The Spanish Riding School Performance - Dressage at it's finest with the lovely Lippanzaner.
Urban Vienna Tour with Polawalk - A city tour with Polaroid Cameras; you get to learn how to use the cameras and also keep the photos you take.
The Third Man Museum - If you liked the classic film, you'll love this museum.
The Sigmud Freud Museum - Housed in the Doctors former home and office.
City of Vienna Resident Orchestra - You'll enjoy all the classics from the Viennese golden age during an evening with this Orchestra.
Classic Exclusive Quartet - Mozart and Beethoven played in a Baroque Church.
The Albertina - A fine art gallery.
The Leopold Museum - An inspirational art collection with plenty of Klimt and Schiele.
Context Travel Tour of Vienna - An intelligent tour of Vienna's central 1st district.
Dancing Shiva Superfoods - Vegan, raw; our favourite restaurant in Europe. Simply superb!
Hirsch & Kamel - Persian cuisine, vegetarian options.
Cafe Landtmann - Vegetarian options.
Cafe Sperl - Vegetarian options.
Fett Und Zucker - Vegan, vegetarian.
Cafe Leopold - Vegetarian options.
Shalimar - Indian cuisine, vegetarian options.
Mini - Hungarian cuisine, vegetarian options.
Hotel Das Capri - Comfortable, friendly, well located and making a real effort to support local Viennese farmers by using their food in the breakfast buffet.
The Hotel Kugel - Christina and Johannes are charming hosts and the hotel is very central and comfortable with a timelessly classy feel to the decor.
Voted the most livable city in the world for the 6th time in a row in 2015, Vienna also has plenty to offer the short term resident. Most noticably, for us, were the art exhibitions and collections, featuring the paintings of Klimt, Monet and Schiele among others, which were of the highest quality and full of inspiration for all image makers. We also caught a great exhibition of the work of influential photographers Lillian Bassman and Paul Himmel at the Kunsthaus and noticed a genuine, street level love of photography within the inner city that isn't immediately apparent yet which we urge you to aquaint yourself with if you're in town for more than a day.
For instance, there's the analogue shop Supersense, the Westlicht and Ostlicht galleries which are both devoted to photography (there are also two or three photographic shops surrounding the Westlicht making the area a sort of mecca for photographers) and the MUSA pop up gallery. And there's also the excellent Polawalk tour company, which offers the opportunity to ignite your street and instant photography passion and enjoy a city tour at same time.
If you're interested in pinhole or alternative process photography think about visiting outside of the winter months, when freezing temperatures, dull grey skies and low light levels won't be helpful if you have to stand around for a 3 minute exposure, or if you're trying to take a Polaroid image. On the other hand, if you're interested in night photography then the brightly lit Christmas markets and streets will made December your ideal travel month (another tip for winter travel here is to look down rather than up; you might well find more life in puddles and reflections than in the actual skyline). If you're here in warmer months there are miles of bike trails running through the city center which'll allow you to get from A to B in a pleasant manner and you can also take the Third Man Tour which'll let you explore the tunnels that run under the city streets. However, whatever style of photography you're into and whatever month you travel our main advice is to try to avoid visiting the city at the weekend. It's a very popular place and the throngs of tourists will ensure that your tripod will remain in it's bag and almost every photo you take will be jam packed with thousands of people, regardless of if you want them in it or not..
Based on our own experiences, our advice to you for a rewarding few days in Vienna packed full of photographic opportunities is as follows:
Day 1; Take a Polawalk Tour on your first day, to orientate yourself and to be introduced to locals who love photography. If you're staying at Hotel Das Capri take some time to view all the analogue photography in it's public spaces, it's probably the most ambitious and competent photography exhibition you'll see in the city.
Day 2; Visit the Belvedere Palace and spend the day being inspired by it's art collections and gardens. Have dinner at Dancing Shiva Superfoods at least once during your city stay.
Day 3; Visit the Leopold Museum for more inspiration. Also the Westlicht if they've a good exhibition on; they've had some great photographic shows in the past but unfortunately the show we saw - a selection of nudes studies by the painter Alfons Walde - wasn’t up to much unless you were already a fan of his painting, and there's also a museum showcase for rare photographic books and cameras. It’s not a ‘hands-on’ museum as such, more a selection of rare, interesting cameras that you can view behind glass, such as the first ever aerial camera (it was strapped to a homing pidgeon during World War 1) and the first commercially produced Daguerreotype. Spend the remainder of the day walking the 1st district. This is a great area to try out your street photography skills as the Viennese people are very mature when it comes to cameras (they tend to ignore you and leave you in peace) and the surroundings always interesting.
Day 4; Visit the Spanish Riding School to view a performance. It's touristy, and also quite magnificent.
Day 5; Visit Supersense and then the Prater, the oldest amusement park in the world. The area is very near to Hotel Das Capri and it's here that you'll find the ferris wheel made famous in classic film 'The Third Man'.
Day 6; Eat at either the Cafe Landtmann or the Cafe Sperl; both offer an insight into old Vienna with their dark, hardwood furniture, glittering chandeliers, refined atmospheres and huge gilt-edged mirrors.
Day 7; If you have time, eat at Der Wiener Deewan. It's a pay as you like restaurant serving good Pakistani-style curries. Meat eaters and vegetarians/vegans are catered for. The food is ok, and obviously it's as cheap as you'd like it to be. We had the choice of three veggie and three meat curries plus rice, naan, salad and chutney. There’s split level seating for around 100 people and it draws an interesting, young crowd. On the way out you just pay what you think your meal was worth. It’s an admirable idea, these people are really trying to change the way the world works, so please do pay them a visit and then pay them a fair price at the end of it so they can continue doing what they do.
Below are some of the digital images we created during our stay and several links to hotels and restaurants we recommend.
We stayed at the Hotel Das Capri for a week and found it a perfect resting place for creative, food loving photographers like us. The analogue photography that decorates each room and hallway makes for an impressive collection and if you’re into ethical eating then we think that the breakfast - whose ingredients are sourced from local farmers - will be one of the highlights of your Vienna experience.
The underground station “Nestroyplatz” (U1) is right outside the front door and will take you into the city centre in minutes. To walk to the Ring, St. Stephens Cathedral, the Spanish Riding School and all the fantastic city museums takes about twenty minutes whilst if you want to visit the outdoors amusement park of Prater, where part of The Third Man was filmed on the big wheel, you can walk ten minutes to the end of Praterstrasse and you’re there
We stayed at the Hotel Kugel for a week and loved it. It’s very central, Christina and Johannes (the owners) are charming hosts and it’s very comfortable with a timelessly classy feel to the decor. There’s a bus stop outside, with a bus going direct to the main train station and the west train station, where we arrived on the night train from Venice, is just a fifteen minute walk away. The Westlicht Photographic gallery, the most important in Vienna, is about ten minutes walk, as is the famous Museum Quarter. The building was erected in 1860 and the winding, slightly uneven corridors reflect that time. Velvet material covers the handrails on the floral staircases and the landings are almost like an art gallery, showing the best works of Gustav Klimt. Their breakfast buffet is satisfying and thoughtfully sourced and the quality of service is second to none. Christina and Johannes were always at reception as we made our way to breakfast. Johannes is very knowledgable about the sites of Vienna, there’s not a museum he hasn’t visited and not one single Viennese site that he hasn’t got a special story about, and it’s usually a story that you won’t hear about in any guidebook.
Less than two minutes walk from The Hotel Kugel, Dancing Shiva Superfoods is without a doubt the best vegan restaurant in Vienna and, in our opinion, probably the best restaurant we've ever visited throughout Europe, North Africa and Asia. The menu is in very good English, which was important for us because there’s a lot of joy to be had from reading what you’re eating and what Julian the chef was producing using all the Superfoods that you rarely hear about in regular restaurants. In fact if you wanted a solid grounding in how to use foods in a whole new, healthier, tastier way, you could spend an hour or so studying the Dancing Shiva menu and you’d come away a much wiser person. The food is Michelin standard when it comes to taste and presentation - and everything is made fresh within sight of the dining area - and the service is openly warm, charming and friendly. Please, do yourself a favour and visit this restaurant!
Hirsch & Kamel is an Austrian/Perisan restaurant less than five minutes walk from the Hotel Kugel. The detailed menu’s are available in perfect English and they had very clear symbols indicating what items are vegetarian, gluten free, etc (I found it easy to order a complete vegetarian meal here). The waiter also spoke great English too so ordering was easy. There are two rooms available to diners; the first, where we settled, has wooden lower walls and is shaped like a traditional beer hall whilst the second room seats less people (perhaps ten to fifteen) in a slightly more casual setting. Austrian’s generally have traditional tastes when it comes to food so any foreign cuisine that wants to thrive in the country has to first hang onto the coat tails of local dishes in order to integrate itself. The Austro/Persian mix that’s served at Hirsch & Kamel has done this very thing, and very successfully we think, and if you’re a curious eater and want to try flavourful food that’s probably very different to that which you can try back home, then do consider checking out this restaurant!
We’d just visited the Freud Museum so it seemed apt that we dine in Sigmund’s favourite cafe, the Landtmann, which is just a fifteen minute walk from his old house. We’d made a reservation and the waiter had our table, looking out at the Christmas Market in front of the City Hall, waiting for us, even thought we were rather late (we’d seen the lights of the market and been distracted somewhat as they were such a magnificent sight). The Landtmann has several rooms; some under an outer, greenhouse-like roof and others in a more ornate, indoors environment, as ours was. Service throughout our meal was excellent and overall we thought the Cafe Landtmann food to be tasty and wholesome and our main courses actually felt pretty healthy. It’s possible to eat vegetarian without compromising and although the prices are slightly higher than many less established cafes in Vienna the service, location and decor are excellent and the standard of food very acceptable so we feel it’s worth it. In our opinion, any visit to Vienna would be incomplete without a visit to the Cafe Landtmann.
The Cafe Sperl provided us with an authentic, enjoyable introduction to Viennese food, and to the cities famed traditional cafe scene. If you were to read TripAdvisor and take notice of many of the reviews you’d think that the Sperl was a dingy old cafe with unsmiling staff, indecipherable menus and other customers who’d physically disapprove of you using a smartphone or any device that had the slightest scent of modernity, but in our experience none of that is true. Far from it, in fact. Service was friendly and very quick; all of our food came within ten minutes of us ordering and the menu is written in clear English as well as German. The food is good, the prices are fair, the atmosphere is friendly and calm and if you’re searching for a hint of what remains of old Vienna then chances are you’ll find it here. A tip; order all of your food at once as we observed that the waitress only visited tables twice; once to take the order, the second time to take payment. This might seem odd but don’t worry, as long as you don’t expect the constant, over fussy service that’s common at many chain cafes nowadays and you behave yourself just like your parents taught you and use your common sense, you’ll fit right in.
Fett Und Zucker is a cafe in the 2nd district of Vienna, not far from the main centre and Hotel Das Capri. There’s a very comfortable, retro, arty and alternative vibe there, free wi-fi and everything on the menu has been baked in the cafe itself, with plenty of vegan options and the fruit ingredients coming from the manager’s village garden. We wished we were coffee drinkers when we visited as their coffee is locally roasted and sourced fair trade and organic from a collective in Indonesia, but we stuck to the hot chocolate, chai and beer (and very good they all were too). Vienna has a long standing cafe scene and Fett Und Zucker is a thoughtful, modern addition to it that we feel is well worth a visit, perhaps on the way back from the city centre to Das Capri Hotel after a day of sightseeing. The staff speak good English, the menu is easily understandable and it’s a very relaxed environment in which to experience excellently produced, ethical, well priced, tasty food and drink.
The Cafe Leopold is in the Leopold Museum, in the Museum Quarter of central Vienna. You don’t have to visit the museum in order to access the cafe – there’s an external stairway as well as a door leading in from the museum – but we do recommend a visit to the museum itself as it has a superb art collection including some incredible work by Egon Schiele. The cafe was pretty much full when we arrived at 4:15 with a mixed crowd of all ages and it felt more like a relaxed bar or hip restaurant in downtown Toronto than the old world Viennese cafes we'd gotten used to. It's easy to eat vegetarian here - with options being tasty and of a good portion size, I had a falafel platter to start and a sweet potato curry for main, followed by chestnut cake for dessert - and for meat eaters the burger is exactly the standard you'd expect in any good North American diner.
The Shalimar, which has a sister restaurant in Budapest, is a twenty minute walk from the central Museum Quarter of Vienna in the direction of the West Bahnhof, and about five minutes from the station itself. It’s not a regular Indian restaurant - the sort you go to in order to dull your taste buds and drink a lot of beer - it’s more veering towards a fine dining experience borne out by the fact that it was full of quietly spoken locals by 7pm on a Sunday night and that the prices were slightly higher than you might expect in a regular restaurant in our home cities. Overall we enjoyed our evening at the Shalimar. The spice level is calmer than you might expect but on the plus side the other clients are quiet and civilized (if you’ve been in an English/Indian restaurant at night you’ll know why we value civilized behaviour) and the food is well cooked and presented. If you find yourself in Vienna and you’re longing for a bit of Indian/vegetarian food, do check the Shalimar out.
Within fifteen minutes of our arriving at Mini – a Hungarian restaurant situated midway between the Museum Quarter and the West Bahnhof – we understood clearly why it’s rated as one of the top three restaurants in Vienna. We’d been to a food tour in the city the previous evening and also visited five Viennese restaurants during the preceding week and every single one of them could learn a lot from Mini about how to treat guests and to offer up a satisfying dining experience. We were to be served by three waiters during the course of the evening and all of them made us feel super relaxed and excited about Hungarian cuisine. They spoke superb English and were deeply knowledgeable about the food and wine on offer; no matter the questions, they could give a comprehensive answer. It was our first try of Hungarian food and we both loved it. It was tasty and well presented, and the cocktails were first class too, as was the wine list.
Copyright © All Rights Reserved