Each year, my siblings and I like to travel to a new country or new city and spend some quality time together, and this year we picked Vienna, the capital city of Austria. And I have to be honest here: we picked it for no reason other than it being miraculously cheap for a mid-July break! However, the gamble paid off and I hand-on-heart adore Vienna and have even been absentmindedly browsing apartments there already… Classic Mish behaviour. So, I thought I’d cobble together my highlights and recommendations from our length five-day stay to create a new Daisybutter City Guide! Find my previous guides right here.
Where to Stay
As usual, we stayed in an Airbnb apartment for the duration of our trip. Situated in the bustling 7th district on the most hipster and blogger-friendly road, the apartment is split across two floors and sleeps up to six although the sofa bed was incredibly uncomfortable and so I ended up sharing a bed with my sister. I couldn’t recommend it more for the location (there’s several concept stores, a record store, independent coffee shops and vintage camera shops on the street below!) and decor, but we did have a few complications with checking in. Get £25 in travel credit on Airbnb by using my referral here!
I also considered booking us in to the stunning Hotel Rathaus, a boutique hotel in Vienna’s 8th district. The rooms all have high ceilings and a minimal design style, and I completely fell in love with the overall aesthetic. However for our five-day stay, it proved to be just a touch too pricey. You can get £15 off your next hotel reservation with booking.com using this link.
Where to Visit
One of several palaces in the city, Belvedere is worth a visit as much as Schönbrunn Palace is. Belvedere is home to some beautiful art and palace gardens, and it’s totally worth taking an hour or two to wander the grounds. Skip the Botanical Garden as it isn’t much to write home about.
Another of my must-see’s when I explore a new city are the cathedrals, but St. Stephen’s Cathedral, or Stephansdom, has to be the best yet. The interior architecture is absolutely breathtaking and you’ll definitely be similarly blown away. You can also choose to take a lift halfway up and view the city from above (€6) or walk some 300+ steps up to the very top for a completely panoramic view. I can’t decide if the interior or the panorama is more beautiful!
Sigmund Freud Museum
A little further out from the city centre, the Sigmund Freud Museum was another of my highlights. Tickets are kinda pricey but you do get to wander around his old apartment and treatment room. Inside are hundreds of artefacts to browse and you helpfully get given a guidebook so you can thoroughly read about each one. The museum is also undergoing a renovation due to complete in 2020, and I’ll definitely visit again once that’s open! It’s so insightful and interesting, even if Freud did have some questionable ideas.
This strip of market stands is a great way to spend any afternoon. Head there hungry, because there are SO many restaurants to choose from and the atmosphere is electric. There are also lots of classic market tat stands to see.
Where to Eat
After really struggling with eating vegetarian (and well!) on past trips in Europe, I wanted to make sure I had a roster of go-to restaurants across the city just in case. For instance in Spain I survived almost solely on patatas bravas except for our day in Barcelona, and in Budapest I ate a whole lot of bread and langos! Vienna was an absolute dream as it caters especially well for vegetarians and vegans, as well as regular meat and fish eaters. Here are my personal favourites:
Whilst I was fairly adamant we wouldn’t visit a burger joint on holiday, all three of us agreed that this was by far our favourite place to eat. Just 15 minutes’ walk from our Airbnb, this burger place features a fast food-style ground floor where you order at the counter, wait to collect and then find a seat, as well as an upper floor with table service. The menu is INSANE. Half the menu feature classic meat patties and an entire half is for veggie burgers that aren’t Portobello mushrooms. In fact, you can even choose between a chickpea or courgette patty. A dream! There’s also a sauce/condiment bar and an excellent selection of drinks. And, it’s all delicious to boot. I’d eat here everyday if I could.
Mariahilfer Str. 114, 1070 Wien, Austria
Hotel Sacher Cafe
On the recommendation of, well, almost everybody that replied to my Tweets and Stories requests for Vienna recommendations, I queued up in the pouring rain to try the world-famous Sachertorte at the hotel where it all began. And it was so worth it! The Sachertorte is served with a dollop of fresh cream that you’ll need to balance out the dryness of the sponge and the rich, chocolate coating, but the cake itself isn’t so dry that Mary Berry would have a word or two to say about it. The interiors here are stunning and, oddly enough, the service left a little to be desired. Our waitress literally rolled her eyes at us when we asked for the bill. But still — totally worth a visit!
Philharmoniker Str. 4, 1010 Wien, Austria
We stumbled upon Hungry Guy when we were extremely hungry and had been let down by our original dinner plans, but it was the greatest discovery ever! One of two branches in the city, they specialise in hummus and crafting platters of food served with fresh pita bread. With several vegetarian options for me, we grabbed a table and quickly ordered falafel, bratwurst and a bulgur wheat salad for me. And everything was so tasty we could’ve eaten it twenty times over! This place gets extremely busy and is a seat-yourself kind of place.
Rabensteig 1, 1010 Wien, Austria
You can’t visit Vienna without spending some time in at least one traditional Viennese coffee house. And my recommendation to you? The Wes Anderson-friendly Café Prückel on the border of the city’s old fortress walls. This café is a UNESCO heritage site and they offer Viennese cuisine, fresh pastries and coffee, along with a plethora of local and international newspapers. Stay an hour or stay all day and admire the plush pink furnishings and old-timey decor.
Stubenring 24, 1010 Wien, Austria
For fellow lovers of freshly squeezed juice, breakfast smoothie bowls and food focused on goodness, Juice Factory in the first district will be your port of call. I got London vibes here, but we were desperate for some respite from the heatwave and I hadn’t had a coffee in DAYS. Grab a smoothie and sit outside, where they provide bowls of water for dogs and you’ll probably be able to pet a cute fluff ball while you sip.
Marco-d’Aviano-Gasse 1, 1010 Wien, Austria
Lastly, this vegan street food bar is situated at the opening of Naschmarket, although isn’t part of the market itself. They have an extensive, delicious menu — go for their Not Dogs and thank me later.
Rechte Wienzeile 1B, 1040 Wien, Austria
Things to Do
Vienna is a small but busy city and it’s certainly possible to fit all of the main attractions into a long weekend visit. We enjoy travelling like locals, not only enjoying the classic tourist destinations but also picking up local cuisine to rustle up at home, wandering down secluded lanes to discover eateries off the beaten track, and spending hours in parks people-watching. As we had the luxury of spending five days there, here are some bonus things to add to your itinerary, if you have a spare slot.
Free Walking Tour
On our first full day, we decided to go on a free walking tour, provided by Prime Tours. My brother had been on a few of their walking tours for other cities and recommended we go to one, so at 11am, we waited outside the Opera House and embarked on it! The tour was incredibly thorough and insightful and our guide was amazing. All in all, the walking tour lasts about 2 hours (wear comfy shoes!) and you can leave at any time. It’s also encouraged to donate some money to the tour (we gave €10 each), but of course the tour guides are paid a salary.
Visit the Vienna Opera House
Even if opera isn’t your bag, the State Opera House is pretty damn impressive. It holds the title for the most productions per year, the record for the longest standing ovation (80 minutes) and highest number of curtain calls (89, for Swan Lake in 1969). Vienna isn’t nicknamed the City of Music for nothing! The building is oh so impressive — head to the Albertina Terrace to get the best view for a photo and to admire the stunning Neo-Renaissance architecture.
Did you know that you can pick up standing tickets to performances at the Opera House for just €3? Yes! There’s varying availability depending on the production you choose, but you can pick up standing room tickets for €3-4 from as early as the day before the performance and, for more popular productions, 80 minutes before. There’s a standing room box office within the building.
Eat at a Würstelstand in the middle of the night
These hot dog stands can be found all across the town and are famously open 24/7. However there are no vegetarian options which sucks. Our walking tour guide pointed one out to us and remarked that they’re infamous for being open day-long as girls often go after their first ever Vienesse ball, ballgown and all, for a late-night bratwurst snack!
Go to a Vienesse Ball!
One of my favourite scenes from The Hills is the one where Lauren and Whitney are interning at the debutante ball in Paris, because the time-honoured tradition and beautiful gowns are just so otherworldly to me. So, when our walking tour guide noted that the aforementioned Würstelstand were almost a rite of passage for Vienesse girls post-ball, I made it my mission to learn more.
Sadly from what I gather, the Balls are a winter tradition so I’ll have to wait until my next visit to Vienna (soon, I hope!). You can learn more about the different balls on the Austria Tourism Board site too.
Hike in the Vienna Woods
More of an outdoorsy girl? Hike! Vienna isn’t the most hike-friendly city, but head to the Vienna Woods to breathe in some incredibly fresh air and take in some breathtaking views while you’re at it. There are hundreds of routes and the entrances are all clearly sign-posted. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or are just starting out, there’ll be something for you. We did an 18k hike around one portion of the woods, ending at the stunning Hermesvilla which was a palace of Princess Elisabeth or ‘Sisi’.