Vienna may be one of Europe’s most elegant (read: stuffy) capitals of culture and music, but it also has plenty of edge — groovy designers, wine made within the city limits, stylish beds, and tasty restaurants. And nary a waltz in sight.
Most people confine themselves to the winding streets of Innere Stadt, the area inside Ring Road. Mistake. Head to the Fourth District to Freihaus for the sprawling open-air Naschmarkt, hip eateries, galleries, and design shops. The Seventh District holds cozy Spittelberg, pedestrian streets lined with restaurants, shops, bars, and frequent festivals. Feeling the travel fatigue? Head to Stadtpark for calming green spaces.
Centrally located Hollmann Beletage (Köllnerhofgasse 6; +43-1-961-1960) has charming funky details — a movie theater with popcorn machine, prosecco on the terrace, CD players loaded with music. Chic but classic Altstadt (Kirchengasse 41; +43-1-522-6666) feels more like a stylish home than a hotel: Tea and cake are served every afternoon in the parlor. Every room at Hotel Rathaus Wein & Design (Lange Gasse 13; +43-1-400-1122) is devoted to a different winemaker — and the breakfast buffet is totally over-the-top. If you’re in the market for a splurge, The Ring (Kaerntner Ring 8; +43-1-22-122) is the hippest luxury hotel. Hey now, dig that vodka bar.
The Viennese claim theirs is the only city in the world with its own cuisine. It also has a thriving winemaking culture, which you can quaff at Wieno (Lichtenfelsgasse 3; +43-676-646-1403). Order gemischter satz, the quintessential Viennese wine. Steirereck in Stadtpark may be the hottest restaurant in town, but more casual Meierei (Am Heumarket 2a; +43-1-713-3168) is just as good and more affordable. Plus, it’s decorated in cheese and dairy themes, befitting its location in a former dairy. One of Europe’s great open-air food markets, Naschmarkt (between Linke Wienzeile and Rechte Wienzeile) is a perfect destination for snacks, drinks, even meals. Julius Meinl am Graben (Am Graben 19; +43-1-532-3334) is a heavenly grocery store with a restaurant, wine bar, and take-out counter.
Newish MuseumsQuartier (Museumsplatz 1; +43-1-523-5881-1714) in the former Imperial Court Stables is the talk of the town, with galleries galore, trendy restos, and boutiques. And you may not sprechen deutsch, but you’ll want to talk the talk: Locals call it “MQ.”
For something old, hit the Saturday flohmarkt (flea market) at the rear of the Naschmarkt. For something new, head to the edgy Seventh District, where 34 small design shops have banded together with a commitment to great shopping. Especially awesome: Wiener Konfektion (Siebensterngasse 20; +43-1-988-98314) for one-off clothing styles and Gegenalltag (Museumsplatz 1; +43-699-116-174-55), a fashion gallery with rotating collections, artists, and designers.
Now waltz home raving about the new cool of the Old World.