By Sarita Jha, Co-Founder of Nomad
The former capital of the the Hapsburg Empire and the home of Freud, Marie Theresa, Gustav Klimt and a world-class opera, Vienna never disappoints its visitors. Positioned as the window to Central Europe, Vienna contains a vibrant blend of stunning architecture, priceless art and a grand mixture of cultures reflecting its history. It is also serving up hipster cafes plus avant-garde cuisine, watch out Copenhagen – you have competition! As a Nomad co-founder, I feel I need to share my favorite places in Vienna….
How to get around
Vienna has one of the best metros in the world. It is simple and easy to use. You can get anywhere via the city’s system. Also, they have wonderful tram routes. You can ride around the 1, 2 trams that conveniently go around the center and thus lands you close to most of the sites you will likely visit. These days it is fun to glide through the city with an electric scooter (but be careful). You will find scooters by Lime and Bird peppered all over the city. Remember scooters are considered as bicycles so use the bike path! Personally I love walking this city as it is easy and small enough to do so. Plus on foot, I can able to duck into an interesting shop or bar or art gallery to fully experience the local culture.
Where to stay
An interesting place to stay, 25hours Hotel, is located in Museumsquartier. They have a great rooftop bar plus a buzzing outside area when the weather is warm. The clientele is hip and happening. You can also stay in the 8th district or Josefstadt in this Airbnb Plus which sleeps 4 and ideally located between MuseumsQuartier and the Rathaus. It is always nice to wake up and have your coffee in your PJs.
Finally, for the visitor seeking a more luxurious stay, the Hotel Sacher right behind the Opera House is a much sought after hotel. Opened since 1876 and one of the original places to eat Sachertorte (the infamous cake, a chocolate sponge cake with apricot jam covered with a dark chocolate glaze), Hotel Sacher is known for its fabulous decor that includes red velvet drapes and jewelled-themed interiors.
Where to eat
Food in Austria is a real culinary tour! You can go from your basic schnitzel to local restaurants which are below the radar and who are serving up world-class, innovative cuisine. Here are some of my or my locals’ favorites!
Check out Propeller, located in the 5th District (just adjacent to the 4th) and one of the top rated breakfast places in Vienna. My friend Alexander who lives in the area suggested Propeller. With dark woods, white walls, green plants and exposed bricks, the ambience is an ideal place to relax and have a leisurely breakfast for hipsters and others.
Those of you who would like to try out a burrito in Vienna (!!), head to the Gorilla Kitchen in the 4th District. Instead of a “wurst”, you can stop at the Gorilla Market for burritos, burrito bowls, and sandwiches. They have some great options for vegans. The cafe next door serves up great coffee drinks with alternative milks to take away for your walk.
Next door is a cute little vintage shop called Wunderladen Café, and eclectic mix of vintage, unique gifts, and handmade items. It is a comfortable place to spend a couple of hours read a book while enjoying a cupcake. They even have “take a book, give a book” shelves so if you find yourself without a book you can find one there.
This famous Viennese eatery was established in 1902. It is reknown for this open sandwiches made from local broad bread with a variety of spreads (20+).
Meat lovers to vegans, everyone will find at least one sandwich to love. Ideally you enjoy your sandwiches (because one is just not enough!) with a Pfiff beer, a glass of wine, or even a vodka!
For dinner, I would suggest Goldfisch in the 8th District. A fish monger with a restaurant attached, Goldfisch is a small, neighborhood establishment, where you can select your seafood you want prepared as your meal. I was introduced to this wonderful restaurant by my friend Tanya who lives nearby. Their dishes are Michelin star level and complemented with a selection of wine from a well-curated list, which includes many Austrian producers. All I can say is reserve!
Another local restaurant in the 8th District is The Kommod by Christina Unteregger and Stephan Stahl, which seats just under 15 guests. The intimate space is bordered on three sides by inlaid wooden paneling from the 1920s. It is one of Tanya’s favorite as it is a stone-throw away from her place! Again reserve!
Opened In 1983, my friends, the Nuredini family, own and run this wonderful Italian restaurant. If you find yourself in the 1st District, I highly recommend the food. One of my favorite dishes is their seafood pasta. Delicious! It is a meeting place for Viennese artists, athletes, composers and, above all, fans of fresh Italian cuisine.
Where to go for a coffee or pastries
Now this is the city to leave your calorie count behind! There are the traditional places to enjoy coffees and pastries (e.g. Cafe Sacher, Demmel), but below are some of my favorites which I visit every time!
A family owned and managed cafe, Cafe Hawelka is very much part of Viennese cafe culture since the 1940s. The “Art Nouveau” interior decoration remains intact over the years. Try one of the local cakes (such as the “Marillenkuchen”) made in house. You won’t be disappointed. It is a great place to take a book or newspaper and leisurely sit for hours.
At our last dinner party in Vienna, my friend brought in pastries from Viola, a pastry shop named after the chef located in the 8th District. All I can say is YUMMY! Every morsel was consumed. Viola is a pastry chef and her motto is “No compromises when it comes to the quality of the ingredients. With great attention to detail, when it comes to the preparation. And with the necessary courage when it comes to reinterpreting old recipes or developing your own creations.” Viola creates the most beautiful and delicious pastry creations. For a sweet tooth owner, this is an experience you must not miss.
Where to explore
Exploring Vienna is by walking through this beautiful city. You can start to stroll through the Graben (the main shopping area). It begins at Stock-im-Eisen-Platz next to the Palais Equitable and ends at the junction of Kohlmarkt and Tuchlauben. An easy way is to start walking to Stefansdom from the Opera House.
Must places to visit: Stephansdom, Belvedere Place (to see the famous Klimt paintings), the Albertina (home of beautiful paintings by Monet), the Hofburg Palace, The Kunsthistorisches Museum, the Opera House, and the list goes on. You have architecture from the Hofsburg Empire to modern day.
The Museumquartier or “MQ” offers you many days of discovery: Baroque buildings as well as modern architecture by the architects Laurids and Manfred Ortner. The MQ is home to a range of installations from to museums (Leopold Museum, Museum of Modern Art Ludwig Foundation Vienna, and the Kunsthalle). It also houses the Tanzquartier (an international, state-of-the-art centre for dance), the Architekturzentrum Wien, production studios for new media, artist studios for artists-in-residence, etc. Check it out!
Where to drink
After a day of sightseeing and meals, you may find yourself wanting to have a drink or two. Vienna is a place for wonderful beer gardens to ritzy cocktail bars.
Looking for a great gin and tonic? One of my favorite local bar for G&Ts is Das Torberg in the 8th District. It has over 600 gin varieties and 20 types of tonics. Of course I haven’t made it through all of them, yet!
Pfiff & CO for Beer
A small beer bar with a cozy atmosphere. They offer Trummer Pils, Stiegl Goldbräu on tap as well Aperolspritzer. Their menu includes snacks of Sacherwürstel, ham and cheese toast and in the autumn and winter months a small beef stew and sausages. During the warmer weather, they have outdoor seating. Try it out!
Another a “go to” bar in the 1st district is Bar Sole right next door to Ristorante Sole. Great place to hangout with friends. Bar Sole offers a unique selection of Italian and Austrian wines plus antipasti, paninis and pizzas. So if you missed dinner, this would be a great way for either pre-meal aperitivo or to wind down the day.
Nomad Featured Trip
- St Stephen’s Church
- Belvedere Palace
- The Hofburg Palace
- Kunsthistorisches Museum
- Wiener Staatsoper (“The Opera House”)
- Where to Stay
- 25hours Hotel, Hotel Sacher
- Where to Eat
- Propeller, Gorilla Kitchen
- Wunderladen Café
- Goldfisch , The Kommod
- Ristorante Sole
- Cafe Hawelka , Viola
- Where to Drink
- Das Torberg
- The Bank Brasserie and Bar, Bar Sole