I'm moving to Vienna for the summer. What do I need to know?
May 31, 2010 5:26 AM   Subscribe

I'm moving to Vienna to work for nine weeks this summer. What do I need to know? How can I get the most out of my stay?

I've secured an expenses-paid summer internship in Vienna from July to the beginning of September. I'm excited, if quite nervous (I've never lived abroad before) and want advice on how I can adapt to Viennese life as quickly as possible to minimise time spent figuring out how things work, how to get around and so on. Fun stuff to do I can probably work out for myself, though suggestions are welcome, particularly things off the beaten track for when I'm bored of my guidebook. I'm asking mainly about how best to enjoy the city and what advice any natives have about settling in.

If anyone with experience of living in Vienna has any advice about the city, I'd be very grateful. I'll leave the question quite open as I want to hear as much about Viennese life as I can! A few points:
  • Housing is provided for me in Neubau.
  • If anyone knows how to get a decent cellphone contract for that sort of period (three months), that would be great. My phone's unlocked and will work there. It would be ideal to get data while I'm out there for maps/navigating and so on without breaking the bank.
  • My German isn't great (though I'm brushing up) but the programme itself is run in English.
  • My stipend is paid into my UK bank account; my intention is to take money out with my card (which is no-commission with the bank I'm with).
  • I'll be working nine to five but will have most evenings and weekends free.
Show me how it's done in Österreich.
posted by henryaj to Travel & Transportation around Blausasc, France (14 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Trzesniewski‎ sandwich shop (very close to Stephansplatz--on Dorotheergasse 1), est. 1902. If heaven does not have an open-faced sandwich shop like this, I'm not going.
posted by SmazenySyr at 6:41 AM on May 31, 2010

Well! I moved to Vienna three years ago so I can probably answer most questions you might have. I'll write whatever comes to mind but if you have any more specific questions post them here or email me at gwyner at gmail.

Bob (www.bob.at) currently offers 1000 minutes, 1000 SMS for €8 and 1GB data for €4 without a contract. Get that. It will take a week to set up and their customer service is terrible to nonexistant but the deal can't be beat. Maybe order the starter packet so it arrives when you do. Www.bob.at

the American Woman's Association has an excellent book called "Living in Vienna" with most of the info you would ever need. Get it. It's ~25€. They're on Singerstrasse next to St Stephens Cathedral. Www.awa.at I think.

Touristwise you should make sure you go to the treasury (Schatzkammer), to Schonbrunn, to standing room at the opera and to the Prater park. The best ice cream in town is the Eissalon am Schwedenplatz. (located at Schwedenplatz)

you may need to get a Meldezettel when you arrive. It's required, technically, and you will need it to do anything official, like getting a bank account. It's a pretty simple form that needs to be signed by your landlord. Instructions in English are in the living in Vienna book described above. You have to bring it to any Bezirksamt(District bureaucracy building). Check the hours before you go.

Get a monthlong transit pass as soon as you arrive. It's around €50 per month. Public transit is wonderful in Vienna.

Hofer is the closest Vienna has to a Trader Joes-low prices, limited selection of relatively good products. Www.hofer.at


if you want to travel within austria, the einfach Raus ticket is 28€ for unlimited use of the Austrian regional(! No fast trains) train lines for 2-5 people for one day. If you want to travel in Europe, there are very cheap Sparscheine rates if you book in advance. Oebb.at

once you get data service, see if they make the qando app for your smartphone. It's a guide to the public transit system.

that's everything that comes to mind. Post or email more questions as desired!
posted by sdis at 6:57 AM on May 31, 2010

Oh yeah, best sausage in Vienna is at the Hoher Markt Würzelstand. Get a "Bratwurst hot dog mit scharfem senf"

best kebab/falafel is at Maschiu-Maschiu
posted by sdis at 6:59 AM on May 31, 2010

Put together a 3 inch x 5 inch index card with basic reference notes you can keep with you while shopping. Basic phrases, conversions, etc.

Don't be afraid to stay put and relax over at least one of your free weekends. Just walk around the city with no itinerary, and get a feel for the daily life there. After coming back from a summer in Italy in the 1990's, my favorite photos turned out to be of an outdoor market near my apartment. I took a picture from the same exact spot several times over the course of the day.
posted by belau at 7:18 AM on May 31, 2010

People don't smile at strangers and particularly not in public transport. This does not mean they're unfriendly. Similarly, waiters get tips for being efficient but not for smiling and chatting. Don't get offended at brusque service.
Get a monthly public transport ticket at www.vor.at. You don't need a car.
Neubau is a lovely district for going out and eating but also for art, graffiti and such. Viennese people like eating out, pubs are full every evening.
Mariahilfer Straße is a shopping street nearby where you can get basically anything.
I second the sausage and trzesniewski suggestions. Vienna is also the ice cream capital of Europe. Make sure to try the ice cream parlors Tichy, Zanoni and the nameless one on Schwedenplatz so that like everyone else you can proceed to hold forth your opinion on which is most awesome.
Oh yeah, shops start to close around 6 pm weekdays, 5 or midday on saturdays. They're closed on Sundays - plan accordingly!

I'll add more. If you want to meet up or have questions, memail me!
posted by Omnomnom at 8:10 AM on May 31, 2010

Neubau is a great area. You're right behind the Museum Quarter and Spittleberg area. You may want to check out the Vienna Expats to make some connections while you're in town. They're mostly English speakers, as well as a few Germans, Austrians, and other nationalities coming to events. It's a real open and welcoming group.

You're also coming a good time as the Vienna Film Festival will be running from July-September at the Rathaus. It's a great place to go and get some food and free entertainment.

Speaking of food, there's a great burger place on Burggasse, Die Burgermaker, and Mashcu Mashcu on Neubaugasse really does have the best falafel in town. There are plenty of pubs around town, so you're bound to find one to suit your tastes. Despite the fact that Vienna is known for sausage, pastry and coffee, Viennese breakfast is terrible; give The Breakfast Club or Cafe Merkur a try for a proper breakfast. If you're pining stuff from back home, you can go to Bobby's Foodstore , the prices are ridiculous, but it's just about the only place in town to get Doritos.

A couple of other good websites:
Spotted by Locals

Vienna is a great town, enjoy you're summer.
posted by chrisulonic at 8:20 AM on May 31, 2010

If you need peanut butter, Heinz ketchup or hellmans mayo, bring it with you. Drink a lot of milk here; they have amazing dairy here. Somehow they've maintained a reputation as the pastry capital of Europe without having good pastries. Maybe they used to, but I haven't met any particularly good pastries here, though the vanilla cremeschnitte at Demels is good.
posted by sdis at 8:35 AM on May 31, 2010

On the ice cream front, you may be disappointed if you're expecting the best of Europe...most cities in Italy will put Vienna to shame. However, good ice cream is definitely to be had. For overall awesomeness Schwedenplatz is hard to beat, particularly their Pralinata flavor. A few flavors are arguably better at Tichy, like their strawberry. You will be a happier person just avoiding Zanoni
posted by sdis at 8:50 AM on May 31, 2010

(Yeah, when I said ice cream capital of Europe I mean the number of ice cream parlors vs. inhabitants, not actual quality, sorry. Also, I forgot Bortolotti. Some people will defend Bortolotti to death.)

I'm not sure what Chrisulonic means with terrible breakfasts as I don't have any comparison to other places (we don't do breakfast fry ups, if that's what's meant). But if you're looking for more than the standard roll with ham and cheese, these places are great (if a little expensive) to breakfast in:
Project Space (next to the modern art space)
Café Halle in the Museumsquartier chrisulonic mentioned earlier
Die Wäscherei, which has a nice brunch buffet on weekends.
Der Tunnel, a classic among students because of the cheap food. It has an Arabic breakfast for unbeatable 2,5 Euro (as far as I remember).

All of these have normal restaurant food as well.

In Spittelberg, try Siebensternbräu for local beer and food.
Also try Lux and Plutzer Bräu.

Don't eat pastry in a Café (unless you like Apple- or Topfenstrudel). Try one of the various Konditoreien.
The best place for cakes, in my opinion, is the Kurcafé Oberlaa right in the city center. For a quick cake and run (and smoke) Aida will do too.

You can hunt for restaurants on your own here.

Check for events in vienna at www.events.at.
posted by Omnomnom at 8:57 AM on May 31, 2010

Somehow they've maintained a reputation as the pastry capital of Europe without having good pastries.

Well, I have to disagree strongly with this. Just about every Konditorei will have better pastries than you could ever get in the UK. As Omnomnom says, Cafés are generally not the place to get the best pastries (though some, like Landtmann, do also have excellent pastries). Cafés are where you sit for hours reading the paper and drinking coffee. For pastries, you need to go to a Konditorei (or a Café-Konditorei, which is different from a Café). Some of the big names are Demel, Oberlaa, and Gerstner. Oh, and skip the Sachertorte (unless you really must have one just to say that you have). It may be the most famous of Austrian tortes, but it tends to be very dry (which is why it's always served with a huge mound of whipped cream), and I think there are much better tortes to be had.
posted by klausness at 10:21 AM on May 31, 2010

This is a country that puts cheese in their sausage (kaesekraener?). With fresh rye bread on the side, and wine or beer to wash it down. At the sausage stand. (Drinking on the street...verboten in Ontario, but not in Vienna!) Tchuess!

Jealous. Have a great time!
posted by operalass at 11:44 AM on May 31, 2010

Very jealous, and Neubau is one of my favourite areas. Sdis and Chrisulonic have great advice. Do hang out at the MQ. The only recommendation I have to add is: treat yourself to a dinner here; it's one of the best chinese restaurants in Europe.
posted by _dario at 1:44 PM on May 31, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks all for your help; it's very kind—I'm sure I'll be getting in touch with some of you about other questions I have.

Thanks again!
posted by henryaj at 9:47 AM on June 2, 2010

Take a trip to Kahlenberg and wonder around for the best views of the city. If you like the views check out the Krapfenwaldbad Swimming Pool for the best poolside views in the world! I think it's around 4 Euro for a full day and 2 Euro for a half day.

Great places to go hiking in the 1000 year old town Moedling about 30 minutes outside of Vienna, and Moedling itself is a cute little town.

Be careful in Bratislava, stay away from the night clubs, lots of Russian/Slovakian Mafia around and they are truly dangerous characters.

Take the 35A to Salmansdorf for some beautiful hiking opportunities in the Vienna woods.

Visit the Heurigen in Grinzing for an expensive yet nice taste of Austrian tradition.

If you like live music check the festivals in Wiesen.

1516 is the nicest international pub in town, and they have great food and brew their own beers.

For Mexican food in Vienna, try ESA in the 7th District. (Neustiftgasse 38)

The best Pizza with the best views in town can be found in the 8th District at Maria-Treu Gasse/Piaristengasse, and it's called Il Sestante. I recommend the pizzas with Buffalo mozzarella or my very own favorite an "Aldebaran mit Gorgonzola".

Most importantly take some time for yourself and wonder around the 1st district, 8th district, and 7th district, as well as MQ and Mariahilferstrasse (also in the 7th district).

The Haydn Haus on Haydngasse in the 6th district is worth the tour as well.
posted by Slash_fan at 7:28 AM on June 27, 2010

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