Vienna Austria Travel Guide
A Native's Little Black Book
"Barbara, I am planning to travel to Vienna Austria. You are a native, tell me, what should I really see without wrecking my shoes, how can I stay off tourist traps and Mozart wigs, where shall I stay, what Austrian food is the best and where to eat it, and most of all - I want to know your favourite secret places!"
Enquiries like that made me start this site. They came from friends, friends of friends, my colleagues, my husband's colleagues, mums and dads of my kids' school mates. Still, every time someone asks me about my hometown, my pulse bounces and I feel my cheeks go rosy. I love sharing stuff that is close to my heart - like Vienna Austria, where I grew up and lived for so long - most frequent of my travel destinations, and most desired place to be.
This website is dedicated to all those friends and acquaintances, and to you.
I am a native, lived in and around town for 30 years and regularly visit my home town, the city with the best living standard in the world (Mercer, Nov. 2012). This means, I can share my knowledge as a native, a local and a frequent traveller to the city with you.
I can also connect you with local Viennese in English in an informal way over a meaningful conversation.
Vienna's Many Faces
Vienna history has sugar-coated my hometown in many ways: Squiggly baroque town palaces hosting precious art collections, the Imperial Palace celebrating 700 years of Central European culture, institutions like the Spanish Riding School and the Musikverein (home of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra) practicing world renown traditions, and have turned the city centre into a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The way we live here is special (I only noticed that when I moved away, strangely enough) because it marries old with new in such an uncomplicated way. Coffeehouses continue to help cultivate friendships and business, give us time for ourselves and Sacher Torte, and host new exciting events. Every day, the Viennese can choose from a dozen classical and contemporary Vienna concerts. Music festivals like Wiener Festwochen, Osterklang and Wien Modern make local headlines. In the summer, we flock to secret Vienna wineries in the local vineyards, to the Film and Food Festival that blasts opera tunes to an eclectic-food-eating crowd; to Summer Stage, that electrifies the old Danube Canal with wine, food and music; and to the Vienna Woods. Traditional Vienna balls such as the Vienna Philharmonic Ball and the international socialite Vienna Opera Ball compete with ultimate extravaganza events such as the Life Ball.
We genuinely like our public transport system, one of the best in Europe, and have been growing our biking community through a net of excellent bike paths and city bikes. Vienna tours by bike are therefore growing in popularity.
We are not particularly keen on The Sound Of Music, but love The Third Man movie. I have seen the film half a dozen times, and am a big fan of the Third Man guided walks through town.
Vienna hotels, restaurants and shops have massively upgraded in the past years, while managing to keep their original charm. You can stay in beautiful places of all styles, enjoy quality Viennese cuisine and roam through luxury boutiques and quality antiques stores, cool design outlets and Austrian fashion shops more than ever before. Every time I come back, a new fabulous hotel, eatery and cool store have (re-)opened. My little black book is growing fast...
Snoop Into My Little Black Book
Whether you travel to Vienna or are a genuine Vienna fan, do snoop into this site. I have written, re-written and extended it over the past couple of years to provide the best possible native resource for exploring Vienna. My non-native husband and my kids have helped a lot to broaden and finetune my collection of things to see and do in Vienna.
Keep up to date with VIENNA NOTES, my short and crispy e-zine that will bring Vienna to your inbox every month for free. Hundreds of subscribers have honed their Vienna travel plans with my additional insider tips. And many stay subscribed even after their visit, to keep in touch with Vienna.
Another great way for you to stay posted on all things Vienna travel is the Vienna Unwrapped Facebook community. I tend to post new pages and photos there, or bring Vienna snippets to the surface that will get you closer to Vienna.
If you are on Twitter, why not follow my peeps and thoughts on Vienna: Click on my Twitter profile and follow me from there. Thanks.
Have a good time with Vienna!