Fabulous and free: Europe’s budget-friendly attractions for families

September 10, 2013 at 7:09 AM
Kew Gardens is free for children 16 years and under (Photo: Laura Nolte)

Kew Gardens is free for children 16 years and under (Photo: Laura Nolte)

Traveling in Europe as a family can get expensive, especially when you add up all the admission fees you pay to see popular attractions. Thankfully, there are some superb European attractions that are free for kids. Here is a selection of just a few of my favourite European attractions where kids aren’t charged any admission fee:

Shop ‘til you drop on the streets of Europe

August 30, 2013 at 7:23 AM
The streets of Europe are a shopper’s paradise (Photo: Dimitry B.)

The streets of Europe are a shopper’s paradise (Photo: Dimitry B.)

Warning: If you are a recovering shopaholic, you should stop reading now. Reading this article may lead to a relapse.

From the bric-a-brac of Camden market to the ostentatious Haute Couture of Paris, the streets of Europe are a shopper’s paradise. Whether you’re attracted by the glitz and glamour of fashion houses like Armani, Versace and Dolce & Gabbana, or whether you enjoy wandering through the delightful chaos of street markets, Europe has it all. For all the shameless shopaholics, bargain hunters and discerning buyers out there, here is a list of some of Europe’s fabulous shopping streets.

A guide to gastronomic heaven in Vienna

August 30, 2012 at 2:27 AM

The beautiful city of Vienna has more to offer visitors than just grand old buildings and historic monuments and landmarks. The city is a gastronomic delight and should definitely be on your list of places to visit if you enjoy good food and wine.

Schnitzel

Vienna’s Fusion Cuisine

Vienna has an amazing culinary history. When the 19th century Austrian Empire stretched far and wide, culinary practices were taken from places like Hungary, Turkey and the Blakans, and combined with Italian, French and German influence. The result is a unique and exciting cuisine that will have your mouth watering.

Vienna also has a wonderful selection of local wines that perfectly compliment their delicious dishes.

The Heart and Soul of Viennese Gastronomy

There are several Viennese dishes that you shouldn’t miss when you’re staying in a holiday rental in Vienna. Popular dishes include goulash with knödel (potato or bread dumplings), Apfelstrudel, Wiener Schnitzel and Tafelspitz, (beef boiled with root vegetables and served with horseradish).

You can’t stay in an apartment in Vienna and not try the famous Sachertorte from the Sacher Hotel. This chocolate cake, first made by Franz Sacher, is one of the most famous culinary specialties in Vienna, and consists of a layer of apricot jam sandwiched between layers of dense chocolate sponge cake, and covered on the top and sides with chocolate icing. The cake is traditionally served with unsweetened whipped cream and a chocolate disc that is placed on top of the cake. The original Sachertorte is only available at Hotel Sacher, at the Cafes Sacher, at the Vienna Airport and at the Sacher Shop in Bozen, Italy. It may be a little on the expensive side, but you are treated like royalty and the Sachertorte itself is delicious.

The Wiener Kaffeehaus

The city is renowned for it’s Wiener Kaffeehaus, (Viennese coffee houses). They’ve played an important role in shaping the Viennese café culture that you can experience today. Viennese cafés entice visitors with a wide variety of coffee, drinks, pastries, international newspapers, great service and an elegant atmosphere. Most coffee houses also provide light snacks, desserts, cakes and tarts like Apfelstrudel, Punschkrapfen and torte.

Sweet Delights

The café culture of Vienna has resulted in a wide variety of delicious pastries and cakes. There are bakeries and sidewalk cafés on every street, where you can buy everything from cheese rolls and croissants to apfelstrudel and cinammon buns. These heavenly confections are the pinnacle of Viennese cuisine and an expression of the Austrian’s love of the good life. Vienna just wouldn’t be Vienna without pastries.

If you want something a bit sweeter you can head to famous ice-cream shops like Zanoni & Zanoni Gelateria or Tichy. You may have to wait in a long queue but the wait is certainly worth it, and you’ll probably find yourself going back for more before your stay in Vienna is over.

5 ways to enjoy Vienna

June 15, 2012 at 6:19 AM

If you’re planning a trip to the beautiful city of Vienna you can’t go wrong with this collection of ideas for experiencing some of the best things Vienna has to offer.

1. Visit Schönbrunn Palace

Schonbrunn Palace in Vienna

Schönbrunn is the most visited tourist attraction in Vienna and it’s not hard to see why. The palace complex served as the summer residence to various Habsburg rulers and is an important part of Austrian history. The complex includes the imperial palace, the gardens with fountains, statues, manicured gardens, a maze and the world’s oldest public zoo.

Don’t miss out on a tour of interior of the Imperial residence. 40 of the 1441 rooms are open to the public, including the apartments of Franz Joseph and Sisi, as well as Maria Theresia. You can explore the magnificent sitting rooms, bedrooms and the parlour in which Mozart used to play for the Empress. Little has changed in the ornate interiors since the Habsburg family ruled, from the original frescoed ceilings and crystal chandeliers to the huge gilded mirrors and antique furniture.

2. Have tea and cake at the Hotel Sacher

Café at Sache Hotel

The elegant Sacher Hotel is a famous landmark, thanks to its unique chocolate cake called the Sacher Torte. There is choice of tables in elegant sitting rooms inside, or outside where you can watch the world go by while you enjoy a piece of sacher torte, or a delicious dessert, coupled well with an espresso or cappuccino.

3. Have a screaming good time at The Prater

The Prater amusement park in Vienna

Vienna’s Prater is the city’s most exciting amusement park, with dozens of rides from go-karts and bumber cars, to a haunted house and rollercoasters. Enjoy the view from the Giant Ferris Wheel or Prater Tower, the world’s highest carousel swing at 117m. It’s a great way to spend the day, especially if you are travelling with children. Adjacent to the fun fair is a park that is perfect for jogging, cycling, picnics or just reading a book.

4. Watch a performance at the Vienna Opera House

Interior of the Vienna Opera House

The construction of the Vienna Opera House was completed in 1869 and is an important landmark in the old city centre. Watching a performance one evening at the State Opera is one of the most impressive events any visitor to Vienna can experience. The elegant old-world interior has a sweeping marble staircase and ornate ceilings. There are approximately 200 performances at the Vienna Opera House each year. The opera house has also become well known for its children’s productions. Immediately before each performance, cheap, standing place tickets are sold, but if you want to be sure you won’t miss a magical evening, it’s best to book tickets in advance.

5. Wander around the Museum of Art History

Art History Museum in Vienna

The Kunsthistorisches Museum houses an impressive collection of art, including pieces by Raffael, Vermeer and Rembrandt. Viewing the exhibits here is a great way to spend an afternoon if you enjoy art.