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What Not to Miss in Vienna: Insider Tips From the Locals

Phoebe

Jul 25 • 5 minute read

Austria is a beautiful country, and you can consider Vienna to be its crown jewel. If you’re even thinking about spending some time here, there are numerous things that you just can’t miss during your visit. Take a few minutes to check out what to eat and drink, the best spots in nature and all the hip nightlife, along with places to explore during your spare time.

Food and more

If hunger calls, then you’re most definitely in the right city. Vienna is home to dozens of world-class restaurants with renowned chefs, so you won’t have to search too far when looking for a place to celebrate a special occasion.

However, if you’re here for a semester abroad or an internship, or you’re just starting off with your new employer, Vienna’s markets may be the way to go. And you’ll find few to argue that Naschmarkt is the city’s finest.

Naschmarkt is located in the 6th district, Mariahilf, and it’s packed full of both tourists and locals, making it a great way to really jump into the city’s cultural scene. Not only is it Vienna’s largest and most popular market, but its oldest as well. With over 120 stands, there’s always been a continuous market on this spot since the 1780s. You can come here to find fresh fruits and vegetables, of course, as well as spices, meats and everything else you’ll need to make a delicious meal at home. If you prefer to eat out, you can also grab an inexpensive meal at one of the restaurants located inside the market, or a tasty sausage to go from one of the food stalls.

Additionally, every Saturday in the parking lot, you can find a large flea market, selling everything from antiques to books to clothing. It’s a great place to shop when filling up a new apartment, or browsing for gifts to send back home.

And if you’re looking for another market that might not be quite as crowded, there are several other options. Another long-standing market is the Karmelitermarkt in the 2nd district, Leopoldstadt.

Pure nature

Vienna is full of lovely green spots, where you can relax and enjoy a bit of the natural side of the city. With so many museums and historic buildings to explore, sometimes it’s nice to get away from the hustle and bustle.

Am Himmel is just such a place, with its name actually translating to “on heaven.” Set atop a large hill, the views of the city are worth the short bus ride alone. But there are always plenty of activities going on, so spending the entire afternoon is a must.

There’s a delicious restaurant with a terrace that is a favorite of the locals for breakfast. At night, you can enjoy a barbecue, or just relax with a glass or two of wine from one of the area vineyards. And if you feel like stretching your legs, you can hike around the forest or explore one of the numerous trails.

There’s also a perfect opportunity to not only indulge in the region’s wine, but to also visit some of its vineyards and wine villages. Grinzing and Zawodsky are both excellent choices. They only sell or offer wines that they locally produce, along with a tasty buffet of organic products to pair with your white, red or blush preference. You can also take part in a tasting, and leave with a bottle of your new favorite wine!

Places to party

We all know that Vienna is known for its classical music and cultural pursuits, but don’t worry for a second that the young people in Vienna don’t throw a good party. The after-work scene is alive and well, and you’ll rarely be lacking a drinking partner when your work day is over. If you’re in Vienna on an international exchange, you’re going to have a full calendar of parties and gatherings held at your university. However, the city’s local nightlife is fantastic, so go out and explore.

As the capital of Austria, Vienna can sometimes get a little touristy, meaning that some of its larger nightclubs can be on the pricier side. But if you know where to look, you can still party all night in Vienna and still have money left for Round Two.

One of the best clubs with a hip vibe and great pricing is called Loco-Bar. Popular with students and young professionals, the drinks and cocktails are budget-friendly, with lots of specials. If the weather’s nice, you can even enjoy your drinks with friends outside in the garden, or opt for one of the corner booths inside. Plus, it’s easy to find, right across the street from the U6 Metro Station at Nussdorfer Straße, also making it simple to get home safely.

Another cool spot to try out is WUK, which is located in a former train factory. Talk about ambiance! This club draws a more diverse crowd, as it has a beer garden, a pub, a cultural center and even a live music venue. There’s always a full calendar of events, so be sure to see what’s going on before you plan your night out.

For other options, if you want crowds and think it might be fun to hang out with tourists from across the world, the clubs in the city center can be exciting. But if you want to stretch your dollar and have a little more breathing space, the night spots in the outer-lying areas aren’t quite as crowded and also will offer cheaper drinks. If in doubt, ask a local!

Things to see

We’ve mentioned that Vienna is a hot spot for culture and history, so when in Rome… There are dozens of places to see and things to explore in this fascinating city, so you’ll never run out of ways to spend an afternoon.

Schönbrunn Palace is just the place to visit when you want to see a glimpse of Vienna’s past. In fact, Schönbrunn Palace is the city’s number-one visited attraction. A summer home of the imperial monarchy, this Baroque palace has over 1,400 rooms, and a number of different tours are offered. Don’t forget to explore the gardens!

Now that you’ve seen the imperial monarch’s summer home, it’s time to spend the day at their winter residence. The Hofburg was constructed in the 13th century and was once where the Hapsburg dynasty ruled over the people. Today, the Hofburg is the residence and place of business for the President of Austria, and you can purchase tickets for the museum.

Looking for some fun at a large bustling park? Situated in Leopoldstadt, Prater is a big public space full of activities. The Wurstelprater amusement park takes up most of Prater, which is where you’ll find the famous Wiener Riesenrad Ferris wheel; it’s over 65 meters tall and was built in 1897.

Feeling like a bit more culture? The Kunsthistorisches Museum is typically considered Vienna’s best art museum, with a renowned permanent collection and a constant stream of temporary exhibits that always make each visit different. The Kunsthistorisches Museum is also housed in a former palace, with a crowned dome and beautiful exterior and interior architecture.

And if you’re interested in an elegant night out and a way to really immerse yourself in the classical music history of the city, the Vienna State Opera is a must-visit! Be sure to check their calendar for the operas and other performances held in this unbelievable building that is like a work of art in itself. Additionally, the Vienna State Opera also offers guided tours, where you can learn about the history, the building’s architecture and the famous performers who have graced its stage.

As you prepare to move to Vienna, find housing and work out all of the other practical arrangements, don’t forget to save plenty of time to explore this amazing city when you arrive. This will be an adventure of a lifetime!

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