Travel

Quick Guide to Vienna

14. July 2017

The major tourist sights in Vienna are in the city centre called “Innere Stadt” or “First District”. I have done this walk myself over and over again when I had visitors to show them the highlights very quickly. It will take you about half a day or maybe a bit longer, depending on how many coffee breaks you need 🙂 All the details and directions are in my map below. My video is a sneak peak to the places you will see on this walk. You just need to start walking!

Start at the subway station Karlsplatz, walking towards the Opera. Look towards your right behind you, you will see the Karlskirche (a huge baroque cathedral). In front of it, you will see the tram station designed by Otto Wagner in art nouveau style.

The baroque-style Karlskirche is a must see for architecture and art fans.

If you look left behind you, you will see the “Secession” (a white building with golden ball on top), which was the place where Klimt and other artists had their exhibitions.

From the Opera, walk down Kärntnerstraße, a shopping street, until you reach St. Stephen’s Cathedral.

St. Stephen’s Cathedral is also called “Steffl” by the Viennese. Its famous bell called the “Pummerin” only rings at midnight of New Year’s Eve.

I highly recommend going inside, as it is one of the oldest cathedrals in Europe and is very impressive from an architectural perspective. Also, you can walk up the tower and have a great view of the city.

Walk down Wollzeile and Dominikanerbastei. The area is one of the oldest parts of the city.

When I can’t walk anymore and need a break…

When you reach the Postsparcasse, the Austrian Postal Savings Bank, walk inside. The building was designed by Otto Wagner and was built between 1904 and 1906.

It is really hard to believe that the Postsparcasse is over 100 years old, as it still looks really modern.

Walk towards Schwedenplatz and stop by the Greek Orthodox Church. Then, make your way to Ruprechtskirche (St. Rupert’s Church).

The St. Rupert’s Church (Ruprechtskirche) dates back to the 11th century.

This church is one of the oldest in Vienna. For one of the best views of the city, go to the rooftop bar at Hotel Lamée. On your way, you will pass by the Ankeruhr – this art nouveau clock by Franz von Matsch is actually a bridge connecting two buildings and at every full hour, another figure is walking over the bridge with some background music.

The art nouveau style Ankeruhr dates back to 1911.

At 12pm, there is a parade of all the figures.

One of the most stylish rooftop bars in Vienna at Hotel Lamée.

What a view! (from the Lamée rooftop bar)

On your way to the Holocaust Memorial in the former Jewish quarter, stop by the Tuchlauben ice cream shop and try their Nougat-Spezialeis (nougat gelato).

This happens when I try to shoot pictures in the 33 degree summer heat 😀

Walk down the Kohlmarkt – on your left, you will see the Graben and its beautiful buildings.

The Michaelerplatz in front of the Hofburg Palace marks the centre of the former Habsburg monarchy and also a place for architectural controversy about the Loos Haus (on the right).

In front of you there is the famous Hofburg, the former city palace of the Habsburgs. It spans across a large part of the inner district. If you are already in need for a coffee and cake break, you will just pass by Café Demel (check out my post about the best coffee places in Vienna) 🙂

The Michaelerplatz is really interesting when you look at the juxtaposition of architecture: just opposite of the grandiose neoclassical Hofburg, there is the Loos Haus which caused a lot of controversy when it was built at the beginning of the 20th century. The architect Adolf Loos refused to use a lot of decor and went for a very simple style. The decor of the buildings was also supposed to show off the owners’ wealth. You can imagine that a simple house in the middle of Vienna in the immediate vicinity to the Palace caused a major uproar.

“Fiaker” refers to the horse-drawn carriages or horse cabs in Vienna. The same word also refers to the cabby. I just caught one of them during a break at Michaelerplatz.

I usually recommend to visit Schönbrunn Palace, the summer palace of the Habsburgs, which is a bit outside of the city (see my Ultimate Vienna Guide). However, I heard that the Sissi Museum inside the Hofburg Palace is supposed to be good too. I have to admit, I have not been yet.

From Michaelerplatz, walk down Schauflergasse. Before you reach Löwelstraße, turn right at Bruno Kreisky Gasse and visit Minoritenkirche. This church is a really interesting Romanesque-style church. Walk back towards Löwelstraße – you will pass the office of the Austrian Chancellor on your right and the  office of the President on your left.

One of my favourite spots at the beautiful Volksgarten is the neoclassical Theseus Temple.

Walk into Volksgarten – it is a beautiful park and leave on the side of the Burgtheater. From there, you will also see our city hall. If you need a break, Café Landtmann is a traditional coffee place and serves a great variety of coffees, delicious cakes and local food.

Empress Sissi on her throne in front of the Burgtheater (view from Volksgarten).

Walk down towards the parliament (it also looks like a Greek temple) and then follow along the Ring towards the opera. On your right, you will see the Natural History and Art History Museum (the latter is one of my favourite museums in Vienna; see my Ultimate Vienna Guide).

Walk further until Burggarten (another park) will come up on your left. Walk in, on your left, you will see the National Library. In front of you, you will see the Butterfly House and the Palm House. The Café at Palmenhaus is a really nice place for a drink or, again, coffee and cake.

On a beautiful day, the “in-crowd” of Vienna will be enjoying the sun on the terrace of the Palmenhaus.

The Albertina Museum is right next to the entrance of the Burggarten and has an amazing permanent collection and special exhibitions (also, in my Ultimate Vienna Guide). If you want to end the walk like a true Viennese, have a sausage at the Würstelstand (sausage stand) in front of Albertina.

Happy walking and enjoy the beautiful city!

Fountain at Volksgarten.

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6 Comments

  • Reply Hannah 15. July 2017 at 4:51

    Wonderful posts! Your photos and descriptions really brought me back to when I lived in Vienna last year. Your guide will definitely be helpful for those looking to explore the city and experience all it has to offer. I wish I had had the time to visit the rooftop bar overlooking St. Stephens…perhaps next time 🙂

    • Reply Liz 24. July 2017 at 18:01

      Thank you so much for your feedback! That is so cool that you had the chance to live in Vienna, I hope you enjoyed it. The rooftop bar is definitely a thing you should visit next time!

  • Reply Vanessa 15. July 2017 at 4:54

    I love Vienna! I’ve been twice, but I missed a lot of these places. The Palmenhaus and Postsparcasse looke beautiful, and I would have never known about them. I’m definitely planning to visit again.

    • Reply Liz 24. July 2017 at 17:59

      The Palmenhaus and Postsparcasse are among my favourite places in Vienna. They are definitely worth going back for.

  • Reply Alaine 22. July 2017 at 13:54

    Vienna is one of my favorite cities and there’s so much to see! The architecture is so grand and beautiful, the streets are bike friendly so renting one of the bikes to go around the city is one of the best things to do. I’ll check out your list of coffee places since I love the cafes and cakes in Vienna.

    • Reply Liz 22. July 2017 at 15:56

      Please do and let me know what you think about the recommendations. Enjoy all the cakes 🙂

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