hipster vienna

I remember my first trip to Vienna in the early-1990’s very vividly. The first word that crossed my mind was ‘grand’. Vienna is indeed a grand city. From the magnificent Hofburg to the splendorous Schönbrunn Palace, the regal Spanish Riding School and the stately Belvedere and Albertina museums, Vienna oozes grandeur and pomp. The Viennese wore that brand on their sleeves, exuding pride and deeply-rooted traditions. Walking down the streets then (as a travelling student), I felt slightly out of place as I looked around at the well-dressed Viennese. There were no signs of ‘scruffy’, well, until I passed a shop window and saw my reflection.

cool vienna
The grand Hofburg

Hipster Vienna

Fast forward to the summer of 2019. It could have been the weather – it was sweltering – but I sensed a different vibe in Vienna. The imposing monuments in the city’s historic centre still grab your attention but this time, I noticed a youthful vibrancy in the streets, especially in the neighbourhoods fringing the city centre. The hipster vibe was unmistakable. There were cool, design shops, edgy cafés, minimalist restaurants and lots of street art, from elaborate murals to colourful graffiti.

Museum Quarter

Not exactly hipster central in Vienna, the Museum Quarter is a hot-spot for the city’s youngsters who congregate here on summer evenings to laze on the enzi’s (design chaise lounges), mingle with friends and frolic in the pools. This was a world away from my original impressions of Vienna: waltzes, schnitzel, Klimt and Mozart.

Lazing on an enzi in the Museum Quarter
Cooling off in the pools in the Museum Quarter
In the evenings, the Museum Quarter becomes a hot-spot for youngsters
The Museum Quarter also has quiet corners like Glacis Beisl, a gorgeous restaurant under a canopy of trees

Danube Canal

I noticed the same youthful vibe along the quayside of the Danube Canal. There were numerous ‘beach’ cafés, trendy restaurants and clubs. Locals dressed in shorts and tees sat around at the quayside cafés, chilling with a beer or a cocktail, whilst others enjoyed a boisterous meal on the restaurant boats. There was a funky buzz in the air that I’d not felt during my previous visits to Vienna.

The Danube Canal
Chilling on an urban beach along the Danube Canal.

Read about things to do in Vienna for the first-time visitor

Mariahilf (6th District) and Neubau (7th District)

That funky buzz became more tangible as I strolled around Vienna’s Sixth and Seventh Districts on either side of the Mariahilferstrasse. Whereas the Mariahilferstrasse is packed with the usual European high street brands, the side streets of this main shopping boulevard are packed with hipster fashion and design stores. Colourful façades, intriguing new design concepts and a vibrant alfresco scene form a fascinating contrast to the staid atmosphere in the historic city centre.

Shops in the Seventh District
Artistic façades in the Seventh District


Near Mariahilferstraase, I explored the Neubau neighbourhood (Seventh District), and discovered shops run by local designers, hip cafés and funky art galleries.

Landstrasse (3rd District)

Another trendy neighbourhood I explored was Landstrasse in the Third District. I started at the Rochusmarkt, a fresh goods market with a distinct, local vibe. The streets in this area such as Seidlgasse, Marxergasse and Löwengasse house a variety of edgy galleries, artsy coffee shops and local design stores.

trendy neighbourhoods in vienna
Sünnhof passage with its colourful umbrellas.
hipster art vienna
An intriguing window!

Also located in this district is the Hundertwasserhaus, a colourful apartment block designed by the famous Austrian artist. There’s a little forest on the roof and an a ‘village’ of shops and cafés that’s worth a visit.

cool vienna
Hundertwasser House

It was soon very clear to me that the contemporary urban scene in Vienna is alive and kicking, brimming with new ideas and concepts. I always thought of Vienna as a grand city with a rich cultural heritage, a city that was perhaps firmly-rooted in its glorious past. I’ve now discovered a vibrant, funky side to Vienna; one that’s characterised by youthful energy, artistic exuberance and cutting-edge concepts. Vienna has always been a city I would recommend to anyone. Now I have more reasons to do so.

Check out my walking tour of Vienna.

Note: a big thank you goes to the Vienna Tourism Board for hosting me in Vienna. As always, opinions expressed above are mine.


9 Responses

  • […] If you’re visiting Vienna, I highly recommend spending at least 3-4 days there to enjoy the city and its famous attractions. Visit the stunning palaces such as the Belvedere or Schönbrunn, attend a philharmonic concert or opera, go wine-tasting in one of the many ‘heurige’ (wine taverns) in one of the Viennese wine villages such as Nussdorf, Neustift or Stammersdorf, or go shopping in the trendy 6th and 7th districts. […]

  • I so agree with you! This was my exact impression on my last visit. Enjoyed your blog 🙂

  • […] stay in my room all day as there are so many things to see and do in Vienna. Located in the trendy 7th District, steps away from a metro station and just a stone’s throw away from the Museum Quarter and […]

  • This is a really distinct and different view of Vienna, and that is exactly why we pinned it to our Facebook Page. If you ever come to Vienna and want to stay on a budget you should check us out on hostelruthensteiner.com … we are very proud of being different from the crowd of chain Hostels springing up every where – laidback Hostel Vibe? Check! 🙂

  • Keith, this sounds awesome. I love the way you describe Vienna here – beautiful cities with a lot of history and culture that have a young, fresh and vibrant vibe – that’s exactly the kind of place I love! I’ve never been to Vienna, but you’re making me really want to go now.

    Also, if somebody could send me one of those designer enzis for my apartment, that would be lovely.

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