Eva D. is an Urban Explorer, Fellow Foodie and Art Aficionado and loves music, wellness and yoga. She likes to be out and about and can't really sit still for too long. She'd definitely compromise sleep to see even more of a new place! If you recognise yourself in that description, Eva's travel diary will help you decide where to stay, eat, hang out, and play.

The Christmas market at Belvedere, courtesy of Instagram

Vienna is not only the city with the highest quality of living for 10 years running, but also the most beautiful city in Europe. Oh, by the way, I am biased — Vienna is my hometown.

When to go?

Whenever I come visit for Christmas, the city never fails to impress with its beautifully illuminated architecture and the famous Christmas markets — but beware, most of those close on December 23. My favourites are Karlsplatz (which features only products craftet in Austria), Altes AKH, Zwischen den Museen, Belvedere and Schönbrunn.

If you stay for New Year’s Day, try to get up (or stay up) for the infamous “Neujahrskonzert” at 11am, which plays on pretty much all TVs around the country, since tickets are also infamously impossible to get a hold of.

If you visit in January or February, make sure to attend one of the renowned balls — there is at least one every week at the most impressive venues. I would recommend Techniker Cercle at Musikverein, Jaegerball at the Hofburg (the Hunters’ Ball, for which Austrians get out their most precious Dirndl or Trachtenanzug), or Opernball at the Staatsoper.

The opening ceremony of the Opernball © APA

Traditionally, Vienna was also home to a slightly different ball, the Life Ball, held in May at Vienna’s City Hall. Themed differently every year — from the four elements to The Sound of Music, and Arabian nights to fairy tales — it was “fighting AIDS and celebrating life” since 1993. On the day of the event, the square in front of the City Hall would be transformed into a massive stage, featuring a contest for the most elaborate outfits, a fashion show, and performances from some of the many celebrity guests. Sadly, 2019 marked the last time this event was held... but rumour has it there might be a relaunch, so watch this space!

All summer long, the state opera broadcasts most of their Operas Live Outdoors. At the same time, there’s the Film Festival happening outside the City Hall, accompanied by a big food market.

If you want to escape the city for a few hours, consider hiking in the vineyards that surround Vienna, and make sure to stop at lots of “Weinschenken” and “Heurigern” along the way. There’s even a dedicated Vienna Wine Hiking Day weekend at the end of September. If you just want to try Austrian wines without the hike, look up your closest Wein & Co.

Where to stay

Vienna is organised around two key roads. The smaller one — the “Ring” — circles the city centre. The bigger one — Gürtel (“belt” in English) — wraps around the inner districts. As a visitor, you certainly want to stay within Gürtel, and as close to Ring as you can get. I would personally recommend staying in an Airbnb in “Innere Stadt” (1010), “Mariahilf” (1060), “Neubau” (1070) or “Josefstadt” (1080), or at Grand Hotel Ferdinand, 25hours, Max Brown, or Guesthouse. There’s also MAGDA’s, a hotel run by professional hoteliers and former refugees in the middle of Vienna’s green oasis — “Prater” — sustainably designed by using upcycled furniture, striving to help “change the world while you sleep.” Truly inspiring.

The interior of Grand Hotel Ferdinand

Where to eat

All of those are not only popular for accommodation but also with foodies: Grand Ferdinand’s ground floor features a modern twist on Schnitzel and Gulasch. If you stay in the hotel, you can also access their rooftop dining, bar and pool area “Grand Étage.” The Guesthouse’s Brasserie & Bakery is very popular for breakfast, while Max Brown’s restaurant, Seven North, is the place to go for Israeli street food style dinners prepared by Eyal Shani — definitely try the Roast Beef and order the sourdough with crème fraiche dip while you wait. For a drink with a view, head to 25hours’ Dachboden.

For traditional patisserie with a modern twist — or brunch in a modern setting — head to Creme de la Creme or Paremi. Other brunch spots are Salonplafond (ask for a table outside), Sneak in and Motto am Fluss. For really good bread (as strange as it sounds, but Austrians are crazy about really good bread!), head to Öfferl or Joseph Brot.

Some of the delicacies served at the stylish Creme de la Creme

Other personal favourites for lunch or dinner are Mochi (make sure to book) or the more casual Mochi Ramen Bar (walk-in only), Dots im Brunnenhof (an experimental sushi bar set in a traditional Austrian wine tavern), 1o1 (which houses a few different food and drinks concepts in a stunning setting, including the Mexican “TeTaTe” which stand for Tequila-Tapas-Techno), or Market next to Naschmarkt. In fact, no food report of Vienna would be complete without mentioning Naschmarkt, with its mix of tiny restaurants, grocery stalls and bars (look up Neni, Deli and TEWA), and the classic Viennese food institutions Figmueller (for Schnitzel), Plachutta (for Tafelspitz) and Motto (for Schinkenfleckerln).

Summers get hot in Vienna, so treat yourself to an ice cream with a twist: At Eisgreissler, try the poppyseed, goat’s cheese and pumpkin seed flavours. If you’re vegan, do the same at Veganista.

Where to play

During the day, check out Palmenhaus inside Burggarten, or hang out on one of the Enzis in the courtyard of Museumsquartier. You will also find lots of bars, food stalls and sometimes concerts along the “Donaukanal” around Schwedenplatz.

For a proper night out, check out the lineup at Grelle Forelle, Pratersauna, or Sass. Also, the guys who used to run nightclub Horst have just opened their new project, O, and the lineup they’ve just announced for the upcoming months sounds very promising...

If you just want to go for a cocktail, pop into Parfumerie, Roberto’s or any of the Kleinod bars — the original or the recently opened “Prunkstueck.” Or, if you are lucky and know someone with a key, hit up members club “Club X.” If you happen to be around on a Tuesday night in summer, head to Technocafe at Volksgarten Pavillon. On pretty much any other summer night, head to Kleinod Stadtgarten.

Techno Cafe, the place to be on Tuesday summer nights - © Volksgarten-Pavillion.at

The best way to explore Vienna’s beauty is to walk through the city centre and around the “Ring” — there is amazing architecture to be found (look up some classics here). Schoenbrunn is also definitely worth a visit, especially if you enjoy history or strolling around vast English gardens. If you do, make your way up to the Gloriette for a coffee. And arguably no visit to Vienna would be complete without experiencing some live classical music — like visiting the opera or Musikverein.

If you feel like exploring museums or exhibitions, check out what’s on at Kunsthaus, Kunst Historisches Museum (where the “Kunstschatzi” event is hosted one Tuesday a month), Belvedere (make sure to visit the resident Klimt & Schiele exhibition, and wander around the gardens between the buildings), Albertina, or Museumquartier, which houses the Leopold Museum, Mumok and Kunsthalle.

For your daily zen, go to Doktor Yoga, Coming Hooomm or contact Irene for her schedule. If spinning is your thing, check out Super Cycle or Sound Cycle. If you’re a runner, jog over to Prater or along the Danube.

Yoga with Irene

If you’re in the mood for shopping, hit up Lederleitner’s Concept Store at Tuchlauben, second-hand store Bocca Lupa, jeweler New One, and Boutique Weiss, Park and Ava’s Cabinet. Beware though: shop opening hours are not very liberal, especially on weekends.

Safe travels, ICBRKRs!


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