Vienna is one of my favourite cities in Europe and one of the most beautiful for sure! I am in Vienna on a regularly basis, often for work but also with my family or visiting my friend Crisi. Every season in Vienna has it´s charme, so you can go any time. It´s a great choice for a weekendtrip since the sights are close to each other and the publich transport is very good as well (easy and fast Metro system). If you want to stay longer, you can combine your trip with visiting Bratislava (only 1 hour away by bus/car) or Budapest (about 2,5 hours by train or car).
My Insider Tips for Vienna
Vienna offers a huge variety of hotels for everyone´s taste. I normally like to try something different every visit and that´s how I got to know many hotels. There are very elegant but also super cool hotels with unique designs in Vienna. Here are my favourites:
25 Hours Hotel
25 Hours Hotels are always my top choice when it comes to a hotel chain in Europe. Currently there are 8 hotels (in Berlin, Hamburg, Frankfurt, Zurich & Vienna) and I´ve been to most of them. I love the concept, which is unique, fresh, creative and kind of wild. Every 25 Hours Hotel follows a different motto. The 25 Hours Hotel Museumsquartier in Vienna (Website) is my favourite hotel.
The motto is “Circus” and you can find that theme in everydetail. It´s a fantasy world that plays with your imagination. The rooftop bar Dachboden offers nice views over Vienna and is a highlight that you shouldn´t miss. I don´t want to tell too much, more details about 25 Hours Hotel Museumsquartier will follow shortly in a seperate blog post 😉 …
Hotel Daniel (Website) is a cool, urban hotel with minimalist design. The location is good, close to Schloss Belvedere and the train station (about 20min walking to the centre). Rooms are basic but with a stylish, industrial design. Be warned: The shower is placed in the middle of the room and fully visible (so don´t book this hotel if you plan to go with a person you don´t know well enough ;). There is a great bakery downstairs, where you can have delicious cakes & coffee or just to hang out and relax (there is a swing as well!!). A funny detail of Hotel Daniel is the boat that is “stranded” on top of the buildung, it´s an artwork of Erwin Wurm.
Ruby Sofie (Website) is located in the former concert hall “Sofiensäle”, a beautiful historic building. The metro & CAT station (with direct access to the airport) is reachable within a 5min walk. My favourite breakfast spot Joseph Brot (check my article) is also around the corner. Ruby Sofie is an unconventional hotel for people who search a certain standard but without the primness of the old-fashioned elegant high class hotels. You can check in via ipad, you can rent a free guitar for your room (how cool is that!?), free bikes and there is a stylish bar that is open 24/7. The rooms have a minimalist design in white and brown with some vintage details.
The Melia Vienna (Website) is a sophisticated hotel, located in Austria´s tallest skyscraper, the Danube City Tower. The building is designed by French architect Dominique Perrault and has an impressive appearance. The location is a little bit outside of the city (on the other side of the Danube). It might not be the perfect choice if you are looking for a central hotel. The design of Melia Vienna is super stylish with black, white and silver elements. A highlight is the fancy 57 Lounge at the top of the building. The bar is a puristic jewel and offers a great drink selection. There is a dresscode for the bar!
Sights & Walking Tour
My favourite sights
I don´t want to go too much in detail about all the historic sights of Vienna, there are just too many… You can find great museums, imperial architecture, barock churches, beautiful parks, stunning castles on almost every corner of Vienna.
My personal favourites for almost every visit is the Schönbrunn Castle. This is a “Must-Do” for sure and even though I´ve been many times there already, it´s always lovely to walk around in the beautiful garden especially when the roses are blooming. Walk up the hill to the Gloriette. I cannot recommend the cafe itself (overpriced and nothing really special) but the view is stunning.
Another all time favourite is Naschmarkt, a very popular food market. The best time to visit Naschmarkt is on Saturday. You can walk around the food stalls, have a glass of wine and/or a snack and watch the bustle. My favourite place on Naschmarkt is Neni were you can eat the best Hummus in town (in many variations). The breakfast is great with lot´s of options (including the Hummus of course). If you still can´t get enough you can buy the Neni snacks in the supermarket as well. On Saturdays there is a nice vintage fleamarket at the end of Naschmarkt which you shouldn´t miss to visit.
I usually like to discover a city walking and Vienna offers great conditions since all the sights are very close to each other. This is my walking tour recommendation:
Karlsplatz & Secession
Start you tour at Karlsplatz and visit the pretty church Karlskirche and have a look at the beautiful Art Nouveau building of the metro station (Karlsplatz Stadtbahn Station). Walk to the architectural interesting Secession Building and admire it´s cupola of golden leaves. A taxi driver once told me that it has been used as a brothel for a while. I was shocked, I mean, seriously??
From Naschmarkt to Volksgarten
Continue your walk to Naschmarkt and enjoy the bustling atmosphere before you discover Gumpendorferstraße (with cool cafes), Neubaugasse (lovely vintage shops and cafes) or Mariahilfer Straße for some shopping. Afterwards go on to Museumsquartier and explore it´s courtyards. The trademark of Museumsquartier are the outdoor lounge seats (called “Enzi”) that are standing around all over the courtyards and invite to have a break, chill and watch people passing by.
After this rest continue to Maria-Theresien-Platz with it´s impressive museums. Turn left and walk up to the city hall Wiener Rathaus that looks like a fairytale castle. Check out also the Burgtheater opposite. Visit the lovely park Volksgarten and read the heart-warming donation messages of the roses. You can “adopt” a rose as a special gift for someone with a personal message. To me one of the most romantic gestures I can imagine.
Cross Heldenplatz towards the inner city and go on until the famous Hofburg and admire it´s beauty. Walk up the elegant shopping street Kohlmarkt and Graben until you finally reach Stephansplatz with Vienna´s landmark the St. Stephen’s Cathedral (Stephansdom). Turn back towards Kärtnerstraße and make a stop at STEFFL Department Store. Take the elevator up to the 7th floor and enjoy a great view (for free) of the Stephansdom and its beautiful colorful roof. If you are tired you can rest at the restaurant & bar Sky that has an outdoor terrace. As a last stop walk until the glamorous Hotel Sacher and gaze at the Vienna State Opera.
I love the traditional cafes in Vienna (“Kaffeehäuser”). There are plenty of them all over the city and each one has it´s own vintage charme. Time seems to stop in these places. People read newspapers (real paper ones that are usually fixed in a wooden rack which makes it more comfortable to read), meet friends, in some of the cafes people still smoke! (Vienna probably is the last place on earth) or simply enjoy a coffee.
I want to highlight my favourite places for you:
Cafe Jelinek (Website) might not be one of the most beautiful Viennese traditional cafes, but to me it´s one of the most authentic. Tourists rarely find this cafe that is hidden in a side street of Mariahilfer Straße. It is an old-fashioned gem with green velvet sofas and armchairs, an iron stove and aged wallpapers with brown patina. Nobody is in a rush here and you can enjoy a relaxed afternoon over coffee and cake.
Cafe Sacher (Website) definitely is a “Must-Do” as well. I recommend to go during the evening, since afternoons can be very busy and you might have to wait in a long queue. The original Sacher cake is a real treat. I´ve tried it in many other places, but nothing can beat the original. The decoration of the cafe is absolutely stunning. The waiters and waitresses wear beautiful classic uniforms and are very polite and friendly. Don´t forget to read the interesting story of Hotel Sacher and the cake in the “Sacher Newspaper” provided on every table. You can buy a Sacher cake as a souvenir in the shop next door.
Cafe Süssi (Website) is a cute little French tea salon with opulent barock interior. The cafe looks like a museum where you can spot numerous lovely details (silver cutlery, finest porcelain, paintings, …). Have your tea (and a little sweet sin) in a royal atmosphere.
A few more cafes:
- Demel (Website) is a gorgeous cafe dating back to 1888. Have a delicious cream cake (speciality here) and feel like the princess in one of the famous “Sissi” movies.
- Cafe Hawelka (Website) exists since 1945 and is a Viennese institution. 3 generations of Hawelkas have run the cafe. It is a meeting point for artists, writers and politicians. There even is a famous song about Hawelka called “Jö Schau” from Austrian songwriter Georg Danzer.
- Cafe Central (Website) has been a meeting hotspot for the intellectual crowd ever since it´s opening in 1876. The cafe is located on Herrengasse, not far away from Hofburg. The interior is wonderful, with high ceilings, ornaments, columns and classic furniture. On some afternoons there is live piano music. The cake is incredible!
Apart from the numerous wonderful classic cafes there are some more modern and cute ones that I want to introduce to you:
Pure Living Bakery
Pure Living Bakery (Website) has a friendly, laid back atmosphere. The cafe is decorated in white and turquoise with cute shabby-chic interior. There are 2 branches, one near Museumsquartier and one close to the Schönbrunn Castle. The cakes are great as well as their ice cream.
Cafe Espresso (Website) is a cute vintage cafe in 1950ies style. You can enjoy a snack such as differnt Focaccias or toasts as well as different breakfast options. Check out the funny retro pictures on the walls.
Phil (Website) is a mixture of bookshop & cafe. You can also buy records, DVDs and even furniture here. Located on vibrant Gumpendorferstraße it is a cosy spot for having a relaxed coffee or a long breakfast while you check out the latest bestsellers.
My favourite bar in Vienna is the sky bar Le Loft (Website) at the Sofitel Hotel. The bar & restaurant is located on the 18th floor and offers a spectacular 360° view over the city. I had dinner in the restaurant once, but it´s really pricey. Unless you have a reason to celebrate, I would recommend you to take a cocktail at the bar instead and enjoy the cool atmosphere and the amazing view. The crowd is rather fancy here.
Another great bar with a striking view to Stephansdom is the Onyx Bar (Website) at Do&Co Hotel Vienna. The bar is located at the 6th floor of the hotel and also attracts a fancy crowd.
Gerstner K. u. K. Hofzuckerbäcker
Gerstner is not a classic evening bar, but a great stop for a pre-dinner drink or for a shopping break after visiting the boutiques of Kärnterstraße. The cafe & bar is beautifully decorated with huge red-lamp-chandeliers and velvet red & purple sofas and lounge chairs. There is classic piano music playing in the backround and the atmosphere is dignified. I recommend to order one of the sweet Petit Fours with a glass of Prosecco. Isn´t that a great start of a night?
Get the best ice cream in town at Eis Greissler (Website). There are 2 shops in the centre, one at Mariahilfer Straße and one close to Stephansplatz. All ice cream ingredients are organic. The milk is provided fresh from their own cows (wow!). Try the ice cream with pumpkin seed oil (an Austrian speciality)!
If you are looking for a snack in between, I can suggest you 2 real Viennese classics. Have a cheese sausage with bread and mustard (called = Käsekrainer) at a Würstlstand (Viennese word for the traditional sausage stand). My favourite one is Bitzinger’s where you order Champagne with your Käsekrainer. Bitzinger´s has the best view for sure – the Viennese Opera is directly in front.
Another classic is Trzesniewski with 10 different shops all over the city. I still cannot pronounce the name, but Trzesniewski offers yummy bread slices with various spreads such as a egg, liver or some even more fancy variations. I love the old-fashioned atmosphere. The waitresses are wearing classic black uniforms with white aprons and cute little white caps. You can often see elegant old ladies that enjoy a glass of Prosecco or wine with their bread slices.
No Vienna visit is complete without a Schnitzel at Figlmüller (check my article). The Figlmüller Schnitzel definitely is the best in the world (and I have tried many many many ;). You can miss some of the sights in Vienna, but don´t miss Filgmüller, please! An absolute “Must-do”! Don´t forget to make a reservation in advance, it is always busy here. You can take the leftovers in a fancy bag home.
Said the butcher to the cow
Said the butcher to the cow (Website) is a cool burger restaurant with a unique design that reminds me the 25 Hours Hotel concept. The location is great, just around the corner of Vienna State Opera on elegant Opernring. The burgers are huge and really tasty with unusual variations such as pulpo ’n’ pork burger (with pork and octopus tentacle on top ;). I love the funny vintage style illustrations of butchers all over the restaurant.
If you are visiting Vienna during the warmer months I can highly recommend to visit a “Heuriger”. Heuriger is the Viennese word for a tavern where you can taste the regional wines. Typically these places are located more outside of the city within the wineyard area. Besides the wine, you can enjoy simple but delicious homemade snacks such as cheese or sausages. My favourite place is Heuriger Hirt (Website) located within the wineyards of Kahlenberg. The view of the Danube and Vienna is amazing. The atmosphere is really relaxed and friendly. As far as I know it´s not possible to go there by public transport, so you should either go by rental car or taxi.
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