What to do on a Vienna afternoon?
May 12, 2008 10:06 AM   Subscribe

I have one free afternoon in Vienna - how should I spend it?

I'm a travel writer, currently on a trip to Austria that includes four days in Vienna. It's a packed itinerary, but I have one free afternoon for individual research. Tomorrow, actually.

Obviously there are lots of options, but I'd welcome any suggestions of places to visit in my tiny block of free time - museums, neighbourhoods, cafes, etc. that might not occur to the average visitor (like me), or established spots you particularly like. I'd like to stay close to city centre, since my sense of direction is kind of awful.

Here's the pertinent info:

- Interested in art, literature, architecture and coffeehouse culture, though by no means an expert in any of these areas.
- Trying to balance work and pleasure, but it would be great to find places that are emerging rather than established, and might interest a North American audience.
- My hotel is on Lange Gasse, which is close to the Ring Boulevard.
- The trip already includes visits to Schonbrunn Palace, Belvedere, Palmenhaus, the Lobmeyr glass museum, MAK, the Spittelberg and Gumpendorfer Strasse areas, MuseumsQuartier, and Naschmarkt. Told you it was packed.

Any ideas welcome - Thanks in advance, and sorry for any spelling errors. (Also wanted to note that I've read some of the other threads about travel to Vienna but felt I could use more help - if this seems redundant, please let me know.)
posted by lindsey.nicole to Travel & Transportation around Vienna, Austria (12 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Sorry, forgot to add that I'll also be seeing the Kunsthistorische and Cafe Sperl.
posted by lindsey.nicole at 10:07 AM on May 12, 2008

You should go see the kunsthauswien.
posted by kickingtheground at 10:24 AM on May 12, 2008

Ask a few people where their favorite Heuriger is. A Heuriger is a neighborhood wine bar, often associated with a particular vineyard, that looks a little like a German beer garden but functions more like an English pub.

There's one in town but the best may be a short train ride out of the city.

Awesome wine, amazing food (small dishes of cold cuts, vegetables, etc.), and often very friendly people. I was in Vienna years ago and spending a lazy afternoon at a hillside Heuriger was a highlight of the trip.
posted by subpixel at 10:55 AM on May 12, 2008

The Spanish Riding school. From Wikipedia, "One can also buy tickets for the morning exercise sessions between 10:00 a.m. and noon on Tuesday through Saturday." It's a treasured
posted by the Real Dan at 11:16 AM on May 12, 2008 [1 favorite]

I second the Heuriger; they are awesome
posted by bsdfish at 12:10 PM on May 12, 2008

Climb the tower in St. Stephan's Cathedral. Magnificent! I've been to a pile of old churches throughout Germany, Italy, and Austria, and this remains one of my favorite. Just jaw-droppingly amazing.

Heuriger's are great, but not so much if you are by yourself. They are family gathering places. You might enjoy one if the locals are friendly. Sometimes they are, but mostly not so much (in my limited experience).
posted by Patapsco Mike at 12:15 PM on May 12, 2008

The Kaisergruft is something to see. It won't take a whole afternoon. Also go up in the bell tower of the Stephansdom.
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 12:17 PM on May 12, 2008

I'm sorry I don't know the name of the neighborhood, but I went to a shoe shop ("Shu!" cute, huh?) at Neubaugasse 34, A-1070, and that was a really nice little area, lots funky stores and cafes and street life. A little bit out of city center, but worth it.

Also, don't forget to go to the chocolate shops!
posted by cestmoi15 at 1:50 PM on May 12, 2008

Cafe: Prückl, right in front of the MAK.

Seconding the Neubau area (just south of your hotel), Mariahilferstraße is a nice shopping street, going from the MQ up to the Gürtel (the external ring), also Kärnterstraße, though it's a bit more tourist-oriented (from Stephansdom to the Opera).

If you're more inclined towards architecture, you might want to visit Otto Wagner's church on top of the Steinhof hill, which has recently been reopened after a few years of restoration. Also, UNO city, especially Heinz Tesar's cubic church, might be interesting.
posted by _dario at 3:24 PM on May 12, 2008

Try to arrange to see the Albrecht Durer collection at the Albertina. At least when I was there (lo these many decades ago), you couldn't view them without an appointment, but it was just a life-changing experience to actually hold Durer's work in my hands. (I was an art student in Vienna at the time, don't know if the hands-on thing was a privilege of that status.)

Even without the private viewing, the Albertina is an amazing overlooked Vienna experience.
posted by nax at 3:45 PM on May 12, 2008

If you're interested in art and architecture you can't NOT visit the Hunderwasserhaus! It was my favourite thing in Vienna. The Kunsthauswien that kickingtheground mentions is right across the street..

If you had another half a day I'd also recommens the famous ferris wheel

(I do not recommend the Spanish Riding School. I found it a waste of time and money. The horses are not actually "training", they just kind of walk around while you listen to Strauss and Mozart's Greatest Hits.)
posted by easternblot at 4:37 PM on May 12, 2008

It sounds like you bailed out while the horses were still warming up, Easternblot.
As I recall, each horse had a trainer, and it was nowhere near as high impact as
a performance. They warmed up, they trained, and then they cooled down.
It was fully thirty years ago, though, so it might be different now.
posted by the Real Dan at 9:37 PM on May 12, 2008

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