What Vienna Taught Me About Coping with a Disappointing Travel Destination

Three years ago, I planned an incredible trip for my boyfriend and me. It was our first international trip together and his first international trip since his time in the U.S. Navy. Will doesn’t love travel as much as I do, but I wanted to show him just how much fun it could be.

We began our trip visiting some of my family in Nice, France and had some of the best experiences we’ve ever had as a couple. I had then planned 3 days in Vienna, 2.5 days in Budapest, and because I couldn’t avoid it, a 19-hour layover in Copenhagen.

Budapest was one of the most incredible and interesting places I’ve ever set foot in. Copenhagen was a little confusing, but we had so much fun exploring the Carlsberg Brewery even after getting almost no sleep in a random airport terminal. Vienna? Well, we were disappointed.

It didn’t help that Vienna ended up being sandwiched in between several mind-blowingly fun destinations, but it just didn’t do it for us. Before going on the trip, I was most looking forward to Vienna. I had always heard how romantic, welcoming, and fun the city was and that wasn’t even mentioning the food scene. What we got was just nothing that lived up to that.

When you’re hostel is the most exciting part of a trip you know that place is just not for you. We saw everything we wanted to see in one day and were hard pressed to find anything else to do afterward, short of wandering aimlessly. Schonbrunn Palace was gorgeous but expensive to go inside. We saw the Opera House, Ring Road, churches galore, and got to see the outside of Mozart’s house.

What we couldn’t find was authentic, local food, friendly citizens, or anything that cost under $30-$50 a piece per person. We love visiting museums and theaters, but we were traveling on a budget and couldn’t afford to spend $200 in one day just to go inside some of the attractions.

So how do you cope with a disappointing destination? While your morale might be down, there are quite a few options.

Research Your Next Vacation Stop

This will help you get excited again. If you’re doing a multi-city tour you can start to make sure you never get blindsided again by researching budget-friendly places to visit, unique attractions, and where the best places to grab a bite to eat are.

Ask a Local

Speaking to the locals, bonus points if you speak in their language, can give you new places to visit without the hassle of finding a wifi connection. Plus, you get to interact with new people and potentially make new friends. Locals know an area the best; don’t let the guidebooks fool you. Find someone and politely ask where their favorite places are or what they do for fun. More likely than not, they will be flattered and excited to share their favorites aspects of their city.


Don’t do this too often, but if it is something your budget can handle choose one or two attractions that you most want to see and go for it! If you truly have seen everything you wanted, try having a nice dinner with a great view.

Don’t Feel Guilty

Everyone who travels experiences disappointment at one time or another. Figure out just what you didn’t like about the trip so you can avoid similar experiences in the future. Remember that travel is never a waste of time. You always gain something regardless of how much fun you had.


2 thoughts on “What Vienna Taught Me About Coping with a Disappointing Travel Destination

  1. I felt exactly the same about Vienna.

    A friend and I stayed 3 nights in each Budapest, Vienna and Munich, travelling by train. Vienna was our middle stop. Budapest was amazing, as was Munich. Vienna, it was meh. Our entire last day in Vienna was pretty much spent killing time until we could justify spending the rest of the day in the pubs.

    But I agree with you. You just have to get on with it and chalk it up as a lesson to be learnt.


  2. I liked Vienna (and Budapest!) but hated Annecy, France, because it was wall to wall people. How did we cope? We got the hell out! I usually curse technology, but my i-phone saved us and instead of 4 days there, we had to spend two nights and one day in between before we were able to go somewhere sane. Sorry you didn’t like Vienna.


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