When I wasn’t having the greatest time in Vienna, I tried to figure out why by running a simple Google search:
“Is Vienna overrated?”
Not surprisingly, this question had been widely searched with mixed responses.
My personal answer to whether or not Vienna is overrated is “jein”, which means “yes and no” in German. It depends on what your travel goals are and what you value in a city. For me personally, Vienna was my least favorite spot on my Europe trip.
Don’t get me wrong, Vienna is a beautiful city with a rich history of culture and art. The city offers a wide assortment of museums, most of which are worth seeing. Even if you aren’t a fan of classical music or museums, the city still warrants a visit – especially if you are already in the region.
A lot was going on during the time of my visit. Preparations for the Life Ball were underway, which is Europe’s largest HIV/AIDS charity event. The second day of my visit was the popular Summer Night Concert at Schoenbrunn Palace featuring the Vienna Philharmonic. Preparations for the concert made it difficult to enjoy the palace and gardens during the daytime and the event itself attracted masses of people.
Life Ball Festivities
The impact of these events probably factored into my less than perfect visit. However, they do reaffirm Vienna’s role as a vibrant, cosmopolitan city. Another possible reason Vienna didn’t particularly excite me is because I lived in Bavaria for nearly a year. Parts of Southern Germany are culturally very similar to Austria – nothing in Vienna felt new or offbeat to me.
With all of this being said, Vienna is lovely. I will not be returning anytime soon though. Here’s my reasoning:
Vienna is Touristy
This is to be expected, given that it is a major European capital. When I was there in mid-May, the city was packed with tour buses, large tour groups, and selfie sticks.
I couldn’t enjoy the attractions I was excited to see because they were simply too crowded. I had to opt out of cafe suggestions from a friend because lines were forming out the door.
Consult this list from Virtual Tourist for tips on avoiding overrated, overly-touristic attractions in Vienna.
Vienna is Expensive
This is also to be expected for a European capital. For example, a 4-bed dorm in a hostel in Vienna costs around €21 per night while I was there. The same style accommodation in either Berlin or Prague would have respectively cost approximately €16 or €10.
It’s cheaper than Paris or London of course, but I didn’t feel like it was worth the expense. I didn’t get the sense that Vienna is an affordable or enjoyable place for young people, even though the city has several universities.
I Found Myself Feeling Bored
This was partially my fault as well. Maybe I should have sought out more fun accommodation, or tried harder to connect with locals and other travelers. However, I didn’t find Vienna enjoyable to walk around or simply explore like other cities. Maybe I just didn’t know where to look?
The city shuts down at night as well. There is some nightlife near the Schwedenplatz area, but not as much as you would expect in a city as large as Vienna.
Vienna is a Cultural (Guilt) Trip
I felt like I had a checklist of things I had to see or do just because others said I couldn’t miss them. Trying to clear my Vienna bucket list felt tedious and that’s not how I want to spend my time or money traveling.
There is almost too much to see in Vienna. This isn’t a bad thing per say, but it left me feeling rushed and unsatisfied by the fact I wasn’t able to see everything I wanted to.
Going back to my last point, it’s hard to just go out and have a good time in Vienna. Vienna is cultural trip more than anything else – which also isn’t necessarily a bad thing depending on what you’re hoping to experience.
Maybe I visited at the wrong time, was with the wrong people, or checked out the wrong things. Lots of factors go into making a trip wonderful, horrible, or just meh.
Others, including several of my good friends, love Vienna. Please don’t let my experience influence your opinion of Vienna – go decide for yourself.
Based off this visit alone, I’m going to say Vienna just isn’t for me. Not every trip can be perfect, and I’m okay with that. Despite my lackluster time, Vienna is still beautiful and charming.
I’m going to mentally catalog Vienna among my list of cities I want to visit or revisit when I’m older (and hopefully wealthier – I would love to do a Danube river cruise). I’ll save the more challenging, less-expensive destinations for now. I may be young with limited funds, but I have plenty of energy and time.
Have you been to Vienna? Did you share my experience, or have you felt the same way about another city? I would love to hear your opinions and insights.