Photo by Jacek Dylag
All senses are smattered in Vienna. The sweet scent of apple strudel lingers in your nostrils, the tinkling sound of Strauss gently caresses your ears, and richly ornate architecture sends your jaw to the floor. With 23 districts to choose from – each stuffed with opera houses, museums, parks, shops, art galleries and palaces – it can be difficult knowing where to start.
Where better to head to for the local down-low than the Schick family – hosts of the oldest hotel in Vienna, Hotel Stefanie? The charming stay has accommodated, fed and wowed guests since the year 1600, oozing with old-world spirit, generous hospitality and lashings of Viennese ‘Schmäh’. Here’s the Schick guide to navigating Austria’s timewarp capital – and one you won’t find in the average Vienna tour guide.
Exploring Vienna like the Viennese
For a dip into Vienna’s musical past: Innere Stadt
There’s a district to match every experience you’re craving in Vienna. Music lovers will find their happy place in the heart of the city: Innere Stadt is a playground of musical monuments dedicated to the capital’s classical history. Feel closer to the composer royalty at Mozarthaus, learn how to conduct a virtual opera at the House of Music, or feel your hairs raise with a show at the Vienna State Opera House (Photo © Bwag/Wikimedia)
For family fun and green spaces galore: Leopoldstadt and Prater
Whether you’re with kids or big kids, it’s impossible to be bored in Leopoldstadt. The island is taken over by the giant Prater park (known as ‘Green Prater), where locals flock to for picnics, strolls and lazing. Turn up the pace at one of the 250+ Vienna attractions – from wax wonderland Madame Tussauds to go-karting. For the best views in the city, jump on the huge ferris wheel at the park entrance.
For imperial time-travel: Schönbrunn Palace
There are 45 precious rooms to pace in all their Rococo glory at the majestical Schönbrunn Palace. Nothing here has lost any of its former beauty – you can happily imagine the life of Viennese royalty as you ooh and ahh in the state rooms and private apartments of Franz Joseph and Sisi.
For sweet treats and classical culture: Cafe Frauenhuber
From home-cooked goulash to schnitzels the size of your face, Vienna is a dream for foodies. Cafe Frauenhuber is where smart locals slide into a seat, eager to fill up on authentic Austrian fare. While the plum strudels and cream-topped coffees are worth visiting for alone, the historic coffee house also has another fascinating draw: this was the place Mozart performed his last every public show in 1791.
For old-world charm and authentic Austrian fare: Hotel Stefanie
Book at table at Hotel Stefanie if you want traditional, upscale Viennese dining and staff who will move mountains to provide an unforgettable service – ask them for advice on everything from the history of the Wiener Schnitzel to the surrounding attractions.
Cafe Frauenhuber – Appel strudel
Restaurant Hotel Stefanie
For sightseeing and retail therapy: Mariahilf
You won’t know where to look first on a walk down Mariahilferstrasse – Vienna’s oldest, longest, most famous shopping street. Dive into quirky boutiques and inspiring shops, stopping only for a caffeine fix in some of the best coffee houses in the city. Set your compass east and you’ll find Naschmarkt – a fast-paced market boasting 120 stands of delectable global cuisine.
For arty finds: Hundertwasser Village
Packed inside an old car tire factory in Landstrasse is one of the coolest places in Vienna for shopping. Hundertwasser Village is utterly Instagrammable – stuffed with boutiques, shops, cafes and a rooftop forest. It’s designed by Friedensreich Hundertwasser, who also created the dazzling monochrome patchwork on the famous Kunst Haus Wien museum. Nip by to snap photos of the architecture and go in to explore the contemporary photography, if that’s your thing.