Living near Vienna for almost five months now, I have been determined to see as much of it as possible. While I have not seen everything on my list (yet!), I have seen plenty. From touristy to semi-touristy things, here are my top seven things to see in Vienna.
Can’t lie, this 12th century church is extremely “touristy,” but it is still a must-see, especially around Christmas when it is even more magical than usual. My favorite memory is aimlessly walking around one December night and ending up at Stephansdom. Thinking it was probably closed, a small glimmer of hope told me to try opening the door anyway.
It opened, and when I walked in there was a mass in progress. I don’t consider myself a religious person but I will never forget being in that church, with everyone singing and the lit Christmas trees and candles as the only source of light.
Naschmarkt has been a functioning market right off the U4 Kettenbrückengasse since the 1780’s. There is an assortment of offerings ranging from fresh produce and other foods to clothing and artisan soaps.
A warning to readers that Naschmarkt can be an intense experience. Many vendors are not subtle about selling their product to you. It’s all in fun, but don’t be surprised if you get a couple unknown food items thrust in front of your face. Go ahead and try some!
Recently my host family took me to both Kahlenberg and Leopoldsberg which are mountains in the 19th district of Vienna. As much as I love exploring the city side, seeing a little nature here and there is good for the soul. I highly recommend going in spring/summer right at sunset. You can sit and view the sun-drenched Vienna skyline in rays of pinks and purples.
Why go to Starbucks when you can go to the seemingly endless cafes of Vienna? I have fallen in love with Austrian cafe culture, which has a certain sense of gemuetlichkeit (comfy-ness) mixed with old world elegance. It’s fun to go any time of the year with friends, family or even just for some alone time.
The quality of these cafes is amazing. I used to be a drink-coffee-at-home kind of person. Now I try to go to cafes whenever the opportunity presents itself. Order a melange (viennese-style coffee), a pastry and chill out as necessary.
Hundertwasser (Kunst Haus Wien) is definitely an elaborate place. Even the exterior will have you mesmerized. It looks like a huge mixed-media project. The building was designed by Austrian-born New Zealand artist, Friedensreich Hundertwasser and is the world’s only permanent exhibition of his works.
Prater is a childhood dream come true. It is a park that lies in Vienna’s second district and has ties to the year 1162 when Emperor Friedrich I gave the property to a noble family called de Prato. The Vienna Ferris Wheel was installed in 1827 in Prater and the park took off from there.
Plenty of other of attractions were added, such as carousels, a hall of mirrors and laughter, ghost trains, roller coasters and the Liliputbahn, a charming, child-sized train in which visitors can enjoy a tour of the park. It’s best to go during summer, especially at night (or so I’ve heard).
Der Wiener Dewaan is a hidden treasure I recently discovered. It is a “pay as you wish” Pakistani-style restaurant with a constantly changing buffet menu. It is packed with people from all over the world and has its own unique kind of gemütlichkeit.
My friend Ashlyn and I sat on a colorful rug and ate our tasty meals on a small table. However, just because it is a PAYW restaurant, don’t be that jerk who only pays two euro. The staff are hard-working and deserve to be treated well. Pay at least 5-10 euro.
I could probably list at least a hundred more suggestions for you, but will just leave it at these seven for now. The best thing about Vienna is you constantly find new things to do every day. And my journey is not over quite yet. There are still so many things that I have not yet done. I am making it my mission to use every free moment to explore what else this city has to offer.