa. If you are buying loose fruits and vegetables you usually have to use a barcode machine before going to the cash register. Just pop the produce on the scales, type in the code on the product sign and stick the barcode on.
We struck it lucky as our visit in May was at the same time as the Genuss Festival in Stadpark, with over 180 stalls of amazing food and wine from Austria’s top culinary chefs and producers.
We shared a plate of asparagus ragu and roast potatoes sitting on the grass. The grocery chain Hofer (Aldi) had a massive food stall to introduce their new healthy Bio range and were handing out free apples, flavoured milk, cheese and gingerbread. The government had a healthy eggs “Egg-perts” stall handing out free scrambled eggs on toast and hardboiled eggs. We were stuffed!
If we hadn’t come across this festival, we would have eaten a pizza slice or bratwurst at a street stall or popped back into a grocery store for bread buns, ham and cheese.
For dinner we walked to Vienna’s largest outdoor market: Naschmarkt.
A double line of stalls selling a mix of fresh produce, meat, spices and souvenirs, Naschmarkt also has a row of bars catering in seafood, italian and middle eastern dishes. We split a hummus falafel plate with a wine spritzer and a beer.
Other food items included in that total were groceries we needed for the next day of riding and coffees from McDonalds as we were using their WiFi to organise accommodation for the next leg. Our day in Vienna ended up being €62.38 or $87.89AUD, just scraping under our budget of $100AUD!
Day 1, To Vienna:
Camping fees: €17.50
Day 2, Vienna
Camping fees: €17.50
Train tickets: €8.50