Visiting Vienna Austria وین

Vienna is a huge city with several district sightseeing, restaurant, nightlife and accommodation listings have a look at each of them.

Vienna (German: Wien, Austro-Bavarian: Wean) is an Austrian state. It is the capital of the Republic of Austria and by far the largest city in Austria with its population of more than 1.7 million. As you’d expect it’s Austria’s cultural, economic, and political centre. As the former home of the Habsburg court and its various empires, the city still has the trappings of the imperial capital it once was, and the historic city centre is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Districts of Vienna

  • Innere Stadt — Innere Stadt (1)
  • Inner East — Leopoldstadt(2), Brigittenau(20)
  • Outer East — Floridsdorf(21), Donaustadt(22)
  • Inner South — Landstraße(3), Wieden(4), Margareten(5), Meidling(12)
  • Outer South — Favoriten(10), Simmering(11), Liesing (23)
  • Inner West — Mariahilf(6), Neubau(7), Josefstadt(8), Alsergrund(9)
  • Outer West — Hietzing(13), Penzing(14), Rudolfsheim-Fünfhaus(15), Ottakring(16), Hernals(17), Währing(18) & Döbling(19)

The low-lying Danube plain in and around what is now Vienna has had a human population since at least the late Paleolithic: one of the city’s most famous artifacts, the 24,000-year-old Venus of Willendorf, now in Vienna’s Natural History Museum, was found nearby. Vienna’s own recorded history began with the Romans, who founded it in the 1st Century CE as Vindobona, one of a line of Roman defensive outposts against Germanic tribes. Vindobona’s central garrison was on the site of what is now the Hoher Markt (the “High Market” due to its relative height over the Danube), and you can still see the excavations of its foundations there today.

Vienna hosted the Habsburg court for several centuries, first as the Imperial seat of the Holy Roman Empire, then the capital of the Austrian Empire, and later of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which finally fell in 1918 with the abdication of the last Emperor Charles I. The court tremendously influenced the culture that exists here even today: Vienna’s residents are often formal in manner, often showing courtliness, using polite forms of address, and dressing more formally than in other cities. They are considered to blend attitudes that are modern and progressive with those that are more traditional.

Visiting Vienna Austria وین
Visiting Vienna Austria وین

Statue in front of the Parliament

The empires also served to make Vienna a very metropolitan city at an early time, and especially so through the years of industrialization and fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire at the turn of the 20th century. Imperial Austria and Austro-Hungary were multi-lingual, multi-ethnic empires and although the German-speakers normally played the dominant role in Vienna there has long been ethnic and lingual diversity in the city. Proof of Jews in the city dates back to the History of the Jews in Vienna 10th century. After World War Two many of the city’s minorities had been exiled or killed and much of the city lay in ruin. When Austria was given sovereignty after the post World War Two occupation, it was eventually established that Austria was going the way of the West and not that of the Eastern Block. So the city became more isolated from its previous ties to its Slavic and Hungarian neighbours; the east of Austria was surrounded by the Iron Curtain. Vienna had gone from being the well established metropolitan city of Central Europe to the capital of a small, predominately German-speaking nation of states with strong regional identities.

Since the formation of the first Austrian Republic and the first mayoral election 1919 the Social-Democratic Party of Austria has had the majority of representatives on the communal council and controlled the mayoral seat. During the early years, the socialist Red Vienna (“Rote Wien”) revolutionized the city, improving the extreme conditions that the industrial revolution and rapid urbanization had created. Most famously the city built many housing projects (housing estates or “Gemeindebauten”), and they also began to offer many social services and made improvements across the board in quality of life. The public housing that was built at that time is now famous for its distinctive style. To this day the city continues to build public housing and about a third of the city’s residents live in it, some 600,000 people! Obviously through this high percentage, the quality, and the integration of public housing across the city have kept it from becoming as stigmatized as in most cities. The Viennese are used to having the city government in their lives, and of course have a love-hate relationship with it. Vienna functions on its own as a federal state in the Austrian system (along with 8 other states) and the sense of local pride and home is more of being Viennese than being Austrian, many say.

Traditional Vienna is but one of the many façades of this city; the historic centre, a UNESCO world heritage site, is sometimes begrudgingly compared to an open-air museum. But Vienna is also a dynamic young city, famous for its (electronic) music scene with independent labels, cult-status underground record stores, a vibrant Monday through Sunday club scene, multitudes of street performers, street art and murals spread throughout the city and a government that seems overly obsessed with complicated paperwork. However, people are willing to go out of their way or bend the rules a little if they feel they can do someone a favour.

The Viennese have a singular fascination with death, hence the popularity of the Zentralfriedhof (Central Cemetery), where there are more graves than living residents in Vienna, as a strolling location and of Schrammelmusik – highly sentimental music with lyrics pertaining to death. Old-fashioned Sterbevereine (funeral insurance societies-literally translated “death clubs”) provide members with the opportunity to save up for a nice funeral throughout the course of their lives. This service does not exist solely to save their children the hassle and expense – it is considered absolutely mandatory to provide for an adequate burial. Vienna even has the “Bestattungsmuseum”, a museum devoted to coffins and mortuary science. The country’s morbid obsession may be correlated with its higher suicide rate when compared with the rest of Europe. Here too, the socialist Vienna has its hand, the city also offers a socialized undertaking service, with hearses branded in the same department of public works logo as the subway cars, and a link to the transit-planner on their website.

Vienna is also famous for its coffee culture. “Let’s have a coffee” is a very commonly heard phrase, because despite incursions by Starbucks and Italian-style espresso bars, the Kaffeehauskultur is still the traditional way to drink a cup of coffee, read the newspaper, meet friends, or fall in love.

Addresses in this article are written with the district number preceding the street name, the same as street signs in Vienna. So 9., Badgasse 26 is Badgasse #26 in the 9th district. Hence you can also always tell what district you are in by the first number on street signs. Districts can also be made into a postal code by substituting the XX in A-1XX0 Vienna (0X for districts below 10), for instance A-1090 Vienna for the 9th district and A-1200 the 20th, and are sometimes referred to as such.

Common points of reference are often used in Vienna in addition to districts, most notably public transport stops. Reference to U1/U4 Schwedenplatz or Schwedenplatz (U1, U4) means that something is near to the Schwedenplatz stop on the underground lines 1 and 4. Normally if the place is not directly at the subway stop you can ask around and find it easily.

The Vienna Tourist Board operates information and booking booths at the airport Arrival Hall, 7AM-11PM and in the center at 1., Albertinaplatz/Maysedergasse. Information and free maps are also avialable from the ÖBB InfoPoints and offices at train stations.

Vienna has 23 districts or wards know singularly as Bezirk in Austrian German. These function subordinately to the city as decentralized administrative branches of the commune, as well as making local decisions. They vary immensely in size and each has its own flair.

Vienna's Districts
Vienna’s Districts
  • Innere Stadt (1st District)
  • Leopoldstadt (2nd District)
  • Landstraße (3rd District)
  • Wieden (4th District)
  • Margareten (5th District)
  • Mariahilf (6th District)
  • Neubau (7th District)
  • Josefstadt (8th District)
  • Alsergrund (9th District)
  • Favoriten (10th District)
  • Simmering (11th District)
  • Meidling (12th District)
  • Hietzing (13th District)
  • Penzing (14th District)
  • Rudolfsheim-Fünfhaus (15th District)
  • Ottakring (16th District)
  • Hernals (17th District)
  • Währing (18th District)
  • Döbling (19th District)
  • Brigittenau (20th District)
  • Floridsdorf (21st District)
  • Donaustadt (22nd District)
  • Liesing (23rd District)

The city has a very centralized layout radiating from the historic first district, or Inner-City with the Stephansdom and Stephansplatz at the centre of a bullseye. It is encircled by the Ringstraße (Ring Road), a grand boulevard constructed along the old city walls, which were torn down at the end of the 19th century. Along the Ringstraße are many famous and grand buildings, including the Rathaus [City Hall], the Austrian Parliament, the Hofburg Palace, the Natural History Museum, the Museum of Art History (Kunsthistorisches Museum), and the State Opera House.

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2., Leopoldstadt’s Prater boasts the Riesenrad

Districts 2-9 are considered the core districts and are gathered within the Gürtel (Belt Road), which encircles the core districts as an outer ring concentric to the Ring around the first district, with the noteable exception of Leopoldstadt (District 2).

Leopoldstadt (the 2nd District) is the southern half of the island that is formed between the Danube and the Danube Canal. It stretches from the more wild forests of the Prater in the south up through the point where the Prater becomes a more formal park and amusement park where the transportation hub Praterstern is located. Going onward to the North are several neighbourhoods from the Gründerzeit with dense housing including impressive Neo-Baroque buildings. Towards the north of the district along the Danube Canal across from Schwedenplatz is the Karmeliterviertel (Karmeliter Quarter) which was once a Jewish ghetto and today is the hub of Jewish life in Vienna. This area is indeed quite diverse across the board and is becoming gentrified. At the edge of that area is the Augarten. The area past that has been hand-picked for an intense development project that will turn several former freight yards into entire new neighborhoods. Along the Danube are numerous massive housing projects from the twenties onward.

Landstraße (District 3) is a rather large district to the southeast of the centre separated more or less by the Wien River (which is partially underground and otherwise channelled. Stretching from the station Wien Mitte and the surrounding business and financial district where the lively Landerstraßer Haupstraße shopping street begins, over quiet residential areas where the Hundertwasser Haus is located, all the way to the industrial hinterlands and the bus station at Erdberg in southeast, through neighbourhoods containing examples of public housing like the Rabenhof and many embassies to the Belvedere Palace and the Soviet Memorial at Schwarzenbergplatz.

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6., Mariahilf’s Rooflines

Wieden (District 4) and Margareten (District 5) run from the area around the Opera south to where a the gigantic new central station is being built, with energetic pockets of businesses and squares to be discovered from the University of Technology to artsy galleries to a cluster of hair-cutting salons to even Vienna’s miniature version of a Chinatown. These districts are bordered by the Wien River to the north.

Mariahilf (Distric 6) contrasts between the more raw areas around the Wien River where the Naschmarkt is. The district covers neighborhoods of bars and other popular bohemian and queer haunts along the Gumpendorfer Straße, and it borders Neubau along Vienna’s most popular shopping street the Mariahilferstraße up the the hill from the Gumpendorfer Straße.

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22., Transdanubian: U.N. Headquarters in Donaustadt

Neubau (District 7) starts with the aclaimed MuseumsQuartier next to the center and spreads across popular hip areas to the Westbahnhof (Western Railway Station).

Josefstadt (District 8) is the smallest district. Alsergrund (District 9) is known to be more affluent and also includes much of the University of Vienna several cozy business districts.

The outer 14 districts are largely less urban but are equally as diverse streching from Floridsdorf (21st District) which radiates from its own town center in the northeast on the eastern bank of the Danube and Donaustadt (22nd District) which includes a mix of farms, suburbia, soviet-style housing blocks, villages, the United Nations Headquarters and the Donauturm (Danube Tower) and includes the largest development project in Central Europe at Aspern, through tarditional worker-oriented districts like Simmering (11th District) and Favoriten (10th District) in the south to more mixed urban areas with much immigrant culture like Rudolfsheim-Fünfhaus (15th District) and Ottakring (16th District) in the West and Brigittenau (20th District) in the northeast and Döbling (19th District) on the adjacent side of the Danube famous for its vineyards, working class history and architecture, as well as its upper class neighbourhoods. Don’t miss Schönbrunn Palace to the West along the Wien River in Hietzing (13th district).


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