Sharing a few key sights in Vienna before getting a glimpse of the Austrian countryside with a visit to the Admont Abbey Library.
Where to Stay
Starting in Vienna (or Wien in German), the capital of Austria, I situated myself in the 3rd district. Vienna is broken into 23 districts, with the 1st being the heart of the city. I would recommend staying in one of the lower numbered ones for convenience. I stayed at the Hotel Daniel which was steps away from Belvedere Palace and the city centre. This was a great home base, plus it included daily breakfast.
See + Do
Vienna is a historic city with notable culture and distinguished architecture. I started my day walking the Ringstrasse which is a boulevard surrounding the heart of the city and a good point of reference for locating the sights. A visit to all 3 of the palaces (Belvedere, Hofburg, and Schönbrunn) is a must. Of the palaces, my favorite was walking through the majestic gardens of Schönbrunn. My other favorite destinations in the city were the Vienna State Opera, the Kaiserappartements (imperial apartments), Stepansplatz, the Albertina, and MuseumsQuartier. Be sure to go up in the south tower of St. Stephen’s Cathedral for 360 views of Vienna (it’s 343 windy stairs but worth the view).
Views from the top of the Stephansdom
View of Vienna from Belvedere Palace
Eat + Drink
Start your day with a Wiener Melange (black coffee covered with whipped cream) at a Viennesse coffee house. Stroll through Naschmarkt – an old, open-air street market. Traditional Austrian food is hearty and my favorite dish was the classic Wiener schnitzel with a fresh squeezed lemon paired with a local white wine or beer (try Radler or Stiegel Weisse for a citrus-y beer). Vienna is home to many great restaurants but I had a few favorites stand out. For an afternoon lunch, a must visit is a tiny local spot called Kleines Café, enjoy an Aperol Spritz and cheese platter on their patio. For dinner, the tropical Palmenhaus brasserie, steps from the Albertina, was a great place to grab a casual dinner and drinks.
Vienna is an extremely walkable city, and there are public transportation options including the U-bahn train (subway), the S-bahn (local train), Straßenbahn (trams) and there is the bus lines. Uber is also here. I recommend using Google maps for the best routes.
Journey through the Alps
If you do not have time to travel to stay in other cities for extended time, I highly recommended doing a full day trip out to Hallstatt with visits to the Admont Library and the town of Gmunden to get a taste of the rest of the country. Plenty of tourism companies offer prearranged visits with a tour guide and it’s easier than trying to navigate the trains. I departed early in the morning and admired the panoramic views of the Austrian Alps along the way.
Our first stop was the Admont Abbey (or Stift Admont) in the town of Admont. I had never heard of this treasure of a library before and am so glad I was able to visit here. Admont Abbey is a Benedictine monastery, founded in 1074, and contains the largest monastic library in the world, holding over 70,000 volumes! The Baroque architecture was absolutely breathtaking, I felt like I was Belle walking swooning over the library in Beauty and the Beast. Also in this stop, was a visit to adjacent museum and the Abbey church. Pictures simply do not do it justice.
From Admont, we visited the picturesque town of Hallstatt, a village on Lake Hallstatt in the Salzkammergut region. I loved seeing the 16th century Alpine homes and wandering the streets full of shops and restaurants. The landscape here is a UNESCO listed world heritage site because of its salt production dating back to 2nd millennium BC.
After leaving Hallstatt, our final stop was the town of Gmunden situated on Traunsee lake. This felt much more like a local’s town. Scattered sail boats and a visit to Ort Castle were my favorite highlights. Austrian folkore says that Traunsee is home to a mythical sea creature named Lungy, a waterhorse being ridden on the back by a mermaid. You’ll have to visit for yourself to find out if it’s true.
Concluding this day excursion, I returned to Vienna to end my visit before heading to my next European destination: Santorini (which you can fly to non-stop from Vienna!). Hope you have enjoyed this guide. You have my heart Vienna.
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