I had such a fun weekend in Vienna! Three days whizzed by and although they were just enough to do most things I wanted, I could have totally stayed forever…
I was expecting really beautiful ornate palaces from Vienna but I didn’t realise it had such a cool and quirky side to it too with loads of impressive street art and hipster bars down by the canal. The last time I visited Austria was actually the first time I went abroad EVER, on a family holiday when I was 14. My memories of it obviously aren’t the strongest but I definitely rekindled my love for the country this time around.
Here’s how we spent our weekend and how you could spend yours, too!
Morning – shopping at the Naschmarkt
At the Naschmarkt, you’ll find souvenirs, bric-a-brac, jewellery and some seriously delicious food. The market has plenty of cafes serving everything from breakfast and traditional Austrian cuisine, and everyone sits outside and chats – it’s a really good atmosphere. The fruit stalls were also amazing and I found all my favourites from my Asia trip like dragon fruit and mangosteen. I really wish we got these in the UK!
My favourite vendors were the stalls selling Middle Eastern food. It’s not just run of the mill falafel though – you’ll find peppers, chilis and tomatoes stuffed with cheese; Parma ham and walnut filled figs; olives, baklava and more.
We picked ourselves up a picnic and ate it at the Alfred-Grünwald-Park across the road.
Getting there – the closest station to the Naschmarkt is Kettenbrückengasse which is on the U4 (green) underground line. You walk out of the station and you’re there!
Afternoon – Schönbrunn Palace
While we just spent a couple of hours at Schönbrunn Palace, you could invest a whole day. As well as the stunning building itself you can climb the hill to the Gloriette structure, visit the Palm House, explore the labyrinth maze or go to the zoo. We had our sights set on the apple strudel show which happens once hourly but sadly we missed the last one of the day (4pm). We salvaged the situation by eating it at the cafe instead.
Some things like going inside the Palace cost extra but you can still go and enjoy the free bits like we did.
Getting there – catch the green U4 underground line to Schönbrunn and follow signs to the palace.
Early evening – go for a sunset drink
If there’s one place I’d recommend for a pre-dinner drink it’s Das Loft on the 18th floor of the Sofitel Hotel. We worried we would be out of place at the fancy bar and restaurant in our casual day clothes but it was fine. Prices aren’t too insane – the cocktails were expensive at €15 but a glass of wine was €6 and a beer €5 which was well worth it when you considered the view we were getting!
Getting there – back on that trusty U4 line to Schwedenplatz station. Look out for the Sofitel Hotel which is just across the bridge from the station exit.
There are plenty of places for vegetarians too (though you may not end up with traditional Austrian food). We headed to a place I’d read about online, Der Wiener Deewan for all-you-can-eat, pay-what-you-want curry. What a cool idea! It was a chilled soup kitchen vibe where you served yourself ladles of veggie or meat curry. I ended up with loads of my authentic faves like palak which is a spinach-based curry sauce that I ate loads in India.
Getting there – the closest station is Schottentor. However, if you’re following my guide step by step, you can walk from Das Loft to Der Wiener Deewan in 15 minutes.
We were up relatively early to explore the city centre which we’d yet to get immersed in.
Morning – get your caffeine fix
We started our day over cappuccinos at Kleines Cafe, a well-known spot in the prettiest square. The breakfast looked amazing – silver trays of eggs, ham, cheese and fresh bread. The inside was cute too with tiled floors and newspapers on the walls.
Getting there – it’s a five-minute walk from Stephansplatz underground station on the U2 and U4 lines.
Daytime – take a walking tour
There are loads of tours you can do in Vienna including free ones but we decided to see some of the highlights at our own pace. Check out some of the following spots:
If you do two palaces in Vienna make them Schönbrunn and Hofburg.
Hofburg is right in the centre of town and you can choose to wander the grounds for free or pay to go inside to the Imperial Apartments and museum. It’s so gorgeous!
Back of the Hofburg Palace & Burggarten
The front of the Palace is most popular but round the back you’ll find an equally pretty area with gardens, a pond and a Mozart statue complete with giant music note made of flowers!
St. Stephen’s Cathedral
We climbed the 334 stairs to the top of this beaut and it wasn’t actually too tough. Rather than an open top we found ourselves in the finish point of a gift shop but the windows on each wall made for perfect views.
This rustic row of shops are down the most atmospheric alleyway. You can browse jewellery and trinkets here as well as see a photo display of Vienna’s best doorways. Insta heaven – love me a doorway.
For me, this was schnitzel from a takeaway stall outside the Hofburg Palace. As I was travelling with two veggies and a vegan my odds of getting to a traditional schnitzel joint were pretty low but I really wanted to try one. It was basically a giant chicken nugget and it was yum! For non-takeaway grabs, you could try Plachuttas Gasthaus zur Oper which claims to serve the best in the city or Figmüller which has been serving its original recipe for 110 years!
We continued our walking tour before stopping for…
Afternoon tea break – Cafe Diglas
The Munday family are pros at stopping for tea and cake and we actually outdid ourselves by stumbling across the lovely Cafe Diglas on Wollzeile street. The pretty pink outside is a prelude to the classic style inside – check out the extravagant lampshade above our table and the chandelier made out of teacups. You also have to pay a trip to the bathroom where the clear doors turn frosted at the flick of the lock!
We tucked into Sachertorte which is famous in Vienna. For the original, head to Cafe Sacher – while I didn’t try it there the one we did have at Cafe Diglas was very tasty and chocolatey.
Late afternoon – Hundertwasser Village
By 5.30pm we’d finished our city tour and arrived at the Hundertwasser Village which was somewhere I’d been keen to see the whole trip. It was built in 1990 by Friedensreich Hundertwasser who apparently hated straight lines so made everything curvy.
Getting there – catch the underground to Landstraße (on the green U3 or orange U4 line) and walk for 10 minutes.
Early evening – sunset on the Prater Ferris wheel
Just a 15-minute walk from the Hundertwasser Village is the Prater which is a permanent fairground with rides and a Madame Tussards. We were there for the Ferris wheel which is the world’s oldest. It was a bit pricey at €10 for a 20-minute spin (and there was a pretty long queue) but the views of the city were lush.
Getting there – the nearest station is Messe-Prater which is on the U2 line.
We ate at Swing Kitchen. Feeling like we’d walked a marathon that day, we crashed at the Opernhaus branch of Vienna’s vegan burger chain – perfect for my vegan sister and veggie parents. And for meat eater me I have to confess it was good – I went for a ‘cheese’ burger which was made with a bean patty, lots of salad and a soft roll. At €8 for a burger, chips and drink it was a bargain!
After 12 hours on our feet in the heat we were exhausted so headed back to the apartment but if you want to head for drinks I’d recommend the canal area. There are tons of quirky bars decked out in fairy lights where you can sit and enjoy the atmosphere, plus lots of the boats double up as restaurants.
Our final day needed to be wrapped up by 3pm to head to the airport but we made a solid effort to see as much as possible.
Street art tour
Free Tour.com offer free walking tours of the city and specialist ones at a surcharge. We’d booked the walking tour of the street art for €8 for the previous day but unfortunately, no one else had and they needed five people to run the tour. So instead of despairing that it got cancelled last minute, we decided to do some research and create our own.
Most of the urban art is by the canal but if you’re looking to do a full recce like us, visit my guide to finding Vienna’s street art.
We finished our street art tour at Erich which has awesome breakfasts, tacos, skewers and cheese melts.
I couldn’t decide between skewers and ended up with the platter of one of each of them, plus two tasty bruschettas.
Joni tucked into a sweet potato bowl with brown rice and spinach and we both had our fave cocktails, Hugos (I can’t find these in England but Joni has them all the time in Germany).
Getting there: You’ll find Erich on Neustiftgasse which is just around the corner from the Museums Quarter. Catch the purple U2 underground line to Museumsquartier underground station.
Dessert was ice cream down the street at Veganista. I had a scoop of raspberry and a scoop of lavender and we mused over how good vegan ice cream tastes!
Getting there and away
Vienna airport is well connected with Europe and the rest of the world. There’s easy access to the city as the City Airport Train takes just 15-minutes to get from the airport to Wien-Mitte station in the heart of the city.
Where to stay
We stayed in an awesome Airbnb near Friedensbrücke station and it was so nice to have our own space and kitchen etc – apartment renting really has its perks.
If you’re going solo and looking for cheap accommodation, I’d recommend the Meininger chain. I’ve stayed a few times in Germany and they’re clean with everything you need – there are three of them in Vienna with dorm beds from €13.
For a quirky stay with gardens and allegedly a free stuff basket (say what?) I’ve heard good things about Ruthensteiner Hostel, too.
Enjoy your trip!
Vienna is one of my favourite cities I’ve visited recently so I’m sure you’ll love it too!
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Other spots & photos
Some of my favorite moments in Vienna were stumbling across places I’d not been looking for (isn’t that the most fun anywhere?) from cathedrals to street art and shopfronts. I’ll finish this blog with a few random sights we came across whilst wandering…