Vienna Day Trip // Zentralfriedhof & Funeral Museum

Oh, Vienna* I really, really want to love the city but I just can't bring myself to. After an underwhelming visit in April, I thought it was only fair to give it another go and took a day trip while I was in Salzburg. Nope, still not feeling it. Vienna architecture

*Lol now that's going to be stuck in your head like it's been stuck in my head for the past four fricking months.

As before, I took the Westbahn train out of Salzburg Hauptbahnhof. It's so comfortable, quiet and takes the most beautiful route through the Austrian countryside. A one-way ticket is €25 and, since the journey is 2 and a half hours long, that's a bloody bargain for us Brits! Since the train journeys alone were five hours, and I'd chosen to get the second-to-last train back at 5:30pm (just in case something happened and I missed it), I didn't have a lot of time in the city itself.
Wien buildings
When I arrived in Vienna, I took the underground straight to Zentralfriedhof, or Central Cemetery. We'd decided against going last time as it was so far out from the city centre but it turns out it's a really easy ten-minute train ride. Although I was only in Vienna for a few hours, I bought a 24-hour travel card as it was only €7. 
Vienna Zentralfriedhof Vienna Funeral Museum Vienna Central Cemetery Chapel
On reaching the Zentralfriedhof station- yep, this cemetery is so big it has it's own train station (a bit like Brookwood Cemetery)- there were no signs indicating which way to go so I just took a guess and started walking down the road to my left. Luckily a lovely Austrian lady noticed and told me I was going the wrong way. The cemetery is one of the largest in Europe so it has several gateways and I entered door 11 which happened to be as far away from the Funeral Museum as was possible. The upside of this was that I just had to take one pathway, cutting straight through the middle of the cemetery, to reach the main entrance. 
Nutzwasser tap Vienna Central Cemetery Viennese headstone Nineteenth century portrait headstone
At the start of this journey- which is a quite substantial fifteen minute walk- the cemetery is overgrown, with 19th century memorials either side. As I ventured nearer to the main entrance, it became more well-tended with larger, extravagant graves. Something I wasn't prepared for is the fact that Zentralfriedhof is still a working cemetery and a funeral procession walked past as I reached the museum. 
Ornate headstone Vienna Ludwig Anzengruber headstone Julius von Payer grave
The museum itself is very small but really interesting, with examples of mourning dress and details of Vienna's funeral history. Historically, Vienna has a distinct death culture and the Funeral Museum displays this with great effect. For me, the highlight was seeing a 19th century fourgon body carriage as well as the development of hearses and coffins. If you're interested in death culture, it's well worth a visit. 
Vienna Bestattungsmuseum Vienna Funeral Museum Vienna composer graves
Afterwards, I took a different route to the train station so I could pass the composers. Interestingly, the tombs of the composers are grouped together in a circle around Mozart's memorial. Although Mozart isn't actually buried here (his precise location is unknown), Beethoven, Brahms and Johann Strauss II are, amongst other composers. The positioning of all the composers in a tight group fascinates me because when Zentralfriedhof opened, they were exhumed and moved from their original burial places to their current graves in an attempt to draw visitors in. 
Mozart memorial Zentralfriedhof Beethoven grave Vienna composers Central Cemetery Ehrengraber Zentralfriedhof
I took a slow stroll through the cemetery back towards the gate before hopping on the train back to the city centre so I could grab some lunch at Hard Rock Cafe. It may not be cultured but their Local Legend burger is the best I've had, with bits of cheesy sausage perched on top of the burger. Yum! 
Hard Rock Cafe Vienna Local Legend Burger St Stephens Cathedral Vienna
From here, I walked up to Lush near St Stephen's Cathedral to add to my foreign-language Lush collection. I bought the Honey Trap lipstick which I reviewed recently, as well as a Look At Me face mask (review) for relaxing in my hotel. When you buy something from the Vienna Lush, they offer you a sample so I took a little pot of Softy foot lotion back to soothe my aching feet. (I know you can get samples in the UK too but it's nice that they offer them with your purchase, rather than having to ask)
Vienna horses
By this point, my train journey was drawing closer so I walked down to the Hoffburg Cafe for an Almdudler and apple strudel. Trust me- this is the best apple strudel in Austria! I scoffed it as quickly as I could then walked through to the Museum Quarter to get the underground to the train station. When I reached the station, I was a little confused and couldn't get my bearings as it looked completely different entering from the underground. I found the departures board but, as I was about 40 minutes early, my train wasn't on the board. I waited... and waited... and waited. Eventually the train departing before mine came up on the board, straight before the one departing afterwards. Mine should have been in between but for some reason wasn't there. I was just about to ask at the information desk when a sudden sense of dread came over me- I'd only gone to the wrong train station! Since the Salzburg train station is called Hauptbahnhof (main station), I'd got confused and gone to Wien Hauptbahnhof instead of Westbahnhof. 
Vienna plague memorial
Thank God I'd decided against getting the last train to Salzburg because I had to get two different underground trains to reach the correct station and only had twenty minutes before my train departed. When I arrived at the station with five minutes to spare, I started to run but I was exhausted so figured I'd just get the next train instead. That wasn't necessary in the end as the platform staff saw me reach the platform and held the doors so I could jump on. This was rush hour so the train was packed and my reserved seat was the very furthest away from where I had boarded. As I walked through the train to find it, I travelled through a smoking carriage which made me feel like I was in a 1920s detective movie!
Vienna shops
Will I go back to Vienna? For sure. I may not be a huge fan but it does have a lot of interesting places to visit. I want to return to the Natural History Museum and visit the neighbouring art gallery. It's certainly no Salzburg but it does draw me back. 
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7 comments:

  1. Lots of people I have spoken to said they don't like Vienna/aren't overly fond of it. My cousin lives there for work and prefers other regions of Austria and my Austrian colleague hates it and rolls her eyes when people talk about it. Very odd! I think I would like to visit for a day as part of a bigger European trip but mountainous regions of Austria are what I love. I don't really like Paris, I find it grubby and unsafe and only really like the more historic Marais district... Always a bit controversial when I bring it up.

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    1. Admittedly I haven't been to much of Austria (two cities and a town) but it certainly feels very different to the rest of the country. I think my problem was that I went to Salzburg first and felt so connected to nature with the mountains and the lakes, then I went to Vienna and it was just like "Oh... a busy European city like any other". I felt the same way about Berlin too.

      I expected to hate Paris because I'd heard exactly what you say- that it was dirty and unsafe- but funnily enough I adored it. Perhaps my expectations were so low that it took me by surprise!

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  2. You don't say why you dislike it.

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    1. You're right! Maybe one day I'll write a Why I Don't Like Vienna post. There's not really anything I can put my finger on. It's busy and feels hectic but then so does London and I love the latter. I just haven't connected with it.

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  3. Very interesting to hear about your thoughts on Vienna! I've never been but it was one of my teenage over-romantic fantasies to visit. Although, THAT FUNERAL MUSEUM. I love visiting really old cemetery and seeing all of the massive ornate headstones, so jealous, but really interesting post to read though.

    Lots of Love,
    Vanessa | www.wanderness.co.uk xx

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    1. You should definitely visit! I know a lot of people love it so hopefully you will. It's just not for me.

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  4. Still dying to visit this place! The museums and cemeteries look so unusual but beautiful!

    Isobel x

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