Wieden – also known as Vienna’s 4th district – has a to do list that exceeds many of the better-trodden tourist paths of the city, while dispensing with the twee Austrian culture found in more popular neighbourhoods nearby. This gives it an air of authenticity and charm.
Grand buildings dominate the inner ring of Vienna; a rich sense of Viennese pride flows across its cobbles. Crossing Karlsplatz and entering Wieden, the atmosphere and character diversifies in streets lined with a small Japanese and Chinese supermarkets, the latter forming the city’s own mini Chinatown. The Naschmarkt overflows with Middle Eastern spices and aromas. This multicultural essence gives Wieden its welcoming atmosphere with rich community vibes that help visitors to automatically feel at home.
Like the city, the district has a multi-cultural history, which plays a part in the rich contemporary cityscape. Following the end of World War II, the district of Wieden, alongside the majority of districts that made up Lower Austria, were declared part of the Soviet section of the country. For 10 years, these areas remained under Soviet control until the country gained full independence from the allied forces. Bridging the 4th and 3rd district, the semi-circular, white marble Soviet War Monument, also known as the Heldendenkmal der Roten Armee (Schwarzenbergplatz), lies near the Belvedere Palace. In recent years this controversial monument has been the focus of regular attacks of vandalism and receives politically motivated criticism.
Glancing back toward the regality of the inner Ringstraße, Wieden cannot compete at this level; its streets don’t offer up the same architectural highlights. Instead, it’s the easy pace of life and the character of this district that often charms visitors. The friendly spirit of the owners and workers of local businesses, bakeries and cafes hangs in the air as they greet tourists or gossip with regular customers.
Offering something that’s askew from the expectations visitors often bestow on Vienna, Wieden diverts from the classic Austrian music culture. The area offers up contemporary, alternative music and creates a name for the LGBT music scene too, with one of most popular gay clubs in the city, Motto.
Alternative, independent businesses also come in the form of creative boutiques that are home to artists who both live and work in this young, creative area of the city. Schönbrunner Straße is the artistic centre that local fashion designers populate with their independent businesses, and where artists work in studios and workshops. Keep an eye out for the small, easily missed, alleyways and side streets that are often inhabited by unique galleries and pop-up spaces, or some version of exhibition that embraces DIY design and culture.
The Buskers Festival of Wieden sums up the district’s creativity and unique character: laid back, young and unrestrained. During the early weeks of September, Karlsplatz, which sits to the north of the district, is transformed to celebrate international street art. Alongside graffiti, visitors can expect to see performances too: clowns, juggling, fire-eaters and acrobatics, as well as various styles of music and diverse theatrical performances.
Restaurants & Bars
Vareity is celebrated most in Wieden and vegetarians won’t find it difficult to find a decent meal. Vegan burger restaurant Swing Kitchen (Operngaße 24) does a schnitzel burger that means vegans don’t have to miss out on the national delicacy. The rest of the menu is filled with vegan versions of other classic sides, dips, wraps and desserts. The restaurant has proved its popularity with the locals by expanding across the city, with premises in the city’s 7th and 8th districts too.
Just across the street, visitors will find bustling lunch spot Nam Nam Dabba (Faulmanngaße 1). This take-away stop-off specialises in Indian cuisine, offering both meat and vegetarian variations of its daily specials. Their fragrant, delicately spiced curries are accompanied with rice and, depending on your appetite, your chosen combination can be ordered as a small or large serving. Open only for lunch, midday to 2.30pm, head there early as this is a local hotspot and dishes run out fast.
Faulmanngaße is a foodie paradise, with Bánh Mì (Faulmanngaße 1) located just next door to Nam Nam Dabba. The small restaurant has a selection of stools and tables lining the windows for those who wish to sit in, and the full menu is available to take-away too. The fusion sandwich shop serves vegan and meat bánh mì and summer rolls, with a deliciously sweet Vietnamese coffee to finish off the meal.
Winding along one end of Wieden, the Naschmarkt has a variety of restaurants. The organic restaurant Tewa (Naschmarkt 672) is another vegetarian highlight in the area, and even meat lovers should be satisfied with their organic daily specials and range of breakfasts, which include American, Oriental and Mediterranean takes on a full breakfast.
With the stalls of Naschmarkt selling vibrant ingredients to boost the flavour of any dish there is no shortage of places to stop for a snack or drink. The mix of flavours and aromas is accompanied by friendly waiters working on the Naschmarkt’s busy premises: Dr. Falafel (Stand 560, Naschmarkt) offers a filling budget bite whilst La Bottega del Gusto (Stand 618 Naschmarkt) creates a delicious anti-pasti with plates of cut meats, mozzarella di bufala and vegetables to enjoy with a glass of prosecco or one of their local Austrian or traditional Italian wines.
The friendly team at Craft Muhle (Muehlgaße 20) serve a wide selection of both food and drinks. As the name suggests, the craft beer here is the real star of the show as the selections of lagers, ales and beers, both on tap and bottled, dominate the menu. The relaxing interior and chatty staff give the place a ‘local’ vibe, even if you’re only able to stay around for one night.
Another typically Viennese speciality is the coffee culture; there is no shortage of coffee houses and cafes brimming with people sampling rich coffee and an accompanying bite to eat. Wieden’s Vollpension (Schleifmühlgaße 16) serves breakfast until 2pm, along with a selection of cakes and desserts all day, so slip into their retro-vintage setting for a quirky coffee experience.
Not far from the Belvedere Palace, Cafe Goldegg (Argentinierstraße 49) is exactly what you would imagine of a classic Austrian coffee place: marble tables, wide velvet seats and old-fashioned lights hung from high ceilings. But don’t let the elegant interior deceive, the menu keeps up with modern trends for both breakfast and lunch as well as serving the classic pastries and cakes that traditionally accompany a Viennese coffee.
One of the more modern establishments in Vienna’s thriving coffee scene, Kaffeefabrik (Favoritenstraße 4-6) is both a cafe and coffee roastery. Quality coffee is the highlight of this shop; the team really love their coffee and offer customers a variety of blends to choose from. As a coffee roaster themselves, those who visit can also head home with a bag of Viennese coffee beans.
Wieden’s surrounding landmarks mean big hotels are ubiquitous, however the creative and local vibe of the area makes independent hotels, urban apartments and hostels a popular choice. Design hotel DAS Triest (Wiedner Hauptstraße 12) is a luxury escape located near Karlsplatz, with its interior courtyard providing distance from the busy city around it. The boutique hotel comes with custom furnishings, artwork and accessories. The in-house cocktail bar adds to the intimate boutique vibe of the place.
Hotel Daniel Vienna (Landstraßer Gürtel 5) straddles the 3rd and 4th district at a very central location near Wien Hauptbahnhof, making onward travel easy. This urban stop offers smart luxury: beautiful accommodation with a minimum of fuss and within minutes of the Belvedere Palace and the University of Vienna’s botanical gardens.
Urbanauts (Favoritenstraße 17) is a unique accommodation concept supporting sustainable tourism in Vienna. Its first project, Etagerie, offers short and long stay apartments in different locations within Wieden. These modern apartments can sleep up to four adults, with intimate one-bedrooms available for solo travellers or couples. These concept apartments repurpose unused spaces across the city to give guests modern functional apartments in traditional Viennese buildings.
For anyone looking for a budget stay in the area, Wombats Hostel (Rechte Wienzeile 35) is located just off Naschmarkt. Groups or independent travellers can opt for private rooms or larger dorms and each modern room is clean, bright and spacious. The property serves an all you can eat breakfast buffet every day for a bargain price and provides free Wi-Fi.