Summer has arrived in Europe in all its glory and therefore, loads of people are packing their bags to go travel. As part of a so called “Europtrip”, a lot of them are passing by Vienna or just going on a weekend trip to this historic city right in the heart of Europe. So if you are planning on going here or do not know yet where your next trip will be headed, let yourself be convinced of visiting Vienna, the city I have been calling home for two years now.
1. The Belvedere Museum
Vienna is definitely a city of the arts. Therefore, one (or more) museums had to be included in this guide. The Belvedere palace was built as a reward for Prince Eugen after he successfully beat the Ottomans and prevented them from conquering Western Europe. On top of that, in 1955, Austria was declared free after ten years of control by the Ally forces at the balcony of the Belvedere. These gorgeous buildings now contain a museum with a great selection of mostly Austrian art. Among others, several paintings by Gustav Klimt including “The kiss” can be found in here. Even though I have seen quite a lot of famous painting in my life already, this is still the one that blows me away the most. Teenagers until the age of 18 enjoy free entry.
2. The Prater and the WU (University of Business)
The Prater is a 6 square kilometer wide park area for running, taking a walk or just relaxing. It is among the ten biggest parks in the whole world, ranking even higher than the Central Park in New York. On the upper end of the Prater is the “Wurstlprater”, the oldest amusement park in the world. All year round, people can eat traditional street food like the “Langos”, “Bosna” or “Käsekrainer”, visit the “Madame Tussaud’s” wax museum or go on a ride on the famous ferris wheel or various other attractions. Only about 200 meters away from the Wurstlprater, there is also the newly opened campus of the Vienna University of Business where you can get a taste of the Viennese student life. The library designed by Zaha Hadid alone is enough reason to go here.
3. A walk along the “Ringstraße”
The Ringstraße (Ring Road) was constructed around the historic first district of Vienna for the World Exposition that took place here in 1873. Along this magnificent, really imperial street, the most important federal building of the city and the former Austro-Hungarian Empire can be found. Among others, the University of Vienna, the Austrian parliament building, the town hall, the state opera, the museum of classical art and several parks are located on this 6 km long road. You will definitely be able to feel touch of the glorious past when walking here.
4. A stroll through “Neubau”, the seventh district
If you are a fan of second-hand stores, cute cafés for working and all other instagramable hipster things, then go to the Neubau (German for “newly built”). The buildings here are a bit smaller than at the sometimes intimidating Ringstraße, but no less historic or beautiful. A lot of young people, specifically students, start-ups and artists live here which makes Neubau the only district where the Green party holds the majority in the district government. Start at the underground station “Volkstheater” (U2 and U3) and go up the “Burggasse” from there. Allow yourself to get lost in the side streets and trust me, you will be charmed by all the cute shops there. Specific recommendations I have for you here are the vintage store “Burggasse 24”, the restaurants “Ulrich”, “Erich” and Café Siebenstern” or enjoying a drink at the “25hours Hotel'”, which’s rooftop bar has arguably the best view over the city center.
5. The Albertina museum
Even if you do not plan on actually going inside this museum (even though you really should), just the view from the platform in front of it is worth coming here. The museum itself has a really good selection of paintings portrayed and both the special as well as the permanent exhibition “Von Monet bis Picasso” are worth the visit. Even celebrities like Brad Pitt have been here already which says a lot about the museum’s quality.
6. Schönbrunn Palace and Zoo
A bit outside of the city center, but still accessible by subway (take the U4 line until the station “Schönbrunn”) is the palace of the former emperors of house Habsburg. The palace’s architecture was inspired by Versailles (did not every European king want to be like Louis XIV. at least to some extend? ) and has a huge garden/park area around it. In December, there is also a gorgeous christmas market at the castle’s park. The Schönbrunn zoo, the oldest zoo in the world, is located next to the palace. If you wanted to, you could surely spend hours between pandas, lions, elephants and any other animal you could imagine. Especially children are fascinated by this place.
7. The Danube canal
One thing that many visitors lack in Vienna is the presence of water in general and the mighty Danube river in particular. Understandable, since the common sights are not located at the riverside in contrast to many other cities. If you want to see how and where the people from Vienna really hang out, then go to the Danube canal (Donaukanal in German). The underground stations “Friedensbrücke”, “Rossauer Lände”, “Schottenring” and “Schwedenplatz” are all located directly at the canal and you can get off at any of them. Walk along the Danube looking at the graffitis, borrow one of the city bikes, have a beer with your friends at one of the benches or sit down in of the bars/cafés at the riverside. The most notable ones are “Tel Aviv Beach 2010”, “Strandbar Hermann” and “Motto am Fluss”. The best place to chill and people watch in all of the city, giving you Berlin vibes.
8. The Hundertwasser Haus
Constructed by the Viennese architect Friendensreich Hundertwasser as a municipal building, Hundertwasser’s unique style definitely shines through here. The house is a sharp but welcome contrast to the predominantly white, huge buildings of the inner city. A really cute place you should also stop by 🙂
9. Viennese food markets
There are several food markets selling local and exotic goods all over the city. Most tourist guide books recommend the “Naschmarkt”, I however, do not agree with that. The Naschmarkt has become totally overpriced, each marketer selling the same products to the tourists (because hardly any Viennese person could afford actually buying food here on a regular basis). Therefore, I would recommend you either the “Kamelitermarkt” in the 2nd, the “Brunnenmarkt” in the 16th or the “Kutschkermarkt” in the 18th district. There, you get better value for your money and a more authentically market flair.
10. Hofburg Imperial Palace and Karlskirche
Ok, to be honest, I could not decide which one to chose here. But since both buildings are constructed in the same style, that also kind of counts, right? 😉 Anyway, I just love both of these stunning buildings in the city center of Vienna equally and they are the ones that friends visiting typically take a picture of immediately or just comment a simple “Wow!” You can go inside the palace and see the museum of Princess Sissi as well as enter the Karlskirche (English: Charles church). They also both make a great background for an Instagram picture of your visit 🙂
Those are my main tipps on what to visit when coming to Vienna for a city trip. Of course, there are loads of other things to do or places to see here, but I had to limit myself to only a fraction of them. If you are planning on staying more longterm, I definitely want to publish a guide for students in Vienna in the future. Until then, if you have any other tipps for visitors, I would be glad if you left them as a comment down below. I hope I could convince you to plan a visit, but I guess the pictures alone speak for themselves 🙂