If you’ve ever seen Before Sunrise—Richard Linklater’s alternative one-day romantic tale of two strangers who meet on a train—then you may have been tempted to embark on a trip to Austria’s capital to attempt to engage in similar exploits. Vienna’s reassuringly modest size and its easily-navigable transportation makes it possible to see some of these ‘must-see’ sights in under 24 hours.
Every good day in Vienna starts with a strong cup of espresso. Beginning your one-day love affair with the city must start (and, perhaps end) in one of their coveted coffeehouses where breakfast can easily extend way into the afternoon. For those looking to stick with tradition, try a Viennese-style ‘ Frühstück’, of which there are a few varieties, (usually an egg, a Semmel roll, cold cuts of ham, and jam)—and, of course, a cup of coffee.
On Saturday mornings, a pianist plays in Café Sperl for free, giving the opportunity to experience Vienna’s famous music scene and simultaneously its coffee culture in a traditional setting. Café Schwarzenberg, Café Landtmann, and Café Central also put on regular concerts.
Café Sperl, Gumpendorfer Str. 11, 1060 Wien, +43 01 5864158
Kill a few cultural birds with one stone in the city’s MuseumsQuartier—a cluster of culture neatly arranged into one square. With modern art, classic art, and architecture all featured in the Quarter, there is bound to be a museum around to peak art lover’s interests no matter their preference.
MuseumsQuartier, 1 Museumsplatz, Vienna, Austria, +43 1 5235881
If the sun is shining, an afternoon in the out and open is a perfect way to enjoy Vienna. The Augarten, a neat, enclosed park in the Leopoldstadt neighborhood is one of the most peaceful and quiet open spaces. Located next to a Baroque palace, it creates a strange juxtaposition of the landscape with the brutalist Flak towers that loom in the background. Between June and July, an open-air cinema opens in the park, showing a mix of current and classic films.
Alternatively, tourists can use the time to see a more unusual side of the city. The 6th, 10th, and 15th Districts may be lesser known by visitors, but they offer just as interesting a time as some of the more-frequented districts.
Despite pristine appearances, once the sun goes down, Vienna is as boozy as the next European capital. Bars and clubs offer generous opening hours—with some keeping their doors open to as late as 4 am, 24-hour visitors can conceivably experience the city for the full 24 hours if they so wish.
Meanwhile, the 7th District’s Café Espresso is an effortlessly chic and laid-back place for an evening beer and located in the currently-trendy Burggasse. Wunder-bar, Kaffee Alt Wien, and Café Einhorn are all worth checking out as well.
Café Espresso, Burggasse 57, 1070 Wien, +43 676 5961645
Wunder-Bar, Schönlaterngasse 8, 1010 Wien, +43 01 5127989
Kaffee Alt Wien, Schleifmühlgasse 23, 1040 Wien, +43 (0) 1 50 50 800
Café Einhorn, Joanelligasse, Vienna, Austria, +43 1 5863212
Vienna’s vibrant food culture means that the possibilities are endless when choosing somewhere to dine. Those wanting to sample traditional Austrian cuisine, try Wratschko for a homely Viennese experience or head to one of the Würstlstands and sample the street food on offer—Bratwurst or Kasekrainer are among the most popular.
Gastwirtschaft Wratschko, Neustiftgasse, Vienna, Austria, +43 1 5237161
During the summer months, Vienna’s streets put on a variety of free cultural happenings to take advantage of including open-air cinemas and free-music concerts.
Or, for those wanting to replicate the antics undertaken by the enchanted couple in Before Sunrise, consider taking a sunset spin on the Riesenrad. Vienna’s iconic pillar-box, red Ferris wheel—also featured in the Third Man—can be found in the Prater Amusement Park.
Wiener Riesenrad, Riesenradplatz 1, 1020 Wien, Austria, +43 1 7295430