St. Stephen's Cathedral, Hofburg, Vienna State Opera: Vienna’s historic first district is brimming with sights as well as a huge variety of stores, bars and restaurants. But it is still very much worth venturing further afield to explore some of the city’s other hotspots. A few pointers on some of the gems that await discovery outside the first district.
Away from the first district
Historic and modern-day centre
Full of centuries-old architectural masterpieces, world-class museums, stores and restaurants, Vienna’s first district is the capital’s historic and modern-day centre. But there are also plenty of interesting places to discover away from the heart of the city. Thanks to Vienna’s excellent public transportation network, reaching even further-flung destinations takes no time at all.
The individual districts are arranged in two rings with the first district in the middle. Districts 2-9 make up the first ring, with outlying districts 10-23 constituting the second. The seventh district is a typical example of a Vienna hotspot outside the city center. Prized as the capital’s creative district, its streets are home to a flourishing startup scene, with a multitude of smaller stores and workshops producing fashion, jewelry, accessories and many other of the finer things in life. A thriving restaurant, bar and club scene just adds to the district’s appeal. The neighbouring sixth district has been following suit in recent years, with numerous smart shops and bars popping up along Gumpendorferstrasse near Naschmarkt.
The city’s markets double up as incubators for wider regeneration in the individual districts. Also around Naschmark, the Freihausviertel quarter has some great bars and an attractive gallery scene, while Kettenbrückengasse is home to a number of original boutiques. Bars and boutiques are also breathing new life into Karmelitermarkt in the second district, while unusual culinary experiences are the order of the day at Meidlinger Markt in the relatively unspectacular twelfth district.
The sixteenth district is home to Brunnenmarkt which is one of the largest permanent street markets in Europe. The nearby Yppenplatz has long been one of the city’s most-popular places to catch up with friends over a drink. Each district has at least one main drag that is perfect for shopping and going out for a meal: examples include Josefstädterstrasse in the well-heeled eighth district, Währingerstrasse in the eighteenth district and Landstrasser Hauptstrasse in the third district.
Tourist attractions are by no means limited to the first district. Home to Schönbrunn Palace and the zoo, the thirteenth district is another major tourist magnet. The famous Giant Ferris Wheel dominates the skyline in the second district, where the Vienna Boys Choir also have their headquarters and concert hall. In the third district, the Belvedere is a prime destination for art fans, while the Third Man Museum is a mecca for cinephiles. The ninth district has the Sigmund Freud Museum, the Viktor Frankl Museum and even a whole museum dedicated to the Johann Strauss Dynasty.
The fourteenth district’s highlights include a fascinating insight into the world of technology at the Technisches Museum Wien, and Otto Wagner’s Kirche am Steinhof, an Austrian Art Nouveau masterpiece. In the twenty-second district diners at the Donauturm’s revolving restaurant can soak up spectacular views of the city. With the Central Cemetery and Funeral Museum to its credit, the eleventh district is an absolute must for fans of morbid Vienna.
Nature lovers should also consider leaving the first district behind for a while to enjoy various treats such as a trip to the Danube Island, the city’s vineyards, the idyllic Wienerwald and the landmark Kahlenberg and Leopoldsberg hills.