The historical centre of Vienna, and First District, is a monument to the baroque architecture and gardens of the imperial design. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001 for its protection of the 19th century Ringstraße buildings that also form part of a multi-level 'underground city'.
Viennese Coffee House Culture is a pride built upon a long heritage and a tradition so ingrained it was included by the UNESCO in the national inventory of intangible cultural heritage in 2011. Legend says it all started with the siege of Vienna in 1683, when coffee beans left behind by the Turks were served by heroic local Georg Franz Kolschitzky. Visiting Vienna without lounging in a traditional café such as Café Central, Café Landtmann and Café Imperial would be deemed blasphemous to the city's most beloved form of social reverence.
Best Day Trip
In the Wachau Valley of Lower Austria, a one hour train from Vienna, charming hamlets and ancient fortresses are tied together by the rows of manicured vines that grow on perfectly stacked stonewall terraces. You can hike and bike your way from the villages of Krems to Durnstein, tasting the award winning Grüner Veltliner and Riesling varieties from one of the world's most beautiful wine landscapes.
Off the Beaten Path
Wander 400,000 graves at one of the world's largest cemeteries and get to grips with Vienna's obsession with the macabre at the Central Cemetery and the 'Funeral Museum' in the outer district of Simmering. Here you'll find the graves of Vienna's son of music, Falco, amongst other famous city residents.
Most Iconic Place
The Stephansdom cathedral marks the beating heart of the city; its spires and glittering rooftop tiles piercing the sky from a distance. Look inside, as there's more to see in the catacombs beneath the holy aisles, or when climbing the heights of the north or south tower for magnificent city views.
The Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth districts are where nighttime vibes pulsate, with everything from casual cafes to timeworn dance bars and swanky cocktail joints. Or try to spot the queues for one of the handful of underground clubs that awaken beneath some restaurants. Alternative clubs and bars can be found along the Gürtle—the main roads that tracks through the western part of the city—with Josefstädter Straße being an energetic place to start.
The Austrian National Library is the hidden treasure of the Hofburg Palace, the ornate wooden staircases lead to grand shelves stocking the millions of items in its collection. Delicate veiling murals, grand columns and ornamental touches with secret compartments have granted this elaborate reading space the accolade as one of the most beautiful in the world.
Neighborhood to Explore
The Seventh District is deemed as the most hip, home to high rents and hipster hangouts. Burggasse is the main artery of the district packed full of eateries, boutiques, bars and independent stores that branch off into narrow side streets, quiet avenues and tucked away courtyards.
The street-art lined walls and bridge archways of Donau Canal pathways is where gritty, urban Vienna resides, below the fringes of the historical First District. Everything from beach bars to pop-up DJs, makeshift gardens and artist sheds fill the space for an alternative insight into Vienna's street life and alternative sub-cultures.
While free walking tours can be a means of getting to grips with the layout and historical overview of the city, Vienna is filled with knowledge buffs eager to show different perspective. Shades Tours give visitors an opportunity to see the city from a mind opening and alternative perspective with a homeless guide who has been able to rebuild their life with this job. Secret Vienna aims to highlight quirky angles, city secrets and hidden nuggets of history that are otherwise unknown or never told.