14 essential experiences to have in Vienna

VIENNA IS NOT JUST ITS IMPERIAL PAST. Once you’ve visited every big Baroque palace, explored every garden feeling like Sissi, and given your opinion on whether the Danube looks blue or not, it’s time to discover the other Vienna. Look for signs of Art Nouveau in buildings, fall in love with the 7th district, and let the hours pass in one of the city’s many classic cafés.

1. Fight with perspective trying to get a decent photo of St. Stephen’s Cathedral.

Wien, Austria

#history #free #church

2. Wander around the gardens at Belvedere (and check Klimt’s The Kiss inside the palace).

Wien, Austria

Beautiful Baroque palaces (there are two, Upper and Lower), and an impressive garden. You can visit the palaces, go to the museum (it has the world’s largest collection of Klimt’s paintings, Egon Schiele, Kokoschka…), or just go for a wander around the gardens (for free!). #art #garden #palace #gallery #history

3. Eat a real Wiener Schnitzel at Gasthaus Pöschl.

Wien, Austria

Sit out in the church courtyard and enjoy the amazing schnitzel. Also some of the best German style potato salad you taste! #schnitzel

4. Hang out at the MuseumsQuartier and fall in love with Egon Schiele in the Leopold Museum.

Wien, Austria

Some of the city’s best museums are here (Leopold Museum, MUMOK), but it’s also a cool place to just hang out, especially during the summer. #museum #fine-dining #livemusic

5. Take a break from the city in a park.

Wien, Austria

Beautiful rose garden next to the Burgtheater, parliament and city hall. Perfect spot for a break from a city walk. #rosegarden #relax #vienna #breathe

6. Visit one of Vienna’s classic cafés (and have some coffee and cake).

Wien, Austria

One of the most exquisite places to have kaffe und kuchen in Vienna. Live piano music as you try not to devour the incredible cakes and Viennese coffee. #coffee #cake #dessert

7. Get lost at one of the world’s largest cemeteries.

Wien, Austria

Classical music fans should pilgrim to this cemetery. You can visit Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms, Schoenberg, several Strausses… It’s huge (one of the largest in the world), beautiful, and wonderfully gloomy during the winter. #cemetery #classicalmusic

8. Understand what Stendhal syndrome feels like at the Kunsthistorisches Museum.

Wien, Austria

Everything in this museum is impressive: the building (outside and inside), its size, and of course their art collection. Rubens, Raphael, Rembrandt, Velazquez,… You’ll need to plan in advance what you want to see or just walk around and see what happens. #art #museum

9. Have some more coffee and cakes.

Wien, Austria

Vienna = cake (and coffee, of course). You can easily make an entire day revolve around visiting several cafes, each one boasting its own charm, ambience, history, and assortment of the sweet stuff. Try them all, but if you must narrow it down, don’t pass up AIDA. Pop upstairs, snag a stool at the counter, and order your slice. You’ll feel like a genuine Viennese, mid-century. And to match the sentiment, try the Mozart cake.

#cake #vienna #austria #cafe #culture #coffee #open-late #free-wifi

10. See what’s the weirdest thing you can find at Nashmarkt’s flea market (Saturday morning).

Wien, Austria

A colorful food market (cool to find weird spices, but a bit expensive for everyday groceries), lots of hip restaurants with food from all over the world, and a huge flea market on Saturdays (photo). #market #fleamarket #food #restaurant

11. Explore the alternative 7th, 8th and 9th districts.

Wien, Austria

WUK is a cultural center and almost anything you want it to be. It has food, drinks, live music, conferences, art, workshops… And if your bike is broken, they’ll repair it and teach you how to do it! #livemusic #musicvenue #cheap-eats #bikerepair #culturalcenter

12. Have a different Sunday morning watching an art film at the Top Kino.

Wien, Austria

One of my favorite spots in Vienna. Food, drinks and indie films! Their tomato soup is the best I’ve ever had and their schinken-käse toast is simple and perfect. #movies #cheap-eats

13. Attend the Sommernachtskonzert in Schönbrunn to greet the summer with a massive outdoor classical music concert.

Wien, Austria

This used to be the summer residence of the Austrian imperial family. You can visit the palace and the gardens, and if you’re in Vienna in May or June, you should attend the Sommernachtskonzert: the Wiener Philharmoniker playing in the garden, for free! #livemusic #history

14. Feel like Orson Welles riding Vienna’s Giant Ferris Wheel.

Wien, Austria

Yes, that’s the Ferris wheel you saw in The Third Man, and you can ride it to get cool views over the city. If you don’t want to pay the rather expensive ticket (€9.50), you can just walk around the Wurstelprater, the oldest amusement park in the world (it opened in 1766). #amusementpark

Getting Around and Where to Stay in Vienna with Kids

The top things to do with kids in Vienna are a little spread out. Many museums and sights are concentrated in the city center (Innere Stadt) but accommodations are also generally more expensive there. Belvedere Palace and the main train station lie to the south of the city center, Prater Amusement Park is to the east, while Schönbrunn Palace and Zoo are found in the west.

Thankfully, the city’s excellent network of metro (U-bahn), city trains (S-bahn), trams (Strassenbahn) and buses make getting around Vienna with kids a breeze. If the transportation maps seem complicated, don’t worry about! We mostly just used GoogleMaps to find out what to take to get from point A to point B.

If you’re heading to the airport before or after, the CAT Airport transfer is a direct train from Wien Mitte station to the airport. Alternatively, the regular S-bahn train to the airport is much cheaper, only takes slightly longer, and departs from several stations besides Wien Mitte.

To make life easier and to avoid buying individual tickets every time you ride (which is often either time-consuming or not very easy to do, such as when you board trams), consider getting a Vienna City Card. Each adult card also covers free travel for one kid aged 6-15, and under 6 travel free. The card comes in your choice of 24, 28, or 72 hours, with the option to add airport connections. It covers all public transportation in the city, and comes with discounts at various attractions.

I would suggest adding up the attractions you plan to visit and rides you will take to determine whether the pass is worth it for your trip. If it’s not, you can also purchase reasonably-priced 24-hour transportation tickets from any ticket machines.

If you plan to rent a car to get out of Vienna, I recommend using RentalCars, while kiwi.com is what we usually use to find the most convenient and cheapest flights within Europe.

Our family-friendly apartment in Vienna

For our family holiday in Vienna, we decided to stay at this family-friendly apartment in Landstrasse (3rd) district, southeast of the city center. We had simple connections by tram or metro to everywhere we wanted to go, including the main train station, and we could even walk to Belvedere Palace from our apartment (see day three of our Vienna itinerary with kids below). Two other districts that you’ll want to consider are 4th and 5th, see more info in this detailed guide to where to stay in Vienna.

What made our apartment family-friendly? Well, the hosts themselves (who lived across the hall, though we never met them) had kids. The apartment was huge, and even came with bunk beds, games, and books for the kids. We had laundry, a full kitchen, and an elevator to haul our things up.

We loved the apartment just as much as the kids did!

Besides having everything we needed, the apartment was tastefully decorated (with odes to Vienna’s musical past), and in a totally quiet, local building/neighborhood, with no other tourists in sight.

While we found this apartment on booking.com, you can also find some great apartment deals in Vienna here on Airbnb.

Free walking tour

If you are out of budget for paid tours we can recommend you free walking through Vienna which is provided by the agency which doesn’t charge tickets but as a courtesy they expect for its guide to be tipped. This is absolutely up to you how much you want to tip – if you’re happy with your guided tour you can tip more or not, it’s absolutely your decision. You can go to the website and check for yourself and book your free tour of Vienna.

Free walking tour of Vienna.

It is still not clear how the movement of people between the countries will be facilitated: mandatory health certificate/negative COVID-19 test, mandatory health check upon entry, quarantine, etc.

In case when COVID-19 vaccine is developed and approved for public use, some countries might ask for it (with certificate) as a mandatory requirement for entry into a country. Similar requirement is for Yellow Fever vaccination in some countries in Africa and Asia.

Until vaccine is available, countries will probably ask for some sort of recent medical certificate to confirm that you are virus free. This will add extra cost and additional hassle for your travel plans.

This has a lot to do with why we named ourselves Vienna Würstelstand. To quote our Manifesto: ‘We are just like the odd gathering of people around this city’s glowing Würstelstands, in the black of the night like moths around a light globe, where politicians and pensioners solve (or cause) the world’s problems, where smoking goblins make out with giant bearded ladies, where a man with a glass eye has a staring contest with his Würstel, where society’s polished elite drink beer out of tin cans alongside those poor bastards doing the polishing, where all sorts of people come together to talk about the weird, wonderful, wonky and wise of life that swarms around this city, Vienna.’

So you get the point – a Würstelstand is important to Vienna’s identity. Just as important as serving up quality Würstel is to a Würstelstand chef. For days we covered the city to bring you 11 of Vienna’s best and most unique Würstelstände:

Alles Walzer, alles Wurst – Würstelstand

Set in amongst the multicultural setting of Vienna’s 10th district lives a Viennese institution with a local legend. Whether it’s myth or hard-fact, it’s said that at this small Würstelstand, the beloved Käsekrainer (cheese-filled sausage also known as a Kransky) was born. When we ask the Würstel chef to confirm these rumours, he just smiles and says, “well, that’s the legend”.
They also serve up one of the most authentic Berlin-style Currywurst, drowned in a spicy homemade sauce.

Sausage selection: Here you’ll find you’re typical Würstel celebrities, but the spicy options are what this place does best.
Würstel of choice: The Currywurst

Würstelwaggon – Würstelstand

It’s full of smoke and a thick Viennese dialect. “Do you know of Kaiser Franz’l?” The proud Würstel chef asks me in a string of Viennese dialect I take a second to untangle.
“The past Emperor of Austria, you mean?”
“Genau – we have our own Franz Kaiser here”, he says slamming a glass of water in front of a big cuddly guy, bursting out laughing along with the rest of the people packed in the wagon.
The big, cuddly Franz Kaiser shows me his drivers licence to prove that he is the real Emperor sitting in an over 50-year-old train carriage called the Würstelwaggon. This display of warm, Viennese cheekiness carries on as soon as I walk into the door, to the moment I leave to a chorus of, ‘Servus!’ (a word of greeting, or parting, originally meaning “I am your servant”)
Requiring quite the trek to get out to this Würstelstand housed in an old train carriage plonked beside the road, you wouldn’t just come here for a mere Würstel and Semmel (bread roll).
This place is so much more than just a Würstelstand – it’s a truly unique, authentic Viennese experience, and a local treasure where everybody knows each other, and if you’re new, you’ll know everybody soon enough.
“Wie oit bist, Franz’l” (translation: How old are you Franzy?) – asks the Würstel chef.
“Fie oit” (translation: very old) – answers Franz.

Sausage selection: All of the standard Würstel favourites, including one a meter long that will “make you jealous”, according to the Würstel chef.
Würstel of choice: Ask the chef and he’ll make it “Ganz frisch for dich!” (translation: will make it fresh for you)

Würstelstand Südtirolerplatz – Würstelstand

“Zwei mal Käsekrainer nach Art des Hauses, bitte”, says the police officer.
A group of ÖBB workers just ordered the same. Likewise with the suited fellow having a very serious conversation on his phone, in between shoveling mouthfuls of onion covered Käsekrainer, and slurping up drips of curry sauce.
With its long opening hours, this is truly an authentic Viennese Würstelstand, and some say the place where you’ll get the best Würstel in town. Often with a crowd of unique personalities surrounding it, it offers quality conversation along with quality Würstel.
Also, our Mathias told us that here he chatted with a stranger over a Burenhäudl and ended up getting drunk with them in a nearby bar – a prime example of an authentic Würstelstand experience.

Sausage selection: All of the standard Würstel favourites, including a few house creations. All is at a very low price.
They also have: homemade Kartoffelpuffer (potato pancake), and a tasty house burger.
Würstel of choice: Their Käsekrainer nach ‘Art des Hauses’, with onion and curry powder piled on top.

Würstelstand LEO – Würstelstand

MON–SAT: 10am–1am
SUN: 12pm–12am

Würstelstand LEO is the oldest dealer of the mighty Würstel in Vienna. The sharp-witted, yet fun-loving owner, Vera is carrying on a family tradition that has been going for generations, so if it’s advice on Würstels your after, she’s the queen. New sausage creations are regularly created here, including a number of vegan alternatives. And we must also mention the “Big Mama” herself – a giant Käsekrainer (which we couldn’t finish and put in our pocket for later). Read more about the story behind Vienna’s oldest Würstelstand, LEO, here.

Sausage selection: Käsekrainer, Burenhäudl, Frankfurter, a vegan Frankfurter and Currwurst, Leberkässemmel, Hühnerschnitzelsemmel, Debreziner – let’s just say they have a massive selection.
They also have: Leberkäse in a bread roll, and chicken schnitzel sandwich
Würstel of choice: the people’s favourite: the Käsekrainer hot dog

Zum scharfen René – Würstelstand

MON–FRI: 11am–4am
SAT, SUN & public holidays: closed

Take your idea of spicy and double it, then put a square root on it and reproduce it a thousand times in a 3D printer – that’s the kind of spicy you can expect at Zum scharfen René. The chef behind the communal sweating, Rene, has a fetish for messing with chili, meaning there are all sorts of spicy powders and sauces to add to your sausage. The curry sauce that goes with the currywurst has connoisseurs swigging back beers and wiping their brow around the stand alongwith the rest of us.
“A few years back, there were builders from Berlin working on a site just across the road. For three weeks straight, they ate here twice a day, telling me how much they liked my Berlin-style Currywurst. That was a big freakin’ honour, I’ve gotta tell you”, says owner René with a big proud grin.

Sausage selection: Currywurst, a huge Käsekrainer, Bratwurst, Debreziner, Frankfurter und Burenwurst, a spicy Burenwurst and Waldviertler.
Würstel of choice: Currywurst with pickled gherkins and horse radish


Previous Article

Camping in the Great Smoky Mountains, NC

Next Article

10 reasons never to date a bartender in NYC