The Karls Church is Vienna’s crown jewel when it comes to Baroque landmarks. As well as being pleasing to the eye, it’s a cultural hotspot with various seasonal events taking place throughout the year, from cosy Christmas markets to the music event Popfest in summer. It is also a great place to hang out in the evening with a few cans of beers. Daily classical concerts are held inside the church and tickets can be purchased just outside the entrance on the right-hand side.
The Baroque Belvedere Palace and its gardens were originally built as a summer residence for Prince Eugene of Savoy, however, they were opened up to the public after the fall of the Habsburg Monarchy. Now a gallery housing an important collection of artworks, it has become one of the most visited attractions in the city. The gardens, still groomed in pristine elegance, are a great place to enjoy a summer afternoon. In the winter, a charming Christmas market opens on the grounds, selling handmade trinkets and homemade Austrian cuisine.
Tucked away behind the aforementioned Belvedere Palace you’ll find the tranquil and pretty Botanical Gardens, containing hundreds of species of exotic and unusual plants. It’s great for a day’s wandering – and a good option if you are visiting on a shoestring.
The Naschmarkt has a rich history dating back to the 16th century when it was a humble trading ground that sold mainly fruit and vegetables on a modest stretch. Today, it is a metropolis of a market, between Kettenbrückengasse and Karlsplatz, with vendors selling food and drink from around the world and a sprawling flea market taking place every Saturday, which sees around 400 stalls offering a variety of rarities and gems. The Naschmarkt is Vienna’s most famous food and flea market and it’s a huge hit with tourists and locals. Remember that the early bird catches the worm – so try and arrive before sunrise for the best pickings.
Those who want to explore Vienna’s art scene should wander along Schleifmühlgasse, which contains a dense cluster of independent, contemporary art galleries with consistently revolving exhibitions. Openings, which take place regularly, are perfect for catching a (free) taste of the city’s underground artists, as well as enjoying complimentary booze. Christine König Gallery, Gabriele Senn Gallery, Galerie Schleifmühlgasse 12-14 and Gesellschaft für projektive Ästhetik are all conveniently located along this street.
Want to learn about the city you’re visiting? The Wien Museum houses a vast collection of historical items relating to Austria’s capital, with a huge range of exhibitions. There is a permanent exhibition of art and artefacts related to the city as well as special exhibitions on topics such as fashion and music.
If vintage and thrift shopping is your thing, the 4th district has a lot to offer. Carla shop, a vast 4,000 square metre (43055.64 square feet) warehouse, is filled to the brim with donations of used beds, sofas, tables, crockery, books, instruments, clothing and more. As well as benefiting the environment by recycling and saving on waste, the company also acts as a social pioneer by employing men and women who have been unable to find work and funding various projects that help support vulnerable people in the community.
For casual eats on the go, you’ll be spoiled for choice in Wieden. From carefully curated vegan burgers at Swing Kitchen to traditional bratwurst at Würstlstands, it is an area where you’ll find fast food on almost every corner. For those seeking a less casual affair, French restaurant Coté Sud will deliver, however, keep in mind opening hours and be sure to book in advance. Pizza Riva is a winner for lovers of Italian and Café Amacord is where to head if you’re looking for traditional Austrian cuisine.
From dark, smoky joints to classy bars, Wieden has a vast range of bars. Schikaneder, which doubles as a cinema and a bar, contains a sizeable DJ area as well as a cosy, low-lit seating area. Café Anzengruber boasts a sophisticated, quintessentially Austrian vibe and for cocktails, try Zweitbester.
Graham Greene’s The Third Man shows various sides of Vienna, including some of the less glamorous parts of the city. A spooky, surreal and likely smelly experience, The Third Man Sewer Tour takes you on a journey of subterranean Vienna. Be sure to make reservations in advance.