Tag Archives: vienna

I Heart My City (in the Spring)

29 Mar

Hanami cherry blossoms outside the Tokyo National Museum. (Photograph by Rob Towell, Flickr)

There’s still a chill in the air here in Washington, D.C., but the days are getting longer, the cherry blossoms are starting to pop, and residents are beginning to shed those cumbersome winter coats. Spring is upon us (at least for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere), and we’re embracing it with open arms by highlighting seasonal must-dos from our amazing I Heart My City community.

From ice cream to air shows, palaces to train rides, here are 20 ways to make the most of the next few months in 20 cities around the globe:

Shelly’s Oxford (United Kingdom): Head to nearby Wytham Woods to see the bluebells at their finest.

The Hyangwonjeong Pavilion, on the grounds of Gyeongbokgung Palace. (Photograph by Ncburton, Flickr)

The Hyangwonjeong Pavilion, on the grounds of Gyeongbokgung Palace. (Photograph by Ncburton, Flickr)

Megan Natalie’s Seoul (South Korea): Visit Gyeongbokgung Palace’s gardens to experience a piece of paradise you’d swear couldn’t exist in Seoul (make sure to watch the changing of the guards).

Ewelina’s Krakow (Poland): Take a walk to Krakus Mound at Podgórze; a nice, green hill where you can take a blanket and relax.

Annie Fitzsimmon’s NYC (United States): Celebrate the bounty of post-winter produce and eat anything with ramps on it because they’re only in season for a few weeks! Motorino has a great ramp pizza, and ABC Kitchen never fails with its in-season menu.

Keith Bellow’s Montreal (Canada): Hang around near McGill and Prince Arthur, soaking up the sun and the street life.

Anya’s Istanbul (Turkey): Visit Topkapi Palace. The flowers are in bloom and it’s positively stunning.

Katherine’s Athens (Greece): Take a bus to Cape Sounion, the ancient ruins of Poseidon’s temple. On the short bus ride from Athens, you’ll wind along the coast and enjoy some of my favorite views.

The Boxi-Platz flea market in Berlin. (Photograph by La Citta Vita, Flickr)

Berlin’s Boxhagener Platz flea market is open on Sundays. (Photograph by La Citta Vita, Flickr)

Madeleine’s Annapolis (U.S.): Check out the Blue Angels air show at the United States Naval Academy commencement.

Maja’s Belgrade (Serbia): Go to Zemun in Old Town and have lunch at one of the fish restaurants on the Danube.

Colleen’s Beijing (China): Fly kites by Houhai Lake.

Zain’s Amman (Jordan): Pack a picnic and visit the Hellenistic site known as Iraq Al Amir.

Shannon Switzer’s San Diego (U.S.): Check out the wildflowers in Anza Borrego Desert State Park.

Yvonne’s Berlin (Germany): Explore Berlin’s many flea markets to find great vintage clothes, furniture, books, and local art.

Sylvia’s Tokyo (Japan): Go for hanami (cherry-blossom-viewing parties) in a park with a big group of Japanese friends, some beer, and some sushi.

Jessica’s Barcelona (Spain): Experience a traditional Catalan calçotada which consists of getting together and eating large quantities of local green onions known as calçots along with romenesco sauce, regional wine, and good company.

Vienna's MuseumsQuartier. (Photograph by Photongatherer, Flickr)

Hang out outside Vienna’s MuseumsQuartier. (Photograph by Photongatherer, Flickr)

Jennifer’s Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates): See Abu Dhabi from the water. Hire a dhow (traditional wooden boat) for a tour, charter a speedboat to take you to one of the 200 islands off the main island, or kayak amongst the mangroves.

Karen’s St. John’s, Newfoundland (Canada): Watch the last ice depart from the Atlantic from atop Signal Hill National Historic Site. Check out the on-site gift shop where local music, books, and culinary delights make excellent gifts.

Isabel Eva’s Madrid (Spain): Take a trip on the Tren de la Fresa to Aranjuez. During the 50-minute ride, you will be served fresh strawberries. Once in Aranjuez, you can take a tour of the Museo del Ferrocarril (the railway museum) and the Palacio Real (the royal palace).

Lea’s Vienna (Austria): Do as the locals do and head to the MuseumsQuartier to hang out on one of the over-sized flexible furniture elements called Enzis.

Nat Geo’s Washington, D.C. (U.S.): Check out the National Arboretum and Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens, two of D.C.’s hidden gems.

Wherever you are, what’s your favorite thing about your city in the springtime? Tell us about it in the comment section below.

I Heart My City (in the Spring) Abu Dhabi , annapolis , athens , austria , belgium , Belgrade , California , canada , d.c. , England , France , Ghent , Gouda , Greece , Iceland , Istanbul , japan , krakow , Madrid , maryland , Montreal , netherlands , New York , new york city , oxford , Paris , Poland , Reykjavík , san diego , Seoul , Serbia , South Korea , Spain , St. John’s Newfoundland , tokyo , turkey , United Arab Emirates , United Kingdom , United States , vienna , washington

I Heart My City: Kids Edition

6 Mar

Get a taste of the wild -- and learn about the importance of conservation -- at the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary in Brisbane. (Photograph by Stephanie Bond, Flickr)

It’s time for another special edition of I Heart My City!

This time we’re serving up recommendations for the world’s best educational experiences for kids (and kids at heart) in 15 cities around the world from the people who know them best: our ever-inspirational I Heart My City community. They also happen to be fun.

Ewelina’s Krakow (Poland): The Stanislaw Lem Garden of Experiences, an open-air education exhibition that allows kids to explore the natural world and the laws of physics.

Kids get a grip on geography at the Te Papa museum. (Photograph by Chris Zielecki, Flickr)

Kids get a grip on geography at the
Te Papa museum. (Photograph by Chris Zielecki, Flickr)

Larisa and Michael’s Philadelphia (United States): Franklin Square Park, a neighborhood park just off Independence Mall, has a playground and carousel, plus a mini-golf course featuring small-scale models of Philly’s historic buildings. It’s a great place to work off some youthful energy after seeing the Liberty Bell.

Katherine’s Athens (Greece): The Hellenic Children’s Museum or the free zoo in the National Gardens.

Charlotte’s Wellington (New Zealand): The city’s elaborate playgrounds, the kids areas at the Te Papa, or bird spotting in Zealandia, the bird sanctuary in Karori.

Natalie’s Toronto (Canada): Riverdale Farm: There are animals, it’s a great spot to picnic, and it’s free! It’s also a great way to see Cabbagetown, filled with historic Victorian homes. 

Christine’s Melbourne (Australia): Take a day trip to see the penguins on Phillip Island.

Kristina’s Santiago de Chile (Chile): The city zoo, located on a slope of the Cerro San Cristobal, which has a seemingly incongruous urban backdrop.

Annie Fitzsimmons’s New York City (United States): The Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre, which is in a model schoolhouse brought to Central Park in 1877. Shows are staged year round.

Kids learn by doing at the touch pool in Two Oceans Aquarium. (Photograph by Flowcomm, Flickr)

Kids learn by doing at the touch pool in Two Oceans Aquarium. (Photograph by Flowcomm, Flickr)

Yamina’s Brussels (Belgium): The Children’s Museum, where kids are allowed to touch everything, climb walls, listen to stories, and attend workshops.

Lea’s Vienna (Austria): The Haus der Musik museum, an interactive sound museum which provides a new approach to music on a playful and scientific level.

Luci’s Brisbane (Australia): Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. It’s also home to dingos, wombats, and platypus.

Jo’s Cape Town (South Africa): Don’t miss the Two Oceans Aquarium, aptly named for the Atlantic and Indian oceans, which converge in the area.

Nat Geo’s Washington, D.C. (United States): The National Air and Space Museum (for the rockets and the gift shop’s freeze-dried astronaut ice cream) and the Newseum, for the First Dogs exhibit, a tribute to presidential fidos.

Yvonne’s Berlin (Germany): The Berlin Zoo (the famous polar bear Knut’s birthplace), where you can see cute baby animals. It’s also the oldest zoo in Germany.

Megan and Natalie’s Seoul (South Korea): Lotte World. Thrills aren’t the only thing to seek at this South Korean theme park. The adjacent Lotte Folk Museum boasts a miniature village that displays life in the Joseon Dynasty on a 1/8th scale.

I Heart My City: Kids Edition Air and Space Museum , athens , Berlin Zoo , brisbane , brussels , Cabbagetown , Cape Town , Cerro San Cristobal , Franklin Square Park , Haus der Musik , Hellenic Children’s Museum , I Heart My City , Independence Mall , Joseon Dynasty , Karori , krakow , Liberty Bell , Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary , Lotte World , Melbourne , National Gardens , National Geographic , new york city , Newseum , philadelphia , Phillip Island , Riverdale Farm , Santiago , Seoul , Smithsonian , Stanislaw Lem Garden of Experiences , Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre , Te Papa , toronto , Two Oceans Aquarium , vienna , Wellington , Zealandia

How to Do Vienna on the Cheap

19 Jan

As far as European cities go, Vienna is definitely up there on the pricey list. The Viennese are known for their extravagant taste when it comes to fine dining, brilliant artwork, and classical music.

Having been ruled by the Habsburgs royal family from 1278 to 1918, and being home to Mozart, Beethoven, and the Strauss family at various points in history, it’s no wonder Vienna prefers a refined lifestyle.

The great news is that you don’t have to shell out a fortune to participate (well, at least not in all of it!). Here are some tips for living the Viennese high life on a lower budget.

Before you start

Vienna Mozart

Mozart in Vienna. Photo credit: François Philipp via Flickr.

Before you arrive, here are a few things to keep in mind while you’re sorting your budget.

If you need to get a little oriented in the city, you can opt for a free walking tour where the admission cost is usually just a tip for the guides at the end. It’s a great way to meet the city and some interesting people in the process.

For a more specific tour, the Vienna Tourism website offers tours in the form of free downloads, like musicians’ walks. As the website says, “Almost every street in Vienna city center can recount stories of famous composers.” You can do a Mozart Walk, Haydn Walk, Johann Strauss Walk, or a Beethoven Walk. Get cultured!

Vienna’s main tourist office is located at Am Albertinaplatz 1, and is open seven days a week. Go there to pick up some pamphlets to navigate your way around town, and ask them about special events going on. They’ll likely know where all the free concerts and art festivals are.

If you can’t make it to tourist information, be sure to check your hotel/hostel for free city maps.

Students, get your International Student Identity Card (ISIC) before you go, and you could get savings up to 50% on many attractions. Finally, pick up your Vienna card for discounts, reductions, and deals at 190 museums, theaters, concerts, shops, and more.

The opera, classical music, and other shows

Vienna Musikverein

The Musikverein

You pretty much have to see an opera show while you’re here, even if you have to sacrifice good seats for a cheaper ticket. Nosebleed seats can run you between €10-€30, or you can stand throughout the whole thing for just €3.50.

Yes, you can even do this at the Staatsoper (State Opera), if you get there at least 90 minutes before the show and prepare to wait in line (or to possibly be disappointed if you can’t get a ticket). You can only buy one ticket per person, so make sure you entire party is with you. Opt for the “Parterre” (floor level) if you can, as it often has the best view.

Concerts, like the opera, often also have standing room. Again, plan ahead! You can order standing room tickets on the venues’ websites for Staatsoper, Konzerthaus, and Musikverein, or simply show up to buy them when you arrive. Also, if you’re a student, you can often get admission for as little as €15.

If you have a little extra room to splurge, the Schoenbrunn Palace Orchestra has one of the city’s best Mozart concerts, and tickets start at €40. Just watch out for tickets sold on the street (generally by a costumed Mozart) as these tend to be touristy shows and are often overpriced.

If you dream of seeing the famous white stallions at the Spanish Riding School perform their intricate movements, consider skipping the real show and going for the morning exercises instead. You’ll still see the horses perform their dance-like moves, but admission is as low as €14.



Sacher-Torte. Photo credit: Fooding Around via Flickr.

Seeing as how Vienna is the birthplace of the strudel and the world renowned Sacher-Torte, you can bet there’s a few good cafes around.

Let’s start with the Torte. Unfortunately, there’s only one place you can get the original version–at Café Sacher, naturally. If you only have enough money to splurge on one fancy café experience, we recommend that one. If you limit your feasting to experiencing just the famous chocolate cake with apricot filling, you can pull it all off for about €6 (although we have to admit, the coffee is fantastic too). It’s still a bit pricey for a piece of cake, but it’s a real Viennese experience with a long history.

An alternative to Café Sacher, however, is the pink-infused Aida Café. Despite being a chain throughout Vienna, locals love coming here for a cheaper alternative to Sacher-Torte. It also has delicious strudel.

Do those numbers seem a bit much? Well, once you shop around, you’ll find bakery/café prices more than reasonable. In fact, even a strudel demonstration at the Schonbrunn Palace’s Café Residenz costs less than €10. You’ll watch a professional pastry chef hand-bake an apple strudel, and you’ll get to sample said strudel, drink some coffee, and take home the recipe. That’s a good deal!

The freebies

Vienna Riesenrad at Prater amusement park

The Riesenrad at Prater amusement park

Even if all-of-the-above is too expensive, there are a number of freebies around town to give you some cultural highlights of Vienna.

You can wander the Hapsburg grounds at leisure, in the center of town and even at Schoenbrunn Palace. You might want to see the Augustinian Church, of Gothic and neo-Gothic architecture.

Head over to Prater amusement park, where you don’t have to pay an admission fee, but you do have to pay for games and rides. The area around Prater has been used for public entertainment for hundreds of years, so you might say it’s a significant part of Vienna history. Even just walking through and taking in the lights, sights, and sounds is worth the effort, and you’ll leave feeling like you’re a little bit closer to being Viennese.

How to Do Vienna on the Cheap