Travellers on a budget, especially those from countries where museum entrance is free, receive a nasty shock when they arrive in Vienna.
Not only is the travel infrastructure slightly more expensive than elsewhere, especially anywhere to the East, but most activities come with a high price as well. This is a short guide of some things to do that are either free or very cheap.
A visit to Hofburg
The Hofburg is the magnificent former Imperial Palace in the centre of Vienna. There are various museums contained within but these will be of little interest to the budget traveller since they are quite expensive for mediocre experiences, even the National Library charges admission. However, on the inside many of the buildings have been refurbished so that there is little left of their Imperial splendour meaning visitors get more of a feel for the buildings as a palace by remaining outside. The architecture is impressive and the Volksgarten is a gorgeous place to sit back and relax.
A visit to Zentralfriedhof
Some of the most famous composers in history lived in and around Vienna, which means many of them are still about, buried in the city’s graveyards. The Zentralfriedhof contains the graves of such luminaries as Beethoven, Schubert and both the older and younger Strauss. There are also many more Austrian celebrities whose lives are an enigma to us visitors but learning about their exploits is mostly interesting. Finally, there are two Jewish parts of the cemetery. The older part was systematically trashed by the Nazis but the other one remains in use by the Jewish community of the city.
The Vienna Prater
Any visitor to Vienna should see the Orson Wells classic The Third Man. Anyone who has will remember the iconic scene in which the Wells character delivers some of the greatest lines in movie history. ‘In Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love – they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.’ These lines were delivered aboard the Riesenrad, a Ferris wheel type ride in the Prater, a park on the eastern side of the city centre. Riding the wheel itself is still possible although for a fee, while wondering in the park is completely free.
A stroll around the Ringstrasse
A good way to see Vienna is to take a stroll around the Ringstrasse. This route will take you past most of the impressive sights as well as along a part of the Danube canal. Brief sidetracks will take you to the Stadtpark or to cafes or bars for refreshments. If you happen to be unlucky with the weather tram routes cover the complete circle so you can finish the journey without getting too wet.
Top 5 Budget Accommodation in Vienna
- Pension Carantania – 3-Star – Double Room Price: from €41
- Suite Hotel 200m zum Prater – 3-Star -Double Room Price: from €52
- Austria Trend Hotel – 3-Star – Double Room Price: from €50
- Hotel Hadrigan – 3-Star – Double Room Price: from €59
- Pension Dr. Geissler – 3-Star – Double Room Price: from €64
Photo of Euro coins and bank notes by Donaldtownsend