Vienna Insider Tips. Because culture goes beyond tourism attractions build local favorites into your sightseeing agenda. To make each insider tip relatable an ‘insider twin’ compares to each of 10 of Vienna’s best known attractions: A similarly beautiful attraction that comes without the crowds and will turn you from tourist to traveller.
1. Schönbrunn Palace – Hermesvilla
Vienna Insider Tips. Schonbrunn Palace is Vienna’s number one tourist attraction, and rightly so.Once you have seen the representational side of Habsburg life, head for insider gem Hermes Villa further West. The romantic 19th century villa surrounded by lush parkland was Empress Sissi’s romantic bolthole. Hardly noticed by tourists, the Hermesvilla showcases the private lifestyle of Emperor Francis Joseph and Empress Elisabeth (Sissi) of Austria-Hungary: the frescoes, pompous beds, furniture, lavish fabrics and home accessories leave you in no doubt, though, who lived there. Watch out for Gustav Klimt artwork. Read more about Hermesvilla Vienna.
Location: Lainzer Tiergarten, 1130 Vienna;
Opening hours: Palm Sunday to 1st November; Tuesday to Sunday and public holidays, 10.00 am to 6.00 pm; villa closes 30 min before Lainzer Tiergarten or at 6.00 pm at the latest
How to get there: Take tramway 60 to Hermesstrasse, then bus 60A to Lainzer Tor.
Admission: adults: EUR 7; children and teenagers under 19 years of age go free; every first Sunday of the month free admission for all;
2. Imperial Museums – Museum of Folk and Folk Art
Vienna Insider Tips. Clearly, the vast complex of Hofburg Imperial Palace with its museums and artwork deserves a few visits. Not just because the Habsburg Emperors themselves, or noblemen and supporters of the Court, collected many of the best art pieces.
To complement Imperial art, get to know more about popular art in the former Habsburg Crownlands of Bukowina, Dalmatia, Galicia, Lodomeria, Ruthenia, and others. Hiding in Vienna’s lovely 8th district of Josefstadt the Museum of Folks and Folk Art (Volkskundemuseum) shows beautiful furniture, ceramics, fashion, tools and paintings from what is today Eastern Europe. Highly recommended.
Location: Laudon Garden Palace; Laudongasse 15 to 19, 1080 Vienna;
Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday – 10am to 6pm; closed on Mondays, except for public holidays; 24th and 31st December – 10 am to 3pm;
How to get there: take tramways 43 or 44 from central Schottentor station to Alser Strasse, then walk down Lange Gasse for a few minutes;
Admission: adults: EUR 5; children and teenagers under 19 years of age go free;
3. Figlmüller – Pichlmaiers Zum Herkner
Vienna Insider Tips. Reading the guide books you feel almost cornered when searching for the best Wiener Schnitzel in town. But all-time tourist favorite restaurant Figlmüller is not the only place dedicated to perfecting Austria’s signature dish. Up in the 17th district, where the suburbs meet the vineyards traditional family-run tavern Pichlmaier’s zum Herkner pushes its 100-year-old tradition to produce ever more refined Schnitzel for a mostly local fan community. Read more about this Vienna Woods-style gem and other insider Wiener Schnitzel restaurants.
Location: Dornbacher Strasse 123, 1170 Vienna
Opening hours: Monday, Wednesday and Thursday 6.00 pm to 11.00 pm; Friday to Sunday 11.30 pm to 11.00 pm; Tuesday closed;
How to get there: take tramway 43 from central Schottentor station to its terminal in Neuwaldegg and you almost stop in front of the restaurant.
4. Vienna State Opera – Vienna Volksoper
Vienna Insider Tips. My hometown has four opera houses. The Vienna State Opera is the most elegant and renown. This shouldn’t deter you from adding an insider opera experience to your trip repertoire. The Vienna Volksoper originates from the people’s opera, whereas the State Opera was for Vienna’s aristocracy. Today, some Volksoper performances may get better critiques than their State Opera pendants. You will find popular operas like Mozart’s Magic Flute and Verdi’s Il Trovatore. On top, the Volksoper is the best place in Vienna to watch operettas such as Franz Léhar’s The Merry Widow. Check what is on at Volksoper during your stay.
Location: Währinger Strasse 78, 1090 Vienna
Schedule of Plays: check what’s on at Volksoper
How to get there: take tramways 40, 41 or 42 from Ringstrasse station at Schottentor for a 10 min ride; alternatively, metro line U6 is around the corner;
Vienna Insider Tips. Gothic St. Stephen’s Cathedral, or Stephansdom, has housed the good, the great, and the ordinary. Mozart got married at St. Stephan, and countless Habsburg Emperors ‘enjoyed’ their funeral masses there. Our landmark is also at the center of many popular legends. If you like the Middle Ages and mystic places, Minoritenkirche is a must. Even though this church is around 140 years younger, it looks older. This is because it widely lacks baroque elements, which had been added to Stephansdom’s interiors later on. I had been to both churches during Christmas and loved the intimacy and mystic ambience of Minoritenkirche. Don’t miss the large mosaic copy of Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper.
Location: Minoritenplatz, 1010 Vienna;
6. Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra – Vienna Symphonic Orchestra
Vienna Insider Tips. Kudos if you have set your heart on the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. You won’t be tricked by mediocre tourist ensembles. If a concert by the Vienna Philharmonics is not an option during your stay, go for the Vienna Symphonic Orchestra, our other top quality classical orchestra. The Wiener Symphonieorchester, or Wiener Symphoniker, are a Viennese institution. They have been around for more than 110 years and regularly attract top international guest conductors. If you like romantic classical music, such as Anton Bruckner, Richard Strauss and Franz Schubert, get the Vienna Symphonics to play it for you. Visit website for a concert calendar.
Location: Wiener Konzerthaus, Lothringer Strasse 20, 1030 Vienna
Schedule of Plays: check Vienna Symphonic Orchestra schedule
How to get there: take tramways 71 or D to nearby Schwarzenbergplatz; alternatively take metro U4 to Stadtpark station, a 3 min walk from Konzerthaus;
7. Danube – Alte Donau
Vienna Insider Tips. While Strauss’ famous waltz is priceless most travellers can’t be fooled with the ‘Blue Danube’ any more. By all means, the Donau in Vienna is majestic. But if you look for truly picturesque spots, you have to zoom in on side arms and hidden spots. One such spot is Alte Donau (Old Danube), a closed side arm which was the former main Danube river arm. On warm days rent a sofa boat and explore the colourful riverside cabins of a close knit local community. There are a few typical local restaurants and fabulous swim spots. More about Alte Donau and other Danube insider tips in my Vienna Danube guide.
8. Fiaker – Bike Taxi
Vienna Insider Tips. You like the idea of gently rattling through historic Vienna in an open-air carriage? Up to 100 years ago, Viennese upper and middle class people used a horse carriage to go from A to B. They are elegant and romantic, but aren’t widely used anymore, except by tourists. If you want something more contemporary with added fun, watch out for bike taxis. They come in the shape of rikshas or little carts. You can book a bike taxi for a sightseeing tour or to take you from one to the other place. For enquiries, email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Vienna Insider Tips.The Vienna Prater attracts tourists because of the Giant Ferris Wheel, and teenagers like my local nephews because of its bone-scaring roller coasters. For that nostalgic luna park experience of organ grinders, punch-and-judy shows, and traditional merry-go-rounds, visit the Prater’s little brother, the Bohemian Prater (Böhmischer Prater). Located 10th district of Favoriten, it received its name from the Bohemian immigrants working in the nearby brickyards. In the past years, the Bohemian Prater has added some modern attractions, but tradition still feels strong there. The park is located in Laa Forest at Laa Mountain, a popular recreational area.
Location: Laaer Wald 216, 1010 Vienna
Opening Times: early March to 1st November; open daily from 10am to 9pm (with good weather)
How To Get There: tramway 71 from Vienna State Opera towards Zentralfriedhof, alight at Enkplatz/Grillgasse; take bus 15A to Grillgasse S; walk 15 min from there to the Prater (pdf map).
10. Belvedere Vienna – Schloss Hof
Vienna Insider Tips. ‘You know one, you know all.’ Not necessarily. Even if you have seen Prince Eugene of Savoy’s Belvedere Vienna Palace, go for his lavish hunting paradise an hour east of Vienna. Both revive the baroque period in Vienna, from a different perspective. Schloss Hof‘s palatial rooms are as beautifully restored but more private, with exuberant wall papers and furniture. In the warm months, Schloss Hof’s vast baroque gardens display splendid flower beds across seven terraces. An estate farm and animal enclosures showing donkeys, camels and even white Lipizzaner horses make this a perfect summer day trip for children. On top you can join seasonal events and special exhibitions throughout the year.
Location: Schloßhof 1, 2294 Schloßhof, Austria
Opening times: 15th May 15 to 20th November; daily 10.00 am to- 6.00 pm;
How to get there: take one of the regular trains by Austrian Railways from Vienna Central Station to Marchegg Station; check the free bus shuttle timetable from Marchegg Station, taking you directly to Schloss Hof and Schloss Niederweiden.
Admission: adults – EUR 18; children from 6 to 18 yrs – EUR 10; children aged under 6 go free;
More Vienna Insider Tips
Because there is much more to unearth in Vienna why not further extend your horizon with these off-beat travel tips for Vienna? Unlike the more classical tips above these suggestions take you up and beyond: from cooking in private Viennese’s home to riding in a traditional Zille on the Danube and tasting wine in a Roman wine cellar.