There’s more to Austria’s capital than Baroque palaces, horsedrawn carriages and the landmark venues where Mozart and Klimt first showcased their masterpieces. Step away from the crowded Prater and its ferris wheel to discover 23 diverse districts. Vienna is a city that bridges eastern and western Europe with panache – it has long been the melting pot of the continent so it’s easy to feel at home, even as a visitor.

Need to know

Get to grips with the basics

  1. Districts by numbers: The Viennese identify with their districts. You’ll know which one you’re in by the street signs: the district number is listed before the street name.
  2. Social customs: Take the initiative among new people and offer your name and a firm and friendly handshake, even if it’s not a business situation, and you’ll fit right in.
  3. Take your time: This is not a city that likes quick business meetings, fast coffee breaks or one-hour dinners. The Viennese like to get to know who they’re working with.
  4. In vino veritas: This is the only capital city where wine is produced in significant quantities in vineyards within its limits. The Viennese order their glasses by measure (ask for an achtel: an “eighth” of a litre).
  5. Top tips: Tipping is common in Austria but people expect smaller amounts than in North America and some other parts of Europe. Service charges are always included so it’s customary to simply round up when paying the bill.

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Hotels

Hospitality at its finest

  1. Grand Ferdinand, Innere Stadt (1st)

    Elegant restraint

    The stately Grand Ferdinand opened in October 2015 after a careful refit of the 1950s building. It’s perched on the southeastern stretch of the Ringstrasse with views to the city’s east and north towards the twinkling Donaukanal.

  2. Hotel Sacher Wien, Innere Stadt (1st)

    Old-style opulence

    The Hotel Sacher Wien has plied its trade since 1876. Inside the imposing belle époque shell there are 149 rooms and a top-floor spa. In the late 1990s, an additional 52 rooms were added.

  3. Altstadt, Neubau (7th)

    Theatrical élan

    Breakfast is a highlight at this characterful 45-room hotel. Expect Austrian-made Staud’s Wien apricot marmalade, Kusmi teas and what might well be the city’s best cooked breakfast.

Vocabulary

Local lingo

  1. Na geh: Oh, come on
  2. Ö: Short for Austria
  3. Passt: Literally, “it fits”: OK, excellent or perfect
  4. Zahlen bitte: I’d like to pay
  5. Servus: All-purpose greeting, less formal than Grüss Gott
  6. Wiederschaun: Goodbye
  7. Wurstl: Sausage

Food and drink

Smart bites and top stops

  1. Zum Schwarzen Kameel, Innere Stadt (1st)

    Art nouveau flashback

    Owner Peter Friese has headed this Viennese institution since 1977 but it has been around for almost four centuries. The menu is skewed towards classics such as schnitzel and goulash.

  2. Skopik 1 Lohn, Leopoldstadt (2nd)

    Wiener wonders

    Chef Horst Scheuer and his wife Connie have raked in accolades for their hearty Austrian menu that also bears a strong French bent (you’ll find beef tartare and coq au vin alongside blood sausage).

  3. Pfarrwirt, Döbling (19th)

    History repeating

    Vienna’s oldest restaurant, the Pfarrwirt, is housed in a building that dates back to the 12th century.Take a seat in “Beethoven’s favourite spot” and let the kitchen spoil you with the likes of prime boiled beef and wiener schnitzel.

  4. Gasthaus Pöschl, Innere Stadt (1st)

    Home from home

    This wholesome and quintessentially Viennese lunch spot has simple wooden tables, whitewashed walls, a menu that is consistently excellent and an extremely loyal clientele, so we recommend making a reservation in advance.

  5. Café Sperl, Wieden (4th)

    Brewed to perfection

    With its elegant engraved panelling, parquet floors, wooden chairs and low-hanging lamps, Café Sperl, which was established in 1880, is the definition of a traditional coffeehouse.

Retail

Shop talk

  1. Supersense, Leopoldstadt (2nd)

    Old-school creative space

    In this shop-cum-café, housed in a 19th-century Venetian-style palazzo, you can print a poster or record your own vinyl track before taking a break for a handsemmel mit beinschinken (ham roll).

  2. J & L Lobmeyr, Innere Stadt (1st)

    Dazzling craftsmanship

    As much a museum of the art of glass-making as a seller of fine crystal, J & L Lobmeyr is a lavish and ornate treasure trove in which you’ll find chandeliers, mirrors and glassware. Many of the handmade items on offer are created by craftsmen using ancient techniques.

  3. Julius Meinl am Graben, Innere Stadt (1st)

    Iconic gourmet-food purveyor

    The history of this gourmet emporium dates back to 1862 when founder Julius Meinl started to sell pre-roasted coffee. The flagship Graben store is its most famous and stocks more than 17,000 delicacies from around the world.

  4. Gino Venturini, Innere Stadt (1st)

    Finely crafted shirts

    Gino Venturini’s shirts are masterful. The attention to detail, quality and design that goes into each has seen the brand forge a reputation as a leading maker in a city that is known for its exceptional craftsmanship.

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