About Barbara G
Lives in London, United Kingdom
Since Apr 2012
35-49 year old female
I am a native Viennese, frequent traveller to my hometown and run Vienna blog www.vienna-unwrapped.com. I also run the Vienna Coffeehouse Conversations, which connect Vienna travellers with local Viennese 1:1 at traditional coffeehouses.
Historic Walking Areas, Points of Interest & Landmarks, Historic Sites
Points of Interest & Landmarks
Art Museums, Speciality Museums
Art Museums, Architectural Buildings
Flea & Street Markets
Gardens, Architectural Buildings
Vienna's state boulevard girds the city center and is the perfect place to orient yourself. It stands in the place of the former city walls, which were torn down after the Napoleonic Wars. Take the Yellow Ring Tram for a 30-minute tour past beautiful buildings such as state museums, the Opera, Austrian Parliament, Vienna City Hall, and Stadtpark.
Vienna's luxury shopping mile is part of the pedestrian area in the center, running between the State Opera and St. Stephen's Cathedral. The most famous shops are Oesterreichische Werkstaetten and glass manufacturer Lobmeyr Swarovski's stunning flagship store. However, Kaerntnerstrasse is better for window shopping than souvenir shopping.
Winterpalais is a hidden gem of a town palace, and many travelers discover it by chance. It's located just off Kaerntnerstrasse and has only 10 rooms, so it won't overwhelm you on your first day. The palace once belonged to Prince Eugene of Savoy, one of Austria's most famous military commanders.
Situated on the outskirts of Vienna, the historic tavern Zu den drei Hacken (To the Three Axes) provides a rustic break from Kaerntnerstrasse. The place is well known, busy, and a great introduction to classic Viennese cuisine — from schnitzel (breaded meat) to schweinsbraten (roast pork loin) and knoedel (dumplings).
Situated on Ringstrasse, the Museum of Applied Arts displays a wide array of Viennese arts and crafts, from 14th-century stained glass to 1950s figurines. Highlights include an excellent collection of Biedermeier sofas and Thonet chairs.
If people ask me for a great insider place to have Austrian food, I often recommend Restaurant Silberwirt, for a variety of reasons. First, the menu covers the best of Austrian delicacies, including contemporary favorites. Second, the building complex, Schlossquadrat, dates from the 14th century and is a historic gem with a romantic courtyard. Finally, it's located off the beaten path in the trendy district of Margareten, popular with urban professionals and young families alike.
For six centuries, Vienna was the capital of the mighty Austro-Hungarian Empire, ruled by Habsburg dynasty. The Hofburg, home of the Habsburgs from the first emperor in 1273 until the last in 1918, grew in scope and grandeur over the years, as each emperor sought to outdo his predecessors. Today, it houses a cornucopia of attractions, including six museums, the National Library, and the Imperial Apartments. To get a feel for this place that was at the center of European history for hundreds of years, start in the middle and work your way out.
After so much pomp, treat yourself to a down-to-earth meal of Vienna sausage at a traditional Wurstelstand (sausage stand). Bitzinger's is located near the State Opera and serves up tasty treats. The sausages are cut up and served with mustard and a roll or a slice of dark bread. Alternatively, try a 'Leberkase semmel' (warm meat loaf in a white roll), which is very popular with locals, from students to blue-collar workers.
Konditorei Heiner is one of my favorite cake shops in the center of Vienna. You can go mad with cream cakes, gugelhupfs (bundt cakes), fruit tarts, pralines, cookies, waffles, and macaroons... You can also try the famed Sachertorte here. Heiner is a former supplier to the Imperial Court, but far less touristy than Demel, another former supplier. The cake shop has three different salons, including one upstairs.
Museumsquartier is Vienna's most exciting museum complex, housing more than 10 museums and cultural institutions. It's a great place to explore contemporary and 19th- and 20th-century art. Museumsquartier is located in the former Imperial stables, a beautiful baroque complex with a vast courtyard and funky lounge chairs that are perfect for relaxing.
If you're always tempted to sneak behind private curtains, Hofzeile 27 is for you. For this private dining experience, Chef Sybille Fellner Kisler and her husband Wolfgang invite guests to their beautifully stylish townhouse in the leafy suburb of Doebling. The exquisite meals feature modern Austrian cuisine that can compete with top-quality Austrian restaurants. It's a fantastic way to explore contemporary urban living!
Start your day with a Viennese breakfast at Cafe Museum, where Gustav Klimt used to take his coffee. I love the clean but cozy original 1930s feel: red velvet semi-circle benches, marble coffee tables, a fantastic selection of cakes and coffees, and very friendly service.
On your way to nearby Naschmarkt, you will pass the Secession Building, Vienna's key Art Nouveau landmark. Compare it to the city's Baroque buildings and you will understand the artistic revolution at the start of the 20th century, when Gustav Klimt and a number of his contemporaries 'seceded' from the conservative Künstlerhaus to found a new art association, (they commissioned the Secession Building as the exhibition space). Take the time to walk round the cubist architecture and to admire its signature globe of golden leaves.
Naschmarkt is Vienna's most popular food market, and the perfect hunting ground for all things vintage. Soak up the multicultural Balkan flair and try not to be bothered by the crowds! The green cast-iron stalls are almost 100 years old, and the whole market dates back to the 16th century.
From Naschmarkt, take the Vienna U-Bahn Metro (U4 line) out to Hietzing for lunch in one of Vienna's most beautiful residential neighborhoods. Plachutta restaurants are well known for tafelspitz, a traditional boiled beef dish that became popular because it was one of Emperor Francis Joseph's favorites; while Plachutta has several busy outlets in the city center, Hietzing is more off the beaten track.
From Hietzing, take one Metro station back to Schoenbrunn Palace, Vienna's number one attraction (and rightly so). The Habsburg Emperor's summer residence, with its richly decorated salons and beautiful garden compound, brings back Vienna's Imperial past in all its pomp and glory. In the warmer months, make the effort to climb up to Gloriette Belvedere for coffee, cakes, and a beautiful view of Schoenbrunn and the city.