Budapest has lots to excite tourists, from great food, to amazing culture and stunning visual scenery – but the really intrepid explorers with time to spare might be wondering what else they can see in this part of the world. Luck would have it that another amazing capital city – Vienna – is only a couple of hours ride away and has much to offer that will contrast well with the experience you’ll have in Budapest. Need more convincing? Well, here we go.
It’s easy to get to and cheap to explore
Located less than 3 hours away, you’ll be pleased to know that regular trains and buses run there, and a ticket might set you back as little as 5 Euros if you plan early. You can also make a day trip out of it and visit beautiful castles and palaces along the way while also tasting some great wines at Hungarian and Austrian wineries. If you want to explore Vienna on a small-group tour, make sure you check out our recommended experiences in the city.
The interior of Festetics Palace. This beautiful palace is also on the way to Vienna. Photo: Official website of Festetics Palace
It was the capital of the once great Austro-Hungarian Empire
You may have heard of the Austro-Hungarian Empire from your time in school – it was arguably one of the most powerful in Europe for a time and spanned a little over half a century between 1867 to 1918.
Walking around the grandiose center of Vienna, you may be able to conjure up in your imagination an idea of what it was like during the days of the Empire – and the city’s museums are a good place for a visit if you want to learn more about the details. To learn about Austria’s history and the Austro-Hungarian Empire, make sure you visit the Hofburg and if you have time, take a day trip to the Schönbrunn Palace.
Schönbrunn Palace. Photo: Monika MesterHzy
They have great museums all in one place
Speaking of museums – Vienna has some of the world’s best and many are located in the city’s purpose-built Museumsquartier. An over 60,000 m², it houses 8 museum/art institutions in buildings new and old – and has grown to be a popular area for people to relax and watch the world go by.
Ones worth visiting include mumok – with it’s 10,000 strong collection of modern and contemporary artwork and imposing, stone-clad exterior – or the Leopold Museum, which houses the art of just about every modern Austrian artist worth their salt.
Another must see if the Architekturzentrum – an exhibition space for all things architecture related, with a focus on the work of the 20th and 21st centuries.
Budapest also has its fair share of museums but spread out across the city, and while there are plans to bring them together in and around City Park, it will take several years to realize this dream.
Belvedere. Photo: Daniel Plan on Unsplash
Vienna is a green-lovers heaven
Yeh, Budapest has the sprawling City Park, and that cool park on Margit Island, but other than that, green spaces are few and far between. Contrast that to Vienna which is often rated as one of the best cities in the world for nature, and you should be excited to visit.
More than half of Vienna’s metropolitan area is green space and there are officially more than 280 imperial parks and gardens to romp around. And, for those in search of day trips – Prater, Vienna Woods and Lobau are all located close to the city.
Schönbrunn Palm House. Photo: Leonhard Niederwimmer
They love coffee house culture
While Budapest revels in its hip new wave coffee, Vienna takes pride in its centuries-old coffee culture. UNESCO even has a list of intangible cultural heritage ‘landmarks’, and Viennese coffee houses are on the list.
Sit down, grab a cake, sip a coffee and read the newspaper if you fancy. No one is going to be bothered if you end up spending a few hours there.
Sacher torte, a must-try while in Vienna! Photo: sacher.com
And their classical music
Classical music, of course, it one of the major things Vienna is known for. Every night, 10,000 people enjoy live music in the city – a staggering number, unrivaled anywhere.
The Musikverein and the Wiener Konzerthaus are two of the cities most popular venues, and if you’re a concert newbie, you’ll be pleased to hear that Vienna puts on tailored performances featuring works from waltz king Johann Strauß, excerpts from Mozart’s operas and other pieces from the Viennese classical era.
And, don’t be surprised when you see ballet dancers and vocal soloists take to the stage to give interludes. Vienna is treating you to a bit of everything it does best!
The Great Hall at Musikverein. Photo:
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