Vienna, the capital of Austria, is truly the definition of a cultural hub. It takes just minutes of walking around the city to realize this. From its remarkable historic buildings and countless museum to the rich café culture and devotion to classical music, the city oozes an unparalleled sense of sophistication. If it’s your first time in Vienna, here is a beginners guide with everything you need to know to enjoy this stunning place, including things to do, where to stay and foods you simply must try (including lots of cake)!
The centre of Vienna is very easy to walk around. In fact, there is one main ring road that encapsulates the city centre, making it hard to get lost! There is a lot to see in Vienna on different sides of the city and the easiest way to get to these places is via U-Bahn. You can buy one-way tickets at any U-Bahn station or purchase a Vienna Card that will give you unlimited public trasnsport use for 24, 48 or 72 hours.
Things to See
1. Schönbrunn Palace & Gardens
2. State Hall in the National Library
4. The Parliament Building
6. St Peter’s Church
1. Sacher Torte
Possibly the most famous culinary delight of Vienna, Sacher Torte is a rich, dark chocolate cake filled with orange marmalade and is something that must be tried when visiting the city. Although you’ll find it in cafes all over the city, Hotel Sacher claims to be the original birthplace of the dessert. Of course, this means it is the busiest and most expensive place to try it, but it is an experience to ‘tick off the bucketlist’.
2. Wiener Schnitzel
Austria is the birthplace of schnitzel, so make sure you try this traditional meal whilst you are here! Figlmüller is one of the most popular places to try a giant schnitzel (they even have a cheese-filled vegetarian option), but the place gets very busy so make sure you book in advance.
Another traditional sweet treat you must get your hands on when in Vienna is the ‘Apfelstrudel’. The flaky pastry and sweet apple filling is the perfect accompaniment to a hot drink from one of Vienna’s many coffee houses.
4. Austrian Wine
There is no shortage of outstanding, locally-produced wines in Vienna so definitely take the opportunity to try a few of them out!
Things to do
1. Experience a night of Classical Music
After exploring the sights and tastes of Vienna, it’s time to dive in to a cultural experience through sound. For lovers of classical music, the Sound of Vienna at Kursalon makes for an unforgettable night. The performance showcases the rich heritage of Vienna through the flawless playing of Strauss and Mozart compositions. If I am to be honest, I wasn’t sure how thrilling an evening of classic music would be, but I honestly had my expectations exceeded. We started the night with a four-course meal at the adjacent restaurant before proceeding to a gorgeous ballroom, where massive chandeliers served as the backdrop for the show. The next two hours consisted of delightful array of symphony, vocal and ballet performances, with a quick break for sparkling wine in the interval. It really was a highlight of my time in Vienna! You can find out more or book this experience through Viator.
1. Go Cafe-hopping
Vienna is famous for its coffee culture so don’t leave the city without checking out a few of the city’s finest café establishments! Here are a few of the most popular:
- Café Central
- Café Bellaria
- Café Imperial Wien
- Café Mozart
3. Check out the Naschmarkt
Naschmarkt is Vienna’s most famous market and offers a delightful selection of traditional Viennese and international specialities. It is a great spot to grab a bite to eat for lunch or pick up some fresh produce. Every Saturday, the space becomes a hub of activity as it turns into a flea market.
Places to stay
Budget $- Wombats City Hotel “The Naschmarkt”
Located in a fantastic spot overlooking Vienna’s largest market, the Wombats City Hostel offers the best value-for-money accommodation in the city. The hostel itself is super modern and clean and offers excellent facilities, including a cool communal room, luggage storage facilities, free wifi and an affordable breakfast.
Mid-range $$- Ruby Marie Hotel Vienna
This quirky boutique accommodation certainly pushes the boundaries of a conventional hotel experience. The hotel offers chic, modern rooms, an expansive breakfast buffet and facilities such as a yoga room, a movie theater and shared work space room with books and complimentary tea. If you want an affordable, non-generic hotel experience, this is the place for you!
Luxury $$$- Park Hyatt Hotel Vienna
During my visit in Vienna, I stayed at the Park Hyatt Hotel. Located very centrally within the famous museum quarter of the city, it was an ideal base to explore this beautiful city. The hotel itself was a lovely balance of grandeur and cosmopolitan flair. Marble lined the floors and chandeliers hung from the roof, yet the walls popped with eclectic artwork, making the space feel elegant yet unpretentious.
The Park Hyatt offers 143 rooms and 35 suites plus a day spa, pool and fitness center on site. I stayed in a twin room, which was beautifully decorated, spacious and offered a delightful little window terrace where you could sit and watch horse and carriages trotting through the streets below. Alongside the lovely room and central location, the staff were exceptionally helpful and would always be on call should we need something. For example, on my last morning, I accidentally slept through my alarm. I was so excited to indulge in the lavish breakfast buffet one more time, but when I came downstairs, I found that everything had been cleared. After the initial heartbreak, one of the very kind staff offered to see if there was anything left for me to eat and ended up coming back armed with omelettes, pastries, a delicatessen platter and coffee! It was the sweetest gesture and showed how much the staff go above and beyond here!
Want to see more from this beautiful city? Take a peek at the video below for my top things to do in Vienna on my shiny new YouTube Channel!