Vienna Travel Guide

Vienna Travel Guide

Bernhard Melzer

Are you looking for a place that is easily accessible from all over the world and a great city to spend a weekend or even a week? You just found the right place – Vienna. Austria’s capital is ideal for a romantic getaway with your spouse, a fun weekend with friends or even an adventure all by yourself. Vienna’s points of interest are numerous and cover every aspect to make your trip as perfect and memorable as possible. Music, art, fashion, cuisine – the list of things to do in Vienna is endless.

The best hotels in Vienna

Vienna is renowned for its cultural and artistic assets, so why not stay at a hotel that is somewhat of a museum itself? At the edge of one of Vienna’s most vibrant districts (Neubau), you will find the Sans Souci, one of Vienna’s newest and finest boutique hotels. Admire the owner’s art collection, from Roy Lichtenstein to Steve Kaufman, throughout the whole building. Whether in the morning before breakfast or after a long day discovering the city you might want to swim some lengths in the hotel’s indoor sports pool or enjoy the big spa area featuring all the facilities and treatments you can think of. Handpicked antiques, modern exclusive furniture and the attention to detail create a luxurious opulence that does not fail to create a casual and easy atmosphere.

Right in the heart of the city centre, next to Vienna’s tourist attractions such as the State Opera, the Albertina Museum and numerous other well-known venues you can find The Guesthouse Vienna. British Designer Sir Terence Conran, responsible for the interior, created an ambience of cosiness that allows people to unfold in the most relaxing way imaginable. Nothing was left to chance regarding the interior design. Straight-lined with a touch of extravagance the concept runs like a golden thread through the whole hotel. The Guesthouse’s philosophy has just the right balance between making you feel at home and trying to bring some of Vienna’s and Austria’s culture to its guests. Another good reason to stay at this place is waking up to the smell of freshly baked buns and croissants from the hotel’s own bakery.

Located on the famous Ring Boulevard, which encircles the inner district, lies the Grand Ferdinand. It is next to old hotels that were established when the royal Habsburg family ruled Austria over a hundred years ago. The special thing about this hotel that distinguishes it from neighbouring ones is the way it combines tradition with modernism. Beauty from the past and amenities from today form the base of the hotel’s design and atmosphere. A stay at the Grand Ferdinand is like walking a narrow path between the opulence of past decades and elegant modern design. One of the hotel’s highlights is the rooftop pool, allowing you to take a dip above Vienna’s roofs and overlooking the city.

Grand Ferdinand

Grand Ferdinand

Things to do in Vienna

If you are not sure what to do in Vienna, don’t be afraid, there are millions of things. Actually, you would have to write an encyclopaedia to list everything that is worth doing. Nevertheless, it should include a walk around the inner city and on the Ring Boulevard. You will pass most of the major architectural sights such as the parliament, the town hall and the state opera house and be able to get a great overview over the city’s oldest and most prominent district.

Listed as Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO a visit to one of the Viennese coffee houses is a must-do during your visit. Existing for hundreds of years these coffee houses remain a traditional institution appreciated by both locals and visitors. One of the most famous cafés among those cafés is the Café Sacher offering the original Sachertorte, a chocolate cake filled with apricot jam served with whipped cream.

If you prefer a coffee house a bit more off the beaten track, you should give Café Savoy a try, probably Vienna’s oldest gay coffee house. The old-style interior with its huge mirrors is definitely in contrast with the café’s social-cultural mindset, which is everything but antiquated. Diversity is appreciated, and the Savoy welcomes everyone regardless of orientation, sex, age, religion or ethnicity.

Vienna is not only the political and cultural capital of Austria but also the culinary one. Everyone can try great restaurants and have amazing food throughout their stay in Vienna, but what about learning how to cook Viennese specialities like Schnitzel or Apfelstrudel. Meissl & Schadn, the restaurant within the Grand Ferdinand Hotel offers such cooking courses.

Palmenhaus | Photo: Gregor Lechner

Palmenhaus | Photo: Gregor Lechner

Where to eat in Vienna

Earlier in this travel guide, we already worshipped the Austrian and Viennese cuisine. Due to Austria’s location in the heart of Europe, the local cuisine is influenced by so many regions and cultural circles such as Hungary or Bohemia. Also, being a melting pot of cultures from all over the world, Vienna boasts a vast culinary offering.

A cute little restaurant with the nicest staff is the Woracziczky. The restaurant offers great typical Austrian dishes using regional and local goods which give the food an even more distinct Viennese touch. The setting within an old tavern, including panelled walls and small séparées, will guarantee an unforgettable evening.

An institution both within and outside Vienna’s gay scene is the Motto. The Motto’s menu offers both Austrian and International classics. Therefore you can enjoy the Wiener Schnitzel without having to take a pass on your beloved Beef Tartar. The Motto’s interior always provides enough topics for conversation. I am not going to spoil at this point, you will see for yourself. The green velvet, the used look of the walls and the black marble – it all fits perfectly together to create an atmosphere taking you back to a dinner club in the 1960s. Since the Motto also has its own bar, you don’t even need to switch location for your cocktails afterwards.

Whether you want to have breakfast, lunch, dinner or just a drink, the Palmenhaus caters you all day long. Its location in the city centre right next to the Albertina Museum and the Imperial Palace is perfect for a break from discovering Vienna. The Palmenhaus owes its name to its location within an old imperial greenhouse in the art nouveau style. Especially in the winter the Palmenhaus is a haven from cold and grey weather and manages to take you somewhere exotic.

Just in case you feel like having something Asian, you need to go to ON Market. This restaurant right next to the Naschmarkt serves fantastic Asian fusion food.

Naschmarkt | Photo: Bernhard Melzer

Naschmarkt | Photo: Bernhard Melzer

Shopping in Vienna

No matter whether you just want to buy souvenirs for your loved ones or add the latest trends to your wardrobe, Vienna has some old established places as well as hidden gems when it comes to shopping.

A place that is probably featured in every travel guide about Vienna is the Naschmarkt. Nevertheless, you should not miss a stroll through this vast open-air market area. The Naschmarkt welcomes visitors Monday to Saturday regardless of the weather. Stroll in-between the market stalls, enjoy samples from the friendly merchants offering food and goods from all over the world or have a coffee in one of the numerous restaurants. In addition to the regular market that is mainly about food, spices and delicacies the parking space next to the Naschmarkt turns into a flea market every Saturday. If you take some time to browse the antiques, paintings and curiosities, you will no doubt be rewarded with some unique souvenirs.

Not far from the Naschmarkt you will find Mariahilfer Strasse, which is one of the most prominent shopping streets in Vienna. However, if you are looking for a more off the beaten track shopping experience you want to make a turn from Mariahilfer Strasse into the Neubau district. Neubau, Vienna’s 7th district, is known for its vast array of artisanal shops and independent brands. From young Viennese fashion designers to aspiring artists – Neubau really is a vibrant area, catering to those who appreciate quality and avoid off-the-rack goods.

Vienna nightlife

Vienna’s nightlife might be a bit more modest in scale than that of other major European cities, but you are guaranteed to have a blast if you know where to go. We recommend you start your night out with a drink in the Krypt Bar. Mostly known to insiders, the Krypt Bar welcomes guests in an airy, high-ceilinged basement offering exquisite cocktails. The redbrick walls and the prominent green painting behind the bar will catch your attention. With some luck, you will even get a free shot, which they offer from time to time.

In case you are up for a bit of clubbing after cocktails, then there are some clubs that come highly recommended. If you feel like dressing up and partying among the bold and the beautiful you should pay a visit to Volksgarten. The centrally located Volksgarten tends to cover two floors (both outdoor and indoor) and plays everything from House to RnB. Make sure to check their website for upcoming events.

If you are looking for something more alternative and off the beaten track you could go to Club U right at Karlsplatz. The Club U hosts all kinds of different parties and events from Kibbutz Klub (a queer party playing Israeli trash among other genres) to Rhinoplasty (very special, very alternative, very gay [merry]). And finally, check Club Auslage for queer parties and events.

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