Vienna and Bratislava are only 35 miles apart, making them the closest capital cities in the world. Many travellers benefit from this by including both of them within one trip and we were no different. Despite having travelled to Austria 3 times I’ve never visited its capital and was excited to be making a day trip there!
After deciding our long first day in Bratislava earnt us a lie in we left our apartment around 10am to walk to the train station. The walk takes 25 minutes according to Google and our train departed at 10.38am but my mum’s slow walking meant we arrived at the station with only a few minutes to spare.
Despite some panic we were able to buy our Vienna Z100 tickets, which enabled us to reach Vienna as well as use its metro system, quickly from an English-speaking counter and board the train in time. The tickets cost us 18.80 euros. The journey took just over an hour, arriving at 11.43am and I can’t say it was an incredibly picturesque journey but it was quick.
When I had first thought about what to do in Vienna it was very difficult, not many capital cities are easy to explore in a day and I spent quite a lot of time debating and thinking about the itinerary.
Vienna has a couple of beautiful palaces and that was my first decision to make. Schonnbrunn? Belvedere? Hofburg? I ended up choosing Schonnbrunn, a former imperial summer residence that has an impressive 1441 rooms and reminded me of Nymphenburg Palace in Munich that I love so much.
We got the metro over to the palace and spent an hour looking around the gardens, which are free to enter. In honesty you could have spent hours and hours in the gardens because there was so much we didn’t see even in that time. At the top of the garden sits a large gloriette, a beautiful focal point, but we didn’t travel far enough up the garden to see it closely.
In the centre of the garden sits the Neptune Fountain, which wasn’t running whilst we were there, most likely due to it being off-season. It was a beautiful fountain and there’s a path which allows you to come around the back of it, to look out onto the Palace itself.
Adam and I decided we wanted to take the tour inside the palace whilst my parents and brother remained in the garden. There are a number of different ticket options at Schonnbrunn and we purchased the cheapest ticket for the Imperial Tour, which cost us 14.20 euros and took us around 22 rooms using an audio guide.
This tour was perfect for us because it was very quick, we were able to get around in about half an hour, and it allowed us to see the Grand Gallery, the only room I was really interested in. I admit to taking some secret photos, hence the wonky angles! It was absolutely beautiful.
After our whistle-stop tour of the palace we continued into the centre and visited St Stephens Cathedral, a stunning church and a very important building in Austrian history. I loved its multi coloured roofing, its most recognisable feature.
In a bid to make the most of our day we skipped a sit down lunch and instead got sandwiches on the go and continued on to St Peters church, a baroque church that sits in a street frequented by the charming horse and carriages.
Vienna is a stunning place to walk around, the architecture you see is so wonderful and you see it everywhere from buildings to fountains. I’m really glad we spent most of our day just walking around because I think that’s the best way to enjoy a city like Vienna.
Our next destination had some of the best architecture of all, the Hofburg Palace. This is the former imperial palace, built in the 13th century and today is the official residence of the president of Austria. Although I had skipped doing a tour in order to go to Schonnbrunn instead Hofburg was still worth a visit.
A number of other attractions can be found at Hofburg, such as the Spanish riding school, the home of the beautiful dancing lipizzan horses. My mum (a horse lover) lingered around the gift shop for a while, staring longingly at the photos.
Another wonderful thing to visit is the Austrian National library, the largest library in Austria, holding an amazing 7.4 million items. Whilst my parents and brother wandered around outside Adam and I paid the 7 euros to enter the state hall, the central structure of the old imperial library.
From Heldenplatz, a square that sits outside, you can see some of the wonderful architecture. On the day we visited there was some kind of family fun day happening so we sat outside and had a beer.
As we left the Hofburg I got a bit hangry and threw a tantrum and Adam was forced to buy me a massive pretzel to cheer me up. I happily munched on my pretzel as we walked up to the kunsthistorisches museum, which sits directly opposite the natural history museum, both the largest museums of their kind in Austria.
Whilst our plan had been to visit the Kunst Haus Wien and the Hunderwasserhaus we felt so tired. At the end of the day my steps were at a personal record of over 32,000 so no wonder we felt so exhausted!
We got on the train and travelled back to Bratislava, arriving back around 7.30pm. Walking back into town we spotted the Slavin war memorial and the Castle from afar, both lit up.
We then spent 2 hours wondering around trying to decide on a place for us to eat. I’m pretty easy but every place was deemed by my parents as too busy, too empty, not a varied enough menu, too expensive. Some places we went in only to leave again because they didn’t feel the service was quick enough.
In the end we went to a place we’d walked past a million times but dismissed it because it was empty, called Slovak Hause. I had Halusky, a dish I’d previously enjoyed. The food was average, nothing majorly to complain about but the meal came to 110 euros for the 5 of us, by far our most expensive meal in Bratislava. Ultimately the place was a bit of a tourist trap, benefiting from a prime location.
Our meal had left us a bit more awake so we took a night-time stroll, walking down by the river, and then finally back to the American Antique Bar we’d discovered the previous day where we enjoyed some wonderful cocktails!
Steps walked: 32,289