I am not going to lie. When my husband asked me to plan our trip to Vienna, the only thing that came to my mind was Before Sunrise. And before you judge me, yes, I know the capital of Austria is a historic and incredible place to be with one thousand things to do and see.
But sometimes, my pop culture references are bigger than any popular pre-itinerary that you can have in your mind. It gets personal when it comes to travelling. Sorry about that. That’s just me. And if you are not thrilled by the Before Trilogy – you are living your life in a totally wrong way. Sorry about that too.
I also must point out that we just spend a day in Vienna. So, we had to make choices. But I enjoyed this gorgeous capital so much that I can’t wait to come back and spend more days exploring it properly.
We took a train to Vienna from Bratislava – the hub for our first trip to three eastern European capitals. It was a quite enjoyable 1-hour journey with lots of sightseeing in between. It was quite affordable as well, costing £9.56 for a return ticket.
As soon as we arrived at the main station aka Vienna Hauptbahnhof, we had a look around the map to check the city on foot. The public transport in the capital of Austria is great. But there is nothing more enjoyable than exploring a beautiful city like this on foot.
Many other travellers like to do these pop culture reference tours in different cities, and I do believe that Before Sunrise is one of these popular filming location tours. Even Visit Vienna highlight the popularity of those places.
What I had in mind was enjoying the city while visiting some famous cafes, and public spaces related to Celine and Jesse’s journey in this gorgeous city.
Wandering Viennese City Centre
The fun in exploring a new city comes from getting lost in the pedestrian lanes, exploring the parks, visiting the churches, being enchanted by the perfection of the historic buildings, entering a café to taste something tasty, and joining a guided tour.
That is why wandering through the streets of the Viennese historic centre is a discover incredible way of finding different locations.
Right after leaving the station, we started to walk towards the Naschmarkt food – the most popular market in the city. Unfortunately, it was closed that day. We couldn’t try any of the fabulous street market fresh food, takeaways, and sweet and savoury treats available in its numerous small stalls.
The place is huge. We could get a gist of how vibrant it is probably during the week. And I do need to go back someday just to visit it again. But we also loved to see all graffiti and art murals placed in this famous tourist spot.
Vienna is fulfilled with gorgeous coffeehouses. Cafes such as Sperl that has been popular among architects, artists, musicians, actors, and singers since when it receives the name “Café Sperl” in 1884. And I can understand why it is indeed a stunning piece of architecture and inspiring design.
Immense windows, comfy booths, and quite tall ceilings really make you feel like you are back in time. As you can imagine, this is also a Before Sunrise filming location.
If you remember the famous “telephone” conversation scene. That was it. That was the place. The one that I wanted to visit most, by the way.
We decided to have a brunch at Café Sperl and it was a quite surreal feeling to have the most amazing omelet (with two pieces of cheese) while I can enjoy the view of the booths of the opposite size. One of them was the one where Celine confessed to being interested in the American boy with beautiful blue eyes, nice pink lips greasy hair that she just met on the train.
Liking the film or not, you should visit this magic coffee haus located in district 6.
The City of Music
One of the most interesting about Vienna is its connection with music. It is indeed the city of music. I still remember walking on one of the streets with fancy names such as Capistrangasse where we found amazing alleys, and buildings, sometimes covered with street art, sometimes covered with colourful facades. Just inspiring.
Then I heard music coming from one of the balconies. You can literally hear music coming from balconies and I could only imagine it was a musician rehearsing his piece a thousand times.
It is magical. And now I understand why music is so present in Before Sunrise. Music is everywhere in Vienna.
And we didn’t even talk about Mozart, Beethoven, or that famous song made by Ultravox in the ’80s.
Richard Linklater said he picked Vienna when he was at a film festival in Austria. His first thought was to film in Germany. We are glad he changed his mind.
And yep. We have passed by the famous Roxy club – that is still going, by the way. And we also checked the Alt & Neu record shop that was closed, but we could get a gist of how it is from the inside.
It was great to see it barely changed since Before Sunrise was filmed in 1995. And of course, it’s always great to see Vinyl shops still going around for so many years. Rock and roll!
Maria Am Gestade Church
I do confess that we were avoiding the area where you probably want to visit most – the surrounds of the stunning Vienna cathedral. But it is also quite difficult to find the serenity you need when you visit the ordinary church, chapel, or cathedral in your travel destinations.
So, in some way after visiting other gorgeous back alleys, we ended up facing the back of Maria Am Gestade church, by chance. A gothic-style gem that is known to be built somewhere between 1394 and 1414. It’s gorgeous and peaceful – like all churches should do.
“How a single place can join so much pain and happiness”- I do agree with Celine on that matter. And like Jesse and her, we also contemplated the beautiful Gothic architecture inside one of the oldest churches in Vienna.
We found the peace we needed (far from the hype tourist places) while we also rest our feet after walking for so long.
We also found a way of charging “my Jesse’s” phone. Something that brought attention to everyone who passed by near us. It provoked mixed feelings in some people around. And we were trying to figure out if it was correct to charge a phone in a church.
But yes, my husband charged his mobile phone at a historical church and iconic film location. And I found it hilarious and cute, at the same time. Probably one of the best memories we had from Vienna.
Prater Park & Wiener Riesenrad Ferris Wheel
I know you were waiting for this moment. Me too. After all, my trip to Vienna wouldn’t end anywhere else than at Prater Park.
It was by the end of the day; that we took an Uber to this amazing park with a huge amusement area. I was impressed.
But I do confess that I headed straight to the Wiener Riesenrad as soon as I arrived there. That was what I wanted most to do in Vienna.
Checking the capital from above during the 15-minutes overhead views ride is one of the best things you can do when visiting this fascinating capital.
Not to mention that Riesenrad was considered the world’s extant tallest ferry wheel from 1920 to 1985. It’s quite a giant piece of engineering and it was great to enjoy another important Before Sunrise reference. We didn’t stay for the sunset, but I felt like I was in a movie, anyways.
And that was how I wanted to end this first trip to Vienna. We didn’t visit all before Sunrise locations. But we had a great time getting lost in the streets, alleys, and parks of this beautiful capital.
What do you think? Should we be back for more or the next stop will be Paris?