Wondering what to tip in restaurants? Or whether Vienna’s stores take credit cards? Here some local guidance on how to make life easier when eating out or shopping.
- See also: Viennese food and drink
Eating out in Vienna
Vienna is, of course, best known for its traditional café culture (though we have Starbucks now, too), but hosts a variety of pubs, bars, and restaurants – from Irish watering holes to Michelin star establishments.
I’m not going to highlight specific places, except for these special cases…
Recommended coffee houses
That famous café culture takes place in equally famous coffee houses. But which ones should you try? Here’s a list of some of the best cafés in the city, as suggested by locals (which means me and my friends). How I suffered being forced to test out each one and try the coffee and cake.
The Viennese Konditoreien (confectioneries) also have a long and illustrious history and tradition. Think of them as cafés that have an unfeasibly large cake counter. Here are some suggestions.
Local traditions & rules
Regardless of where you go to eat and drink, you’ll need to know the rules and etiquette in Vienna. So I have some helpful advice for you…
- Service is almost always at the table, even in places that look like British pubs. (Learn the rules for ordering and paying for food and drink)
- And your bill very rarely includes that service (I can’t recall having ever seen it included, frankly), so you ought to tip waiting staff. (Learn the rules for tipping in restaurants)
- If you’re drinking alcohol, particularly with locals, you’ll want to know how to behave before taking that first sip. (Learn the rules for saying “cheers” – it’s a ritual)
- Ah, but when can you drink in Vienna? And how old do you have to be? (Learn about drinking hours and ages)
- And can you have a cigarette inside bars and restaurants? (The short answer is “no”, but learn about smoking regulations)
- Finally, menus often come with a bunch of letters attached to each food description. These refer to allergens. (Learn all about the allergy information codes)
Shopping in Vienna
Like any affluent capital city, Vienna bursts with shopping opportunities.
The two main “shop ’till you drop” streets are the Kärntner Straße and Graben area (the pedestrianised city center) and Mariahilfer Straße (a little further out).
Useful shopping advice
- What are the best shopping areas? Hint: the hotspots all sit in or near the centre, except for the big malls
- When are the shops open? Hint: possibly not as often as you think. Sunday shopping and 24hr shopping are not a thing in Vienna, barring a few exceptions
- Is Vienna expensive? Hint: probably not as expensive as you might imagine. I’ve listed typical prices for food, travel, and entertainment
- Do stores take credit cards? Hint: not as much as you probably expect. Vienna runs on cash and debit cards, mostly, especially in bars and at markets
- What make good souvenirs? Hint: you are spoiled for choice, but here are a good selection of options. Cake and chocolate may feature prominently.
Useful store tips
And some advice for particular needs…
- If you’re desperate for self-raising flour or Cadbury’s chocolate, then Bobby’s foodstore near Karlsplatz station stocks UK and US groceries
- Vienna’s largest open-air food market is the Naschmarkt, with products from all over the world as well as numerous bars and restaurants
- The local answer to the tobacconist and newsagent is the Trafik
- If you’re going old school and want to send a postcard back home, then you need to know about stamps and post offices
- For snacks, picnics, bottled water etc., pop into one of the supermarkets, which also make sense for a little souvenir shopping if you’re thinking of chocolate and Mozart balls (Mozartkugeln)
- Finally, because I had to research this in doomed pursuit of an obscure Asiatic sauce, Vienna has a couple of Japanese food stores