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Vienna has a lot to offer, but where to start? We might have help for you.
As everybody loves a good top 10 list, we proudly present to you the best places in the city. From old cafés to modern restaurants and hip jazz clubs – there should be something for everyone in here.
Picking just one out of the many noteworthy coffee houses in Vienna is tough – but the tattered Kaffee Alt Wien never fails to please. It is old and beautiful (in its own shabby way) for the tourists, authentic and casual for the locals and most importantly it serves the best goulash in town. Regardless if you want to get a coffee or something stronger, to study for an exam or read a newspaper – you can never go wrong with Alt Wien.
It is called Schweizerhaus (Swiss House), but the place is more like the local answer to a Bavarian beer garden. Vienna’s restaurant with the biggest outdoor seating area located right in the heart of the Prater is a local’s favourite as well as a tourist magnet. Everyone goes here, whether it is for the pork knuckles (great to be shared among two or more people), the Budweiser beer or just the fantastic atmosphere. Look out for the waiters running around with trays full of beer mugs – those are heavy and in high demand!
While this isn’t Vienna’s most famous Heuriger (a Heuriger is a typical Viennese wine tavern attached to its own vineyard), it certainly is one of the most authentic ones. The outside seating area is gorgeous with tables tucked under a natural vine-and-grape-covered roof, perfect for snuggling even during a light rain shower. The buffet with warm and cold dishes is simple but delicious and the prices are very affordable. If you are lucky, you’ll catch some musicians playing some old Viennese songs for tips.
Vienna’s go-to jazz joint that draws 70,000 visitors per year – also due to the diverse program. While most evenings are still dedicated to jazz, the musical spectrum has widened over the past years and extends to other genres like electro and world music. The bar itself is as cool as it gets with its dark interior, the open stage that can be looked at from the ground floor as well as from the gallery-style upper level, alongside the stylish crowds that fill up the seats each night.
This restaurant is a little bit more upscale but still casual enough and set next to a beautiful pond on the western outskirts of the city. The place got a complete redesign a couple of years ago and the architects did a fantastic job. Try to get one of the tables right next to the pond, but if that is not possible there is no bad table in the outdoor garden. The food is outstanding and prices are reasonable for the quality. If you want to impress someone with your restaurant choice, on a warm summer night this one can hardly be beaten.
Vienna’s much bigger version of New York’s Central Park combines a six-kilometre-squared green space with a year-round amusement park. The so-called Wurstelprater is the oldest theme park in the world and has just celebrated its 250-year anniversary. Walking by some of the old stands, listening to the vendors offering their goods and flirting with the crowds you can still breathe in the atmosphere from the past. This is a place where Vienna comes together and where everyone has his favourite spot.
Theatre is serious business in Vienna, whether it is taking place at tiny venues hidden throughout the city or on stages where world famous actors have set foot on. The Burgtheater definitely falls in the latter category and is considered one of the most prestigious institutions of the performing art in the German-speaking world and in all of Europe. Going to a play in the “Burg” as it is called by locals has always been considered very chic and chances are high you’ll see local celebrities enjoying the play in one of the very expensive boxes.
Vienna’s most famous farmers market is a love-hate relationship for many locals. The vendors have a reputation of overcharging their costumers and when the weather is nice you’ll have to fight your way through the masses, interrupting dozens of tourists taking selfies in front of a mountain of tomatoes or exotic spices. Nevertheless, there is nothing you cannot buy at Naschmarkt and even the grumpiest Viennese will have to admit that enjoying a coffee at one of the many restaurants while watching the busy market life is a great way to spend an afternoon.
For some reason, the Viennese are in love with Irish pubs and there is at least one in every district. The oldest of its kind is somewhat of a secret– and it should probably stay that way as the venue is tiny and already feels packed if there are more than twenty people inside. While many other Irish pubs feel like cheap imitations, this one comes as close as it can get in bringing the authentic atmosphere to Vienna: hiding inside during a wet and cold Irish winter night spent drinking whiskey and Guinness.
There seem to be countless beach bars in Vienna these days, but Strandbar Hermann will always be the original. Dumping tons of sand next to the (then) rather shabby Danube Canal didn’t seem like such a great idea back when the project was initiated. But the place became an instant hit and even though it is huge, finding a free deck chair when the weather is nice is never easy. This year it is even possible to get married on the “beach”, which could make for an out-of-the-box alternative just in case Greece is too far away for you.