Vienna’s supermarkets are a treasure trove for tourists, and all the chains offer decent quality at surprisingly reasonable prices for a capital city.
- Major chains are Billa, Spar, Hofer and Merkur
- Great for packed lunches and small edible gifts
- Promotions often involve major discounts
- Notable for strong selection of organic food
- Vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free products now common
- See also: Store opening hours | Prices in Vienna
The Viennese supermarkets
There are plenty of reasons why you should pop into a Viennese supermarket on your visit.
As you might expect, they’re very cheap compared to the prices you’ll pay in souvenir shops, tourist outlets etc..
So if you want to buy drinks and snacks, they offer considerably better value. Every supermarket runs regular special offers where you commonly get 25-50% off selected items.
Supermarkets also sell many of the typical souvenirs of a visit to Austria. Sweets/candy and chocolate, for example.
They all stock Milka chocolate and the famous Mozartkugel (marzipan chocolate balls) in the same packaging as elsewhere and at a fraction of, for example, the airport or museum shop prices.
In fact, if you leave your shopping until the airport, look out for the Billa and Spar supermarkets there. You can buy drinks, snacks and chocolate for much less than in typical airport stores.
Organic, vegetarian and dietary options
Austria is a leading producer of organic food and the supermarkets reflect that trend.
You may be astonished at just how many supermarket products are organic, often for little more than the price for the conventional equivalent (organic meat is very expensive, though).
All the major chains have their own in-house organic brand and may also stock third-party organic products, particularly Alnatura products. Vienna even has around 14 Denn’s outlets (a chain of organic supermarkets).
In the last year or two, the range of vegetarian and vegan products available has rocketed (Austria took its sweet time about accepting vegetarianism). The Spar supermarket chain, for example, has its own vegan line.
And gluten-free and diabetic-friendly products usually have their own section.
As for picking the right chain, well, there are no “bad” supermarket chains in Vienna. But here’s an overview of the common ones…
- Merkur – my personal favorite. Always large, clean and well-stocked with top quality food. There aren’t too many around though
- Billa – probably the most common one you’ll find. Good value. The same company (Rewe) owns both Merkur and Billa
The organic food brand for both the above is Ja Natürlich. And, if you really want to save, look for the in-house discount brand, Clever.
- Spar – this comes in several flavours. Interspar is the large version, Eurospar the next size down and Spar is the smallest. You’ll also find Gourmet Spar, which is more upmarket in its selection and presentation
Spar also has its own organic food brand – Natur Pur.
All the above supermarkets now stock pre-packed salads, sandwiches and other items that make creating a packed lunch easy.
Among the discount chains (where quality is still high, mind you), Hofer is the commonest. It’s very cheap, with solid quality and even an organic line. Other popular discount chains are Lidl and Penny Markt (also owned by Rewe!).
Given Vienna’s cosmopolitan nature, the city has a decent sprinkling of international food stores, too, particularly small Turkish outlets. There’s even a Japanese supermarket and a British/US grocery store.
So what’s the catch?
All the above sounds pretty good, so there has to be a catch. And that’s the opening times. Late-night or Sunday shopping? Largely impossible in Vienna. See here for details.