Vienna is a huge city so has everything you might expect in terms of shops: from small ethnic grocery outlets to flagship stores for luxury brands. But where should you focus your attention for a holiday shopping spree?
N.B. Unlike Vienna’s museums and palaces, stores come and go (especially given the times we find ourselves in). So, if you’re looking for a specific store, check locally to see if it’s still there before heading out.
Let’s begin with the more expensive and exclusive end of the shopping adventure. Now, as a lowly writer locked in an attic with a bottle of brandy and a typewriter, I cannot speak from experience, but…
Kärntner Straße, Graben, Kohlmarkt
Walking along the streets in Vienna’s pedestrianised old town takes you past various top stores:
- Kohlmarkt has, for example, Tommy Hilfiger, Lagerfeld, Tiffany & Co., Gucci, Armani, and Cartier
(As time goes by, Kohlmarkt seems to accumulate more and more high-end labels with fewer local shops around.)
- The Graben has, for example, Jimmy Choo, Hermés, and Longchamp
- Kärntner Straße has, for example, Swarovski, Boss, Apple, Tissot, Lobmeyr, and the Steffl department store
Special mention goes to Meinl am Graben, a large gourmet food store at the junction of the Graben and Kohlmarkt. This is where you pick up your truffles and champagne. It has an excellent ice cream counter, too.
Also, be sure to wander down the side streets around this area. The flagship Augarten porcelain store, for example, is just off the Graben.
The Golden Quarter
An extension of the above is the so-called Goldenes Quartier (Golden Quarter) around Bognergasse, Tuchlauben and Seitzergasse. A relatively new initiative, it brings together numerous top brands (e.g. Alexander McQueen, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Rolex, Chanel, and Valentino) in close proximity to one another.
Incidentally, all the above areas have lovely Christmas lights from late November onwards.
Mariahilfer Straße: a local favourite
When your average Vienna resident goes shopping for clothes or gifts, they pop into one of the malls (see below). Or they simply wander along Mariahilfer Straße, a long shopping street close to the centre and adjacent to the Museumsquartier cultural complex. Big chunks of the street are closed to most traffic.
Mariahilfer Straße offers a potpourri of everything, with a slight emphasis on clothes, sports, and shoes. This is where you find, for example, brands like H&M, Puma, Pull & Bear, Snipes, C&A, Jack Wolfskin, Nike, New Yorker, etc..
The big department store there is Gerngross, first opened in 1879 and filled with various brands. The upper levels house a giant electronics store (MediaMarkt), a giant sports store (XXL), and a gastronomy area (the Akakiko Japanese restaurant – one of our favourites – is up there).
Again, drop into side streets for more shopping opportunities, as the local area has plenty to offer.
Another advantage to Mariahilfer Straße is accessibility by public transport. For example, Westbahnhof station (U3 and U6 subways and numerous tram lines) tops one end of the main shopping part. Further down the street are the U3 subway stations Neubaugasse and Zieglergasse, while the lower end has the Museumsquartier station on the U2 subway line.
Incidentally, Mariahilfer Straße holds another bonus for visitors: the Haydn Kino: one of Vienna’s main English-language movie theatres.
Oh, quite a few cafés, bars, and ice cream parlours fill the spaces between the stores, including two traditional coffee houses: Café Ritter and Café Westend. So finding refreshment before (or after) a round of shopping is easy.
Malls and centres
Numerous malls and shopping centres wave their wares at you in and around Vienna. Here a few suggestions…
SCS – Shopping City Süd
This is an absolutely mammoth shopping centre on Vienna’s outskirts. So, for example, it has:
- A multi-screen cinema complex (SCS Kinowelt)
- Around 50 places to eat and drink, including international chains like McDonalds and Burger King
- A bucketload of shops (over 250)
As well as a huge mall complex, various more-or-less standalone giant stores fill out the SCS area. A big IKEA is here, for example.
If you don’t want to drive out there, the “Badner Bahn” city train (pictured above) takes you from Karlsplatz in Vienna’s centre to the Vösendorf SCS stop.
Other shopping complexes
A huge mall with its own multiplex cinema, numerous restaurants, and over 200 shops. The Donuazentrum slots neatly into Vienna’s subway system, with a station next door: Kagran on the U1 line.
- Millennium City
Another big mall with over 100 shops and plenty of entertainment venues, too, including a cinema, bowling alley, and indoor play centre. Millennium City also adjoins a subway station: Handelskai sits on the U6 line, but is also a hub for city trains like the S45 that traverses Vienna or the S7 that goes out to the airport.
- The Ringstraßen Gallerien
A few dozen shops and boutiques find their home in the Ringstraßen Gallerien, a relatively upmarket mall at one end of Kärntner Straße in the very centre of town. An excellent Billa supermarket lives on the lowest level.
- SCN – Shopping City Nord
The smaller-scale pendant to SCS on the northern side of the city.
- The railway stations
Vienna’s three main railway stations all underwent major refurbishments or rebuilding recently. Which is when the shops and restaurants moved in to dedicated mall-like areas. So if you find yourself at Westbahnhof, Wien Mitte or Wien Hauptbahnhof, take a look around.
Vienna also offers plenty of markets, niche stores, organic grocery chains, and similar. Three particular tips, though…
- For international flair, drop into the Naschmarkt, a large open-air food market with stalls from around the world and also plenty of places to grab a snack or meal
- If you miss your British or American food, drinks, or snacks, try Bobby’s foodstore (my ongoing source of Branston pickle, salt & vinegar flavoured crisps, and Cadbury’s mini-eggs)
- Find information on Vienna’s supermarkets, which I’d rate as pretty inexpensive and good quality (though I have nothing to compare them with). Most have a wide range of vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, diabetic, and organic products, too