Old Vienna Walk. If you are a first time visitor eager to walk your own way through town, start with an Old Vienna walk. My favourite route below is based on my many leisurely strolls through the town centre, a UNESCO world heritage site. You will pass key local attractions, hidden alley ways, lovely cafés, great shops and well known film locations such as from Orson Welles’ ‘The Third Man’. For a thoroughly rich visitor programme of key landmarks, Viennese history and culture review my selection of the best guided Vienna walking tours.
1. Vienna State Opera
Old Vienna Walk. The opera house (Wiener Staatsoper) is a great starting point as it is not only a main landmark but also THE local urban transport junction. Three tram lines, four bus lines and three underground lines stop here.
Walk left of the Opera’s main entrance into the Operngasse. At the first crossing, choose between a hotdog at one of the best local sausage stands in the city, visiting the Albertina to your left, a superbly renovated imperial palace and museum, and visiting the Sacher Eck café(caution: tourism hotspot) of Hotel Sacher in Philharmonikergasse, right behind the Opera.
2. Kärntnerstrasse And Surroundings
Old Vienna Walk. A walk in the city centre sooner or later crosses Kärntnerstrasse, our prime shopping promenade and part of a large pedestrian area full of history, if you manage to look above the shop levels. Watch out for the beautiful facade and shop of glass ware manufacturer Lobmeyr (see photo below), former Imperial Supplier to the Court, at no. 26.
Rauhensteingasse is where your walk starts to let you get intimate with this city. It’s all more quiet and private there. Blumenstockgasse gets really narrow, with some of the houses bending towards you. Continue through Ballgasse which bends to the left and then, enter Vienna’s loveliest tiny square, the Franziskanerplatz, entrance to the Hieronymous Church and the adjacent Franciscan monastery. Take a break at the Kleines Café right on the square and join the Viennese in people watching, our favourite pastime.
On your way to Kärntnerstrasse, two shops for traditional Austrian folkloric clothes, Gössl and Original Salzburger Trachten Outlet, turn up. Gössl stocks up-market authentic Austrian clothes and accessories and new collections of modern simplistic design. The Original Salzburger Trachtenoutlet is more moderatly priced and sells good quality and sometimes quirky, partly authentic, pieces. Select one single piece and wear it with your jeans or a white shirt.
As you continue, you will eventually hit my city’s most famous landmark, Stephansdom (St. Stephen’s Cathedral). Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart got married there, as well as countless Habsburg Emperors. Take a few minutes to glimpse into Stephansdom’s interiors.
The gothic cathedral is reflected in the ultra modern Haas Haus, home of the flagship restaurant and society bar of international catering and restaurant success story Do&Co. The menu is eclectic. Keep the spectacular Onyx Bar in mind for the evening. A little deviation for lovers of design headwear with a unique Austrian twist: Mühlbauer Hutmanufaktur.
3. Authentic Snack Bars, Restaurants And Cafés
Old Vienna Walk. Fuel your walk with a snack in my absolute favourite original 1950’s Viennese snack bar, the Trzesniewski (no spelling mistake). Café Hawelka, Vienna’s most famous artists’ and writers’ coffeehouse, is a few steps further to the right. Its fame has been attracting loads of tourists, but do sneak in for a check. Alternatively, head down the Graben to the legendary ‘Zum Schwarzen Kameel’ for an Art-Deco style fine lunch.
Old Vienna Walk. Naglergasse, off Kohlmarkt, is a long narrow street full of nice little shops and bars. Before I started to take old Vienna walks just for fun, it was my usual passage from university into the city centre.
Optional: Before you enter Freyung square, head down left into Strauchgasse. At its end you’ll find legendary Café Central. Walk back through Herrengasse and into Freyung passage shopping mall until you arrive at Freyung square.
The major building complex on Freyung belongs to Schottenstift, a monastery built by monks from the Irish scotes and dating from the 12th century. To local Viennese, the Schottenstift is widely known for its private secondary school. Interrupt your old Vienna walk to take a glimpse of this fine baroque church.
On to Mölker Bastei. I discovered that hidden place only when studying in Vienna, as the university is next to it. This is one of the most picturesque corners of the city, a jungle patch of history in the midst of the perfectly manicured flower beds of the surrounding areas. Just ask Orson Welles or David Cronenberg. Orson Welles used Mölker Bastei scenery in his cult film The Third Man. David Cronenberg filmed here for his Sigmund-Freud-Film “A Dangerous Method”.
The Bastei is one of the few visible remains of Vienna’s old city wall. Pass the flagship store of internationally acclaimed Ludwig Reiter, a Viennese family business and icon of fine shoewear, as your itinerary slows down at the Dreimäderlhaus (Three Girls’ House, see photo). The house is named after Hannerl, Kati and Nannette Fröhlich, whose father had arranged for (now famous) Austrian composer Franz Schubert to teach his girls a bit of music, back in the 19th century.
Head towards Schottentor on the Ringstrasse, where you will likely fall into a tram, underground, bus or taxi – you’ll deserve it.
Old Vienna Walk Map
Old Vienna Walk. Click on the icons for further details on the recommended spots, and on the link larger map below to zoom in. The path looks like a two day walk, but don’t feel overwhelmed. Lots of the sites are shops and cafes, so you are not supposed to tick off each and every one of them. Factor in four to six hours, depending on the number and length of stops you make.
View Vienna Walk I: Old Vienna in a larger map