Austria’s capital is not just all museums, gorgeous architecture, opera houses and historic cafes (though it certainly does do those things well!). There are plenty of hip neighbourhoods to explore, alternative hidden spaces to experience, and some pretty great noms for those willing to head off the main tourist track of the city. Here’s an idea for how to spend 24 hours in Vienna.
After breakfast, head to the Augarten, one of Vienna’s largest city parks, and its oldest baroque garden, in the northern district of Leopoldstadt, to check out the Flakturm, or flak tower.
This tower, built by the Nazis as an anti-aircraft gun tower and shelter for bomb raids now serves as a storehouse for art. Its presence in the middle of this otherwise idyllic park makes for quite a stark contrast and interesting reminder of the complicated history of Austria’s capital.
Once you’re finished wandering around the gardens, head south and follow the Donaukanal, what used to be an arm of the river Danube, to the east. Here, along the north embankment, you’ll see tons of exciting street art, guerilla gardening projects and several cute bars and pop up stands selling coffee and other delights if the weather is good.
Enjoy the walk, taking in this slice of alternative Vienna that is way off the radar of most tourists visiting the city.
After a 20 minute walk or so, you’ll arrive next to the Hundertwasser Museum (Untere Weißgerberstraße 13, 1030) on the south side of the canal, also known as Kunsthaus Wien. This building was designed by and is now a museum dedicated to the life and works of the contemporary Austrian architect, artist and writer, Friedensreich Hundertwasser, and also hosts other temporary exhibitions by local and international artists.
Spend some time here learning about this unusual artist’s life and work, his philosophy of incorporating architecture with ecology and perhaps taking in some other contemporary art.
Once you’re cultured out, take a stroll back along the canal, or hop on the tram a few stops to recharge at Fett + Zucker (Hollandstrasse 16, 1020) for a light lunch of a soup or salad...perhaps followed by a slice of one of their delicious cakes!
The space is bright and colourful, and perfectly inviting just to hang out for a little while and relax. If you leave still wanting to satisfy your sweet tooth right after refuelling, head to the nearby Veganista IV (Taborstraße 15, 1020) for a tantalising array of all vegan ice creams made from oat, soy or rice milk.
Next, take a scenic 20 minute walk from there down through the historic centre of Vienna to the Globe Museum (Palais Mollard, Herrengasse 9, 1010), passing by St Stephen’s Cathedral, the iconic landmark of the city, the square around which is always swarming with tourists snapping pictures.
The Globe Museum, on the other hand, will be a calm respite from the bustle of downtown Vienna and offers a fascinating look at the history of globe making.
Now that you’re truly museum out, take a walk down through Heldenplatz, the square and gardens surrounding the former imperial residence, the Hofburg, and stop by the Mozartdenkmal, or Mozart Memorial (Josefsplatz 1, 1010) in the neighbouring Burggarten. From here, head down Eschenbachgasse to Phil (Gumpendorferstrasse 10-12, 1060) for a hipster cafe break.
Alternatively, head across the street to Cafe Sperl (Gumpendorferstrasse 11, 1060) for a more classic Viennese coffeehouse experience.
Head over to the Naschmarkt to get you thinking about food again. Starting just one street away, this outdoor food market is made up of artisanal food stands as well as stalls selling fresh produce and a few gift shops.
Maybe take a few Viennese chocolates home from the Schokocompany (Naschmarkt 326-331, 1060) and browse through the many stalls with different kinds of roasted nuts, herbs, spices and speciality products.
Hop on the metro a few stops to Der Wiener Deewan (Liechtensteinstraße 10, 1090) for an all-you-can-eat Pakistani buffet, usually with half vegetarian, half meat options.
This informal restaurant in the hip, student area of town, is unusual because once you’re done serving yourself from the array of rice, curries, salad and sweets, you simply pay what you feel is appropriate for what you ate! It’s almost always busy, but there’s plenty more seating hidden downstairs, and the atmosphere is always communal and welcoming.
Next, head west to the adjacent neighbourhood of Josefstadt to experience some of the city’s nightlife. Pick between one of the many bars in the area for a few drinks: Spielbar (Lederergasse 26, 1080) is a fun option if you fancy playing some board games and Salims Cocktailbar (Florianigasse 42, 1080) is great for innovative cocktails.
If you’re still going, hop on the bus a few minutes south to the famous Camera Club (Neubaugasse 2, 1070), which dates back to the 1970s. With several different nights, this place offers something for most party people, with lineups of local and international DJs, live music events and various other kinds of performances. They’re also open all night on weekends if you want to stay out and shake your tail feather!
This guest post was written by Sam Wood