Vienna Travel Tips
Keep in Mind...
- Vergessen ie nicht lhr wörterbuch Or rather, "Don't forget your dictionary." German is the official language of Vienna, and while it is possible to find English speakers in touristy areas, you'll find that a dictionary or phrasebook will help lower the language barrier.
- Forget the car Driving in Vienna can be a nightmare thanks to narrow streets, heavy traffic and limited parking. Unless you are planning to explore the Austrian countryside, you're better off forgoing the car in favor of public transit.
- That's lunch Be aware that Viennese businesses (and some museums) close for up to two hours in the middle of the day for lunch. To make the most out of your day, get an early start so that you can enjoy a hearty midday meal as well.
History is at the heart of Vienna both literally and figuratively. The narrow streets of the Innere Stadt (Inner City) meander around antiquated buildings providing an atmosphere so authentic that you almost expect a Vienna-native like composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart or psychologist Sigmund Freud to round a cobblestone corner and greet you with "Guten Tag." Extravagant baroque palaces from the Habsburg Monarchy loom over the city, just as Mozart's classical arias pour from contemporary cafés. If it's culture you seek, you'll find it here.
But there's more to this city than just music and monarchs. Vienna is also a great place to put your credit card to work, with independent bookstores competing for business alongside haute-couture in the 6th district. There are also a surprising number of attractions for young ones, sites that include an amusement park and top-notch zoo. And although many Viennese are asleep by 10 p.m., that doesn't mean you have to be; sneak out to one of the bars along the city's Bermuda Triangle, or drop by one of the beurigen (wine taverns) skirting the Vienna Woods.
How To Save Money in Vienna
- My home is your home Many Viennese rent out their houses to visitors as a means of making extra money, and oftentimes, pension rates are much lower than hotel rates. This is especially true for longer stays.
- Widen your hotel search Avoid properties within the Ringstrasse since they are the priciest. You'll find plenty of more affordable digs scattered throughout the Inner and Outer Suburbs.
- Spring for the Vienna Card For a mere €18.50 EUR (or about $25 USD), the Vienna Card lets you experience more than 200 city's sites, restaurants, and live performances (not to mention public transport). Each card is valid for 72 hours.
Vienna Culture & Customs
You will find that most Viennese dress conservatively compared to Americans. If you are traveling on business, make sure to wear proper business attire, such as a dark-colored suit or dress. Wearing shorts will identify you as a tourist.
If you're dining out in Vienna, it is polite to eat most of your food with your fork; a knife is used to hold food in place while using the side of a fork in place of a knife. If you are dining alongside Austrians, do not begin eating until the host says "Gesegnete Mahlzeit" (bless this meal) or "Guten Appetit" (enjoy your meal). It's not polite to leave food on your plate; however, if you're full, make sure to leave your knife and fork side by side on your plate. If you are invited to dinner, don't fight for the bill. Your host expects to pay, and he or she will be insulted otherwise. If you are paying the bill, gratuity -- normally 10 percent -- is already included. However, it is polite to round the bill up or leave an extra five percent for good service.
Dining on delectable Viennese cuisine is one of the city's major must-dos. But vegetarians beware: Much of Austrian cuisine centers on meat. Traditional Austrian taverns known as beisl serve up hearty portions of Tafelspitz (boiled beef), Gulasch (a rich stew made primarily from beef and potatoes) and Wiener Schnitzel (deep-fried, breaded veal). If you're looking for an authentic Austrian meal, recent visitors recommend Immervoll and Purstner, both of which are located in Innere Stadt. Over the past few years, Vienna has also seen the rise of international cuisines, ranging from Asian to Italian fare.
Avoid the Innere Stadt if you're looking to save money. Instead, check out the streets of the Alsergrund District near the University of Vienna or in Neubau next to the MuseumsQuartier. Travelers recommend Motto in Weiden. Make sure to carry cash, since many Viennese restaurants do not accept credit cards.
Although Austrian fare is carb-heavy, the Viennese often eat as many as five or six times a day. Experts recommend adopting this custom by snacking at one of the many cafés or sidewalk joints. Cafés cater to customers with a sweet tooth, serving wide assortments of pastries, such as cream-filled Gugelhupfs. If you're in a rush, stop by a Würstelstand for some on-the-go sausage.