In the summer of 2015, I decided to take a solo trip to Europe. I planned to visit the grand and beautiful cities of Austria and Hungary.
My first stop was Vienna. It’s a kind of place that makes you feel cultured and elegant just by walking through down the city streets. And if you are an art or music fan, then this is the city for you to be in. The city is so clean and well maintained, that it’s a delight to walk around and witness the incredible architecture.
Vienna is a center for classy cuisine, contemporary museums and has an enviable, pulsating nightlife. The palaces and museums skirting the capital’s aging squares welcome locals to wander through the characteristic city’s giant green spaces.
The places for a must visit in Vienna are: Schönbrunn Palace, St. Stephens´s Cathedral, Belvedere Palace, Hofburg Imperial Palace, Museums Quartier, Graben, Ringstrasse, Wiener Rathaus, Hero Square, and Prater (Amusement Park). And don’t forget to take the Time Travel the Vienna History Show. It takes you 2,000 years back in time with its 5D cinema experience.
One my most unique encounters included a visit to the Vienna State Opera house. Here I got a chance to enjoy a musical play.
To satisfy your taste buds, do try the ice-creams from Eissalon am (Schwedenplatz), falafel at UBOX Quality Fast Food (Schwedenplatz), Burrito from Santos Bar (Wieden) and Sachertorte at Café Sacher Wien.
My second stop was Salzburg. From the moment I arrived in the city, I just fell madly, deeply in love with it. This city is home to one of the world’s most beloved movies, “The Sound of Music” and is the birthplace of Mozart.
I took a hop on and hop off guided tour through Salzburg. Dominated by its baroque towers, there is plenty to see from the city’s cathedral, Salzburg Dom, St. Peter’s monastery, the outstanding Festung Hohensalzburg Castle to the gorgeous Mirabell Palace & Gardens where the well known Maria and Von Trapp children danced in the legendary movie -“The Sound of Music”. Salzburg is a land of great culture and tradition. It is bound to take you to a journey into its past. After the tour, I got a well-rounded feel for the history behind this fascinating city.
My holiday in Salzburg also included a visit to its heart, the Mozart Square, a beautiful establishment covered by Roman Foundations. My day had concluded by watching the beautiful sunset from the banks of Lake Salzach.
There are a lot of great places to explore even outside the city. If you get a chance then do visit the salt mines and ice caves.
I visited the salt mines in Hallein. It is a vibrant small town rich in history and brimming with life. I really loved taking the bus to reach these ancient realm of “White Gold”. The guided tour takes you through the mine galleries. Films, small display stations and a multimedia show at the salt lake are highlights of the Salt Mine, providing fascinating insights into the arduous life of miners spent below ground. Enjoy slithering down a traditional miners’ slide into the depths below, then a raft ride across the briny water of the salt lake – accompanied by a beautiful play of color and gentle music. The other salt mine you can visit is in Hallstatt.
Salzburg is also a place where you can hike or explore some of the great natural surroundings. While you are in the city, do try the apple strudel and the famous round chocolates named after Mozart.
My next stop was a day trip to Budapest from Vienna. I took the free Budapest walking tour there. Our guide was lovely, energetic and full of information. We tour is free then you tip the guides based on how your experience was. It is usually recommended that you tip them atleast something between 5-10€. We visited Danube Promenade, Municipal Concert Hall, Gresham Palace, Academy of Hungarian Sciences, St.Stephen’s Basilica, Chain Bridge, Castle District, Royal Palace, Matthias Church, and Fisherman Bastion. At the last stop I took the local bus to visit the other famous attractions: Széchenyi thermal bath, Hősök tere, Hungarian State Opera House, Hungarian Parliament Building, and the Shoes on the Danube Bank. In the evening I returned back to Vienna.
Austria oozes a unique brand of grandeur and pomp. Before concluding my experience, here is what I have to say:
Traveling solo is really a great opportunity to meet new friends and to boost your confidence. But at the end of the trip, I did realize one simple fact – you do need a company to share your joy and happiness with.
- There is a fine tradition in the Vienna Opera House to save hundreds of standing room tickets to be sold 80-90 minutes before each performance. You can buy these tickets for 5€. Now, who can pass up a 5€ ticket to the Opera? Not me.
- Buy the Vienna’s weekly ticket. This gives you the opportunity for unlimited travel throughout the city.
- If you are a big adventure sports fan, then you can try tandem sky diving in the Alps.
- You might be a little disappointed after having the Original Sacher-Torte. So don’t go in expecting too much.
- If you plan to visit Budapest then you should definitely do your shopping from there. Since Forints (the local currency in Hungary) has lower currency value than Euro, so clothes in shops like H&M, C&A, and Primark is cheaper compared to other parts of Europe.