Over the past couple of years, I’ve visited Vienna numerous times. With every returning visit I still manage to discover new things about this city and I fall in love with it a little bit more.
Now that I’ve been there a couple times, there are things that I must do on each visit. So here you go, my top 10 things to do when in Vienna. I realize a lot of these are food related, but for me a well fed holiday is a fantastic holiday.
No visit to Vienna is complete without a visit to this magnificent palace. The gardens are a must. My favourite view of the palace is from behind the Neptune fountain. Also, make sure you walk all the way up to the Gloriette for a view of the palace and surrounding neighbourhood.
Almdudler is an Austrian soft drink that is made from grape and apple juice. It tastes a bit like ginger ale to me, but sweeter and with more fruit flavour. It kind of looks like ginger ale too. It is often called the “national drink of Austria” and is the second most popular soft drink in Austria after Coke. You can get them carbonated (my preferred option), sugar free or still. There is even a version with beer in it! I haven’t been able to find it elsewhere other than in Austria despite them saying that it gets exported to surrounding countries. I pick up one of these the first day I’m in Austria!
3. See the Hundertwasserhaus
I love the quirkiness of the Hundertwasserhaus. It’s a little bit further away from the majority of sites in Vienna, but I think it’s worth the visit. The explosion of colour and little details make each visit unique. Every time I go, I noticed something new and interesting about the building and visitor centre across the way.
See more: In Photos – Hundertwasserhaus
4. Eat some cake
You see cakes available everywhere in Vienna. There are so many famous coffee shops around the city and what goes well with coffee? Cake! I ate too much while I was there, and I still can’t get enough.
One cake everyone tells you try is the Sacher Torte. While I won’t tell you to skip it entirely, I really wasn’t too impressed with it. I really do not get the fuss! In my mind it’s just one massive marketing campaign that they’ve been successful at over the years. Instead I much rather enjoy all the other thousands of cake and coffee shops around the city.
Where to eat cake: Coffee and Cake – A Match Made in Vienna
5. Walk along the Ring Road
The major tourist attractions and the centre of Vienna is surrounded by an outer ring road called the Ringstrasse. It surrounds the Innere Stadt district of Vienna. A leisurely walk along this road would lead you to see the Vienna Opera House, Hofburg Palace, Parliament, Rathaus, Museum Quarter, Burgtheater and the University of Vienna.
See more: A Ride Around the Ringstrasse
6. Weiner Schnitzel at Figlmuller
A must visit on every visit. The schnitzel here is massive and so good! It’s not dry like other places that I’ve tried and much thinner. Make sure you get the potato salad. I use to dislike potato salad, but this one really turned it around for me. I don’t know what it is that they put into the dressing but it is the perfect amount of sweet and tart. Normally I get one schnitzel to share with a friend and my own side salad because that is just too good to share.
7. Lunch at the Naschmarkt
For a cheap and quick lunch head to the Naschmarkt. Pick up some bread, cheese and meat and have a picnic in a nearby park, or if you want someone to do the cooking for you, there are plenty of restaurants available.
Even if you aren’t picking up lunch, a visit to the Naschmarkt is still fun. You can see all the different spices, foods and merchants available. On Saturdays, there is a flea market if you’re interested in purchasing some gifts. The market is really big and spreads a couple blocks. The prices are more reasonable on the Kettenbrückengasse end compared to the Karlsplatz end. Also, fewer tourists which is also nice.
8. Explore Musical History
There are so many famous composers and musicians who are associated with Vienna. I have thoroughly explored Mozart’s history and his connection to Vienna there are many more composers like Beethoven, Hayden and Schubert who have houses and memorials to explore in the city.
Did you know Vienna also has a Walk of Fame? Instead of containing celebrities like in LA, this walk of fame is full of composers who had some sort of connection with Vienna.
No visit to Vienna can be complete without a visit to the Haus der Musik especially if you’re doing all the other musical activities. I loved this museum. Its very interactive and a whole lot of fun. They had me composing music, interacting with instruments and exploring history. A lot of fun.
Read more: Chasing Mozart – From Birth to Death
9. Pork Knuckle at Salm Brau
Salm Brau is a restaurant and brewery on the edge of the Belvedere grounds. Try their beer, brewed in house, and their pork knuckle. It was so delicious. I can still remember how easily it flaked off the bone and how deliciously tender it was. It goes perfect with the mustard that is served with it. Be warned though, the portions are massive. We had one knuckle to share among 3 of us and we still had leftovers.
10. Watch an Opera
Where else can you watch a world class opera for 3€ or 4€? Yes, you have to stand. Yes, you’re in the back. But it’s so affordable! Plus you can see the inside of the opera house which is gorgeous! These standing room tickets are available only on the day of the performance and not from the main ticket office either. Tickets go on sale about 80 minutes before the performance from a side door off of Operngasse. Usually the line for the tickets starts fairly early so you need to be there early. For further details on the process, read this guide on TripAdvisor.
The performance was long, but it was such a cool experience and one that I would definitely recommend for anyone, especially those who are curious about opera, but don’t want to cough up $100 to see one.
And those are my top 10 things to do in Vienna. Some are really touristy things to do, others are a little bit off the beaten track. Food is such a major component of my travels so they make a strong appearance. I’m salivating just thinking about that pork knuckle now. Yum!
Where to Stay
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Here are my top picks for where to stay:
- Wombats City Hostel Vienna Naschmarkt (Rechte Wienzeile 35) – There are two locations of this hostel in Vienna: this one here overlooking the Naschmarkt and another by the Westbahnhof. I have stayed a both and enjoyed my stays at both locations. It was easy to make new friends, they offer a breakfast for an additional price and it is really centrally located. Check out reviews on Tripadvisor and book your stay at Booking.com.
- Wombats City Hostel Vienna “The Lounge” (Mariahilfer Strasse 137) – Another branch of the Wombats hostel, slightly closer to the center. It’s well located near the Westbahnhof if you’re coming off a train. If this one is full, check out the other location and vice versa. Check out reviews on Tripadvisor and book your stay at Booking.com.
- Motel One Wien-Staatsoper (Elisabethstraße 5) – It doesn’t get more central than this. Located by the Opera house and near the ring road, this location of the budget hotel chain is clean, comfortable and convenient. It’s a little more expensive compared to other locations of this chain in Vienna, due to its location, but if this is full, look at one of the other three locations. Check out reviews on Tripadvisor and book your stay at Booking.com.
- Kunsthaus Apartments (Weißgerberlände 16) – For anyone wanting access to a kitchen or if you want more space, the Kunsthaus Apartments are your answer. In a quieter neighbourhood, they’re located right by the Hundertwasserhaus and is around the corner from Kunst Haus Wien. They have studios, one bed, two bed and three bed apartments available. Check out reviews on Tripadvisor and book your stay at Booking.com.
What are your favourite things to do? Did I miss anything?