Things you only get and do in Vienna
What is best to do or buy or try in Vienna? What can I only do here and not do anywhere else?
The team of My Guide Vienna has come up with different sections to make your stay as local, unique and funas possible. We are convinced that this is the best way to make sure your trip is special - just follow our local and expert advice! One of our most important sections we created is the Inside Tipps section. This great list of cool advice and suggestions is worth it - surely there will be something in there for you. Another section would be our Event Section - all most updated and most relevant events and happenings in Vienna while you are here!
How about checking out our Top Vienna Attractions? Are you a music freak? Or more into art nouveau? Well, you have come to the right city to indulge in all of that! Even if its only about finding out where to get the best traditional food is, or why Austria is one of the top world biodynamic wine producers, and why - and where can I get and drink it while I am here in town?
One of the most important recommendation is the Shopping Section. Where can I find out about stuff that you can ONLY and exclusively buy here in Vienna (from Art to traditional crafts and clothes)? Or where to find the coolest souvenirs to take home, Just follow the links...
Have a look at our suggestions below - this is really local stuff that Vienna is known for all over the world, there should be something for everybody - something truly unique.
Food and Beverages:
Travelling to most of us is directly connected to eating and drinking local specialities. This applies to Vienna as well and there are plenty of high-end delicacies that are typical for Austria.
Let's start with the "Sachertorte" - one of the most famous rich and delicious chocolate cakes you will ever taste! Best way of doing that - the only place where you can find the original Sachertorte in the world! Hence, the Hotel Sacher, right behind the Opera House. Inside the hotel there is the old fashioned imperial coffee house, with red plush seating and waiters dressed dark suits serving your very portion on silver trays with wiped cream and with a cup of coffee! If you are not into the "old stuff", there is a more modern coffee house version right next to the Hotel Sacher where you can enjoy your piece in a more hip environment. This is also where one can buy the famous cake packed in fancy wooden boxes, ready for transport to your loved ones, without getting squashed or broken. The Sachertorte makes a great souvenir!
Another option is the "Mozartkugel", a sweet round delicacy from Austria commemorating the great composer Mozart. It consists of light nougat with marzipan inside and a coating of dark chocolate - today this praline has become so well known that there are lots of copies around. Make sure you choose them from the right confectionaries - either Mirabell, Fürst, Demel or Hofbauer...all others are definitely not that good!
"Mannerschnitten" are great hazelnut chocolate wafers, famous in their bright pink wrapping -very popular also among youngsters. There is a specific Manner store (check out the souvenir section) where you can buy all size packagings - check it out!
We also have to mention Vienna's famous "Schnapps" = liquors from the region (mostly apricots or prunes) - absolutely delicious! Or, if you are more into sweet wines, for example try the "Spätlese" (late harvest) or "Eiswein" (made from grapes which got light nightfrost) and other dessert wines from the Burgenland province right next to Vienna. The bottles are usually very nicely designed - so they make a great souvenir.
Good places for buying food is the Graben area in Vienna or any food speciality shop in the city centre. "Lebkuchen" (similar to ginger bread) can be stored for months; Styrian pumpkin seed oil, pumpkin seeds or smoked bacon are rustic specialities that you will hardly find abroad. Try Meinl Gourmet as a great delicatessen store!
Diamond stars, Jewellery & other Collectables
One of the most famous portrait of Empress Elisabeth shows her with her splendid Diamond Stars braided into her wonderful, long hair. These Diamond Stars became known as the unique "Sissy Stars" worldwide, and Köchert Juwelier, the jeweler by appointment to the Austrian Imperial Family, today still produces as a small series in its original design.The Sissy Stars can be worn as broaches, pendants or hairpins, like the Empress used to wear them. Their store is one of the few places in Vienna where you still can get a sense what Imperial Vienna was all about - tradition, excellent craftmanship and style.
Otherwise, who has not heard about the Swarovski Crystals? Today there is a huge hype around the glass crystals produced by one of Austria′s richest families, and it is a fact that many visitors love to get them. They are indeed a typically Austrian product and many jewellers and boutiques sell them all over the country. Best bought of course at the Swarovski Kristallwelten in Tyrol, but there are some outlets in Vienna - check the jewellery section we have prepared for you!
Our famous amber stones might also be an excellent souvenir. But buy them at a specialist store or in a jewellery shop, and not in a tacky souvenir shop - they tend to be cheaply designed and manufactured there. Amber is a beautiful stone and makes wonderful jewellery - it just gives much more joy if properly worked upon!
Another great collectable made in Austria and famous all over the world are the "Hummel figures". Small figurines made of ceramics and hand-painted. Alternatively, you can get some really local figurines called "Wiener Bronzen" - they are bronze figurines made in Vienna since the 19th century - usually animals with human features. Be aware that they are both expensive and really something for enthusiasts - others might think this is rather odd!
Austrian Traditional Clothing
Austrian traditional clothing is known all over the world...who has not heard of Lederhosen, or the famous Dirndl dresses (always worn with an apron)? They are really popular here in Austria and still worn on the countryside on a daily basis, and often in the bigger cities for special occasions. In the old days these rough and uneven fabrics (mainly wool (Loden) and leather) were indeed mostly worn by peasants - they were warm, dirt resistant and long lasting. There was no way that the high society or nobility would wear what was considered poor people's clothing. Only during the 19th and 20st century this traditional clothing became popular by all members of Austrian society - this was mainly due to the hunting parties. Guests started using the same materials as peasants, copied the style with more elaborate tailoring and created a new fashion movement in the Austrian high society.
Since then it has become very popular and wearing traditional clothing in Austria is considered to be trendy, chic and hip, especially among the young generation. It is also very known and popular in many countries around the world and some Austrian tailors have specialised in this clothing style. We have mentioned the best places in our traditional clothing section. Check it out!
Nativity Scenes & Ornaments
The Austrian Christmas customs are charming, very decorative and world famous...and Vienna is a good place to buy those creations, especially around Christmas time. The Austrian nativity scenes or "Krippen" (this is how they are called here) are usually hand made and carved in wood - delightful! The Christmas Tree ornaments are colourful and equally hand made - mostly in a very traditional Austrian style. They make nice souvenirs! The best place to buy them are the local Christmas markets in Vienna (check our section on Christmas Markets).
Austrian craftsmen are equally competent in producing Easter ornaments - they are as beautiful and charming as the Christmas decorations - they are just much less known abroad. If you happen to be in Vienna during Easter, look for our "blooming branches of bushes" used to decorate your home - it is called an "Osterbuschen" or Easter Tree here. The branches are decorated with painted eggs and other wonderful ornaments - sometimes you can buy them in souvenir shops all year round!
Coffee, Porcelain & Glass
Coffee is very big in Austria, everybody drinks it, everybody enjoys being at the coffeehouse. Ever since the Turks tried to invade Vienna in vain (they tried twice but never achieved their goal - they left bags of coffee beans behind though!) Viennese have taken up the habit and tradition of drinking and savouring coffee at all times. The coffee blends you can buy here are of very high quality - instant coffee or decaf are not really an option! Viennese are so picky when it comes to quality, that much of the local coffee is roasted here or in Italy, then blended and sold in different types (varieties from mild to extra strong). Have a try...
Nice porcelain goes well with coffee - and the tradition of producing that in Vienna and Gmunden (near Salzburg) dates back for centuries. The Augarten Manufaktur located in the Augarten Palace creates delicate and beautifully decorated china, whereas the Gmunden Porzellan specialises on stone ware, rather a more rustic design.
Speaking of breakables: Glass production used to be a Bohemian tradition that was partly done in Austria as well. The world famous glass company "Riedl Glas" produces high-end glasses being sold all over the World - Riedl glass uses an unique combination of crystals to make glasses. Today they are setting the world standard for all wine tasting competitions! It is the best wine glass you can get, and they are quite pricy! Please note that they are sold in specialist shops only - mostly in other up market glass and ceramic stores in the inner city.