Compared to Paris' metro, Vienna's U-Bahn (underground train network) looks quite small on a map. However, it's extremely efficient, reliable, spacious and easy to use. Equally, when above ground, you're never more than a few minutes walk from a station. It's easily the best way to get around if you don't want to walk, although there are also trams and buses. No matter how long your journey on the U-Bahn, a ticket costs 2€. There are no ticket barriers, and you're supposedly meant to be checked by ticket officers on the train. However, in my three weeks riding the U-Bahn, I wasn't checked once and didn't even see a ticket inspector. I'm not condoning travelling without a ticket though, because you'll be fined if you're caught and I wouldn't want to be the one to blame! Vienna also has a bike system just like the Vélibs in Paris - the first hour is free and there are lots of docking stations, so it's another good way to get around and see the city.
THINGS TO SEE
Vienna's Mariahilfer Strasse is supposedly the city's answer to Oxford Street, and is where you can find all the main high street chain shops, as well as an English language cinema (most English/American films are dubbed in German). However, for shopping, I actually prefer Kärntner Strasse. It has most of the shops you find on Mariahilfer Strasse (such as H&M, Forever 21, Zara and United Colours of Benetton), but is a much nicer shopping environment in my opinion, mainly because it's pedestrianised. If you follow the order in the walking tour round Vienna's central monuments I mentioned above, you will actually find yourself strolling down Kärntner Strasse. Convenient eh?
|Shopping in Vienna|
If designer shopping is more up your street, then the streets you want to find are round Kohlmarkt. Here you'll stumble upon Chanel, Tiffany's, Burberry and more. Oh, and yes, you will also stroll through this area on the aforementioned walking tour. Works out rather nicely, don'tcha think?
Vienna has great little markets popping up all the time and everywhere, but the biggy is the Naschmarkt, which I devoted a whole separate blog post to here.
THINGS TO DO
|The entrance to Prater|
|The Art History Museum|
Vienna is a city full of culture, and there are plenty of other smaller museums on offer as well. One of the most interesting I went to was the Esperanto museum, which I wrote about here.
|Inside the trendy Museums Quartier|
|Inside the Staatsoper|
Right. I'm sure I don't need to tell you that Viennese cuisine is goooood. If you're going to Vienna student-style, you probably won't be frequenting many of the fine restaurants on offer. However, I did go to one, which is apparently the home of the Schnitzel, and it got a whole separate blog post because it was so great. Interestingly, Vienna is home to a lot of Turkish eateries and take-aways, so if you're a Kebap fan (no, that wasn't a typo, that's how they spell "kebab" in German), you'll be right at home. There are also lots of cheap places where you can grab a slice of pizza to go.
Obviously the cheapest way to buy your food is in a supermarket. Billa is Vienna's most prominent chain, with a vast array of foodie goodies, and is easily spotted by the rotating yellow Billa bag outside each store. Don't ask. However, Lidl and Hofer (like Aldi) are actually cheaper, despite being less ubiquitous and offering less choice.
If you haven't read my previous post all about them, you're probably wondering Why hasn't she mentioned cakes yet!? I know I would be. Well, reader, I devoted a whole separate blog post to Viennese cakes. Enjoy it here.
|Mozart flavour ice cream|
Around central Vienna, there are lots of benches, parks and places to sit. This pleases me, as sometimes in England you want a sit down (yes, I know, I'm prematurely elderly) but you don't want to have to spend money in a café (student problems eh?). Equally, there are a fair few water fountains around the city centre, which is always great for the broke student.
Annoyingly, you do have to pay for all public toilets. 50 Cents each time! Not cool. My friend and I thought we'd out-smarted the system on one occasion by sneaking under the un-manned barrier. We went to the loo, feeling really smug, but when we came out there was a security guard who'd seen us on camera waiting to charge us. Pfft.
TO SUM UP
VIENNA IS BEAUTIFUL. YOU WILL LOVE IT. GO GO GO!