11 Things You Don’t Know About Vienna

See recent posts by Jane Reynolds

Kosala Bandara via Flickr
Kosala Bandara via Flickr

Our team of travel experts are, well, experts after all -- so we know the importance of researching a destination before arrival (even if this means some frantic pocket guide perusals on the flight over). But some things you just can't really learn or fully understand until you're in the city, especially if it's a characteristic that's a tad zanier or a bit different. That is, until now -- for Vienna, at least.

During our recent trip to Austria's capital, we visited 52 hotel properties, and made countless discoveries about the historic city that we hadn't know before. Here are the 11 we think are the most important to pass onto you because a) you probably don't know them either and b) you probably should before you visit.


1. Vienna is a very formal place.

Home to the Hapsburg court for hundreds of years, Vienna hasn’t shaken its courtly vibe. Though the empire fell in 1918, Viennese still rely heavily on formal greetings and addresses, and many dress more formally than Europeans do in neighboring cities.

2. It is the largest wine-growing city in the world.

Vienna, Austria
Pedro Szekely via Flickr

There are over 1,700 acres of vineyards within Vienna’s city limits, making Vienna the largest wine-growing city in the world. The vast majority of the wine produced is sold and enjoyed locally, versus being exported to other countries and continents.

3. Prostitution is legal.

While many prostitutes in Vienna are unregistered and therefore operating illegally, prostitution is legal in the city. Most street prostitution takes place in the Prater area; it is advised that those seeking these services visit a brothel rather than approaching someone on the street.

Related Link: 9 Surprising Travel Scams You Need to Know About

4. The Ringstrasse celebrates its 150th anniversary this year.

-Reij via Flickr
-Reij via Flickr

Vienna was one of the first capital cities in Europe to tear down its walls (under Emperor Franz Josef’s command). The walls were replaced with a beautiful boulevard that makes a nearly three-mile loop around the city, creating what many call “the world’s largest open-air museum.” Indeed, the area it surrounds is filled with gorgeous buildings and impressive museums. This year, this ring (Ringstrasse) celebrates its 150th anniversary with various festivals, musical events, and more.

5. The “free” bread isn’t free.

We’re not just advising you to avoid the bread basket for the benefit of your waistline! Even in Viennese restaurants where the tables are set with bread baskets, diners will often be charged per piece.

6. The coffee culture is thriving.

Viennese coffee houses are beautiful and grand, often referred to as the country’s public living rooms. A “melange,” a combination of frothed milk and steamed coffee, is a Viennese classic. Rather than grabbing their morning dose of caffeine to go, most visitors sit and sip, while enjoying various pastries and small breakfast items.

You Might Also Like: The 8 Best Coffee Cities in the World

7. Vienna’s airport has free Wi-Fi.

All those traveling through the Vienna International Airport have access to free Wi-Fi.

8. There are more graves than living residents.

Lee.S. T via Flickr
Lee.S. T via Flickr

Spooky, we know. But the country’s Central Cemetery, Zentralfriedhof, is one of the largest cemeteries in the world and has more graves in it than living residents. The Viennese have a reputation for being a bit fascinated by death, and the city is home to almost 50 cemeteries. The upside is that many of them are hauntingly beautiful.

9. The drinking water is delicious.

Emperor Franz Josef is not only to thank for the beautiful Ringstrasse, but also for Vienna’s delicious drinking water. Via aqueducts built under his rule, water that is almost completely free of chlorine comes down from the mountains and supplies the city’s taps.

10. Vienna’s subway has the second highest per capita ridership in the world.

Vienna Subways
Fatboo via Flickr

Vienna has an amazing public transportation system. The subway alone has the second highest per capita ridership in the world. Locals and visitors can also take advantage of the city’s many railways, trolleys, and buses.

Also Check Out: The Best Mode of Transportation in 8 Different Cities

11. The opera is both amazing and affordable.

Peter Siroki via Flickr
Peter Siroki via Flickr

Vienna is known for its thriving music culture that encompasses a vast range of genres — from underground electronic to the world-renowned State Opera. Although true fanatics can splurge on premium seats (that can set you back hundreds of Euros), the opera house reserves numerous standing-room-only tickets that are sold for just a few Euros each shortly before each performance.

Our Vienna Hotel Pick: Hotel Imperial

Originally one of the private residences for the Prince of Wurttemberg, the Hotel Imperial is a luxury hotel steeped in a history that dates back to the glory days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Even the smallest rooms have a palatial ambiance, and the bedazzling suites come with their own butlers who go above and beyond with limousine service and bath drawing. Viennese coffeehouse traditions continue at the Cafe Imperial, which has been baking the same sweet cakes since 1874, and the renovated restaurant is equally excellent.

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