The Austrian capital has always been dignified, but there’s a thick layer of whipped cream around almost every corner. Its baroque architecture, art galleries and museums, rich musical heritage and café’s and cakes have been magnets for tourists. Read on for our pick of the city’s best museums, galleries, lunch spots, drinking dens and more.
Things to See
For many visitors, Vienna’s attractions lie primarily in its fascinating history, which is particularly tangible when walking through the city centre, past Stephansdom and Hofburg Palace, and along the Ringstrasse boulevard. As most museums, churches and shops are within this area it is well worth discovering these sites on foot with a couple of breaks in between at one of the countless street cafés.
Where to Stay
Part of the city’s appeal is its compact centre (‘innere stadt’), which forms the 1st District. All the sights, restaurants and cafés and best places to stay in Vienna are within an easy walk. The medieval city is contained by a broad horseshoe-shaped road of 19th-century palaces, the Ringstrasse, where all the grand old hotels are found.
Although a 1st District address is plum, the neighbouring districts, such as 4th, 7th and 8th, are still convenient and the hotels often better value. Viennese hotels are, almost without exception, well-run and pristine (even the most modest pension has good quality linen), but many are decorated in an oppressive Biedermeier style. We have tried to ferret out the elegant ones, as well as recommending a number of fresh, contemporary boutique hotels.
What to Eat
The restaurants in Vienna are some of the world’s best. There is plenty of old school Austrian cuisine to pick from, ranging from the famed local frankfurters and schnitzel to the tafelspitz boiled beef in broth. Make sure to make a pilgrimage to Zum Schwarzen Kameel (The Black Camel), which is where Beethoven dined and has been serving patrons for 400 years! It’s Viennese ham is the talk of the town. Another great spot is Steirereck, named as one of the world’s 50 best restaurants, with 120 types of cheeses to go with everything else on the menu.
Where to Shop
Vienna’s largest open-air food market, the Naschmarkt, opens Monday to Saturday. Admire the stalls’ bounty, from buckets of tulips to pickles, wines and plump, purple-flushed figs, stopping for breakfast at Do-An or Tewa. On Saturdays, it’s worth getting here at 7am or earlier to clock a bargain at the flea market, located beside Kettenbrückengasse U-Bahn station. Alongside the market, look out for the lovely Otto Wagner Houses at nos.38 and 40 – the latter’s tiles embossed with vines and flowers.