3 Days in Vienna for Food and Wine Lovers
Food & Wine
Arts & Culture
Considered the cosmopolitan capital of Europe, Vienna may be beloved for its famous opera houses, palaces and museums, but its excellent food and wine scene is not to be overlooked. Of all the capitals of the world, Vienna stands out as the only one with a significant wine industry within its limits. Numerous wineries (and associated iconic wine gardens) are an easy tram ride away from the city center. The historic grand coffee houses, indulgent bakeries and abundant locally sourced produce also make Vienna an enticing foodie destination. Three days is just enough time to taste what this magnificent city has to offer and provide a temptation to return.
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Tastefully furnished with precious, authentic antiques, this hotel blends the timeless elegance of 19th Century Vienna with state-of-the-art facilities and amenities.
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Le Meridien Vienna
Design hotel in the center of Vienna with spacious and newly designed guest rooms.
Park Hyatt Vienna
Housed in a century-old former bank on historic Am Hof Square, expect supreme luxury and unmatched service.
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Day 1: Arrive in Vienna and enjoy the Heurigen
After you arrive in Vienna, head over to the Naschmarkt, open until dusk. Here is where some of the best chefs in the city source their ingredients, with more than 120 market stands selling fresh produce and goods from around the world. There are also numerous eateries and cafes sprinkled throughout the market, so it is easy to create your own mini food tour and lunchtime feast. Make sure to stop at the famous Urbanek for a glass of wine and nibble on some local cheese and charcuterie. The friendly proprietors are happy to give you tips on their favorite spots in the city.
Enjoying an afternoon at a Heurigen, or wine tavern, is a unique aspect of Viennese life. Many of these wineries are within city limits and they feature fresh wine, sweeping scenery and casual, convivial atmospheres similar to German beer gardens. Expect a very relaxed atmosphere, with self-serve food or a buffet of traditional Austrian favorites. Choose some small items to snack on, or enjoy a full meal. The easiest drink to order is a “liter liter” - a liter each of house white wine and sparkling water. Mix the two to create a spritzer that you can sip on all afternoon. If you are lucky enough to be there in the fall when sturm is available, make sure to try a glass! It is semi-fermented fresh wine made from that year’s harvest, and is a unique tasting experience. There are many great options to choose from, all either easy access via tram or ride shares from the city center. Make sure to check opening hours in advance, as many heurigen are not open all days of the week, and some are seasonal May-Nov.
Sirbu - Includes sweeping views of the Danube and city center.
Gigerl - Steeped in history and located right in the city center.
When you make it back into the city, if you need a late night snack after enjoying all that wine, visit one of the numerous hot dog stands (Würstelstand) throughout the old center that are a Vienna institution. The order that reins supreme is the Käsekrainer, a deliciously cheesy sausage. Top it with your choice of ketchup and sweet or spicy mustard. You can also find weiners, bratwurst, French fries, beer and soft drinks at these humble beacons for cheap and delicious grub.
Day 2: Sightseeing
Start your day with breakfast at one of Vienna’s historic cafes. There are countless options - choose one that is close to your hotel or en route to where you plan to spend your morning. A few of my favorites are Café Mozart, Café Landtmann and Cafe Sperl, each with fascinating history and charming decor. Make sure you try a melange - similar to a cappuccino; it is typically made with a milder coffee topped with cream.
Use your morning to visit one of the city’s many must-see attractions, depending on what sparks your interest - the Hofburg Palace Complex, Stephensdom Cathedral or one of the world-class museums are all great options.
Fuel up and recharge with a stop at Demel, known since 1786 for their chocolate and pastry creations. It’s probably going to be crowded with tourists, but it’s a must-do as Vienna’s most famous source of sweet treats. They have a coffee and cake combo deal that is a great way to team up with traveling companions and try a few different selections.
Make advance dinner reservations for ef16, which features local, seasonal ingredients in its modern Viennese cuisine that is Italian-inspired. Try the pre fixe menu, with your choice of three, four or five courses chosen by the chef, with added wine pairings (optional but encouraged).
Day 3: Apfelstrudel and Wiener schnitzel
Book a class to learn the art of Vienna’s famed apple strudel (apfelstrudel) and try a slice for yourself. The Strudelshow at Schönbrunn Palace is a favorite, with one-hour demonstrations and tastings Wed-Sun at 10am, 11am, 2pm and 3pm.
For lunch, sample the classic Wiener schnitzel (named for the city) at Griechenbeisl, a traditional Viennese restaurant dating from 1447, where Strauss, Mark Twain and Beethoven all broke bread.
If you didn’t already find some culinary souvenirs at the Naschmarkt or Demel, spend some time shopping for a taste of Vienna to bring home. Of course you can find wonderful examples of the city’s famed coffee and chocolates, but you may also find some interesting condiments, schnaps, hot chocolate mixes and local jams and preserves.
You can’t leave Vienna having only visited one Heurigen- enjoy a casual dinner and evening of wine and music at a different one than you have already visited, while toasting your upcoming return visit to such an iconic food and wine destination!
Need to Know
Looking for more travel inspo? Check out my guide, Trace the Steps of the Modern Royal Family Through London.
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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Vienna.