A cultural, creative and chic city, Vienna is an impressive showcase of European history and imperial grandeur that has played out across the city’s 23 districts over the centuries. Walk the beautifully baroque streets, wander the majestic palaces and admire the artistic treasures and then take a break to sip fresh coffee in a classically Viennese coffee house, or cold beer in the many pubs and bars, and finish off your days by devouring goulash or luxuriating in elegant eating in one of the many stylish eateries.
Vienna’s neighborhoods are unique in their own right, each offering tourists a view into the lives of locals and a slice of the varying communities that call the city home. It’s an exciting urban sprawl of aesthetic invention and can easily be traversed by the network of trams, metro and buses. There are interesting markets to explore that have come to be known for the array of international goods on sale, and then there is the trendy regeneration that has seen the coffee house culture expand and flourish. It is time to start planning your trip to this cultured capital so we’ve rounded up the best places to stay in Vienna so that you to make the most out of your break to the Austrian capital.
I. Innere Stadt
If it’s your first time in Vienna and you only have a few days to spare then Innere Stadt – which literally means inner city – is the perfect base for your trip. Old cobbled, winding alleyways and iconic churches make up the the city’s old town, and it is here where you will find Vienna’s designer shopping and famous old restaurants that have been feeding the city’s inhabitants for generations.
Innere Stadt isn’t the most budget friendly destination, but its central location will allow you to make the most of the city’s fantastic sightseeing opportunities as many of the top sites are in walking distance, or can be reached by easy access to the Vienna metro.
Vienna’s Leopoldstadt district is the greenest area in the city, the neighborhood is home to leafy streets sandwiched between the river Danube and the Danube Canal. A big draw to the area is Prater Public Park, the 1500 acres of green space which includes beer gardens and the iconic Riesenrad Ferris Wheel. There is even a sandy beach along the Danube Canal where, in the summer, locals spend sunny afternoons lazing with family and friends.
Accommodation is made up of stylish mid-range hotels as well as more high-end options, but the local transport links are excellent and many of the top tourists sites can be accessed on foot.
If you have a tight budget then Landstrasse is the perfect location for your stay in Vienna as it has some fantastic low-cost hotels. It may not be the coolest area, but what it lacks in style it makes up for in convenience and low cost; the train from Vienna airport stops at Landstrasse station and many of the city’s top tourist sites are in walking distance from this third district.
Landstrasse is also home to many impressive embassy buildings and baroque architecture and also where you will find more curious creations by local Viennese artist, Hundertwasser. There is some green space in the district at the grand Belvedere’s Palace, where visitors can take a walk in stunning baroque gardens.
The trendy Weiden district is where you will find Vienna’s cool young crowd. This multicultural corner of the city is jam packed full of delicious food, boasting dining options to cater to everyone’s diet. If you are into the local fashion scene, Weiden is also where you will find Viennese fashion boutiques selling original designs, alongside second hand bookshops and vintage furniture.
There is a large student community in the district meaning there are many pubs and restaurants; enjoy a drink in the convivial laid back atmosphere as evening falls along Schönbrunnerstrasse. Many bars and clubs in the district are also LGBT friendly. Take some time to wander the small Chinatown too, where you can pick up cheap snacks. If you want somewhere fun and local to stay with a range of cool and affordable accommodation then Wieden is the place for you.
Vienna’s central fifth district of Margareten is a multicultural corner of the city. Boasting the fascinating Naschmarkt, which is located along the Wein River, the bazaar that sells amazing food items from all over the world; from spices to exotic fruit and even wine, the market is the place to come if you want to pick up some speciality food. There is also a busy flea market in Margareten and is a very popular spot for tourists, especially at the weekend.
The district is home to a lot of design-led businesses and there is a developing art and design scene in the area. The rise in new business is bringing new life to Margareten and also brings a lot of entertaining sites for visitors to see in the area; take a walk and explore the area of foot and you will find yourself stumbling on some hidden gems. Hotels are comfortable and convenient, especially if you choose to stay near the metro that runs through the district.
Mariahilf is a slice of real Viennese life where you can find out about the authentic everyday people of the city. The district is known for its shopping which is at its best along the pedestrianised Mariahilferstrasse, which holds the title of the busiest shopping street in Vienna – and which conveniently connects with the Westbahnhof, the second biggest train station in the city. The area surrounding the main shopping street is dotted with chic boutiques and trendy cafes where you can take a break from all of the retail therapy.
Mariahilf has both upscale hotels and hostels, the cheaper accommodation being closer to the border to Margareten or along the Mariahilferstrasse, which has some good hotels at great prices and easy access to the train network.
Cool Neubau is full of cafes, bars, bakeries, restaurants, local designer boutiques and charming terrace cafes called schanigartens that are found along attractive cobbled lanes. The vibe around here is local but welcoming and is much less touristy than more central districts; here is where you can spend days shopping in small organic markets and eat at well priced restaurants.
Neubau is also home to the MuseumsQuartier, where visitors can take in the huge cultural complex with its amazing museums and art galleries. There are a number of hostels in Neubau with the cheapest hotels being closer to the Westbahnhof train station, which also means easy access to the train network, although the rest of the district is also well connected by bus and tram.
Quiet and authentic Josefstadt is untouristed and laid back. The area consists of many playgrounds and family friendly spaces where affluent locals mix with the student community. The peaceful streets reveal the local life of Vienna with lots of small shops and family restaurants next to hipster hangouts and theaters.
Josefstadt has many quality accommodation options with hotels housed in luxury 18th century townhouses, but along with the traditional there are also plenty of modern and chic places to stay too. The city’s excellent metro stops here too and offers easy connections to the rest of the city.
Cultural Alsergrund is where you will find the old master painting of Palais Liechtenstein and the experimental theatre at Volksoper or the Schauspielhaus. The long boulevards lined with stylish 19th century buildings make up Vienna’s 9th district. Sigmund Freud once lived in Alsergrund – his old residence is now the Freud Museum.
There are some fun beer gardens to spend time in, nestled in the 17th century courtyard of the Altes Complex. The area around the district’s university caters to the student community and is a great place to stay on a budget if you like liberal nightlife and live music.
Favoriten is Vienna’s 10th district and is where much of the city’s immigrant population have settled and made the area their home. There are many restaurants that serve food from countries such as Turkey, Bosnia and Serbia, and interesting shops have opened selling wares from various nations.
While its true that it isn’t the most attractive district in Vienna, it is actually a great place to stay on a budget; there are easy tram and train links that connect to the city centre, and visitors who stay here will certainly be learning about modern day Austria and the future of the country.