Vienna, Austria’s beautiful and classy capital, is a popular European destination for tourists visiting from around the world.
Vienna’s architecture is breathtaking, having long been the capital of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy. Imperial palaces, galleries, and a multitude of other historic monuments are only one of the reasons why visitors flock to Vienna. From Art Nouveau to Gothic and Baroque as well as the famous “Ringstraßenstil”, Vienna serves it all.
Vienna also offers countless parks and recreational areas where you can enjoy some peace and quiet.
Vienna is also the world capital of music, being home to the work of the great composers such as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven or Franz Schubert. Today the Viennese Philharmonic, the ensemble of the Viennese National Opera and the Vienna Symphonic Orchestra are some of the best ones in the world.
Finally, in 2017 for the eighth time in a row, Vienna has been awarded as the city with the highest quality of living. Vienna offers great educational institutions, has a well-developed public transport system, and is very safe.
We highly recommend going on a Vienna Pub Crawl
Here’s what you can do in Vienna at night:
1. Have a waltz
What better city to waltz in than Vienna? The tradition of waltz still lives in Vienna. In Vienna, many teenagers still take weekly lessons without a fuss, and on New Year’s Eve, everyone stops – in the streets, at parties – to waltz to The Blue Danube. Even though the waltz lives deep in the Austrian tradition, it is part of the tradition as a teenager to visit the dance school for more than only one dance. In fact, most teenagers will learn the fox trott, cha-cha-cha, polka, the disco fox, and sometimes even the lindy hop.
Waltz continues to play a big role in the city’s culture, even as Vienna is changing. For example, there are Viennese who find their fun outside the traditional boy-girl constraints (LGBT dancers flock to the annual Rainbow Ball).
Vienna has hundreds of balls during the three-month season, starting with the Imperial Ball (or Kaiserball) at the Hofburg on New Year’s Eve and including the glamorous Opera Ball on 31 January.
Tickets for both of these don’t come cheap (from €130, without a seat) and sell out months in advance, but there are many other smaller balls throughout the city for which you can pick up tickets on the door.
Don’t forget about the dress code. You need to dress to impress! If you, like most of us, don’t own (and travel with) a gown, you can rent a gown from several boutiques in Vienna.
If you would like to twirl and experience Vienna’s elegance through the waltz, take a waltzing lesson at the city’s Tanzschule Elmayer, which charges €58 per couple for 50 minutes’ tuition.
For a complete calendar, click here
To really tap into Vienna’s musical soul, combine a waltzing lesson with a walking tour of the Ringstrasse’s great concert halls or a Mozart concert at the Vienna Kursalon.
2. Eat a Sachertorte
A trip to Vienna isn’t complete without a Sachertorte. Sachertorte was originally created for Prince Wenzel von Metternich of Austria and consists of a dense chocolate meringue topped with a layer of apricot jam and dark chocolate icing.
Visit the famous Cafe Sacher, a quintessential Austrian cafe. Sample their Sacher cake, and order a Wiener melange (an espresso topped with steamed milk) on the side. The cafe is located at Philharmoniker Str. 4, 1010, which is situated on the ground floor of the luxurious Hotel Sacher which is located in the heart of Vienna, across from the Vienna Opera House.
You can also visit Café Sacher’s rival, Demel. Demel was once the bakery particularly enjoyed by Empress Sissi. They were involved in the legal battle with Café Sacher, resulting in them losing the right to claim their torte as the ‘original’. However, theirs is still a truly beautiful version, and no one would complain about visiting both Cafe Sacher and Demel!
For those who haven’t heard about Sissi should at least know how truly beloved of an Empress she was. Even nowadays you can buy plates and Tea sets with her and her husband Franz’s face on them. Her signature was her long and beautiful hair, she stands as high in the memories of Austria as the Royal Family currently in England.
Who wouldn’t want to try her favorite cake? – Bon appetit!
3. Take a horse-drawn ride
Horse-drawn carriages in Vienna or Fiaker have once been the primary mean of daily passenger transportation in the city. These carriages are one of the most recognizable symbols of the city.
The term “fiaker” actually originates from French and refers to the carriage stand in the Parisian Rue de Saint Fiacre where the carriages were first introduced. The Fiaker has been around in Vienna since 1700. More than 1,000 fiakers were on the road in Vienna between 1860 and 1900. At that time, drivers were more than just drivers. They were known for their humor and singing.
Nowadays, they are allowed to operate only during the tourist season and for special occasions such as weddings (then featuring beautiful flower decoration). You can find fiaker stands in different areas of the city: Stephansplatz, Heldenplatz (occasionally Michaelerplatz), Albertinaplatz, Petersplatz, and Burgtheater.
You can pay for individual rides or book individual sightseeing tours directly through the fiaker companies.
The rides are pricey (e.g. 80 EUR for ½ hour ride) so look around and see if there is someone to share the carriage with.
4. Go to a museum
Vienna has more than 100 museums. These include important collections of world renown as well as small establishments. Viennese museums are world-famous. Many of them keep their doors open for visitors until late in the evening.
Here is the official list of Viennese museums that are open in the evenings:
Daily until 10.00 pm:
- House of Music
- Museum of Illusions
Tuesday until 10.00 pm:
- MAK – Austrian Museum of Applied Arts/Contemporary Art
Wednesday until 9.00 pm:
- Belvedere 21
- Museum of Natural History
Thursday until 8.00 pm:
- Dom Museum Wien
Thursday until 9.00 pm:
- Kunsthistorisches Museum
- Mumok – Museum of Modern Art
- Kunsthalle Vienna
- Leopold Museum
- Austrian National Library
- Literature Museum
- Esperanto Museum
- Globe Museum
- Papyrus Museum
Friday until 9.00 pm:
- Weltmuseum Wien
- Belvedere 21
- Bank Austria Kunstforum
5. Sample Austrian wine
If you want to invest a little bit more time in exploring the wine traditions in the outskirts of Vienna you won’t have to travel far. Right at the border from the city, you will find little chalets called “Heurigen”, where you will be served with the finest local wines. Wine usually doesn’t come alone; you will have to try a “Brettl’ Jause”, which consists of dark bread “Schwarzbrot”, Prosciutto “Spreck” and all sorts of cheese. A visit to a Heurigen is definitely key in understanding the culture.
Vienna is the only capital city that is also a wine region. The city itself owns a winery and vineyards, and you can visit many of the vineyards and historic wine taverns.
Wiener Gemischter Satz has recently become a protected designation of origin of wine. For an in-depth insight into the production of this wine, sign up for a tour and tasting at Fritz Wieninger’s Wieninger while you’re in town.
Consider visiting the four stories (16 meters) below the streets and 500-year-old Villon Wine Cellar, which holds guided wine tastings on Fridays and Saturdays.
Otherwise, visit one of many wine bars in Vienna and sip on wine as the evening goes on:
– Meinl’s wine bar at Graben 19, 1010 Wien
– Unger and Klein at Gölsdorfgasse 2, 1010 Wien
– Vino Wien at Lichtenfelsgasse 3, 1010 Wien
– Wein & Co Bar at Jasomirgottstraße 3-5, 1010 Wien
6. Get an aerial view
No trip to Vienna is complete without a ride on the 19th-century Riesenrad or the Giant Ferris Wheel.
The Giant Ferris Wheel in the Prater is one of the city’s symbols. It’s almost 65 meters tall and offers a breathtaking view of Vienna. It’s the only remaining work of British engineer Walter Basset who also built wheels for Blackpool, London, and Paris.
A full circle in one of the 15 wooden gondolas takes 20 minutes. However, since the wheel is a couple of miles from the historic center, you might have a hard time picking out iconic sights on the skyline.
For alternative aerial views, consider:
– St. Stephen’s Cathedral – one of the most popular landmarks and viewing points in Vienna;
– Schönbrunn Palace Park – climbing the hill to the Gloriette and enjoying the historic view of the city;
– Vienna’s local mountains Kahlenberg, Leopoldsberg, and Bisamberg;
– Rooftop of Natural History Museum;
– Canteen of the Palace of Justice.
7. Have a night-time walk
In the evenings, don’t think it’s too late to explore the city. Streets, squares, architecture, sculptures, and monuments have that magical glow that you will rarely find during the day.
If you are a photo enthusiast, you will find it is the best time to capture the city’s architecture. Whether you do the walk on your own or you book a walking tour, the surrounding will be no less magical.
Visit the well-known places like “Hofburg” (Imperial Palace), “Parliament”, “Schönbrunn” (Summer Residence of the Habsburg family), and the “Danube River”, and lesser-known places like the “Schemerlbrücke” or “Strudlhofstiege”.
The best time to start is about 1 hour before sunset.
8. Go have a blast at a party
Even though Vienna consists of many old buildings, it is a young city due to its many universities. Young people like to live the nights in an extraordinary manner and the city provides the hot-spots. All summer long the museum area, in German “Museumsquartier”, issues live music and pop up bars, as well as nice seating and dancing areas. The key to success is, that all drinks are cheaper than in regular bars since the audience is young.
For those who like to spend their nights in clubs, Vienna offers old scenery, new music, and late-night public transportation. The trendiest clubs at the moment are:
- Sass Music Club
- Club U
For those who prefer going to actual dance events will also be satisfied in Vienna. Due to its multi-culture and its many tourists from all around the world you will find a different dance location every evening, like Salsa nights, Lindy-Hop with live music or even Burlesque. Check out the following:
- Eden Bar
- Salsabar Wien
- Rumba & Mambo
- Luster Bar
And many more…