The venerable capital of Austria is an amazing city that has been consistently ranked as the best city to live in (on earth) for more than ten years in a row running now. This means that when you are looking for the best areas to stay in Vienna, you are spoiled for choice.
Apart from being an amazing city in which to live, Vienna is the cultural capital of the continent of the most cultured Europe.
This major metropolis is overflowing with unique vibrancy, charm, and flair. It offers incredible infrastructure and remains refreshingly both safe and clean. The city offers more inspiration today than you can possibly take in during only a single visit of a few days. Indeed, to properly soak it all in would require weeks.
With two million residents, Vienna sits on the storied Danube River banks. Vienna proves to be a city of dreams for anyone who loves history, art, architecture, or who has a romantic bent.
It boasts such an abundance of sightseeing opportunities and attractions ranging from charming medieval alleys to imperial squares, to the Imperial Palace and Schönbrunn Palace, to the Ring boulevard, to an atmosphere that offers all of the modern comforts, convenience, and infrastructure appropriate to a living, breathing, world class city.
Vienna is first and foremost a city of unparalleled culture. This ranges from classical theater to the experimental, to dance and film festivals, to world class opera and operetta, concerts, and exhibitions. Vienna is also famed as the city of coffee houses and similarly beloved for its traditional wine taverns, as well as delightful culinary specialties and cuisine.
Vienna has dominated legendary music for literally hundreds of years. The city played host to Beethoven, Mozart, Johann Strauss, and Schubert at different times and centuries.
This incomparable heritage in music is still continued in today’s Wiener Philharmoniker, among the best loved and renowned orchestras on earth, the Vienna Conservatorium that still develops countless internationally award winning students in all areas of music, and the Vienna Boys’ Choir that packs out houses wherever it travels and performs in the world.
Thanks to the pension of the monarchs and rulers loving and supporting the arts, the city has continuously produced world famous artists as well. Because of this, Vienna boasts a wealth of art that remains one of the city’s great treasures. In the Museum of Fine Arts, you find among the most distinguished and biggest of museums on the planet, overflowing with works of art that are priceless.
In the rest of this article, we will help you to navigate the best places and neighborhoods in Vienna to visit and in which to stay in Vienna.
Where to stay in Vienna: Best areas to stay in Vienna
Vienna is made up of over 20 districts. Here we will look at the most interesting and unique 12 of them and what they have to offer visitors.
1. Innere Stadt (District 1)
Innere Stadt holds the honor of being District 1 with good reason. Central Vienna was the entire city limits until just over a hundred fifty years ago. Encircled by the famed Ringstrasse, the district is safeguarded as one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites.
While you might walk in under an hour from one corner to the other, the sites, scenes, cafes, bars, restaurants, and cobblestone streets could fill your time for literally weeks. For anyone who has never been to Vienna before, this is the ideal place to stay in Vienna and visit to see all of the most important tourist attractions and sites the incredible city has to offer.
As the center of the Austrian capital, the Innere Stadt remains the original Old Town of classical Vienna. The center was formerly divided up itself into another four quarters named for the nearest gates of the city— Schottenviertel (the northwest), Stubenviertel (the northeast), Widmerviertel (the southwest) and Kärntner Viertel (the southeast).
The city’s most famous boulevard is the Ringstraße. It follows the former city walls’ route around the old town, encircling the Innere Stadt.
Thanks to the massive influx of tourists, this district has the biggest employment in Vienna with over a 100,000 strong workforce. There are also a number of corporate headquarters found here in the heart of the city, boosting employment further.
Among the most important city attractions found in District 1 are the Hofburg Imperial Palace, the Burgtheater, the Albertina, the Kärntner Straße, the Kapuzinergruft, the Graben, the Museum of Art History, the Museum of Natural History, the Palais Ephrussi, the Maria am Gestade Church, the Stadtpark, the Vienna State Opera, the University of Vienna, the Stephansdom, the Schottenstift, the Ruprechtskirche, the Virgilkapelle, and the Volksgarten.
The list of world class attractions in this district seems endless. This is the best district for visitors to stay in, and hotels here will be the most expensive and upper scale. Apartments and rooms for rent offer other alternatives to traditional lodging, though these will still not be cheap compared to those found in any other district of the city.
2. Leopoldstadt (District 2)
Leopoldstadt is the Second District, separated from the First District by the Danube Canal. They are connected via a few bridges that are pedestrian friendly, making it relatively easy to stay in the Leopoldstadt and visit the First District frequently.
The Prater Public Park, Vienna’s largest green space of 1,500 acres, is found here. It may include some touristy areas and an amusement park, but for lovers of vast green spaces, the Prater Public Park fills the bill. There are also many nice shops and restaurants based here.
The Leopoldstadt encompasses the old town district as far as the Danube River up in northeastern Vienna. It is in the inner Leopoldstadt where the best loved attractions of the district lie, such as the Wiener Riesenrad Ferris Wheel, the sandy beach fronting the Danube Canal, and countless fantastic restaurants.
The area also includes the once-dilapidated Jewish quarter that has been gentrified. It now draws in younger people like a magnet. This has been helped by the rise of restaurants and cooler coffee shops like the Kleines Cafe.
The middle class have adopted the area as one of their favorite haunts as a result, making it among the more desirable parts of the city in which to live and stay in Vienna when visiting. Artists have been driven away as the rising rents force them farther out.
3. Landstrasse (District 3)
Landstrasse is the name for District 3. It lies on the right bank of the previously mentioned Danube Canal. The Landstrasse is the location of the immense Belvedere Palace and Gardens as well as the Wien Mitte train station. Bordering the Wieden District, Landstrasse is similarly a great place for simply strolling or shopping.
The few important sightseeing attractions in the Landstrasse lie to the north of the area. This is where the Third District abuts with the Old Town of Vienna and the First District.
The Belvedere Palace and Gardens remains hands down the best-loved attraction of the Third District today. This is also the most costly section of the district that is otherwise surprisingly mostly affordable.
The southerly parts of the district are a popular residential section of town, home to 80,000 residents. This part of the district is uninteresting to tourists, except for the St Marxer Friedhof cemetery that is a romantic styled Germanic Regency cemetery.
4. Wieden (District 4)
District 4 is a very small district lying to the south of the city’s center. Tourists find this to be a lovely place, popular with students and artists as a place to live. These larger residential areas are made up on generally historicist buildings. With only 30,000 residents, the district also boasts a baroque Palais and some unattractive post war reconstructions.
Tourists will want to focus their efforts on the streets surrounding the Karlsplatz. There are a concentration of good attractions here including the famed Karlskirche Church that dominates its square as the biggest attraction of the Wieden District.
Long outside of the original city walls, the Karlskirche Church was easily the most splendid architecture in the district. It has been refurbished in the recent past and again become beloved for the frescoes that decorate it. Dedicated to St. Karl-Borromao, the church draws in steady crowds to this day.
Also in the Karlsplatz is the Wien Museum. It stands directly to the front of the Karlskirche Church. This town museum for the capital offers so much more than only this. Naturally visitors can follow the city’s history from the stone age to today, but it also boasts an impressive art collection.
Just around the corner from this museum and church is the largest fresh food outdoor market in all of Vienna the Naschmarkt. Besides fresh food of all types, there are also a wide range of exotic and domestically produced goods offered here, providing a refreshing change to the constant architectural attractions.
In this district the Schleifmühlgasse area is not to be missed. This proves to be among the hippest and trendiest areas in Vienna. There are art galleries fairly leaping from the open spaces, particularly in summer. Besides this, the neighborhood offers a full range of entertainment choices from phenomenal restaurants and whiskey bars to leading fashion boutiques and flower shops.
5. Margareten (District 5)
Margareten is the name for District 5. It lies right in the city’s heart and offers something different from the culture and architecture of the Old Town in its contagious and fun Bohemian vibe. Naturally, there is the traditional Viennese architecture throughout the district, yet the neighborhoods also boast a decadent decor and artistic flair.
The Naschmarkt outdoor fresh food market also adjoins the district, catering to foodies of all types who wish to buy locally produced ingredients at distinctly advantageous prices.
Thanks to area revitalization projects, Margareten has been able to position itself as an affordable and well-connected section of town lying in Vienna’s city heart. With 50,000 residents, it is still growing and thriving today.
Unfortunately for tourists though, sightseeing here is limited. The St. Joseph Baroque styled church lies in the district with its one-time attraction of the tomb of Franz Schubert.
Other important attractions of the district are the remaining examples of Socialist architecture, such as that found in the red light district Gürtel Street and area. Remnants of the socialists’ heritage abound here, including laborers’ theaters and the educational center.
Students and the young like the neighborhood, which also offers character filled cafes, smaller bars, and independent shops in the charming corners of Margareten. Margareten is a very good choice to stay in Vienna.
6. Mariahilf (District 6)
District 6 is also known as the Mariahilf. Dating back to the 1800’s, this makes it among the older of the current day Vienna districts. The neighborhood sits to the side of the bustling touristed high street of Mariahilfastrasse. It is lined by numerous mainstream shops.
Yet Mariahilf itself proves to be a fresh breath of air not much like the more touristy districts at all. Instead, it is populated by thrift stores, little art galleries, and quaint little cafes. Here visitors will find the notorious landmark of the huge Nazi flak tower. Today it is an interesting private aquarium and zoo. You can climb to the top for amazing views of the whole city of Vienna.
The artsy feeling atmosphere to the eastern portion of Mariahilf stems from the presence of the academy. This is responsible for countless art shops and little galleries vying for space with specialty stores catering to designer furniture and interior design. Unique ones trade in lamp shades and lamps. By the Wienzeile, you come across the “Theater an der Wien.”
It is on the Wienzeile that you find the two best known buildings in the district. Here are the Otto Wagner Art Noveau-designed Majolikahaus and the Wienzeilenhaus. Still the entire area is over-arched by the Flak tower which the Nazis erected to defend the city from Second World Wair air raids.
A beautiful baroque pilgrimage church that is worth visitors’ time found here is the Mariahilfer Church, also called the. Hotel prices are lower in this district, as it is no longer so close to the Ringstrausse and the Old Town heart of Vienna.
7. Neubau (District 7)
The so-called up and coming Seventh District is called the Neubau. It has made a name for itself in nightlife and budget accommodation in Vienna. Two neighborhoods here, the Spittelberg and the Schleifmuhglasse, contend with each other for designation of coolest in the city.
The university feeling is powerful and pervasive here, evidence in the neighborhood’s many street vendors, dive bars, cafes, and cheap restaurants. The downside to the bargain accommodations to be had here is that the walk to the center of Vienna is a good 20 minutes long. Yet for those travelers who relish the nightlife and party scene, it can be had by going right out the doors of your hotel here into the street.
Here in Neubau in the Spittelberg area you have the Museumsquartier. One of the few streets featuring museum after museum in Vienna, visitors also have the Zoom Children’s Museum, great for families with kids. This is an area not to be missed for a stroll during a sunny day.
Without a doubt, the Seventh District shows more vibrant and multicultural appeal than the inner districts, though this comes at the expense of rough around the edges. The Thailastrasse features a plethora of minimalist restaurants and edgy cafes that fill up with evening crowds full of the city’s young and students.
8. Josefstadt (District 8)
Josefstadt, or District 8, is a tiny district that lies near Parliament building, City Hall, and the University of Vienna. While it may be the smallest by size and boast only 23,000 residents, the Josefstadt is close enough to the main university building and right behind City hall to be an interesting district populated by civil servants and students.
Unfortunately for tourists, it does not make for a magnetic draw to the district. The entire neighborhood is primarily residential, even though it dates back to the 1700’s and glory days of Vienna and the Austrian Empire. Yet the Josefstadt has its charms too.
There are countless little galleries, independent shops, bars, and cafes on offer here. The eastern quarter boasts a fashionable area replete with most of the student dormitories. To the west on the opposite side is a significant foreigner population residing in the not so fashionable red light district adjacent to Gurtel road.
9. Alsergrund (District 9)
District 9 the Alsergrund is best renowned for being the district of the General Hospital. With other university buildings found here, it means the residents are comprised of either medics or students primarily in this district.
Apart from the General Hospital of Vienna and the general university buildings, the area is mostly residential suburbs. It is bounded to one side by shady Gurtel Road and the other by the Ringstrasse.
There are two sights worth seeing for visiting tourists. Near the Ringstrasse lies the Votivkirche Church, and also there is the royal family owned Palais Liechtenstein. This is among the two separate palaces within Vienna that still are the property of the Liechtenstein ruling royal family of the tiny neighboring incredibly wealthy principality of the same name.
The Baroque styled Palais is noteworthy as it is in part a museum open to the public dating back to the 1700’s. It is made up of two separate buildings, the upper one of which is rented out to corporations. In between the upper and lower buildings lies a beautiful park.
Members of the public and tourists enjoy the park that is open for free to all. In the primary lower building of the palace, there is a museum featuring a good deal of the Prince of Liechtenstein’s fabled private art collection.
This priceless collection concentrates on Baroque era art and is almost unique in the city. It makes for a nice tourist destination between the authentic palace building and the art collection it houses, particularly since the palace itself was only recently refurbished.
As for the Votivkirche Church, this was constructed in the neo-Gothic style of architecture. Erected after a botched effort to assassinate the then-Emperor Franz Joseph I, it strives to bring together the unity of the Habsburg Empire— royal family, Catholicism, and the international Imperial army.
For a look at the interesting history of medicine, visitors might also call in at the Joesphinum. Formerly the Imperial Academy of Surgery, it is now a cool museum on medical history that sports both Baroque and neo-Classicist interior spaces going back to the opening year of 1783. There are also specimens of all kinds under glass along with wax body parts. Opposite of the Josephinum lies the neo-Classical styled Palais Claim-Gallas.
10. Favoriten (District 10)
The biggest district by population is the District 10 Favoriten. This is where Austria is busily building its new international central train station. For an inexpensive place to live or stay in Vienna, it is hard to beat the Favoriten.
Many foreigners reside here (for the low rents), although for a safe city like Vienna, it boasts a high rate of crime without any tourist attractions. The south of the district is the better quarter, though by international standards Favoriten is still quite tolerable safety wise.
An interesting site here is the Starhemberg Kaserne army base. You can still hear the echoes of the Austrian Empire here. There are also several churches that might be worth any extra time to kill in the city, including the parish churches of the Salvatorkirche and Oberlaa and Laarberg.
A historic 1800’s era water tower still stands here as well. In general though, the south of the district favors commercial, residential, and recreational areas such as office buildings, apartment blocks, and parks.
11. Rudolfsheim-Fünfhaus (District 15)
District 15 is the Rudolfsheim-Fünfhaus. The neighborhood specializes in restaurants, coffee shops, and boutique shops that have taken over the district’s streets in recent years. This has greatly improved the reputation of the once boring area.
The Schonbrunn Park is one of the boundaries of the district, which distracts from the heavy ring of traffic that encircles the rest of the area.
This Rudolfsheim-Fünfhaus is little by little becoming an area more desired by the young people now that it offers open green spaces, cool and trendy cafes, and apartments and lodgings that are actually affordable. It also means that hotels are more affordable as a place to stay in Vienna here too, though you are far from all of the attractions of the Old Town of Vienna.
12. Ottakring (District 16)
Ottakring is in the north of Vienna. This up and coming multicultural residential area offers visitors and residents quite a lot. The Gurtel bounds it with its never ending flow of traffic. From here the area feels both lively and exciting. There are many good, reasonably priced restaurants and bars to keep the young at heart and students of the city going.
The area is also more recently famous for its growing community of Turkish people, which means restaurants, coffee shops, markets, and bakeries from Turkey and Cyprus. Oase is a fantastic restaurant choice that provides for your daily fix of fresh baklava and fantastic falafel.
There is no doubt that this most romantic and cultured city on earth offers something for everyone. From architecture, history, and music, to a theater, concerts, and exhibitions, Vienna is a city of culture that never stops. The only hard part is deciding which of the many colorful districts is the best one for you personally to stay in Vienna.
For people visiting this gem city for the first time, inevitably this will probably be the Old Town’s District 1 heart. For repeat visitors, most every district we have surveyed offers unexplored delights and charms of old and new world Vienna with all it has to offer you today. You can be sure that you will not be disappointed with the capital of Austria.