Vienna Sights By Car. When visiting Vienna with my family, I want to show them how diverse it is. The sheer idea exhausts them, and bus tours are a no no: too little privacy for a family trip to Vienna. I decided to test a Vienna mini car tour: 3 hours, 60 kilometres and 40 sights of Vienna: from the city centre to the Vienna Woods, from Hofburg Imperial Palace to charming neighbourhood allotments, from Middle Aged landmarks to brand new urban developments.
Classical Sights In Vienna
Vienna Sights By Car. We had agreed to start off from Ringstrasse and the Vienna State Opera (photo). Bettina’s shiny new minivan cruised along the boulevard with the highest landmark density, and score of historical anecdotes. “Hofburg should have been twice as big, you see that vast empty square over there?”
The story of the glass coffin at Burgtheater (photo), hidden Mölkersteig and its rise to international film location, and the bloody origins of Votiv church took us around the corner to Danube Canal, past high-society rooftop glass-cube K47 and Middle Aged Ruprechtskirche. At Hundertwasserhaus, Bettina, driver Michel and me jumped off for a photo shoot (Bettina and I took a selfie for our mums, who had met each other in a Viennese labour ward 45 years ago!). That landmark is one of the hardest to reach by public transport.
Moaning about the Danube Canal graffitis, our Vienna mini car tour continued across the canal towards Vienna Prater amusement park and the Giant Ferris Wheel. The Emperor’s former hunting ground covers the size of 840 football fields, mixing a historic amusement park with recreational woodlands, an unconventional university campus, tiny neighbourhood allotments, and 21-century urban developments. I hopped off for a unique-opportunity photo shoot of Zaha Hadid’s celebrated university library. I was glad that Bettina and Michel were totally up-to-date on urban development. Not all book guides can claim that.
Around The Danube
Vienna Sights By Car. Once we crossed the Vienna Danube, the green Danube Island and side arm Neue Donau (New Danube) the city opened up to vast river views, contemporary ‘green’ architecture and bold skyscrapers such as the DC Towers and the sail-shaped TechGate Tower. Donaucity also includes the 150 metre high viewing tower Donauturm and the United Nations headquarters, which have long turned into landmarks themselves. Set foot there and you take a leap beyond historic travel guides.
Vienna Sights By Car. Waste incineration plants do not warm my heart. This is different when visiting Vienna. Bettina and Michel deliberately steered me past Fernwärme Wien, chapter two of Hundertwasser’s revolutionary colour blob house at the start of our tour. How stern environmentalist Hundertwasser designed a toxic building at the borders of the Vienna Woods made another great story.
Green Vienna officially started with Hohe Warte, winery paradise Grinzing and Himmelstrasse. “And now I’ll take you through Oberer Reisenbergweg,” boasted Bettina. I was so glad we didn’t take my car. The ascent on a narrow path was lined with old stone walls and gnarled trees along vineyards, wineries, villas and wooden lodges. That was ‘vineyard Vienna’. No tourist on a three-day stay would usually experience that. We discussed local gossip about popular vintage café Cobenzl on the hilltop, and its future…if it has any.
Driving along scenic Höhenstrasse, Vienna’s longest road, we found ourselves deep in the Vienna Woods. When guests want a lunch break, Bettina’s drivers would turn left into a small side way, where it says ‘Häuserl am Stoan’ (little house on the stone). The popular tavern offers local fish, deer, meat and vegetarian specialities, and breathtaking views over the vineyards and Vienna. At the other end of Höhenstrasse we dropped into another vintner village. Neustift am Walde is the location of some of the best Vienna wineries. Today, Neustift is called home by a mixture of long-established vintner families, working class Viennese who transformed their allotment lodges into permanent residences, and urban professionals with a hang for rural retreats.
‘Real’ Vienna Sights
Vienna Sights By Car. The way back to the centre led us through traditional neighbourhoods Hernals and Ottakring: typical 19th century townhouses, slightly run down, with double-glazed windows and window cushions to fight the draughts. It was the Vienna of employees and pensioners, trades people and factory workers, and more recently young urban professionals. The best relic of Hernals’ industrial history on our way was the former iron foundry and machinery tools factory Fernau&Comp. (photo), and the Manner wafer factory, a pilgrimage site for die-hard fans of our iconic chocolate wafers. We passed the large brick building of Ottakringer Brewery, an active industrial site that hosts concerts, clubbings, design fairs and other events in its abandoned production halls.
Auf der Schmelz, a little further down, kept the most original of local allotment communities (‘Schrebergartensiedlungen’). They belong to Vienna like its coffeehouses and palaces. The allotments originate from World War I. The local municipality granted small patches of land to starving residents to grow their own fruit and vegetables.
Schönbrunn And Belvedere Palace
Vienna Sights By Car. Our Vienna mini car tour lead us down the hill. We were promised a unique view of both Schönbrunn Palace and the Gloriette belvedere on the opposite hilltop. I remember the first time I drove down that route: it was only then that my mental map of Vienna fully integrated Schönbrunn. We passed right in front of the entrance and main portal. If I hadn’t had 300 photos of the palace already, I would have asked for a photo stop.
On the way to our final stop Bettina and Michel were keen to show me our new Vienna Central Station alongside a shiny urban quarter that was in the middle of being built. The last major site of the tour was Prince Eugene of Savoy’s baroque Belvedere Vienna palace and gardens. Michel drove right into the courtyard, where Bettina and I hopped out for some great views of the palace and baroque flower beds across to St. Stephen’s Cathedral in the centre.
How To Book
Vienna Sights By Car. Book this Vienna mini car tour, or a tweaked version of it. Feel free to request a tour with a limousine or minivan, with lunch break, with a licensed tour guide for in-depth historical input, or a different tour route including other sites, such as Otto Wagner’s fabulous Art Nouveau church.
To ask for a quote, just click on ‘Vienna Sightseeing and Vienna Woods’ among the transfer options below. (Bookings should be made min. 48 hours in advance.)