Where there’s a Will there’s a way!

Nowadays there is a lot of information about visiting Vienna.  By browsing the web you’ll find numerous posts titled, “48 Hours in Vienna”, “10 Reasons to like Vienna” and countless travel guides, so I won’t add to the overwhelming list of positive reviews and travel resources.  However, I do want to share a bit of my experience during my recent trip through Central Europe and confess that Vienna did not make my list of great cities.  Here are 5 reasons why I did not like Vienna:

 1. It’s expensive.

While spending a few days in Budapest I was pleasantly surprise by how easily one can stretch a Forint. However, during my stay in Vienna the money situation took a different turn.  In order to keep within budget we stayed at an “All You Need”, which is a 2 star hotel and even then I think we paid too much for what we got.   Not only are the hotels expensive but also eating out.  For the most part we ate at a fast food restaurant near the hotel and we still managed to spend about $20 Euros for a schnitzel in a box, a burger and drinks.  Eating in coffee houses is not cheap either.  Almost $10 euros for a cafe latte and a pastry… that’s just too much!  We spent two days in Vienna and money wise it was like spending four days in Hungary or the Czech Republic.  In case you didn’t know Vienna ranks at number 24 in the world ranking of expensive cities.  The cost of accommodation and food is generally more expensive than any other central/eastern European city.

A gilded globe supported by Atlas on the left side of the main building (Österreichische Nationalbibliothek) National Library, in Josefsplatz, Vienna
A gilded globe supported by Atlas on the left side of the main building (Österreichische Nationalbibliothek) National Library, in Josefsplatz, Vienna

 2. You’re going to gain weight

There’s just so much food and all of it is delicious.  This is because Austria has so much international influence in their dishes.  From meat dishes to desserts; you will want to try every single one.   Wiener Schnitzels, Apfelstrudels,  Tortes, they are all extremely high in calories and if you’re not careful, not only will you be spending more but will also put some extra pounds.

Having an Apfelstrudel in a Heuriger
Apfelstrudel served in a Heuriger

 3. There is too much to see

Because there’s too much to see it was very difficult for me to decide which castle or museum to visit.  If you only have a couple of days in Vienna you’ll be trying to see everything and you won’t be able to.  Plus, there are a lot of places to see which means you will also be spending more money, which leads back to reason number one.  I only spent two days in Vienna and perhaps only covered about 30% of the attractions.   You just need to take a look at TripAdvisor and you’ll see that the list of things to do in Vienna is quite overwhelming.

St. Charles's Church (Karlskirche)
St. Charles’s Church (Karlskirche)

 4. Bad Service

Vienna in general has bad service and people still expect a tip.  We went to a coffee house and the waitress made us and other people wait about 20 minutes just to get the menu, and the place wasn’t even busy.  My advice is that when you enter a restaurant or coffee house you order right away.  Do not ask them to give you more time because it will be half an hour before you see them again.  I encountered more problems with rude waiters and staff in Vienna than in any other city I’ve visited, and from what I’ve read I am not the only one.

The coffee houses and restaurants in Naschmarkt have bad service, one of the reasons why I did not like Vienna.
The Vienna Naschmarkt

 5. Vienna shuts down at night.

Stores close early, between five and seven o’clock.  Also, the nightlife in Vienna isn’t always easy to find even though the party week starts on Wednesday and on weekends goes all night long.  In the summer near the river there are some things going on but not as much as you’d imagine.  I think Vienna is more of a culture trip than anything else.

Don’t get me wrong, I did not hate Vienna, nor did I have a terrible time there.  I just did not love it or liked it as much as I liked other cities in Austria.  Everything I’ve listed is little more than a nit, but a bunch of them collectively added up to me having a so-so opinion of the city.  I don’t regret visiting Vienna; I just don’t think I would ever visit again.

Have you visited a city you did not particularly enjoy as much as others?

23 responses to “5 Reasons Why I Did Not Like Vienna”

  1. Frank Avatar

    Hey Will – I always like honest commentary, too many bloggers whitewash everything. That’s boring. Tons of places I don’t like on my site 😉
    Never been to Vienna but I was in Salzburg which, while pretty, is not the most exciting place at night either. And yes, some of the European cities expensive for tourists! Best thing is to go to grocery store as the locals do and bring stuff back to the room to eat…especially if there for a while costs add up.
    Frank (bbqboy)


    1. Will Castillo Avatar

      Thank you Frank! I appreciate the comment. I completely agree with you about Salzburg. Yes, it was the filming location for The Sound of Music but it’s just not very exciting. A place that I really enjoyed was Ljubljana and Prague. Fell in love with them both.


    2. chris wiener Avatar
      chris wiener

      I am from Vienna and living in Australia.

      My tip is to grab a local and tell him what you’re into and you’ll be shown places,to suit your interests.

      Local businesses are not too keen on english spoeaking customers,
      I juts came back from vienna, i took my wife,who doesnt speak any english and every single person and service was extremely friendly and service was fast and accomodation was cheap.
      Food as well was really cheap.


      1. Will Castillo Avatar

        That’s for the tip Chris! If I ever visit again perhaps I’ll just stay away from speaking English and go with my Spanish 🙂


  2. Pola (JettingAround) (@jettingaround) Avatar

    I have great memories from Vienna, so it’s hard for me to relate to this post… In general, lots of great cities are expensive, that’s just how it is. Not that it’s a good thing, but still. The only thing that I wouldn’t appreciate is the shutting down early, it’s like Bavaria.

    I want to go back to Vienna just for coffee. Unfortunately, my trips there happened before my coffee days.


    1. Will Castillo Avatar

      Hi Pola, it’s true that in general lots of cities are expensive. I think for me it was the combination of everything that went wrong in Vienna that sort of put a dent in it for me. The rude waitress, the horrible hotel that wasn’t cheap at all, etc. This is subjective, of course. The one thing I enjoyed about Vienna was the food, but then the food was great all over Austria.


  3. Emotion is _____ Avatar
    Emotion is _____

    Hi there –
    We’re traveling the world all 2014 hitting all 7 continents and we don’t a huge budget overall. That said, we find this list to be pretty unfair to Vienna.

    How can you say a city isn’t great because the food is too good and you’ll gain weight? That’s pretty sad. Delicious food is a great thing. So is self control with respect to consumption.

    Next, saying it’s too expensive is a joke. Welcome to Europe. Our Europe budget is bigger than our Eastern Europe budget because we did research ahead of time on costs of things. Those budgets are both larger than South America and SE Asia. If you judge a city poorly on cost, you didn’t set your own cost expectations well enough and that’s your own failure.

    Next, there being too much to see is also laughable. Our bet is you didn’t do enough research with respect to costs, then realized you were spending more than could afford, then regretted not being able to see the amazing things Vienna offers.

    Perhaps a more balanced blog post would be ok. “Vienna is awesome. Great food, a lot to see and do. Note: like most of Europe, it’s expensive, so plan accordingly.”

    -Tim & Sarah


    1. Will Castillo Avatar

      Hi guys, thanks for reading my post on Vienna and sharing your honest opinion about it. I really couldn’t say that Vienna was awesome since I really did not like it very much. Saying that in a post would be untruthful. I did do a lot of research and I knew I wasn’t going to be able to see the extensive list of museums in a couple of days, however, I still stopped by because my wife was really keen on it. It’s great that you had a fantastic time and loved it. Just goes to show how different things can give each one of us good and bad experiences. Thanks again guys!


  4. Debra Yeager Avatar
    Debra Yeager

    The public transportation targets tourists who do not know that subway tickets need to be purchased and validated. They charge a 100 euro fine and then brag about how they make tens of thousands of dollars each day by standing at locations frequented by visitors. They also talk about the what countries they dislike the most because even the men cry when forced to pay the fine. I am putting this as a warning to future travelers.


    1. Will Castillo Avatar

      Really? I had no idea! That’s very corrupt! Again, another reason why I will probably never visit Vienna again. Thank you for sharing this here. I hope future travelers read this warning.


    2. Downey Avatar

      I am going in three weeks! Where and i do i get validate?


    3. Carles Avatar

      That is totally correct. Vienna will rob all they can from you. I saw many vigilants seeking toutists toake they pay fines. If you are considering Vienna as a destiny for your holidays, I warn you to look for another place. You will be treated as a bullshit there.


  5. Wolters World Avatar

    Sounds exactly like my 5 Hates of Vienna. I can agree on all counts, just slightly different order I believe. Vienna is an enjoyable city but it does have its down sides just like any city. The nightlife can be great if you know where to go but sadly as tourists we are not always privy to that kind of information. And as a fat traveler I can attest to the “growth” part of the hates… But it’s a good way. Glad to see your research paid off. If you want I can give you the link to my 5 love & hates of Vienna video. Anyway, you have some really nice stuff in your page and when I get back down in Latin America later this year I will be checking out some of your tips. Cheers and great travels to you! Mark, from Wolters World


    1. Will Castillo Avatar

      Hi Wolter! Thanks for your comment. I would love to read your post about your 5 hates. I am also very surprised to find out that mine are exactly as yours. I wrote this post in conjunction w/ my wife’s hates. But regardless, I that we can resolve this one way or another. I hate to promote copyright infringement. Since you said you wrote yours 4 years ago, I understand how this might look. Let me know what you think. That being said, I think you will love and hate Latin America as well. Cheers!


  6. tim Avatar

    It is interesting you list “too much to see” as one of the major reasons you didn’t like Vienna. You explain why but it still doesn’t make sense to me. Shouldn’t that be a very good reason for being a great destination. I stayed three days in Vienna a few years ago, great city centre, amazing architecture and cafes but still didn’t think much of the place: Nice but boring..


    1. Will Castillo Avatar

      Hi Tim, thanks for your comment. The reason why I used that as a reason for it not being a great destination is because you have so many castles, numerous churches, tons of museums and it’s hard to tell which ones to go and see. You need at least 5 or 6 days to see the main museums and that’s gonna cost a lot of $. If you only have 3 or 4 days you will feel overwhelmed and won’t be able to see it all.


      1. Zara Avatar

        Sorry but this is very silly. Nobody is telling you to see everything. You simply cannot hate a place because there is so much to see. I think you’re clutching at straws here.


      2. William Castillo Avatar

        Thanks for your opinion Zara. As I said, it wasn’t just that point that makes me hate it, it’s all of the points put together. Just a different experience.


  7. VinTravel Avatar

    we managed with food and stay cheap. Used to pickup food from Nachtmarkt for Dinner and Breakfast. but what got us were the price of tickets. If we visit 2 places in a day for 2 people it is about $100.00. It quickly adds up. And we were going to be there once in our lifetime, so went to schonbrunn, Belvedere, sisi museum, Spanish riding school, operas, which
    cost a bundle.


  8. Our Wanders Avatar

    Ouch… Vienna is our favorite city in Europe! And one of your reasons not to love it is one of ours to do so: so many things to see and do there. We’ve been there several times and we still have reasons to return. Of course, everyone is different, but still we think it’s unfair to compare Vienna prices with Budapest or any other city in Eastern Europe. Western European and Eastern European prices are so different and Austria definitely belongs to Western Europe in this regard, it’s just how it is. New York, London or Paris are insanely expensive as well, but that is not a reason to judge them bad – at least, this is our opinion.


  9. Andrew GrZeb Avatar
    Andrew GrZeb

    I have visted most capital cities in Europe. Vienna is full of architecture, art and classical music scenes. But we have noticed Vienise people are not the most welcoming in Europe, they need to learn some manners like saying please and thank you.

    The rudest encounter our group experienced was when we visited the Spanish Horse School..the stewards were walking like German army around people shouting rudely at anyone who touches the concrete wall with their feet or having their (turned off) mobile phone on their laps while trying to catch a glimpse of the most expensive boring horse show. €59 for a 45min seeing nothing exiting and getting insulted by one of the staff (the short stocky bloke with dark hair on top floor) he was horrible to one of the ladies in the group (avoid this show at any cost, spend it on a nice meal and couple drinks)

    The other encounter was at the airport when you hand over your passport to the custom officer. You put it in his hand, he throw it at you when he inspects it.

    Apart from this, Vienna is worth visiting once in your life time but I won’t be coming back in the future.


  10. Alex Avatar

    A number of years ago I went to The British museum, I was very impressed apart from when i touched a corner piece of stone by accident, I thought nothing about it until a young girl ran over to reprimand me. I got a short lecture on how to treat stone in a museum. what hurt most was that
    I was about 68 at the time, it was like being back at school all those years ago.
    I was about to inform this young girl not to take up teaching, when my patient wife pulled me on.
    she said darling don’t complain, the British Museum is free, like a lot of venues in london.
    If you should go to the BM in the future look out for this young girl, who will now be The cranky
    one……..give her my regards.


  11. Ian Turton Avatar

    We just got back from a trip to Vienna. Had always wanted to go since reading The Land of Laughs by Jonathan Carroll.

    The upside – Ruby Marie hotel was very good. Freud and Mak museums very interesting and well worth a visit. Er, I felt very safe. Don’t think I’ve every had to dig that deep before…

    Downsides… got gouged by the ticket bullsh*t described above on our return to the airport. 90 Euros because we didn’t validate our ticket. English lady next to us got ‘caught’ too. You could see the ticket inspector was embarrassed. There’s no excuse for it – the machines could ask if you want to travel immediately and validate your ticket there and then. What a lovely way to treat your visitors!

    The food is great – if you like potatoes and sugar and squashed pork the size of a bicycle wheel, and generally judge your food by its sheer volume (or want to pay mental prices for fine dining – it cost us 170 Euros for a good, but not great meal for two in 8). If not, let’s just call it ‘simple fayre’ shall we?

    I found it a pretty tedious place to just walk around ‘aimlessly’ which I like to do, we ended up planning much more than I’d like and getting public transport to avoid the feeling we were wasting a precious weekend as we rounded a corner to see yet another dismal street. The atmosphere was flat and dreary, not helped by…

    The people, seem pissed off and aloof. Service in restaurants was at best perfunctory. At worst downright rude and rife with tourist trappy practises.

    Overall – the Viennese don’t seem particularly keen on you being there, so why bother? For me, If you want to visit a right-wing mono culture Budapest is a much better choice. Just don’t tell a Hungarian they live in Eastern Europe.


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