Vienna. Home to some of the worlds most famous composers, streets lined with beautiful baroque styled buildings and played host to the legendary beauty (apparently) Queen Sisi. Recently I got to spend some time in Austria’s capital and the city has a lot to offer for a quick city break. Here is my selection to taste of a bite of Viennese swirl.
What To See
As with any city exploration, walking is the best way to take the city in. Vienna is structured like a spiders web, with three ring roads orbiting an interconnected set of streets. As such it is very hard to get lost, so take advantage of getting off the main streets and intersect your way through all the side streets and avenues. Remember to look up and admire the buildings as you walk on by, they are beautiful and almost too neat the way they are all aligned. Stephenplatz is a good central place to start off as it’s arguably the heart of the city and nice to explore downtown. Eastwards is where you will find the museum district and royal/ government buildings. The tourist walk has to be done. Strolling through Volksgarten is pleasant to eventually see the impressive Parliament Building and Rathaus, to get a taste of some gothic architecture. Learn about Beethoven and Queen Sisi in their respective museums. Although whoever declared Sisi as a legendary beauty clearly has not bothered to hop over the border to Eastern Europe let alone Asia. Heading to the north west is where you’ll find the less traditional; Tel Aviv beach adorned with street art, bustling Middle Eastern and further east cuisine restaurants, along with the hipster neighbourhood Leopoldstadt for the diverse communities.
What to Eat
Sorry, no schnitzel here from me! Which is a good thing as Vienna has a vast amount of non-European, vegetarian/ vegan restaurants and surprisingly, taste great. Habibi & Hawara has not only delicious Middle Eastern food but served under a great concept, where their staff are all refugees. Heading further east, Kuche 18 serves some great Chinese if you like it spicy. From the other side of the world, Qero is a highlight if you like or haven’t tried Peruvian food. Although modern in style, the flavours especially in their ceviche were yummytastic. For the vegetarian friendly, Lebenbaur serves up some lovely pasta and tempeh based dishes. Strandcafe, even though slightly out of the city centre, is a great place to kick back along the river with some grilled meat. If you are in town for breakfast or brunch, you could do far worse then Erich with its funky take on breakfast tacos. Don’t forget to finish off any meal with some good old fashioned ice cream at either Ferrari Gelato (be patient with the queue!) or Zanoni & Zanoni.
Where to Chill
Vienna has so many bars and coffee shops to relax in. Their coffee in particular is having a bit of a much needed boost in quality and taste, two places of note; Fürth Kaffee and Jonas Reindl. Check out my Coffee Session on these two here. For the requisite after dinner chill, albeit not too late as it’s not exactly party city here, there are some true hidden gems to end the night with. Needle Vinyl Bar tucked away down a narrow street with a great vinyl record theme fashioning the cute place. Krypt as it sounds is hard to find and situated in a basement, but you are rewarded with some cool decor, vibes and drinks. If you fancy being a Don, Planters can serve you a big fat cigar, or you could head to District for some amazing flavoured shisha. Service was amazing and friendly in all of these places. Why? They all smiled. Easy as that.
Leaving Vienna I realised the city truly is the gateway to the East. On one side you have the romance of a more classical time and on the other, the character and passion of the east seeping through. When a city knows its pretty and shows itself off, its only then polite to go, bask in its valour and take advantage. Peace & Love.
Check out other City Guides here.
Check out Coffee Sessions here.