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Vienna: the Cultural Capital

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Renowned for its music halls, museums and Mozart, Vienna is a true capital of culture, right in the heart of central Europe.

There’s more than just music halls and theatres to be found here though. Vienna is home to over a dozen federal and private universities; and as everyone knows universities mean students and students mean bars. Dotted between the museums and opera houses are countless bars and nightclubs, combining cultures old and new. Daily Eurolines coaches to and from the centre of the city make the Austrian capital easily accessible from all across the Eurozone.

The Viennese skyline with parliament in the foreground

For an excellent and affordable place to stay visitors should check into Hostel Ruthensteiner, just a short walk from Westbahnhof station and a short train or bike ride to the city centre. Founded in 1968, Ruthensteiner was the first independent hostel in Austria and one of the first in Europe. Owned and managed by the Ruthensteiner family until being passed to new management only a few years ago, the hostel still strives to uphold the creative and independent spirit it was born with. The hostel even curates its very own miniature gallery with regularly updated exhibitions and local and international musicians are regularly invited to treat guests to a live performance. The hostel boasts a kitchen, laundry room, affordable bar, garden and a lot of character to boot. The staff are incredibly welcoming and clearly have a passion for the hostel and the work they do.

 

The gardens of Hostel Ruthensteiner

The staff will be more than happy to help you book any tours or activities you want to take part in from walking tours, to museum visits, to pub crawls. I highly recommend booking a bike tour with Pedal Power Bike Tours. Beginning in the museum quarter, Pedal Power provide daily bike tours at 10am and 2.30pm. Guides are enthusiastic and friendly and will take you to all the biggest sights in town such as the state opera house, the medieval University of Vienna and the Hofburg Palace, as well as highlighting some of the many quaint parks, quirky cafés and artificial beach bars to be found along the way.

One of the best ways to traverse Vienna is by bike so do consider renting one of your own to get around after the tour. Bikes can be rented from Pedal Power or Hostel Ruthensteiner at very reasonable rates.

Pedal Power bikes

Head to the museum quarter to see the stunning Kuntsthistorisches (Art History) museum as well as the museum of Natural History, just a short walk from one another. Nearby you will find the magnificent Austrian Parliament and the beautiful Volksgarten - that’s the People’s Park to you and I.

For something a little more sizeable, head to Prater Park in the second district. Once the private hunting grounds of the Emperor and a select few noblemen, Prater is now one of the largest public parks in Austria, even housing its own miniature amusement park. Prater is wonderfully scenic and well worth visiting for a relaxing stroll or bike ride. If you don’t feel like you can handle the exertion, hop on the Prater Liliputbahn, a steam and diesel powered miniature railway whose adorable locomotives carry visitors throughout the park.

The Volksgarten and surrounding Museum Quarter

Visitors should make sure not to miss the Schönbrunn Palace, a short walk from Prater Park. Beginning construction in the 16th Century, Schönbrunn was once the summer residence of the Austrian Royal Family and a favourite retreat of the famous and reclusive Empress Sisi. Containing over 1400 rooms and occupying huge swathes of land with its beautiful pristine gardens, the palace is a sight that has to be seen to be believed.

After a long day of sightseeing check out Amerling Beisl, a restaurant and café just a short walk from Volkstheater station and the museum quarter. Sitting in a small side street, Amerling doesn’t appear to be anything special from the outside, but those who venture in will be treated to a delightful courtyard with great food and great views. If travelling with company and looking for lunch, consider heading to one of the many local delis and having a picnic in the Volksgarten or Prater Park. With sun and clear skies blessing Vienna nearly all summer long, a picnic in one of the city’s many beautiful parks is the perfect way for backpackers to have an affordable meal surrounded by far better scenery than they are likely to find in most restaurants.

The Schönbrunn Palace

 

Coaches provided by Eurolines, passes start from €195 for 15 days and can be purchased from www.eurolines.com/en/eurolines-pass/ 

Accomodation provided by Hostel Ruthensteiner and Europe's Famous Hostels. http://www.famoushostels.com/hostels/vienna-hostel/

Vienna card provided by the Vienna Tourist Board. Card provides free public transport and discounts at over 200 attractions. Prices start from €18.90. http://www.wien.info/en/travel-info/vienna-card

Bike tour provided by Pedal Power. Prices start from €25 for students. http://www.pedalpower.at/




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