After our Christmas day adventures we scooted over to Budapest for Boxing day and came back to the day after. Our next full day in Austria was pretty low key as we had done about as much walking a human is capable of the days prior. We got more groceries as the stores would be closed again the next day and decided to just explore what Innere Stadt also known as the inner district or first district.
We had originally decided to stay in this area due to convenience. Most of the transit options go through or at least easily connect from the lines in and around the Innere Stadt. It is also home to the Hofburg (and all museums there in), The Opera House, The Albertina Museum, stunning churches, a huge amount of shopping and a large number of other historic sights and small museums. It is the oldest part of the city and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Prior to 1850 the Innere Stadt (the area inside the Ringstrasse) was the sum total of Vienna, but as the population boomed and the suburbs were built up people moved out to find cheaper accommodations. Today the Innere Stadt is the least populated district in Vienna, and serves mostly as a business and tourism center. Though in truth during popular times of year it doesn’t feel the least populated as it is host to many a holiday celebration.
We spent the morning wandering around the main shopping streets Graben street (which used to be the city gutter) and Karntnerstrasse, a road that once had troops marching across Europe to the Crusades. Today both are paved, lined with high end shops and meet at St. Stephan’s Cathedral or Stephansplatz (Stephan’s square). Graben has gorgeous memorial statue for victims of the plague but it was difficult to get pictures of it with all the various holiday booths and decorations.
There are quite a few other walking streets connected to these two which make up the pedestrian shopping section of the city. No cars are allowed to drive on the streets except very early in the morning for deliveries. I preferred walking around early in the moring because I could actually walk around without getting jostled by all the holiday travelers. But it is prettiest at night with all the lights over head on each street.
After that we wandered down to the Plamhouse connected to the Hofburg for lunch, it was very crowded but I had really wanted to eat in the converted royal green house. However once we got up to the door and read the menu we decided to seek food elsewhere. It would be great for picky eaters and those missing more American style food, but it wasn’t the culinary adventure we were seeking so off we went.
We wound up accidently stumbling on Ferstel Passage, which wasn’t even on my radar of sights in the area. It is a historic arcade, indoor shopping street not video games, inside Ferstel Palace. In truth you wouldn’t even know the building was a palace, not because it isn’t beautiful it is. And it is one of the few palaces named after its architect rather than its sponsor/former owner. Rather it just blends into all the other incredible buildings in the area and you wouldn’t even know what is hiding inside but for a small sign above a walkway. Inside the passage is lined with high end shops. Our two favorites was a small French restaurant and wine shop where we ate lunch and a chocolate shop just across the street. This is must see in my opinion as it is rather unique to the rest of the sights.
We spent the rest of the day laying low as it had gotten quite cold. We ate at another small local pub, where I had a salad. Shouldn’t be note worthy but it can be hard to find salads in Europe, and certainly salads in the American sense of the word. This one was no different, it was delicious but in addition to the normal fixings it included canned beans and pickles.
There are an endless amount of things to see and do in this area of town, which I will try to cover in other posts. At this point we were only halfway through our two weeks in Vienna. But I hope this gives you a little glimpse into the Innere Stadt and answers some of your questions.