We begin our Vienna tour on one of the most famous and attractive shopping streets in the city: The Graben. Home of the court jeweller Heldwein and the famous porcelain factory of Augarten, the area is littered with imperial architecture, opulent coffee shops, and first-rate eateries.
It would be rude of us not to offer you a coffee before getting started properly, so after our brief stroll we will stop for a quick coffee and a snack, but not at one of the famous cafes, because only tourists go there, instead we will head to one of the few cafes that locals still visit in the first, a proper and still functioning ‘Kulturcafe’.
To Nasch means ‘to nibble’ and that is exactly what one could do at the Naschmarkt, easily one of Europe’s best open-air markets. It is a mile long and showcases over 120 food stalls and some delectable restaurants that are cooking up some of the best food in the city. Here you will find the most diverse array of fruits, vegetables and delicacies that are available in Vienna from all over the world.
While the Naschmarkt is a must-see, any local will tell you that they rarely pay it a visit, unless they fancy fighting out with tourists for the vendor’s attention. Instead every local has their own market that they like to visit, these may not be as big as the Naschmarkt, but they are certainly more lively and less touristy.
To that end, you will be whisked away from the Naschmarkt to a real ‘functioning’ Viennese market. Whether that be the trendy Brunnenmarkt in the 16th with its cafes and creative, the lively Viktor–Adler–Markt in the traditionally working class 10th or even the peaceful farmers markt at Karmeliterplatz in the 2nd will depend on the day and the guide. But don’t be afraid to ask for directions to the others, there is never enough time in a day, let alone in a tour to visit everything!
Irrelevant of the market, one thing we can promise is that there will be food. Our guides will introduce you to some Viennese guilty pleasures, sweet and savoury and life on the streets that no guide book would ever mention. Pausing to take in Wurstelstand life offers you the chance to taste Austrian’s favourite dish (Hint: it’s not schnitzel) while grabbing a cheeky beer or spritzer (soft drinks are available) will help you rehydrate after the buzz of the markets.
All along the way we will sink into the famed Viennese coffee culture. Coffeehouses have played a very important role in shaping the culture of the city over the centuries, with the first cup being brewed all the way back in 1683. The Austrian Inventory of Cultural Heritage describes the coffeehouses as places “where time and space are consumed, but only the coffee is found on the bill.”