When I though of Vienna, I imagined grand baroque architecture, delicious coffee, sachertort and weiner schnitzel – a checklist of sorts. In my short 3 days that I spent in the city, I had my fill of all of those things. But at the same time, I was perhaps even more excited about the everyday stuff, like finding a quiet cafe with a great cup of coffee and something sweet. People watching in a park, making use of Vienna’s efficient public transport, and eating my way through the Naschmarkt. If I had more time here, I’m sure I would have eventually gotten around to the more touristic things, but I truly enjoyed just wandering around the city – everywhere I turned it seemed to beckon me to fall in love. I have a feeling I will be back and I would love to experience Vienna in a different season, perhaps visiting a Christmas Market in the snow!
>> There are general tips below, but for WHERE to eat and drink in with a handy map view, check out this Vienna list on Foursquare that I created based on all of your recommendations. There’s also a Twitter feed embedded if you scroll to the bottom of this post, which is helpful for the absolute latest news.
>> View photos from my (too) short time in Vienna here.
Map of Austria
Things to Do in Vienna
- Visit the Naschmarkt – a collection of permanent stalls and restaurants (aka foodie heaven) where you can choose from a variety of cuisines and specialties (Jewish, Pan-Asian, fish, cheese, antipasti, etc.) and a large flea market on Saturdays. A great guide to some of the stalls is here and you can watch Anthony Bourdain visit a shop called Urbanek there in the video below.
- Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss – The galleries in the Upper Belvedere have many of Klimt’s works, including The Kiss. Admission is a hefty 15 euro per person, but the gardens surrounding the palace are free to enter.
- Vineyards with a view at Kahlenburg – it may be a bit far from downtown out in the 19th district, but it’s still reachable by bus 38A if you plan well. The wine villages you’ll pass through to get to the peak are charming and you can see all the way over the city below.
- Go for a run – there’s a great running culture in Vienna, the air is clean, beautiful parks are plentiful and there aren’t many hills especially in the city center. This is a great city to explore on foot.
- Soak up the coffee culture – there are coffee shops all around Vienna, some traditional, others more trendy. No matter what, the common theme is that you are invited to linger as long as you like. Newspapers are provided to get your fill of international news, then sit and talk it over with a friend or people watch on the street as the world goes by.
What to Eat in Vienna
I was actually quite impressed by the diversity of cuisines I saw in Vienna. I had been expecting hearty goulash, schnitzel and potatoes, and lots of pastries, but there were tons of ethnic food options influenced by visitors and immigrants. I saw lots of pan-Asian places (though I can’t comment on the quality), Bosnian, Indian, Mexican even Turkish. In fact, I probably heard more Turkish than English in everyday conversations that I eavesdropped on. 😉
- Weiner Schnitzel – crispy cutlet served with potato salad. Note: though you can get chicken or pork, the traditional Viennese schnitzel is made with veal. People often recommend Figlmuller for a traditional favorite, but note that you should make reservations in advance.
- Sacher Torte – You can find this all over the city, but the original is at Hotel Sacher with coffee, of course. It’s overpriced but with a lavish interior and is conveniently located opposite the famous Opera House in downtown.
- Käsespätzle –
- dumplings –
- apple strudel –
- beef tartare –
What to Drink in Vienna
- Coffee – there are so many coffeehouses throughout the city, but one that is constantly mentioned for both it’s delicious coffee and history is Cafe Central. I also had a nice breakfast at Cafe Ritter, opened in 1867 and lovingly preserved.
- Beer – Ottokring Brewery is located out in the 16th district but its many (delicious!) beers are on tap all over the city.
- Wine – Head up to Kahlenburg to visit the wine taverns on the hill in the 19th district above the city. Austria is unique among European cities in that there are vineyards located within the city limits.
- Spritzers –
- Schnapps –
- Current US State Department Info – Austria
- An Austrian Adaptation – love this site from an Australian expat in Vienna with helpful lists like 8 Restaurants to Try Traditional Austrian Food and she apparently shares my love for lists (40 before 40, 30 before 30) because she has a Vienna List of 50 things to do in 52 weekends. Love the ambition!
A special mahalo to those who helped with tips… Maid, Ayse, Adriana, Lex,