Vienna, the capital city of German-speaking country Austria, is renowned for being a little bit on the pricey side, particularly if you are a tourist planning on seeing all of the sights. During a trip around central Europe I spent a day in Vienna and saw most of the beautiful city’s most renowned sights – all for free! Vienna is quite a large city but the metro is a great way of getting around and with the tickets costing next to nothing, they’re a much more economical way of seeing the city than say by open bus tour or hiring a person to drive you around on a bike.
Entrance to most museums in Vienna are free to under 19s which great for anybody wanting to go in and see the beautiful artwork. Sadly, for an over 19 the cost was €15 (and I started to find out how Vienna got its pricey reputation!) so we chose to enjoy it from the outside, which is stunning in itself.
As we headed away from the Kunsthistorisches Museum we came across the Austrian National
Library – as we weren’t card holders we couldn’t go all the way inside, but we did manage to get in far enough to see the majestic gates and have a peak at the grandeur inside.
Next we came across the Thesus Temple which is lovely in itself, but it happened to be the home of the famous Man in a Boat sculpture by Ron Mueck. Mueck’s haunting and life-like
piece embodies the Australian-born artist’s thought-provoking technique of scale alteration to evoke striking emotional impact. It was great to see such an interesting piece of artwork, and even better not have had to pay for the privilege!
Karlskirche was definitely one of my favourite sites in Vienna, with its Taj Mahal-esque presence and the creams and blues that can be found in much of the city’s architecture. As with the Kunsthistorisches Museum, entrance to the church was a little pricey so we chose to just enjoy it from outside whilst paddling in the water.
Schönbrunn Palace was on the top of our sightseeing list, especially because of the beautiful gardens, and was the last sight on our agenda for the day. A ‘grand tour’ ticket, which allowed us entrance to the palace and the grounds, was priced at €16.40, which, at the same price as our hostel for the night, we thought was a little expensive. The view from outside was lovely but we thought it might be worth some investigation to see how far we could get without actually having to buy a ticket. After enquiring at the desk, we were guided through a gate that led us to all of the grounds, completely free of charge! We roamed the gardens as we pleased and hiked a little way for a hilltop view of the palace.
The gardens were full of sights, including the Obelisk Fountain, the Gloriette, the Neptune fountain and, of course, all of the well-tended flowers and plants. Without a ticket we weren’t able to go into the maze or see the Orangery or the Carriage Museum, but we were quite satisfied with our free, self-guided tour!
And that is how we managed to see a lot of one of Europe’s priciest capital cities for next to nothing – Vienna is definitely one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, and with the waft of freshly baked goods mingling in the air with an accordion playing a Viennese Waltz, it’s very easy to soak up the Austrian culture without having to spend a penny.
By Hannah Ward-Glenton
(All photos by author)