Austria’s capital on the Danube is historic and modern all at once. Vienna is a city with over a million inhabitants, yet, at the same time, cozy. In the 23 districts, as the neighborhoods are called here, born and bred Viennese live together with people from nearly every country in the world and enjoy the highest quality of life worldwide. One of the plus points of this city is that around half of it is grassland and forests, which means that the air quality is excellent.
Most important areas at a glance:
Wien © Palais Coburg Residenz
1st District - Inner City: Historical center, International public & Nightlife
The 1st district is the heart of Vienna. The most famous sights (St. Stephen’s Cathedral, Town Hall), art (opera, Burgtheater), culture (many museums), beautiful parks but also world-famous designer shops, antique dealers, restaurants and other places are located in the city center of Vienna, not far apart from each other.
Sight-seeing center: Vienna’s city center is full of sights that are loved by the Viennese as well as by visitors from around the world. From ancient Roman excavations (Michaelerplatz) to centuries-old historic buildings to modern buildings with mirror façades (Haas Haus am Stephansplatz), you can reach everything by foot, public transport or, if you want to have a very special experience, by horse-carriage known as “fiaker.” Large parts of the city center are pedestrian zones. A tram ride will also take you past the main attractions along the Ringstraße (State Opera, museums, Hofburg, Parliament, City Hall, Burgtheater, University).
Museum Quarter: The magnificent buildings of the Natural History and Art History Museums are on Ringstraße and flank the monument of Empress Maria Theresia. Both museums are considered among the most important museums in the world. In the Natural History Museum, night tours, guided tours with a cultural breakfast (sparkling wine and salmon), special tours for children, etc are in demand among Viennese and tourists alike. The Hofburg awaits with the Imperial Apartments, the Sissi Museum, treasury and many more sights. The Albertina exhibits important art collections in a classical palace. Visitors can enjoy permanent and changing special exhibitions of works by Monet and Picasso as well as pop art by Roy Lichtenstein. Albrecht Dürer’s, ‘Young hare’ is also on display here.
Kirchenzentrum: The largest and most famous church in Vienna is the landmark of the city, St Stephen’s Cathedral, bearing the Viennese nickname, "Steffl." The oldest parts of the church date back to the 13th century. The views from the top of the tower are breathtaking. Bishops and cardinals are buried in the catacombs beneath the cathedral. Vienna’s oldest church is the small Ruprechtskirche from the 8th century, near the Danube Canal. Other must-see churches in the city center are the Karlskirche, the Peterskirche and the Michaelerkirche.
Theater & Music: The Viennese love going to the theater and the opera, with the Burgtheater and the Staatsoper, both in the 1st district, being top priority. The Burgtheater mainly plays classics that are often staged in a completely new way. Some of the best singers in the world have performed their acclaimed concerts at the Staatsoper. It’s not easy to get tickets. For opera fans, a visit to a performance is certainly a highlight of a visit to Vienna. There are beehives on the roof of the opera - the special opera honey is one of the most eagerly-awaited opera favors at the Vienna Opera Ball every year.
Luxury shopping: The Kohlmarkt between Graben and Michaelerplatz is the most expensive shopping street in Vienna boasting Cartier, Tiffany, Chanel, Armani and Gucci. There are not many who can afford to buy here, the majority of people simply window shop. One of the few remaining Austrian shops is k.& k. Hof- und Kammerlieferanten Rozet & Fischmeister (court and chamber supplies), which was founded in 1770, and where you can buy silverware amongst other things. Around Kohlmarkt, the well-to-do can also allow themselves to be pampered by sophisticated cobblers and tailors. If you want to spend the night in a luxury hotel in Vienna, stay at the Steigenberger Hotel Herrenhof in Herrengasse. It is located just 150 meters from Michaelerplatz.
Antiques & Accessory shopping: The downtown palaces have a unique ambience where you can do your shopping or just have a look around. At Palais Ferstel, you can find fine furnishings, exquisite jewelery shops and antique dealers, special chocolate at Xocolat and the Café Central, a Viennese institution. The Palais Harrach boasts a number of art galleries and Dorotheergasse houses one of the world’s leading auction houses, the Dorotheum.
Hip and “In” venues: The trendiest district for an evening out in the city center of Vienna is known as “the Bermudadreieck.” It is in the area around the Rabensteig, Seitenstetten and Judengasse, with trendy bars, clubs and restaurants, and is frequented primarily by very young people. Some restaurants have a “Schanigarten, ” as they call the tables and chairs set up on the sidewalk in Vienna, which is especially cozy and pleasant.
Parks: The city park is the most famous park, which is partly located in the 1st district. Trees, shrubs, meadows and the monument of Johann Strauss can be found here. It is especially popular with Japanese tourists who like to take souvenir photos there. The castle garden entices some visitors to take a short break on the wonderful lawn, where you can have your photo taken at Mozart’s side. The Volksgarten is where you can not only rest your tired feet but also dance well in to the evenings. The Rathauspark on both sides of the Rathausplatz and opposite the Burgtheater welcomes you with two fountains and magnificent, primal trees.
Open-Air at Rathausplatz and Christkindlmarkt: The mayor of the city is the ruler of the town hall. This fairy-tale-like building and the square in front of it serves as the venue for festivals and events several times a year, namely the Viennese Christmas Market and then an outdoor ice skating rink called Wiener Eistraum, which delights locals and guests during the winter. In the summer, the "summer cinema" takes place here, at nightfall films of concerts, operas and the like are shown daily. After more than 20 years, the evenings at the Rathausplatz with its international cuisine is still very popular, as well as a meeting place for young and old. Exhibitions and ball events such as the one-of-a-kind, Life Ball, are just some highlights.
New Year’s Eve countdown: Since the turn of the year 1993/94, the city center of Vienna has become the party zone for New Year’s Eve celebrations. Between Rathausplatz and Stephansplatz, the New Year’s Eve paths criss-cross from one stage to the other. Hundreds of thousands celebrate here to the sounds of pop, rock, folk music and waltzes in high spirits. The dance schools even offer waltz courses. Visitors from home and abroad welcome in the New Year with punch and bubbly. Stalls, where lucky charms of every shape and kind are sold, are very popular. At midnight, the entire city center dances to the sound of the Pummerin (the big bell of St. Stephen’s Cathedral), which is often drowned out by blaring waltz.
By the river: The local scene on the Danube Canal is becoming increasingly popular and is growing by the year. Summerstage started it all and continues to be well visited. The Badeschiff lies at anchor here and is a popular after-work meeting place. “Motto am Fluss” (near Schwedenplatz), a café and restaurant located in a ship station that even acts like a ship, is new but already very popular. The restaurant is decorated to the last detail in ‘50s style. The Strandbad Hermann is stylishly equipped with a sandy beach and sun loungers. It is located between the inner city and the district Landstraße. It was awarded the lido, by travel magazine, Conde Nast Traveler as being the second best bar in the world.
Bar & Nightlife: First Floor, one of the city’s best cocktail bars, is located in Seitenstettengasse. "Loos Bar, " is a sophisticated bar, listed by Adolf Loos, in Kärntnerstraße. "Sky Café, Restaurant & Bar" can be reached with a glass panorama lift on the outside of the Steffl department store on Kärntnerstraße. The views are simply fantastic. The cocktail selection is huge, with more than 350 on the menu. The "Onyx Bar" in the Haas Haus on Stephansplatz offers an exclusive view of St Stephen’s Cathedral.
2nd District - Leopoldstadt: Amusement park, Nature & Sports
Besides for the city center, every tourist will end up at Leopoldstadt, because ferris wheels and gardens are among the must-see attractions in Vienna. Athletes run, walk, cycle and mill about here in unspoilt nature. Trade fairs and congress centers also attract visitors to this part of Vienna.
Family & Amusement park: Viennese and tourists are drawn to the Prater, the traditional amusement park, which is visited by hordes of young people and families with children at the weekend. A landmark of Vienna is the giant Ferris wheel, built in 1887, in which you can admire Vienna from above. Even more fun is to be hand on state-of-the-art attractions such as the Black Mamba, the highest chain carousel in the world, but also charming, nostalgic ringing games or a ride on the ghost train. The Prater also houses wax works from Madame Tussauds.
Local food & Drink: The "Schweizerhaus" is a Prater traditional family-owned business. In the legendary inn garden, artists, workers and politicians, tourists and Viennese alike sit together, enjoying the original Budweiser Budvar, the obligatory crispy fried stilt and the pleasant atmosphere in the shade of old trees. In addition to the Schweizerhaus, you can stop by at many other restaurants and enjoy the goings on.
Nature & Sport: In the Prater meadows, the so-called green Prater - in contrast to the Wurstelprater, the amusement park - joggers, Nordic walkers, cyclists, skaters, riders and strollers are always out and about to enjoy the natural environment, the meadows, forests and water. The racecourse Freudenau, the harness racing club and a golf club are also located here. The Ernst Happel Stadium, Vienna’s largest sports arena and also the venue for rock and pop concerts, can accommodate around 60,000 people.
6th District - Mariahilf: Markets, Antiques & Shopping District
Vienna’s second smallest district on the left side of the Wienfluss. The Mariahilferstraße, the shopping mecca for young and old, the “Naschmarkt” with its abundant offer of delicacies from around the world, the weekly flea market, in-pubs and theaters give the district its unique character.
Shopping district: Vienna’s number one shopping street is Mariahilferstraße, a shopping paradise par excellence. One side of the street is in the 6th district and the other is in the 7th. Department stores, boutiques, well-known stores like H&M, Zara etc, furniture stores, perfumeries and sports shops are located in the traditional shopping street. They are visited by Viennese and tourists alike for shopping. On Saturday afternoons, crowds of shoppers hustle from shop to shop.
Multicultural marketa & “In” eateries: A visit to the Naschmarkt, where it is colorful, loud, and multicultural, is like a culinary journey around the world. The market overflows with buyers and onlookers, especially on Saturday mornings. The offer of fresh fruits and vegetables, exotic fruits, fragrant spices, herbs, cheese, sausage, meat and fresh fish is overwhelming. The sellers praise the goods loudly, with samples and tastings offered to everyone around. Every Saturday there is also a farmers market, where products from Vienna and the adjacent Lower Austria and Burgenland are on offer. Meanwhile, the Naschmarkt is also a place with lots of eateries popular with the locals, with a wonderful assortment of international food and drinks. The Naschmarkt is located directly at the Kettenbrückengasse station of the underground line 4 and is only 200 meters away from the stylish 5-star Hotel Das Trieste.
Flea Market: Every Saturday, starting at 6am, the flea market along the Wien river at the Naschmarkt is a huge attraction for collectors and bargain hunters. If you are looking for something special, you should get there earlier to watch the sellers unpacking their goods. Vintage clothing, books, pictures, jewelry, dishes, cutlery, glasses, junk and oddities are on offer. If you spend a lot of time rummaging around, you will definitely find something that you have always been looking for.
Musical & Opera: The Theater an der Wien near the Naschmarkt - formerly a venue for musicals - is the new opera house today. The Raimundtheater in Wallgasse is where you can watch the most popular musicals in Vienna.
Cafés: The "Café Drechsler" on the Linke Wienzeile, which is right next to the Naschmarkt, is a very special café. From Tuesday to Saturday it is open for 23 hours. Daily operations begin at 3 o’ clock in the morning - ideal for night owls but also for people who work at the Naschmarkt. Good coffee and a small menu delight the guests. In "phil" on Gumpendorfer Straße you can sit on retro furniture that you can also purchase. In the cozy café, guests browse through books with a coffee, choose a DVD or listen to gripping, exciting or interesting audio books. Another business with multiple uses is "das möbel, " also located on Gumpendorfer Straße. Here you can have a coffee while sitting on and between furniture dreamed up by young designers, which are also available for purchase.
7th District - New buildings: Museum quarter, Trendy districts & Hip shopping
Neubau is a small, densely populated and alternative district. The museum quarter is a must-see for culture lovers, which, along with the Spittelberg (revitalized Biedermeier houses), is a popular scene district with a craft market. The left side of Mariahilferstraße also belongs to this district.
Hip & Stylish shopping: The left side of Mariahilferstraße is located in the 7th district, where plenty of shopping can be done. There are also lots of places to get a snack, some refreshments or a bite to eat while on a shopping spree. There are many new, small shops where you can find hip fashion for everyone and for every occasion away from the mainstream crowds, in the area around the Neubaugasse, Lindengasse and Kirchengasse. Designers from Austria, Spain, Sweden etc surprise with their unique ideas.
Artist scene & Renovated houses: Dilapidated houses were saved from decay in the quarter around Spittelberg. Today, well-preserved Biedermeier houses, historic buildings which have been preserved through careful renovation, are sought after luxury apartments. In addition, many artists, popular pubs and even a small theater have moved here. The Spittelberg Christmas market is popular and well-known. Handicrafts of all kinds and homemade delicacies are offered at this festive market. In the summer months, a craft market takes place every first weekend of the month.
MuseumsQuartier & Chilling: In 2001, the former stable buildings of 1725 were transformed into the MuseumsQuartier, or MQ. The MQ is a cultural district that forms one of the largest cultural areas in the world. At the MuseumsQuartier, you’ll find the perfect combination of modern architecture and baroque buildings. Students, young families with children, Viennese and tourists relax and chill outdoors. The seats here are called Enzi and they are showcased in a different color every year. You can see the most important Schiele collection in the world at the Leopold Museum. In the MQ, there is a lively local scene with various sought after events. The MQ is easily reachable via the U2 station Museumsquartier and the U3 station Volkstheater. If you book a stay at the romantic Hotel Sans Souci Wien, the MuseumsQuartier is practically right on your doorstep.
Library & Views of Vienna: At the U6 station Urban Loritzplatz, you can enjoy an unusual view because a library was built above the subway station. The library can be reached via the largest flight of steps in Vienna. You can also have a cup of coffee here, while admiring the delightful view over Vienna, high above the busy Gürtel. You can borrow from more than 100,000 books here. The library’s foyer is home to more than 600 newspapers and magazines from around the world.
13th District - Hietzing: Elegant district, Castle & Tiergarten
Located in the west of the city, comprising an area that is about 10% of Vienna, is an elegant residential area with many detached houses, therefore sparsely populated. Schönbrunn Palace, Park and Tiergarten are Vienna’s top tourist attractions. Views, some stretching as far as Lower Austria, can be seen from some mountains (500m).
Schloss Schönbrunn & Schlosspark: The most visited tourist destination in Vienna is the baroque Schönbrunn Palace. It was the summer residence of the Habsburgs. A tour of its magnificent rooms is only possible with a guide. The Schönbrunn Palace is surrounded by a beautiful, well-kept park, which is a recreational area for the Viennese. Here you can enjoy a Sunday walk, admire the beautifully planted flowerbeds, rest on a park bench, and climb the mountain up to the Gloriette. Up here, Vienna is at your feet, and you can enjoy the view with or without a coffee in the café – but either way, the café is a popular breakfast spot. Every summer, the Vienna Philharmonic performs a summer night concert in the castle park, which everyone can attend without paying admission.
Schloss-Weihnachtsmarkt: One of the most beautiful Christmas markets in Vienna is the Christmas and cultural market in front of Schönbrunn Palace. The beautifully lit Christmas tree in front of the castle and the stalls with nice gift ideas and artisan objects arranged in a circle create a homely feel. Visitors can indulge in punch, mulled wine and various delicacies straight from the kitchen. Locals meet here after work with friends for a quick drink, to chat and to enjoy the special, Christmas atmosphere in front of the castle.
Tiergarten: Tiergarten Schönbrunn is the oldest existing zoo in the world and was awarded the "Best Zoo of Europe 2010" award. The enclosures are constantly being modernized and old cages are no longer occupied by animals. There have been countless breeding program successes here, too, with the breeding of panda bears proving to be particularly successful. The zoo is always well-attended, and usually very crowded on Sunday afternoons, because the Viennese love their zoo, especially when there are baby animals to be admired.
Posh district: Hietzing, along with Döbling and Währing, belongs to the most sophisticated districts of Vienna. There are many family houses and villas here. Among the inhabitants of the district are academics and older, high-earning residents.
16th District - Ottakring: Creative, Turkish migrant life & Greenery
A large proportion of the population of Ottakring is immigrants from Turkey. At the popular fountain market, the longest street market in Europe, you can buy cheap directly from Turkish Oriental merchants. This district on the western edge also boasts forested areas, grasslands, and the Wilhelminenberg.
Multikulti: Ottakring is the district of Vienna with the largest proportion of foreigners. People from different countries live together with long-established Viennese. Apartments in this district are in demand and popular with artists and supporters of the multicultural, young, creative scene. In old tenements, hugely popular lofts are converted into modern apartments. New shops and premises are constantly popping up in the area around the fountain market. As an example, the restaurant called Kent, which serves Turkish home cooking, attracts visitors from all over Vienna.
Market area: The Brunnenmarkt in Ottakring is one of the last street markets and at the same time the longest street market in Europe. It is located between Thaliastraße and Ottakringerstraße. Yppenplatz is also part of the market area. Most of the traders come from Turkey and offer a huge variety of fruits, vegetables, flowers, spices, herbs, meat, bread and pastries, as well as textiles and household goods. Every Saturday, a farmer’s market takes place. It is colorful and loud. The goods on offer are comparable to the one on the Naschmarkt, but far cheaper.
In nature: Ottakring has a lot of green spaces. The Gallitzinberg, also known as Wilhelminenberg, is a popular destination. Here there is forest and meadow for walking and hiking. The Jubiläumswarte on Wilhelminenberg is a great vantage point. Nowadays Schloss Wilhelminenberg is a hotel. In this area, there are exclusive residential areas and family houses. There are also some typical Viennese wine taverns (typical restaurants) that are frequented by locals rather than by tourists. One of these wine taverns is the 10er-Marie, which is mentioned in documents dating back to 1740 and is, thus, considered the oldest wine tavern and hence a listed building.
19th District - Döbling: Posh district, Viticulture & Hiking
Viticulture is an important economic activity at the edge of the Vienna woods. The wine can then be sampled and enjoyed at world-famous taverns in Grinzing, Heiligenstadt, Nussdorf & Sievering. Apart from elegant villas, the Viennese municipal buildings are also located here, for example the listed Karl-Marx-Hof.
Viticulture & Local restaurants: More than 50% of this district boasts greenery. Here you will find viticulture, forests, meadows, gardens, allotments and recreational facilities. Wine grows particularly well here. At the taverns in Grinzing, Heiligenstadt, Nussdorf and Sievering - former wine villages which today form part of the 19th district of Vienna - wine is served. In the cozy restaurants, you can meet with friends and relatives to spend some time together.
Hiking & Mountain Panoramas: Part of the Vienna Woods with the Kahlenberg (484 meters), the Leopoldsberg (427 meters) and the Cobenzl also belong to Döbling. These mountains are the local mountains of Vienna with Kahlenberg being the most popular. There is a viewing terrace here, from which you can enjoy incredible views when the weather is clear and visibility is good. To get there, you can either hike up various city hiking trails, or you can take the bus 38A from Heiligenstadt underground station. By car, you drive along the mountain road, with many serpentines winding up the mountain. The Cobenzl is a bit lower than the Kahlenberg and boasts the winery of the city of Vienna as well as a nice restaurant, where you can sit outside in good weather. There is also a petting zoo for children.
Apartment complexes: The Karl-Marx-Hof is the most famous municipal building in Vienna. It has even been commemorated on a stamp. There used to be an abundance of nurseries on a branch of the Danube. In the mid-1920s, the nurseries were relocated and homes for about 5,500 people were built. The Karl-Marx-Hof is about 1,100 meters long and is considered the longest contiguous housing in the world. In a large part of the 19th district, however, people do not live in community buildings or rented apartments. There are many villas and single-family homes here. These Döblinger belong to a privileged class who are very well off.
22nd District - Donaustadt: Nature reserve, Local scene & Nudist bathing areas
The 22nd district, which became part of Vienna in 1954, is the largest district. Parts of the Danube Island, the Old and the New Danube as well as the Lobau (nature reserve, nudist bathing areas) belong to it. The Vienna International Center, called UNO City, and the local scene, "Copa Cagrana" are located in this part of Vienna.
Architecture & UNO City: The Vienna International Center (VIC), called UNO City, was built between 1973 and 1979. The six office towers are striking buildings that can be seen from afar and represent one of the new landmarks of Vienna. The convention centers bring many people to UNO City. There are guided tours of the buildings for those who are interested. The subway line U1 has its own station here.
Observation tower & Romanticism: Another Danube tower, visible from afar, is in the 22nd district. In 1964, the WIG, the Vienna International Garden Show, took place in Vienna. This lookout tower was built in the newly created Danube Park. The tower has a revolving restaurant at the top and a viewing terrace, at a height of 150 meters. By day or by night, you can enjoy wonderful views from this height. The restaurant can be reached by a lift. On nights when there is a full moon, the restaurant offers a special moon buffet with an accompanying program.
Lively local scene vs. Outdoor pools: The New Danube was created due to the renewal of flood protection through the construction of the Danube Island. The most famous section is the "Copa Cagrana" at the Reichsbrücke - named after the Kagran district. Here, the lively local scene invites you to sit down and stay for a while. Chilled drinks and food from different countries will put you in the perfect holiday mood. The Old Danube, which originated from a tributary of the Danube, is a recreational area for the Viennese. The first public lido in Vienna was the "Gänsehäufel, " which has existed since 1907. Besides swimming, you can also do sports here. There are several outdoor pools in the area of the Old Danube.
Island, Sport & Leisure: The Danube Island is a man-made island more than 21km long situated between the Danube and the New Danube. In the interim, the Danube Island can hardly be thought of as artificial. The southern and the northern part are natural, the middle part is a park. The Viennese are enthusiastic visitors to the island, which is closed off to cars making it ideal for cycling, walking, hiking, boating and skating. There are bike and boat rentals as well as sports fields, playgrounds, a large waterslide, a water ski lift and even designated landscaped barbecue areas. In the north and south of the island are large bathing areas for nudists. The Danube Island can be reached by metro, tram, train and bus. From the city center, it only takes 7 minutes to reach the 42 kilometer long beach and a nature reserve right in the middle of the big city. The three-day annual Danube Island Festival is one of the biggest music festivals in Europe. Around 3 million visitors enjoy free admission, performances by well-known artists, culinary delights and an incredible atmosphere.
Modern architecture: As opposed to the old city of Vienna, the so-called Danube City is being built in the area between the Danube and the UNO City. Modern office and residential buildings, e.g. The Ares Tower or the Andromeda Tower, show a completely different side of Vienna. There are a few tours on offer that showcase this new architecture.
Vienna - Good to know:
Central & Ring structure: Vienna is circular and the city extends in a ring-shape around the inner city, or the 1st district. The road that leads around the city center also bears the name Ringstraße, usually called "the ring" for short. Another ring-shaped road around the city center is "the Gürtel, " (which means belt), Austria’s busiest country road. Instead of a consecutive name, this street is named after districts or the districts through which it passes, which then always end in "Gürtel", e.g. the Margareten Gürtel, the Neubau Gürtel or the Währinger Gürtel.
Highest quality of life: Vienna is one of the nine provinces of Austria, but at the same time the federal capital with a size of 414 km², a north-to-south extension of about 22,5km and an expansion of about 30km in an east-to-west direction. About 1,7 million people live in the city with the best quality of life worldwide, according to the May 2010 study by Mercier.
Vienna by bike: The public transport, consisting of subway, train, tram and bus, is well organized and you can reach your destination quickly. You will not get there as fast as you would like by car, as construction sites and traffic jams abound. Bicycles can be rented in many parts of Vienna and there is a dense network of cycling lanes. In the city center, there are many pedestrian areas.
Carriages & Heurige: A “Fiaker” is a horse-drawn cart. These carriages have parking places in the center of Vienna from which one can start trips. The coachman leads you to well-known sights and at the same time acts as a tourist guide. It’s not cheap but very nice. “Heuriger” is a quaint and cozy wine bar or tavern, in which home-grown and homemade wine is served. The term derives from "this year, " meaning the wine made this year. Only home-grown wine is served in these taverns. There are about 700 hectares of vineyards in Vienna and mainly white wine is produced. At the wine tavern, "Aus’gsteckt, " you can see the Föhrenbuschen, which hangs in front of the entrance. Wine is accompanied by ham, sausage, cheese, spreads, bread, etc. Buffets are served at most wine taverns - so it’s self-service. Wine tavern music goes hand-in-hand with wine taverns. The Heurigen, a Viennese institution, range from simple to sophisticated, the so-called “Nobelheurigen.” The Viennese themselves usually go to other - smaller - wine taverns rather than to the ones that tourists frequent, as tourists usually land up at the well-known wine villages such as Grinzing or Sievering.