Vienna Travel Guide

Vienna, where a part of my soul resides. I believe our souls can feel at home in many places, but Vienna is the first city where I truly felt that spark within me.

Belvedere Palace in the 3rd district of Vienna

The Belvedere Palace in the 3rd district of Vienna

Table of Contents

Culture and Interesting Tid-Bits

Transportation

Safety Tips

Money

Weather

Clothing

Helpful Words and Phrases

Grocery Stores

Cafes and Restaurants

Palaces, Churches, Town Halls

Parks and Recreation

Museums, Libraries, and Historical Places

Shops and Shows

Opera Houses and Theaters

My Vienna YouTube Video


I’m lucky enough to have witnessed the beauty of this city twice now. My first adventure to Vienna was through the Institute of European Studies (which I am now an abroad ambassador of!), and my second trip was for leisure after a music festival in the Czech Republic. (It’s safe to say, I couldn’t get enough!) Before my first trip, I was battling major anxiety about living in a completely different country for 6 weeks. I had never traveled alone before, and I had many sleepless nights before my 9-hour flight across the pond.

But the moment I stepped foot in Vienna for the first time, my nervousness melted into excitement. I let the city absorb me fully, I fell into her trance. Since the 19th century, Vienna has been the main hub for Western Art Music, with composers such as Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, and Strauss holding residency here (and you guessed it, they adored Vienna). With inspiration from the most famous composers of all time found at every street corner, it is impossible to not let creativity and awe seep through your veins. During my time there, I was fortunate enough to study horn with a member of the Vienna Philharmonic. I witnessed one of the best orchestras in the world rehearse their operas and symphonic concerts- all for free. Alongside playing the double horn, I picked up the Viennese horn, a type of horn strictly used by horn players in Vienna. I grew so much as a musician and a player.

At the Institute of European Studies (IES) building playing the Vienna horn my teacher lent me!

Vienna healed my wounds. She showed me I’m courageous enough to thrive in a completely new culture and language. She showed me that I’m capable of achieving my dreams of sharing my travel experiences and beautiful music with the world. By the time the 6 weeks were through, I basically had to be dragged out of the city for my flight home back to the United States.

Thank you Vienna for everything. You will always have a special place in my heart.

Like I said, part of my soul resides in the heart of this city. I know I’ll be back to see her again soon.


Before we begin…. All photos were taken by me. Please ask for my permission before using my photos, and credit me if you do! Lastly, I only recommend places that I myself have visited. I understand there are many amazing sights to see in Vienna, but I have only included those I have experience with! Without further ado, let’s get started, shall we?

General Overview

Culture and Interesting Tid-Bits

  • Austrians speak German and have an Austrian-German dialect. (Think standard textbook German, but smoother and sexier.) Like many regions of Europe, there’s tons of different Austrian dialects due to Bavarian and Alemannic influences. (Beginner phrases I would encourage you to learn is found below under “Helpful Words & Phrases“)
  • Austrians are generally more reserved than their Spanish and American counterparts, however they are incredibly friendly and helpful once you begin to talk to them. This being said, when an Austrian does open up to you, you should feel really good. And I’ve heard, they are incredibly loyal friends and will stick with you for life.
  • The Austrian Stare– Oh boy, was I so intimidated by this. People stare. A lot. On the streets. At the grocery store. On the U-Bahn. (Especially the U-Bahn.) I remember little ol’ me getting so self-conscious about this. But…it’s normal. People just stare. They might just be curious about you. They very rarely stare for judgmental reasons (unless you are acting like a screaming buffoon on the U-Bahn at 9:30am, then yes, the stares you might receive will be 150% judgmental). Just own it. Pretend you are an international celebrity or something, if that helps your confidence. Or if you’re really brave (like me) then just stare back until it is so uncomfortable that he/she breaks eye contact.
  • Oh, and while we are talking about staring, it’s considered weird (or even romantically suggestive) to smile at strangers on the street. Where I’m from (USA) people do this all the time, but try to avoid doing so during your visit here.
  • A note on dogs… there’s a lot of cute and extremely well-behaved dogs in Austria. But avoid freaking out about them or asking a random guy/gal on the street if you can pet his/her animal. It’s considered weird, like asking a stranger if you could stroke their baby. (I’m just reiterating what my Austrian roommate told me!)
  • Shelf Toilets- just for fun, I’d like to address this. Although they are going out of style now, many of the older buildings in Vienna have this particular model of toilet. You’ll find out what they are in due time. 😉

Transportation

  • The public transportation is incredibly easy to use and very reliable. (I use Google Maps for everything and it has not failed me yet).
  • The U-Bahn is the underground subway system shown in various colors on the map. This is definitely the fastest mode of transportation. From the Orange U3 line, Landstrasse has a direct line to the airport (click the link below). From here, it only takes around 20 minutes by train to reach the Wien Flughafen (Vienna International Airport).
  • The S-Bahn is the tram system above ground marked by the Blue line on the map. Most likely, you will mainly be using these two forms of transportation.

Provided is a link to the transportation map:

https://viennamap360.com/vienna-metro-map#.XW6vhJNKhmB

  • Vienna uses the honor code in regards to transportation. However there is a hefty fine if you get caught so make sure you buy and always have a ticket! Daily, weekly, and monthly passes can be bought at the large red ticket kiosks around each train station (and sometimes even on the newer trains!)

Safety Tips

National Emergency Numbers

  • Euro-emergency number 112
  • Fire brigade: 122
  • Police: 133
  • Ambulance: 144
  • Vienna is literally the safest city I have ever visited in my life. I truly felt more comfortable wandering around the city as a foreigner than I do in my home country. But of course, always exercise caution.
  • Not exactly a safety tip, but it truly is the worst thing I could imagine happening. Near the music venues, there are men dressed up in 17th century clothing that will try to sell you overpriced orchestra tickets. Just ignore them (more links to legitimate and knock-your-socks-off concerts found below!)
  • Jaywalking is very illegal here in Austria, even when there are no cars in sight (I’m looking at you, New Yorkers). Avoid the temptation!
    The tap water is completely safe to drink (truly the best water I’ve ever had has been from Austria). The water comes straight from the Alps so you know it’s good.

Money

  • Austria uses the Euro currency. I would recommend coming prepared with Euros before arriving in Vienna if possible to avoid transaction fees. However, Vienna is lined with many ATM’s all around the city so you will have no trouble finding one. They are easy to spot due to the green and blue symbols above the machine!
  • Always carry cash. Although Vienna is the most tourist heavy of the Austrian cities, it is still more customary to pay with cash. Even in Vienna, some places do not accept card.
  • Vienna is a relatively expensive city to visit. However, many museums and attractions have student, child, and senior discounts. I would also highly recommend visiting the Naschmarkt and the Billa and Hofer‘s around the city to save some mulah.

Weather

  • I have only experienced Vienna in the summertime, and the weather truly is lovely (perhaps I’m biased, considering I’m from Spring, Texas where it’s very hot and humid much of the year). It can rain somewhat frequently in the summer, so I would recommend packing rain boots. But the heat during the summer is dry and the sky is usually partly cloudy. For warm weather related activities, it would be best to visit Vienna through May-September.
  • Vienna does get very cold between November-March, with the lowest temperatures usually found in the month of January. Just be prepared!

Clothing

  • For my fellow American friends- forgo the flip flops, baseball caps, Nike shorts, and baggy T-shirts. Vienna is a very classy European city, so think more along the lines of “Sunday best”. (Work out clothes, for example, are only worn if you are working out.)
  • For men, you’ll see a lot of stylish loafers, button-downs, leather satchels, casual blazers. For women, you see a lot of nice sandals, heels, dresses, culotte pants, scarves, etc. If one were to wear sporty sneakers, it is dressed up to look rather chic.
  • This being said, you don’t have to buy a whole new wardrobe! If your Nike running shoes provide the comfort you need to sightsee, please wear them. These are simply suggestions based off of my experience with fashion in Vienna.

Helpful Words and Phrases

  • Hallo! / Servus! / Grüß Gott! – (hah-low) (tsair-voos) (gruss got) All can be used to greet someone.
    Servus! /Tschüss! / Auf Wiedersehen! – (tsair-voos) (choo-iss) (auf wee der sayhen) All can be used to say goodbye.
    Dankeshön – (dahn-kuh schun)Thank you (Danke for short!)
    Entschuldigen Sie – (ent-shool-dee-gong) Excuse Me (Formal)
    Ich spreche Englisch – (ich sprechuh Englisch) I speak English.

Grocery Stores

  • Hofer– my saving grace. Truly. (19 cent pizzas!) If you are familiar with Aldi, Hofer is exactly the same thing. Such good quality food for cheap prices.
  • Billa- You can find these all over Vienna as well. Also a bargain.

Cafes and Restaurants

Cafe Oberlaa– Hands down my favorite cafe chain in Vienna! They have the best “Sacher Torte” (a famous Viennese cake) I’ve tried in Vienna. They also served amazing breakfasts and lunch items.
Aidas Cafe– A popular cafe destination for tourists and locals alike. Decked out in all pink, it’s impossible to not feel happy! They have a variety of different pastries, including pastries for special diets (vegan, high-protein, etc.)
Cafe Central– A tourist destination (prices are on the high side) but certainly worth the visit. Opened in 1876, it became the hub for the Viennese intellectual scene. Freud, Stalin, and Hitler loved Cafe Central.
Cafe Phil– In the 4th district near the Naschmarkt Amazing cafe/bookstore that features retro/hip items for sale. Great breakfast selection and a wonderful place to study.
Hotel Sacher- Found smack dab in the 1st district, it’s a highly popular tourist destination. I include this not because it is the most amazing Sacher Torte ever (it’s quite dry, even for this style of cake), however historically the Sacher Torte originated here. Not to mention the Hotel and Restaurant is very fancy!
Palmenhaus- A former greenhouse in the 1st district turned into a beautiful upscale restaurant. (The lunch specials each day are more reasonably priced.) The overall experience here is breath-taking, not to mention you can take a quick stroll to the Schmetterlinghaus (Butterfly House) once you are done eating!
Glacis Beisl- hidden away near the Museum Quartier, this is the most beautiful bistro I have ever gone to.
Be sure to book in advance- my friend and I were lucky to have gotten a reservation the day of. Tradition Austrian food is served here.
Motto am Fluss- On a stationary boat in the Danube, Motto am Fluss serves contemporary international cuisine (English menu provided).
Fuhrgassl-Huber– Located in the the 19th district of Vienna, this beautiful vineyard is worth it for the beautiful atmosphere alone. Get ready to have a wonderful night eating traditional Austrian cuisine and drinking delicious wine!

Palaces, Churches, Town Halls

Schönbrunn Schloss– The main summer residence of the Hapsburg rulers, Schönbrunn Palace is one of the most culturally important landmarks of Austria. It is easy to spend hours looking through the palace and the gardens! This is absolutely my favorite sight in Vienna.
Belvedere Schloss– Built in the 18th century, the Belvedere Palace is home to many famous pieces of art, including Der Kuss, by Gustav Klimt. It was originally constructed as the summer residence of Prince Eugene of Savo.
Stephansdom– St. Stephen’s Cathedral, the iconic 700 year old gothic church , was where Joseph Haydn sang as a choir boy and where Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart got married. Entry to a select part of the Cathedral is free. I would recommend going early in the morning or late at night to avoid the crowds.
Wiener Rathaus- Vienna’s town hall. This Neo-Gothic building is easy to spot from the Volksgarten (as you can see here!). During the summer months (July-August) you can find stands in the plaza featuring a variety of foods as well as concerts and cinema showings. In the winter (mid-November-December) the plaza has it’s annual Christmas Markets, with gingerbread, mull wine, and craft holiday products.

Parks and Recreation

Schmetterlinghaus- A wonderful butterfly house in the 1st district found right next to the Palmenhaus. Prices are affordable and great for people of all ages!
Volkgarten- “The People’s Garden”. Open all year round, this garden is free for the public in the heart of the 1st district. I hope you love roses, because Volkgarten contains roughly 400 varieties!
Burggarten- Designed in the style of an English landscape garden, the Burggarten has the iconic Mozart statue, Schmetterlinghaus, and Palmenhaus.
Schönbrunn Palace Gardens– As impressive as the Palace itself is, please visit the gardens as well. With 465 acres of land, Schönbrunn offers many sights to see such as its greenhouses, vineyard, Roman ruins, and the world’s oldest zoo. (It’s a great place for runners!)
The Prater- Open to the public since 1766, the Prater is most known for the Riesenrad, the ferris wheel, that provides an amazing panoramic of the city! The Prater is full of fun attractions perfect for a wonderful day or night out.
The Donau- The Danube river is the second longest river in Europe, after the Volga. Here in Vienna, you’ll find amazing graffiti art and cool bars that attracts the city’s younger population.

Museums, Libraries, and Historical Places

The Kunsthistorisches Museum and Naturhistorisches Museum– Identical buildings housing the famous history and art museums of Vienna, found in the MuseumsQuartier.
The Albertina Museum– Home to roughly 65,000 drawings and one million old prints. Along with temporary exhibitions, the Albertina has a permanent Impressionistic art and early 20th century art exhibition.
Österreichische Nationalbibliothek– The National Library of Vienna (as well as the largest library in all of Austria!) Truly a magical place for any book lover.
Hundertwasserhaus- A quirky apartment building in Vienna co-created by the concept artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser and architect Joseph Krawina. Hundertwasser’s vision was to create a building that depicts the harmony of nature and man.
Wiener Secessionsgebäude– The Secession Building is an art exhibition hall built in 1898 featuring the Beethoven Frieze, by Gustav Klimt. The “Secession” refers to the rebel group of artists breaking away from the past art traditions.
Wiener Zentralfriedhof– Vienna’s Central Cemetery, a resting point for many famous composers including Beethoven, Brahms, Schubert, Strauss, Schoenberg, Salieri, and Schönberg.

Shops and Shows

Naschmarkt- An outdoor market open nearly everyday from 6am-9pm in the 4th district of Vienna. You can find anything from fresh produce, souvenirs, restaurants, CBD shops (if you’re into that), international foods, as well as plants and handmade items. It’s super fun. Just be weary of getting ripped off, ok? But it is something you must experience!
Manner Store– A chocolate haven. Manner wafers are actually cheaper in the shops than they are in Billa and Hofer! They come in a variety of flavors (vanilla, coconut, lemon, hazelnut) and the shop also sells Mozartkugel, chocolates filled with marzipan and pistachios. You can find these stores in Landstrasse, near the Stephansdom, and a variety of other locations.
The Spanish Riding School- One of the most prestigious classical riding academies in the world, dedicated to preserving the classical dressage of Lippizaner horses. One of my Vienna highlights was watching the Piber Meets Vienna show, featuring the Lippizaner foals! Shows are in English and German.
Apple Strudel Show at the Schönbrunn Palace- As a dessert fanatic, this was definitely one of the highlights of my trip to Vienna. Every hour between 11am-4pm, a professional pastry chef demonstrates how to make apple strudel using the imperial recipe from the year 1696! While watching the show (both in English and German) you are given a piece of apple strudel and hot beverage.
La Cure Gourmande- A charming, old-fashioned confectionery near the State Opera House. If you have a sweet tooth look no further- it’s chocolate, nougat, coffee, and biscuits galore. I had wonderful customer service here as well!
Mariahilferstraße– The largest shopping street in Vienna! Here you can find tons of amazing international stores, boutiques, and finger foods (like this amazing waffle cone).

Opera Houses and Theaters

Wiener Musikverein- Considered one of the finest music halls in the world, this hall is home to the Vienna Philharmonic. Check out their schedule at https://www.musikverein.at/en.
On a budget? Vienna is one of the only cities that offers standing room tickets for performances, for less than 10 euros!
Wiener Staatsoper- The iconic Vienna State Opera House. Each season features roughly 350 performances, many by the Vienna Philharmonic. Like the Musikverein, the Staatsoper offers standing room tickets. Not only this, there are free showings of the opera performances outside the hall! Check https://www.wiener-staatsoper.at/en/for more information.
Volkstheater– “The People’s Theater” is one of the largest halls in Vienna. Repertoire includes Austrian, German, and international classics.

If you visit any of these sites or found my tips helpful, please let me know!

Check out my YouTube Video Below…

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