Vienna – the capital of Austria and a city filled with rich culture, history, and most importantly strudel, cake and schnitzel! Mercer has ranked Vienna for the best quality of living in the world for a reason! As the city begins to open back up from the impacts of COVID-19, now is the perfect time to start exploring options for a future trip to this beautiful city.
Here’s a quick guide for the best things to do, see and eat on this city break.
1. Take a city tour by walking around the 1st District!
The 1st District, known as the Innere Stadt, is an easy 5km walk where you will see some of Vienna’s most beautiful and breath-taking architecture. Start at the Rathaus (city hall) and follow the tram line while you walk around and get to know the city. You will pass Parliament, Hofburg Palace, the National Library, Vienna City Park with an ornate rose garden, the Natural History Museum, the Vienna State Opera, and much more! Make sure to take a rest at Burggarten where you can spot a statue of Mozart. After you walk around the outside, you can walk through to Stephansplatz where you will see the famous St. Stephen’s Cathedral (Stephansdom). Pay 5 EUR to take the steps to the top of the church to see the city from up-high.
Start at Museumsquartier (Museum’s Quarter) where you will find the Leopold Museum and the Modern Arts Museum. On warm days you can sit outside the museums and enjoy a drink and a bite to eat. There are over 100 museums in the city. We suggest looking at some art you would like to see in person (like The Kiss by Gustov Klimt) and choose from there.
Vienna is known for its pristine palaces scattered around the city and they are all worth checking out. Our favourite is Schoenbrunn Palace, home to the world’s oldest zoo. Schoenbrunn is great for a walk around the gardens and to a viewing point where you can see the city. Belvedere Palace is our runner-up. You can view the ornate palace (even from just the outside) and walk around the botanical gardens.
The Viennese love good coffee, good pastry and cake. For some history, go to Café Central (where Sigmund Freud and Leon Trotsky frequented), Café Demel (take a look inside to see the kitchen), and the Sacher Hotel and Café for some traditional Sachertorte (a chocolate cake served with cream). For something more fun, go to Fenster Coffee, a small hole in the wall with coffee served through a window. Try the Cornettoccino for coffee in an ice-cream cone. And for your daily dose of caffeine go to Stroeck and try Austria’s famous krapfen (similar to a donut with apricot jam). Other great cafes we would suggest are Jonas Reindl, Café Drechsler, Erich (great for food too!), Ulrich, Leopold Café, Siebenstern Café, Freieraum and Mochi (great Japanese café and restaurant).
5. Rooftop Bars.
We love the rooftop bars at 25 Hour Hotel, the Ritz, and the Andaz Hotel. They have great drinks, ambiance, and views.
Take a city bike and ride it along the canal, through Prater Park, and along the Danube. If it is warm enough, take a swim in the Danube and catch a tan on the grass.
7. Ice Cream
Yes, ice cream needs its own category in Vienna. Veganista Ice Cream, Bio Eis Greissler, and Zanoni & Zanoni are fantastic. Veganista and Bio Eis have excellent vegan options!
Vienna is an excellent place for more than its schnitzel. As a global hub (home to the UN) there is an abundance of international cuisine all around the city. Here is our breakdown. Traditional Austrian: Figlmueller (famous for its schnitzel and their own wine), Plachutta (try the Tafelspitz – it’s boiled beef, but better than it sounds), Le Loft, Do & Co., Buxbaum (great for schnitzel), Mraz & Sohn (nothing short of excellent dining).
Some other yummy finds include Pizza Randale (try the Pizza Spencer and Pizza Zi Fonz!), Dots (for dim sum), Ulrich (go for their brunch), Figar, Ramasuri (excellent food and many vegetarian and vegan options), Karma Food (vegan friendly), Swing Kitchen (try the vegan schnitzel and burgers!), 1516 (a brewery on-site and good portions), Spelunke (we prefer the drinks, ambiance and light bites), and of course Neni am Naschmarkt (popular middle eastern food in the middle of the outdoor market, Naschmarkt).
Vienna has a lively wine scene and is one of the largest city wine producers – if not the largest with over 700 hectares of vineyards. Go and visit a Viennese Heuriger, which is a wine tavern where you can taste some of Vienna’s best wines and eat some food. UNESCO even considers Vienna’s “heuriger culture … an intangible cultural heritage”. We suggest going to the city’s outskirts in Kahlenberg, Grinzing, and Stammersdorf for not only great wine and culture but beautiful views.
Don’t forget that many shops and markets are closed on Sundays, a day of rest, so make sure you have what you need! There are some markets open in a few locations such as Billa at Praterstern and a number of pharmacies.
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 Wien.Info. “Viennese Wine & Heurige.” Accessed on Jan 22. 2022. Available at: https://www.wien.info/en/shopping-wining-dining/wine.