Voted the most livable city in the world for an impressive ten years (2009-2019), Vienna is a city synonymous with wealth, opulence and all things exquisite. It is definitely not a city that would be high on the list of places to go for a budget break.
However, I visited Vienna just before Christmas last year and managed to return with over half of my spending money budget. Eating out in Vienna and travelling around the city does not have to be expensive, and I’m talking about eating out well, in the famously expensive European city – none of this international chain or junk food nonsense.
I stayed in a hotel in the buzzing 6th District of Mariahilf. The neighbourhood was peppered with eclectic Viennese stores, quirky eateries, lots of coffee bars and a wide range of restaurants. I really liked staying in this area because it allowed us to see Vienna as a busy, working capital city, and not simply a super commercialised, Christmas market hot spot.
On our first evening in Vienna, Le Burger provided us with dinner. Located on what is apparently one of Austria’s biggest shopping streets, Mariahilfer Strasse, Le Burger is set over two floors. If you want to serve yourself and get a quick bite to go, sit on the ground floor. Here, the decor resembles that of a warehouse – think lots of grey pillars and concrete posts, and seating is offered in the form of stools, with sofa like swinging seats, suspended from the ceiling on worn silver chains. Upstairs, the atmosphere is more relaxed, with table service available and soft armchairs around each table. Needless to say it was upstairs that we decided on after a busy first afternoon, exploring Vienna.
While the burgers might not look like the most appealing, they tasted amazing and were served piping hot. There were lots of options for a range of dietary requirements and preferences as well and lots of sauces available to add as much as you like. Upstairs, the sauces were the only things you had to bring to the table yourself. There was a station with a huge selection of sauces to try, from conventional ketchup and mayo to more heavily spiced sauces and flavoured condiments.
The next day it was off to explore the city of Vienna and our first stop for a winter warmer was Café Eiles. Even though we were in Vienna to explore the Christmas markets, they were ridiculously overpriced and all of them seemingly offering the same blends of mulled wines and blended spices. A few minutes walk into the back streets behind the Austrian Parliament Building, Café Eiles has been some form of coffee shop since the mid 1800’s. Very popular with locals, it was here we sampled some Viennese hot chocolate and a quick Austrian coffee.
As the sun set on our first full day in Vienna, we headed to the Hundertwasser Village and to the Village Art Bar. A former tire factory, transformed by Mr Hundertwasser to house shops, cafes and a roof top forest, the Village Art Bar was one of the more festive moments of the trip.
This building had the odd blogger outside taking the obligatory posed picture next to the pretty pastel paintwork on the outside of the building, but it seemed as though few actually ventured inside, as the Art Bar was mainly littered with locals enjoying the traditional Christmas music and a glass of something mulled and heavily alcoholic.
For a fraction of the cost of the Christmas markets, a lot less people and even inside in the warm, it would be interesting to see what this ‘Village’ environment would be like when not decorated like Santa’s grotto.
Heading to one of the most famous Christmas markets in all of Vienna at Rathausplatz, all of the walking around the city had meant we were getting pretty hungry. We picked up an “überbackene fladenbrote” – known more commonly as a baked flatbread. Craving something hot on our journey back to our hotel, the soft baked, tuna filled flatbread oozed with bubbling cheese and was well worth the €5 price tag.
Once back to our temporary home in the 6th District, Mythos Restaurant had really caught my eye when passing the previous evening. A charming Greek restaurant, again abundantly popular with local people and the after work crowd, the food here was flavoursome and tasted a lot better than it looked in pictures. Their red lentil soup was some of the nicest outside of Istanbul.
The next day we caught a train from Vienna to Bratislava (more on that soon) so the Greek dish was effectively our last meal in the city, not counting of course breakfast in our hotel which delighted us on a daily basis. I adore the simplicity of Greek food when it it is done really well it has to be one of my favourite cuisines. Hard to get right, especially outside of the Greece, I found myself relatively impressed by this characterful little jaunt.
With its first coffee house opening in 1685, Vienna has a generous amount of places to stop for refreshments. You can easily spend upwards of €30 on two hot drinks and two slices of cake or something sweet, and no doubt this would be as fabulous as you would expect it to be. But it doesn’t have to be like that. None of the meals we had in Vienna cost more than €30 between the two of us, often including cocktails and beer.
Have you visited Vienna? What did you think of the food there? I’d love to know what it would be like in the middle of summer, since everything I tried was something of a winter warmer. Let me know in the comments.