Austria’s capital city, Vienna, is one of Europe’s top city break destinations. A city full of culture, history and delicious traditional cuisine. It’s obvious why tourists flock here throughout the year. However, as with almost any European city you are always at the mercy of the weather. So, here are five unmissable experiences for you to enjoy on a rainy day in beautiful Vienna.
Located centrally (so minimising too much walking in the drizzle) The Hofburg is one of Vienna’s various stunning palaces. Consisting of three main areas, the Sisi Museum, Imperial Apartments and the Silver Collection, this gorgeous building has something to offer almost anyone seeking out a slice of Austrian culture.
The Sisi Museum gives you an insight into the now almost mythical life of Empress Elisabeth, who has gone down in history as a figure similar to Dorian Gray. She spent thirty years being thought of as the most beautiful ruler in Europe, but became a recluse during the final years of her life before being murdered in Geneva. You’re hooked already, aren’t you? A female ruler, an icon of beauty (think Marilyn Monroe of the 1800s) before being assasinated aged 60 during a trip to Switzerland during which she believed she was travelling incognito. Well worth it.
The Imperial Apartments offer tourists a glimpse of what life may have been like for the Hapsburgs, who were the ruling family of Austria for over 600 years. Not only the original seat of government in the country, The Hofburg also became the winter residence of the Hapsburgs, who spent their summers at the stunning Schönbrunn Palace, enjoying its ample grounds.
The Silver Collection does what it says on the tin really, it’s a vast collection of silver used throughout the centuries at The Hofburg and beyong. It’s a world which most of us will never experience first hand, so to peek through the window at what kind of oppulence these families and rulers enjoyed is inevitably fascinating.
Tickets start at just €15 (for access to all three museums with an audio guide) or you can sign up to the Sisi Ticket for €36 which gives you access to so many sites throughout Vienna as you follow the train of Empress Elisabeth. This ticket lets you see Hofburg, Schönbrunn Palace and the Imperial Furniture Collection.
Now, we’ve all heard of Freud, haven’t we? We throw around phrases like, “that’s a Freudian slip!” and we casually accuse people of having an Oedipus Complex but how many of us have had the opportunity to really delve into the life of the man himself?
If you’ve studied psychology at almost any level then you will have learned so much about Freud (and likely seen a lot of his theories dismissed by your lecturers!) but even if you’ve only got a passsing interest in the workings of the human mind then Freud’s name will be familiar to you. During a rainy day in Vienna it is the perfect opportunity to visit the apartment and treatment room of the one and only Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis. This address (Berggasse 19, 1090 Wien, Austria) was the home and workplace of Freud for 47 years until he was forced to flee the Nazis in 1938.
Immediately upon arrival here I knew it was my kind of museum, as visitors must ring the doorbell marked ‘Dr. Freud’ before entering and you are given not only the chance to see so many artefacts and writings by the man himself, but also to experience a tiny bit of life as one of his many patients. It is glorious. There’s artwork, sculptures, endless notebooks and academic texts and of course some of the original furniture laid out as it would have been during Freud’s residency here.
Entry starts at just €5, so it’s the perfect affordable and fascinating activity for a rainy day in Vienna!
After you’ve studied like Freud, why not eat like him? Vienna’s famous Cafe Central has become known as the haunt of many infamous historical figures including Freud, Trotsky and Loos since its opening in 1876.
Evening tables are hard to come by, so aspirational guests would be well advised to book in advance. However, for coffee and cake (a Vienna staple) or breakfast (try the traditional Viennese breakfast, it’s delicious) then you stand a good chance at walking in and getting a spot. The place itself is huge inside, but somehow doesn’t lose any character. With booths, tables, and plates upon plates of patisserie around you, the clatter of cultery seems to add to the ambience. During the evenings a grand piano comes to life with a variety of musicians tickling the ivories gently in the background.
Vienna’s Cafe Culture is something I can wholly get on board with, so much so that I have written a whole blog post on it. There is barely a wrong time of day to settle yourself down in a cosy corner and indulge in a Weiner Melange or a hot chocolate. Just as a note – most places will do decaf coffee if you ask, and in German this is “koffeinfreier Kaffee” in case you are like me and tend to have decaf most of the time! Whether you tuck into a strudel, a slice of sachertorte or one of the dozens of other varieties of cake on offer, it’s delicious and well worth doing on a rainy day!
If you’ve ever tuned into the New Year’s Day Concert presented by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra then you’ll be familiar with the imposing and deliciously rectangular interior of the Wiener Musikverein.
This gorgeous building is home to some of Europe’s most talented musicians, and even if you don’t have the time (or budget) to enjoy a full concert during your trip, you can enjoy a guided tour of the building. You’re likely to catch some rehearsals taking place during your tour and you’ll even be allowed to sit in some of the seats more often frequented by the incredibly wealthy of the world. If you’re a fan of Julie Andrews’ coverage of the New Year’s Day concert then ask your guide to point out where she normally perches, and soak up some of the lovely atmosphere of the place. If you enjoy music even a tiny bit then you’ll no doubt find yourself a little bit in love with the vibe of here.
Public guided tours usually happen on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays but it is recommended you check the website before setting off. Check which language the tours are running in (we actually did a German language tour and could get by enough with our limited German understanding!) and book your tickets in advance – they start at €9 per adult.
A hang-over from my childhood, but no city break is complete for me without a visit to one of the local places of worship and among Vienna’s many grand places that fit the bill, St. Stephen’s Cathedral is one of the most stunning. This Roman Catholic cathedral sits centrally in the city, meaning it’s super accessible even on the dampest of days.
Like many European Cathedrals of this age it is built in that enthralling Romanesque Gothic style which huge pointed arches and intricate design all over the place. Impressive from the outside, the inside is almost incomparable. Featuring so many of the iconic pieces we find in Catholic churches across the world. It’s a very beautiful and calm place to visit, so if you’re partial to peering into a church during your city breaks then St. Stephen’s is one of the most stunning in Vienna.
There you have it! My Five Unmissable Experiences in Vienna, Austria that are perfect for a rainy day!
I hope you enjoyed this travel blog post.