Far from just a time capsule of imperial palaces and fin- desiècle flourishes, this multicultural metropolis has long been at the crossroads of cultures
What's the best way to spend 36 hours in Vienna? Tips for a wistlestop tour of the Austrian capital
IN 2018 VIENNA is commemorating the centennial of four modernists’ passing. Myriad exhibitions will honour the artists Gustav Klimt, Koloman Moser and Egon Schiele, and the architect Otto Wagner, who dared to colour outside the rigid lines of the status quo and dream of a different future — a feat that remains relevant today.
But we don’t need such anniversary events to remind us of Vienna’s rich contributions to the world. Far from just a time capsule of imperial palaces and fin-de-siècle flourishes, this multicultural metropolis of 1.8 million has long been at the crossroads of cultures, proving that even a place steeped in traditions – like its famous ball season – can also be creative and worldly.
Friday 3pm: Rooms with a view
Schloss Belvedere often draws comparisons to Versailles — no surprise, considering Prince Eugene of Savoy, who commissioned the two Baroque palaces as his summer residence, grew up around the court of Louis XIV.
While the impeccably sculpted grounds and overthe-top interiors are indeed reminiscent of the famous French château, the Upper Belvedere houses a proudly Austrian art collection that includes works by Schiele, Moser and Klimt, whose gilded tableau ‘ The Kiss’ mesmerises visitors.
Explore the tiered gardens that lead to the Lower Belvedere, which hosts temporary exhibitions in opulent halls. A combination ticket to both palaces and the adjacent contemporary art pavilion 21er Haus is EUR23, or about $27.10.
5pm: Made in Austria
Boutiques celebrating indie labels from Vienna and beyond have flocked just south of the inner city’s historic core. Along Margaretenstrasse you’ll find such concept stores as Unikatessen, which mixes up vintage Chanels and Saint Laurents with local lines like Natures of Conflict. Across the street, Samstag champions its own brand, Superated, along with designers like the Vienna-educated and Parisbased jewellery-maker Sawako Ishitani. The elegantly muted Elfenkleid and internationally minded Wolfensson round out the street’s fashion offerings. For the less sartorially oriented shoppers, Feinedinge throws a youthful spin on Vienna’s proud porcelain heritage with handmade tableware.
8pm: Local bites
After shopping, opt for one of the many non-touristy
dining options on and near Margaretenstrasse. Randale presents a robust line-up of DJs along with interesting pizzas like smoked provolone (EUR12.90). Just as lively is the bar/restaurant Zweitbester that pairs dishes such as goulash (EUR14.90) with art exhibitions and, occasionally, concerts taking place in the bathroom. Popular among students is Vollpension, a selfproclaimed ‘intergenerational café’ of mismatched furniture and simple fare like wurst salad (EUR6.20). Or, for homey comfort, head to the neighbourhood stalwart Silberwirt for its thick pumpkin oil soup (EUR4.60) and free-range beef stewed in onion sauce (EUR16.80).
Saturday 8am: Garden of good and evil
Open to the public since 1775, Augarten is the city’s communal backyard, where leafy paths take you past girls in hijabs playing soccer and Hasidic men on bicycles. Home of the Vienna Boys’ Choir and Europe’s second longest-running porcelain manufacturer, this 129-acre park also harbours two Nazibuilt flak towers that stand as a reminder of one of the city’s darkest chapters.
10am: Eat your vegetables
The unpretentious Karmelitermarkt caters to the city’s diverse palate. On Saturday morning, when the food market is at its liveliest, you’ll find traditional Austrian sausages alongside kosher cuts; next to old-school veggie vendors thrive young entrepreneurs like Isabella Lindinger, who sells seasonal jams and chutneys. Drop by the brick-and-mortar store Kaas am Markt for a wide range of regional cheeses and hams before heading out to explore the surrounding area, which is in the process of being transformed with businesses like the homeware and fashion purveyor Der Affe und der Bräutigam, the vegan-friendly bakery Fett und Zucker, and the bring-your- own- container grocer Lunzers, which bolsters Austria’s green cred.
1pm: A sense of wonder
Designated as an Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO, Vienna’s many historic coffee houses transport guests to an era when visionaries like Freud mingled over Mélange, Vienna’s answer to cappuccino. No other Kaffeehaus has perfected anachronism like the three-year-young Supersense. In addition to hosting indie concerts and letterpress workshops, this cafe- cum-store stocks vintage stamp kits and record players.
Quirkier items on sale include a Smell Memory Kit (EUR99) that captures scents in tiny ampules. You can also