Throughout the years, I spent several days in Vienna. Sometimes for business, sometimes for leisure, sometimes just with a quick visit on my way to nearby Bratislava. So, these are the best tips for Vienna – according to me that is.
Why you will love Vienna
According to a recent study, Vienna is one of the most expat-unfriendly cities in the world. In all honesty, in my visits to Vienna, I haven’t noticed it. Every single streetcorner breathes culture, tradition – which makes it a super interesting city to visit.
My best omakase experience in Vienna
The Japanese habit of omakase (お任せ) when you’re ordering at a restaurant pretty much means, “I’ll leave it up to you”, inviting the chef to be innovative and surprising in the selection of dishes. I try to do it in every city I visit, and apply the idea behind to everything between how I pick my runs, how I pick my food, how I plan activities with my kids, how I explore cities and how I travel in general. So, I tried this in Vienna as well.
My best omakase experience in Vienna was actually at a Vietnamese restaurant, Pho Saigon, where I got some amazing Vietnamese dishes, selected by the staff.
The best hotel tips for Vienna – according to me
Vienna isn’t cheap and same goes for Vienna hotels. I stayed in the Intercontinental Vienna (also see my review of Hilton versus IHG properties), which is pretty much what you would expect from the Intercontinental Vienna. Luxurious, but stiff, slightly outdated and – in all honesty – not really value for money (I had to pay 33 euros for breakfast buffet – say what?!). Next time in town I will probably opt for another hotel.
The best things to do in Vienna – according to me
- As a student, I visited the Vienna State Opera, which made a lasting impression. Try if you can find a last minute ticket for pretty much any play – you won’t regret.
- The MUMOK is a contemporary art museum housed in a steel colored stone building in the middle of the Museumsquartier. The museum focusses on late 20th century (Warhol and Cosima von Bonin) as well as artists at the forefront of the current-day art scene.
- The Flea Market at Naschmarkt is amazing. It’s considered one of the best flea markets in all of Europe, mainly for antique books, art, records and more and is held in the parking lot of the Naschmarkt (also a fun destination for its colorful food stands and stalls serving ready-made delicacies daily).
The best restaurants in Vienna – according to me
- Visiting Figlmüller Bäckerstraße, “the home of the schnitzel” felt like a Naples-style experience: people queueing outside to finally have one of the few seats inside. When visiting Figlmuller, by chance a group of Italians was standing behind me who had exactly the same reaction. But hey, if people are queueing up, it should be good, right?
- Gmoakeller had a similar story, although it offered a notably richer variety of local dishes, beyond schnitzels.
- Volpension employs senior citizens who are living month to month on meager Austrian pensions. The brilliant young minds behind this bakery/tea house have tapped them for their secret recipes and heirloom baking skills. They provide the pensioners with an opportunity to contribute to something unique and original to current-day Vienna, to encourage social interaction between the young and old, and to put some extra pennies in their pockets!
- Karmelitermarkt offers up interesting food stalls and restaurants permanently stationed in an open square in Praterstrasse 2 (close to other hipster places like Balthasar and Supersense – this whole neighborhood is up and coming and is full of contemporary art and interesting cafes and boutiques).
- Pho Saigon was actually a really nice Vietnamese restaurant I stumbled into near my hotel. Simple, but great Vietnamese dishes if you’re fed up with the schnitzels.
The best places for coffee in Vienna – according to me
- Coffeehouse culture is a huge part of Viennese life and so visitors and locals alike are spoiled for choice. Try one of the traditional coffee places (Sacher, for the iconic sacher torte) just for the experience, but don’t expect too much.
- Balthasar in the up and coming Praterstrasse 2 (second district) was a great place for coffee. They get their own roasted coffee from a friend/roaster in Germany and offer anything from cappucino to V60/aeropress and everything in between.
- Supersense is part hipster coffee shop and part boutique selling everything sound (they sell analog music from cassettes to records), smell (create your own memory scent in a glass vial composed of various elements to be cracked and inhaled at a poignant life event) and taste (a selection of locally roasted coffee and delicacies) and much more.
The best places to get some work done in Vienna – according to me
- I spent a morning working from Balthasar (see above), which turned out a great base to get some work done. Busy at times, but quiet enough to focus.