Vienna is known to be the place where theThird Man movie was famously filmed in 1949. However, there is another movie that has made its mark on Vienna too and that is Before Sunrise. Featuring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, these two characters meet on a train and decide to be spontaneous and spend a day and a night in Vienna in 1995. The movie captures them sightseeing and importantly shows the beauty of Vienna in the evening and night and especially reflects how romantic and ideal it is as a destination to enjoy in the evening.
With Before Sunrise being one of my favourite movies, I always had a desire to enjoy Vienna at night and am excited to share with you my experience on the Evening Tour with Vienna Sightseeing. Vienna Sightseeing will show you Vienna whilst the sun sets and when the moon comes out and shines on the gorgeous Viennese architecture that forms this magical and enchanting city. The duration of the tour is 3 hours and it starts at 7.15 pm and finishes at around 10.15 pm. The tour departs from the centrally located Operngasse 2–4,1010.
Driving around the famous Ringstrasse
Once you board the clean and modern coach and find a seat for your excursion, the expert guide will come and personally introduce himself to you and will make note of your language. As the guide is multi-lingual, he will be identifying whether he needs to speak in one, two or three languages during the tour. During my experience, the coach consisted of English speakers only so he only spoke in one language; nevertheless, it was impressive to learn that he could communicate in so many languages if need be.
The first 45 minutes or so of the tour will consist of driving around the famous Ringstrasse whilst the guide helpfully relays some historical anecdotes and points out the most noteworthy sights whilst the sun sets. The centre of Vienna is surrounded by the Ringstrasse, which is a circular road, from which you can see a number of prominent buildings. You will have the opportunity to see the Vienna State Opera, the Museum of Applied Arts, the Museum of Natural History, City Hall, Heroes’ Square, the Imperial Palace and the jaw-dropping Parliament.
The building that you can see in the photograph is that of the City Hall. It was designed by Friedrich von Schmidt and constructed from 1872 to 1883. It has a very much Neo-Gothic style and is built with bricks decorated with limestone. It has a large park in front of it which is now a sight for many cultural events. It is quite the jaw-dropping sight and really shows you the majestic city of Vienna in all of its glory. You will pass by this building, amongst the others listed above and so many more on the Ringstrasse.
There are some truly extraordinary details and qualities on these buildings and seeing them in the evening by coach allows you to see them without the flurry of tourists blocking the view from every angle. It should be noted, however, that the coach does not stop at the sights so you will need to be quick with your camera to capture any moments.
Picturesque and romantic ride on the Giant Ferris Wheel
You will then drive toward and stop in the Prater where you will have the opportunity to walk through this playful and fun amusement park which is home to the historical Wiener Riesenrad (also known as the Giant Ferris Wheel). The tour with Vienna Sightseeing includes a ticket on this famous excursion that I have to recommend you enjoy. It is one of the oldest Ferris wheels in the world and has been in operation since the late 1800s.
Before you embark on the Ferris wheel, you will have the opportunity to see a small museum which includes information about Austrian life and history. You will then queue up with your group to enter one of the old fashioned closed cabins which form part of the Ferris wheel. When the Ferris wheel was initially built, it had 60 cabins but has only 15 today. As you are waiting for your cabin (which you will share as a group), you are likely to also spot couples and small groups entering some of the cabins when they stop to be seated for a full on dining experience.
Once inside the cabin, you will find that it moves quite slowly and stops fairly often due to the people getting on and off at the bottom, which is actually perfect as it allows you to enjoy the views without feeling rushed to simply take as many snaps from every angle as possible. Each cabin can hold about 10 people and is very secure. The carriage is super clean, well maintained and has a bench seat in the centre. You may also be surprised to hear that there are windows that can be opened and allow the breeze to circulate into the carriage.
The entire journey on the Ferris wheel lasts approximately 20 minutes and gives you a great view of the incredible city of Vienna from 212 feet (65 metres) high. It is wonderful to enjoy this tour in the evening in the summertime because you get to the see the sunset over the whole city and it is most certainly romantic if you’re enjoying this with a loved one. It is also the exact spot in which the characters in Before Sunrise had their first kiss.
Enjoy some time at a heurigen in charming Grinzing
Following on from the ride in the Wiener Riesenrad, you will continue driving through Vienna and will head to the charming village of Grinzing to visit a heurigen, which is a traditional wine tavern. As Austrians love wine taverns for their carefree attitudes and sense of community, it’s like you’re on a cultural excursion with drinks and food. You will have the option to enjoy a complimentary glass of wine or a grapefruit juice. If you are interested in having something to eat, this option will also be available, whether it be a snack, a hearty meal or a dessert.
You will spend approximately 1 hour at the wine tavern, which is a really nice, rustic and authentic place that has a wonderful and leisurely atmosphere. There is indoor and outdoor seating, both of which are recommended (and can be enjoyed during your time there). If you are indoors, you can enjoy the candle-lit tables and musicians that will come out every so often to play a song. If you are outdoors, you can sit on one of the many wooden benches under the little lights with grapevines hanging over your head. I found that it was quite the romantic site.
Afterwards, your coach will collect you and drive you back to the Vienna State Opera. If you like, however, you are welcome to stay at the wine tavern longer and arrange alternative transportation at your own expense. The drive from Grinzing to Vienna State Opera will include the guide sharing fascinating anecdotes and bits of history on your way back. The return journey differs from the journey to the wine tavern because the sun has set and the moon has come out in full. This means that you will have the opportunity to really see Vienna at night.
You will pass the exquisite and grand buildings on the Ringstrasse (which are far too many to list) and will see them lit up with the starry night’s sky in the backdrop. The most incredible building of all that you will see is the Vienna State Opera house itself, which has lit windows and an illuminated copper roof. It is one of the most famous opera houses in the world and you will surely be taken back by its breath-taking grandeur.
See Vienna in a whole new light
This tour with Vienna Sightseeing will allow you to see Vienna in a whole new light. You will achieve so much in 3 hours and be able to see the city from different heights and perspectives, without feeling rushed. Vienna is such a gorgeous city during the day and is equally stunning at nighttime, when it truly sparkles. If you are taking the tour in the summertime, then you will have the bonus of enjoying the sunset, the colourful evening sky and the dark night with glowing stars. If you are taking the tour in the cooler seasons, then you may see more of the night sky during your excursion. However, either way, this tour with Vienna Sightseeing is definitely recommended as the glory and magic of Vienna has to be experienced in the evening and the nighttime. The architecture looks phenomenal and the special lighting on it accentuates its shape and dramatizes even the loveliest baroque buildings and makes them an exceptional sight to see. The cost per adult for this tour is 57 EUR (67 USD) and for children it is 21 EUR (25 USD); this includes transportation, a ride on the Ferris wheel and a drink at the wine tavern.
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