Having not long finished the book The Fortune Hunter, which features Empress Sisi of Austria, the next stop on our holiday had to be Vienna.
So from Bled in Slovenia, we made our way to the Austrian capital.
It was very easy and took only two trains.
The first one took us to Villach where we got a connecting train to Vienna.
We left Bled in the middle of a snow storm, and it seemed we took it all the way to Vienna with us.
The whole time we were in Vienna the snow fell constantly keeping temperatures very low in the City. It meant wrapping ourselves up much more, and making sure we went indoors to explore frequently, giving ourselves the chance to warm up and let Little London get out of his pram (which he refused to do while we were outdoors… don’t blame him really!).
Vienna luckily has a myriad of things to do indoors.
In fact even when the weather isn’t on par with the arctic it’s still worth doing these top 5 indoor activities while in Vienna.
1. Viennese Coffee House
Don’t be fooled into thinking drinking coffee in Vienna is like popping to your local Starbucks. It’s far more than that. In fact it’s such a cultural thing for the Viennese that it is UNESCO safe guarded.
Being served in one of the Viennese coffee houses is quite a formal affair, although formality on your part isn’t necessary.
A waiter will bring your requested coffee or hot drink to the table on a tray along with a cold glass of water.
Unlike coffee shops that we know, the Viennese expect you to linger for as long you need or want. It’s because of this many of their famous writers and poets have produced their best work in these cafes.
With newspapers to read, and an attentive waiter bringing water as often as they believe you require it, it’s a relaxing and wonderful atmosphere to warm up in. Throw in an apple strudel and it’s just perfect.
Beats any coffee shop we have in the UK hands down.
Just down the road from Cafe Museum (and worth walking to afterwards) is The Vienna Naschmarkt. It has over 120 market stands including food vendor stalls with heated side rooms to eat in. It’s outdoors more than it is indoors, which is why I’ve not mentioned it under its own point, but worth visiting.
2. Sisi Museum
The Sisi Museum is a must if you like interesting history.
^^ Pictures aren’t allowed in the museum, so here’s a light…
In a nutshell, Sisi was the younger sister of the woman who was meant to be betrothed to the Emperor Franz Josef. However he preferred Sisi and decided he would only marry her. She was renowned for her beauty and striking looks- something that would affect her mentality in later life.
She was not eqipped for the restraints of Austrian court life. In fact she rejected the expectations required from her and struggled with her life in the Habsburg court.
She bore two girls in quick succession of each other, they both became sick in infancy leading to the death of the older one at the age of two and consequently led to a depression in Empress Sisi that lasted her entire life.
The death of her beloved first-born did affect the relationship with her second daughter who she never became overly attached to. She later gave birth to a Son who committed suicide at 30.
She became fixated on maintaining her beauty which included taking care of her floor length hair. Every day it would take her hairdresser three hours to care for it.
More worrying was her need to control her weight and physique by refusing meals and using structured corsets to pull her waist down to 16 inches.
The museum not only has her dresses on display, which show just how tiny she was, but it allows you to walk through her rooms, and in particular her dressing room which she transformed into a gymnasium.
At 60 the Empress was assassinated in a failed attempt to kill the Duke of Orleans.
It’s a macabre period in history, but so interesting. You don’t need to know anything about the Empress before going to the museum as everything you would want to see or know is there. It’s a real personal insight into a fascinating person in history.
There’s so much more to her story than what I’ve said here, but if I told you all of it I’d end up writing a bigger essay- so I’ll spare you!
3. State Opera House
Vienna is best known for its theatrical art, and that means the opera or the ballet. The best place to go for this is the State Opera House. I wish I could tell you about it, but with a child we didn’t feel comfortable booking tickets here but it’s on my bucket list.
So we went to a more tourist appropriate venue, the Vienna Residence Orchestra. Being much smaller and very informal it was more toddler friendly, plus you can haggle with the on street vendors to get a good deal.
^^ I didn’t have an appropriate photo for this section, so here’s Little London eating his breakfast…
Little London didn’t fancy sitting quietly during the show, irrelevant of what toys we brought with us. So we watched the performance in shifts.
I enjoyed the first half, while Mr London Mum watched the second half and Little London got to explore the staircases outside the room.
It isn’t the place to go if you are expecting the creme de la creme, but if you’re none the wiser like myself and Mr London Mum you’ll enjoy a glimpse at what the classical arts can offer. It touched on classical music, opera and ballet.
4. Hotel Sacher
No visit to Vienna is complete without eating a piece of the world-famous Sacher torte.
It is still made using the original recipe, which is a closely guarded secret. So pull up a chair and tuck in.
The queues can be a bit lengthy to get into the Sacher cafe, but it’s worth it.
If queuing isn’t your thing you can buy authentic Sacher torte from the airport when leaving Austria or from the Hotel Sacher shop.
It’s not my favourite cake in the world, but it’s cake with an experience and I won’t argue with that! 😉
5. Prater Ferris Wheel
This iconic ferris wheel is a must in Vienna.
It was constructed to celebrate Emperor Franz Josef’s golden jubilee in 1897.
It became the worlds tallest extant ferris wheel for 65 years from 1920 to 1985. It feels old when you get on it, and that’s part of the thrill.
The views are amazing as well- probably more so if you aren’t in the middle of a snow storm.
And there you have it, my top five indoor activities to do in Vienna.