Life takes you to some crazy places. I first visited Vienna when I was backpacking Europe in 2013. I never thought I would be back to Austria but almost 7 years later, my wedding work brought me back! Elizabeth and Gabe invited me to Gaming to capture their snowy European wedding and I thought it sounded like an adventure! Ben decided to join me for a week in Vienna and we made a little vacation out of it! We even decided to hop a train to Budapest for one day as well. Below are all our recommendations for an Austrian winter vacation!
Day 1 Vienna Christmas Markets
The first day, we walked around to various Christmas markets. Some of them are open through the New Year so even though we landed Christmas day, we were able to still get some holiday magic! We went to Hofburg Palace, Rathausplatz, Maria Theresien Platz, and then Belvedere Palace! All 4 squares had unique holiday markets! We noshed on pretzels, hot wine drinks and schnitzel!
Day 2 Shonbrunn Palace
Ben and I took an Uber to Shonbrunn Palace for this day! They actually have a holiday market out front and the gardens are free of charge so even if you don’t do the palace tour, it is worth a visit. Once in the palace, there is no photography allowed but trust me, it is lavish and stunning! It takes a few hours to explore everything so make sure you carve out enough time to listen to all of the history.
Day 3 Gaming
We took 2 trains and a bus to the small town of Gaming. Although I would not have gone to this town without a wedding, I’m glad I did! The lesson here is that the train is very easy to use! You can sub this day for an afternoon in Prague if you’re the adventurous type.
Day 4 Vienna Downtown
We had a very free afternoon in Vienna so we decided to walked around downtown. We visited churches, ducked into cafes and were in awe of all of the New Years decor in the city center. We stayed at the Hilton which was perfect strolling distance for this!
Day 5 Budapest
We decided last minute to take a train to Budapest! In a short 2 hours, we explored all this town had to offer. They don’t have Uber but a similar app worked just as well. We started acorss the river in the castle district to get a view of Parliament from across the way. We then walked to Fisherman’s Bastion which was a dream come true for me. We saw Buda Castle as well right before walking over the historic bridge to the other side of town. We peaked into Szechenyi Baths but the line was so long that we didn’t have time to bathe. There are heaps of thermal baths to visit if you have more than one day! We finished the afternoon with a sunset in Magyar Castle which also had holiday markets set up for tourists and locals! We rode back in the dinner car that looked like something from a Wes Anderson film.
There ya have it folks! Below are all my film photos from my Austrian Christmas Vacation! Enjoy!