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Being synonymous with Mozart and dainty cakes means Vienna doesn’t hold the biggest reputation for being one of Europe’s happening and hip destinations. However, in the lesser known parts and the underbelly of the city lives subtle yet distinctive subcultures and a burgeoning, edgy art scene. Don’t be fooled by the city’s initial impression of being a little fussy and quaint, Vienna shouldn’t be dismissed as just a pretty face.
Well established and officially, and some might say, unfortunately, ‘gentrified’, the formerly run-down Jewish quarter has been remodeled over recent years to resemble a magnet for young creatives. A steady stream of cool coffee shops, such as the delightfully quaint Kleines Café, and restaurants have popped up. This has transformed the area into an affirmed hub for the creative middle class. It has become one of the most desirable areas in Vienna, however, the inevitable rise in apartment rent costs mean that artists seek elsewhere.
A plethora of coffee shops, restaurants and shops have recently hit the streets of the 15th district, distancing it from its former reputation as a somewhat drab part of town. On the other side of the glorious and beautiful Schonbrunn Park, adjacent to the contrasting bougie and snobbish area of Hietzing, this neighborhood is circled with a dense ring of traffic, making it less desirable than its quieter sister. However, it is gradually becoming a more desirable place for young people, with the benefit of affordable apartments and nearby open spaces.
A smaller section of the larger aforementioned second district, the Prater is a wonderful part of town. Ignoring the slightly tediously touristy and tacky amusement park, this area has a lot going for it in the cool stakes. Refreshing open spaces and a great selection of shops and restaurants make this one of Vienna’s most prominent and desirable areas.
Officially labeled as ‘up and coming’, the seventh district is one of the latest to fall into the colorful clutches of the young and trendy. More multicultural and vibrant than the now culturally cultivated second, the seventh remains delightfully rough around the edges. Along the Thailastrasse, there is an abundance of edgy cafés and minimalist restaurants full of bright young things in the evenings.
Established as a district in the 1800s, Mariahilf resides just off the busy tourist high street of Mariahilfastrasse, an uninspiring busy road with a monotonous stream of mainstream shops. Mariahilf is a breath of fresh air away from the touristy tedium, with small art galleries, thrift stores, and great little cafés. Another infamous landmark of the district is the gigantic Nazi flak tower, which has been converted into an aquarium. From the top, there is an incredible view of the city.
Ottakring lies in northern Vienna, a multicultural and up-and-coming neighborhood that has a lot of offer. Beginning at The Gurtel, the city’s rapidly moving ring of traffic, it feels vibrant and lively, with a great selection of inexpensive bars and restaurants to feed and fuel the city’s students and young people. A thriving Turkish community means there is a strong influence of Turkish and Cyprion culture, with many markets, coffee shops, and bakeries — an excellent option is the restaurant Oase, where you can pick up great falafel and fresh baklava.
Directly located in the heart of the city, the fifth district has a fun and infectious Bohemian vibe. Typical Viennese architecture can be seen throughout. Boasting detailed faces and decadent swirling décor, this neighborhood is both aesthetically pleasing and artsy cool. Foodies should be sure to browse the famous Naschmarkt, where you can pick up locally sourced ingredients at bargain prices.