Our love for Vienna is an understatement. We are lucky to be frequent visitors and even had the opportunity to live there for a while, although for way too short of a time. While Vienna is loaded with world-famous attractions, you can see some of our top tourist sights here; we love some of the more local spots. The best advice we can give anyone visiting Vienna…go off the beaten path. Walk down the side streets. You will find so much more of what makes Vienna so easy to explore and you’ll fall in love instantly. Unless you’ve already tried the wine, in that case, you’re already in love!
Here are some of our favorites:
Naschmarkt is Vienna’s biggest and most well known market. There are over 120 stalls and vendors selling all types of food imaginable. Besides all the stalls selling goods, Naschmarkt is loaded with great bars, restaurants, and cafes. Whether you are looking for Turkish cuisine, classic Austrian, Italian, Vietnamese, seafood…you are bound to find it here. This is a great place to grab a drink, relax, and do some fantastic people watching as it always seems to be bustling.
Walking through Naschmarkt
It’s easy to visit Naschmarkt as a tourist. You can easily get caught up in the throngs of people slowly walking through the stalls, taking pictures, being asked to sample some sort of olive, ect., but the best time to come is past 5 pm. It’s a more relaxed atmosphere and you can enjoy that glass of Zweigelt in a bit more peace.
One of the many stalls
The side streets leading away from Naschmarkt are worth exploring as well. In this trendy district, you can find some of the best restaurants and bars in Vienna. These places offer a slice of the real Vienna that you can’t find in the more touristy zones.
Mariahilfer Strasse between Westbahnhof (the regional train station serving westbound trains) and the Ring Strasse (ring road) is a famous pedestrianized shopping street. While most tourists head to the Kärntner Strasse in the inner city to shop, the locals head here. Here you will find all the major international labels as well as some more offbeat stores.
Walking down Mariahilferstrasse
There are plenty of eating options lining the road as well. For a classic Viennese café experience, head to Café Ritter located about halfway along the street. However, if you’re on more of a budget or want a quick meal, head to Turkis Turkish Kebab stand. Just try it, you’ll thank us.
Just try it!
Again, the side streets of Mariahilfer Strasse are interesting and worth a look. Neubaugasse is filled with smaller boutiques and restaurants. Zollergasse is a great street to visit some nice local bars. We recommend Ganz Wien for a great local atmosphere.
Just a short walk away from the Mariahilfer Strasse is the neighborhood of Spittelberg. This is without a doubt one of our favorite areas of Vienna. Spittelberg is almost like a village within the city. The area consists of small houses from several hundred years ago lining cobblestone streets. There is even a little town square and a theater.
One of our favorite streets in Spittelberg
This is a great place to go out for an evening. There are many nice restaurants here. One of our absolute favorites is Amerling Beisl. This restaurant has a beautiful courtyard with a retractable transparent roof so you can dine “outdoors” year round.
During the Christmas season, there is a very popular Christmas market that takes place in this charming neighborhood.
The Museum Quartier is by no means a “locals only” spot. This is actually a massive cultural complex where amazing architecture meets art. There are over 60 cultural institutions in the Museum Quartier, including some of Vienna’s best museums. The Leopold Museum, MUMOK (Museum of Modern Art), and Kunsthalle Vienna are all located here. While you can spend hours perusing through all the culture, you don’t even have to enter a building to enjoy this area. The inner courtyards of the Museum Quartier are where locals head to on nice summer days to sit back and relax and soak up the atmosphere.
There are plenty of bars and cafes where you can grab a drink or something to snack on and do some great people watching. Or even feel free to bring your own beer (no shame in bringing your own roadie!). Throughout the summer, there are numerous special events taking place such as concerts, film screenings, and festivals to keep you busy.
Grab a drink or visit a museum!
The Bermuda Triangle
This is a really interesting neighborhood no matter what time of day or night. Heading up into the city from the Schwedenplatz subway station, you will pass through one of Vienna’s oldest neighborhoods. It is actually now known as one of Vienna’s main nightlife areas with plenty of pubs, bars, and clubs. It is actually called the Bermuda Triangle because people have been known to wander in and never leave again. Don’t worry though, it is just a joke! It draws a younger crowd and some places are definitely a bit cheesy but there are also some older pubs that have been there for a long time that are well worth visiting.
This area is also interesting as it was Vienna’s original Jewish neighborhood. It is an interesting area to wander around by daylight as it is filled with narrow cobblestones lanes and small squares. In this neighborhood, you can find Vienna’s oldest synagogue as well as a Jewish social hall. There are several restaurants as well as a hotel if you desire to be in the middle of all the action.
Bonus: The Viennese Sausage Stand
If you spend even a few hours in Vienna, you are bound to see at least a handful of sausage stands. These small kiosks are scattered around the city and are especially prevalent outside the entrance of subway stations.
One of the many sausage stands!
Many Viennese take these seriously (so does Margaret) and they are especially popular in the late night hours. For an inexpensive lunch, dinner or snack, head to the nearest kiosk. Your mind is blown away by all the options and different kinds of sausages available. We recommend getting the Käsekrainer, which is sausage stuffed with cheese, or the Serbian sausage, which is typically stuffed inside a roll for you, or the …… when asked, always and only ask for mustard. Typically, it’s served with a semmel (Austrian bread roll) or a slice of bread. If you want to be a bit more adventurous, you can try the leberkäse. Leberkäse translates to “liver cheese,” but no need to fear, there is no liver or cheese in this square patty shaped meat products. It’s sausage, just shaped differently and it comes in a semmel, like a hamburger. It’s delicious and you’ll be officially more local if you grab this.
Now here’s a little secret and confession on our part. We’ve been living in Germany for over 4 years. Yes, Germany has some amazing sausages and bread (hello, still have that 5 pounds of sausage eating wrapped around our waists!). However, we understand what we’re about to say is going to make heads roll and get people steamed, possibly might even loose some readers or get us kicked out of the country, but we’re going to say it anyways. Austria, hands down, has the BEST sausage and bread out of any country we’ve ever visited and/or lived in. So eat as much of this staple as you can! You’re on vacation, right?!
No matter the reason you’re going to Vienna, as a first time visitor or on your third or tenth trip, there is always something to discover. There is always a new street to wander down, a new restaurant to try, a new pub to drink your favorite beverage, or an iconic building to peer at. For us, Vienna has always been our favorite city to visit, which is why we keep coming back. Many might tell us that we’ve left off several major sights and attractions that this city of magic has to offer. Of course we did. Vienna, for us, is a special place, which is why we only wrote about our favorites. Make Vienna your own and when you do, you’ll also return again. Maybe one day you’ll see us at the local kebab stall or sausage stand. Until then, cheers!
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