Get lost in the maze and savor the bombastic Baroque splendor and at Schönbrunn Palace and gardens
Start exploring Schönbrunn with wow-factor tour, from the Great Gallery, a 40m-long Rococo reception hall with ceiling frescoes depicting scenes from the Hapsburg monarchy, to the round Chinese Cabinets, where lacquered panels and blue porcelain get an Asian twist. Then twist and turn through the mythical labyrinth and meandering the formal gardens stretching up the hill, hiking up the hill to the colonnaded Gloriette, which impresses with its triumphal arcades. The former breakfast room now houses a cafe – grab a cuppa and take in view laying across the baroque reflecting pools, gardens and the palace with the city backdrop.
Schönbrunner Schlossstrasse 47
+43 1 8111 32 39
Eat a Wienerschnitzel that engulfs your plate
Pounded thin, breaded and fried to yield a crispy outside, tender inside disc of bliss, indulging in Wienerschnitzel is a Viennese rite of passage. Any respectable Schnitzel is enormous, often larger than the plate it’s delivered on, and made with veal (a pork alternative is usually available). Topped with lemon quarters, all it needs is a few squeezes of citrus and a big appetite. Figlmüller serves the biggest and best on well-worn wood tables by tuxedoed waiters. Unusually, there’s no beer but there’s plenty of wine, all from the owner’s vineyard in Lower Austria.
+43 1 512 61 77
Ponder the colors zigzagging across the roof of St Stephen’s cathedral
Standing outside, the first thing that will strike you is the mosaic glazed tiles atop the cathedral, with its rainbow row of chevrons on one end and the Austrian eagle on the other–a good perspective is the northeastern corner of Stephan’s plaza. Inside, the Gothic stone pulpit takes pride of place in the main nave, fashioned with a handrail adorned with salamanders and toads fighting an eternal battle of good versus evil. The baroque high altar, at the very far end of the main nave, shows the stoning of St Stephen. Climb the South Tower for sweeping views across the city and another perspective of the vivid roof.
+43 1) 51 552 37 67
Shop where discarded objects and human beings both get a second lease on life
Social responsibility, recycled goods and innovation anchor creations at Gabarage Upcycling Design, where recovered former substance abuses learn a new trade and get a second chance in life, as does the stuff recycled into cool goods for sale. Electrical cables twist into colorful bracelets, discarded three-ring-binders yield a chaise lounge chair, truck tarpaulins become bags, and reels of old film are sliced and reconstructed into quirky lamps. It’s part of a program to help prior addicts integrate into society in a positive way as employees and apprentices.
Gabarage Upcycling Design
+43 1 5857632
Tour the environmentally friendly waste plant that doubles as art
What’s that 126m-high metallic blue tower with what appears to be a large gold blob encircling it like an irregular donut? It’s the landmark Spittelau waste incineration plant, whose facade of multicolored circles and rectangles was designed by the Austrian architect and artist Friedrich Hundertwasser. Inside, tours offer a chance to understand the technology of its recycling and disposal system: they burn the city trash to yield energy for electricity, a superbly sustainable way to manage waste.
Spittelauer Lände 45
+43 1 40 04 898 32
Press pause at a typical Viennese coffee house
Kaffeehauser (coffee houses) are where Viennese soak up unhurried hours and laze the day away. Settle into the cozy booths amid Art nouveau design at the traditional Café Sperl, defined by a dizzying list of 10+ java concoctions served on a silver platter by tuxedoed waiters who command their territory. Scolding one minute (especially if your phone goes off), courteous the next, they are annoyingly charming. Add an impressive case of decadent cakes and an absence of music, sip to the subtle rustle of newspapers (attached to old-school wood holders) and quiet conversation.
Gumpendorfer Str. 11
+43 1 5864158
Spin around in the giant rectangles dangling off Vienna’s oversized ferris wheel
Play like a kid and hit Vienna’s favorite old-school amusement park, the Würstelprater (www.praterwien.com), for a whirl on the Riesenrad (www.wienerriesenrad.com), the world’s most iconic ferris wheel and a city landmark. The gargantuan antique containers feel more like railcars and spin slowly around – excellent for multiple selfies with sweeping views of the city and the Danube. Back on the ground, enjoy the nostalgic vibe and the decorative vintage stalls. Adrenaline junkie needing more? Hit an indoor skydiving wind tunnel or swing on the chair-o-plane, which spins around at 60 kmph.
Drink and dance on the banks of the Danube-or under a light show
In summer, the banks of the Danube sprout beach bars and outdoor venues where DJs spin, drinks flow and dress code equals beach-chic cool. The best is Strandbar Hermann (Karl-Schweighofer-Gasse 10, www.strandbarherrmann.at), with comfy hammocks, sand to wriggle your toes in, a sumptuous weekend brunch and weekly yoga, if you fancy pre-cocktail exercise. In winter, opt for Donau Techno (Karl-Schweighofer-Gasse 10, +43 1 5238105, www.donautechno.com), where an unmarked door leads to crowds grooving to electronic beats while moving patterns and images are projected on the walls.
See Vienna let its regal hair down at its most multicultural market and plaza
At the end of the rough and tumble Brunnenmarket, the downmarket food and fabric market with an ethnic slant, is the bohemian Yppenplatz, a square where trendy restaurants and cafes spill out and the frenetic market activity presses pause. Check out the scene with a coffee or a bite at Rasouli (Payergasse 12, +43 1 403 13 47, www.rasouli.at), an organic kitchen where both meat and vegan fare grace the menu. Alternatively, Kent (Brunnengasse 67, +43 1 405 91 73, www.kent-restaurant.at), with tables set in a huge leafy garden, dishes out top-notch Turkish coffee and cuisine.
Snack your way through the Naschmarkt
‘Nasch’ means to ‘snack’ in German – and Vienna’s biggest and boldest market is a food lover’s dream. It boasts stalls and stalls of international delicacies with an Austrian and Balkan slant, from meats, fruits and vegetables to cheeses and spices, with a cacophony of vendors urging you to try their goodies. Don’t miss Käseland, the cheese shop where Austrian producers dominate. At the northern end, stalls are peppered by a slew of top-notch restaurants, many housed in modern glass cubes. Industro-cool Neni is a favorite sit-down cafe, bar, and restaurant with Middle Eastern focus–breakfast lasts until noon every day.
+ 43 1 587 29 58
+43 1 585 20 20