More authentic and organically grown, than pretty, the 16th district of Ottakring has many faces.
It’s full of ugly, badly-painted Gemeindebauten, with gross facades and these thin windows that rattle in the wind, alongside the proud older buildings that come with gargoyles and severed angel heads under the windowsills, looking down on the people passing below on the streets. So yeah, it’s not going to win any beauty pageants, but boy, is it one of the most characterful areas of the city.
Here are 16 things (+2) we love about the 16th district:
The sprawling meadows of the Steinhofgründe
Where: Steinhofgründe, 1140
No matter the season, the sprawling green area of Steinhofgründe makes for a great daytrip and is an example of Vienna’s unique mix of urbanity and nature. While ducking along the paths darting every which way that are arched over by trees, try to imagine cows and pigs wandering about…as they once did. Yep, Steinhofgründe used to be a farming land for the nearby Otto Wagnerspitals. Take a break in either Kleines or Großes Schutzhaus, restaurants hidden on Rosentalgasse amidst patches of forest, and if you can find it, examine the well-preserved historic bunker entrance. The beautiful Otto Wagner church, styled in the Jugendstil architecture, is also worth checking out. Otherwise, these vast meadows are a favourite amongst runners, walkers, and picknicers. There’s also plenty of good spots to hang up a hammock, with an abundance of trees. Oh, and one more thing – there’s one hell of a view to enjoy from the top.
The Manner factory
Where: Wilhelminenstraße 6, 1160
Ein Aufriss, zehn Schnitten (roughly translates to: ‘One pick up, ten sexy sweet bars to sink your teeth into).
Situated exactly between Ottakring and Hernals, this beautifully hideously pink complex of buildings that houses the iconic Manner factory, where one of Austria’s most beloved candy specialties is created from scratch. You might be hit with hard-to-resist cravings when near here, as the smell of freshly roasted cocoa is inescapable, especially on a windy day. No worries though, they have a shop where you can definitely satisfy the cravings before you start losing it and throwing elderly people into bushes! For true Naschkatzen (folks with an immense sweet tooth) who don’t get the phrase “‘guilty’ pleasure” and just love giving in, hit up the in-house gift shop. Here you can buy ‘Bruchware’ aka. factory seconds in bulk. You can also get a nostalgic metal box or – a true essential – a Mannerschnitten dispenser tower as a gift for hardcore Manner fans.
The oldest Heurigen in Vienna, 10er Marie
Where: Ottakringer Straße 222–224, 1160
Visiting Ottakring without going to 10er Marie isn’t illegal, but it might count as (wine) cultural heresy. First mentioned in 1740, this gem holds the claim of being the oldest Heurigen in all of Vienna. The typical Austrian cuisine and wine menu can be enjoyed in the well-loved garden patio. It’s overall undeniably heartwarming rustic atmosphere and the top grade local wine explain why to this day it’s still one of the most popular ones as well. And like all honourable Heurigen, there is as much pride taken in the food (your typical Schmankerl aka. cold cuts, cheeses and spreads) as there is in their wine.
Where: Ottakringer Straße 180, 1160
The in-house craft beer (lovingly named Rabenbräu), along with the whiskey tastings, legendary Friday quiz nights and damn good burgers, make this pub a solid reason to make the trip to Ottakring. It’s also conveniently close to the metro station, which is a plus if you were a bit too keen on the drinks and stumble out at closing time (we don’t blame you – 2.50€ for all Austrian beers during the happy hour from 5-6pm is just too good to pass up).
Ottakringer Landhaus – hidden slice of real Vienna
Where: Albrechtskreithgasse 38, 1160
Another great Heurigen with a relaxed patio and an impressive menu that features both traditional Austrian dishes and modern re-interpretations. The veggie options exceed Kasnockn and green salad, which distinguishes this place from other Heurigen. Not the cheapest place to have lunch, but the prices are justifiable for the AMA-certified fresh produce used in all dishes, and the mention of privately hunted venison. Also, the waiters are actually polite – how modern indeed (just kidding).
Sitting amongst residential housing, homes for the elderly and Fiaker horse stables somewhere between the 16th and 17th district, the Ottakringer Landhaus is not really calling out to you in terms of its location. Nor will anyone tell you, “that’s where it’s at” – but we will tell you that’s where delicious Viennese Hausmannskost is at!
The Ottakringer Landhaus also has a colourful history. The building itself was built in 1865 and used to be a “horse changing station.” Yes, you read that correctly: almost 150 years ago, tram line 43 used to be a horse-drawn tramway, making it not only the most hated, but also the oldest tram line in Austria.
Where: Speckbachergasse 47, 1160
This tiny, stylish bar with character that you don’t expect to find in this unassuming corner of town is worth venturing out to. One look at the lit up bar and the vast bottled goodness it stocks behind it, you know they’re serious about their cocktail creations here. The selection includes classics and originals, some personally created by the owner, will have you getting rather tipsy, rather quickly due to your curiosity being driven by the interesting drinks list. With the drinks seen to by an experienced cast of cocktail bartenders, there’s no wonder it’s a favourite amongst the cool kids in the area.
It’s a secret goldmine of tiny second hand shops
Where: Römergasse, 1160
Attention all vintage hunters! Keep a lookout for the word, “Altwaren,” on the streets of Ottakring. Those odd little one-story buildings that cling to life next to empty lots, refusing to be turned into tall apartment complexes, often house tiny little second hand shops managed by big characters. If you’re cheeky enough to bargain, they might sell you an Italian cashmere coat for under ten Euros, and they’ll end up throwing in a century-old pink chair on top if you keep talking with them. Then just turn a few corners and repeat the process, maybe spotting the perfect brass coat-hanger for the hallway, or an entire china set to serve coffee, imperial style.
The shop featured here is situated right next to the 44 tram station Römergasse (and an insider tip we had to force ourselves to share). More shops are found on Wilhelminenstraße and Sandleitengasse. Seriously trust us, Ottakring is a secret little second hand shop gold mine.
The unexpected on Thaliastraße
Where: Thaliastraße, 1160
Possibly one of the most multicultural and organically grown parts of Vienna – even though it’s becoming flooded with phone shops and internet cafés – it still pays off to make a little shopping trip over to the bizarro world of Thaliastraße (And no, we’re not talking about for weed).
For one, you can pretend you’re getting married and moon at the outrageous dresses displayed in the eccentric fabric stores on Thaliastraße – tacky but glorious. If you’re into arts & crafts, take your chances haggling for all kinds of lace and fabric (that is, if you’re not too intimidated by the swarms of little old ladies sporting colourful headscarves). There’s also a Humana at Thaliastraße 87 that’s always worth digging through for vintage treasures.
U6 Thaliastraße also marks the start of the infamous Gürtel and Stadtbahnbögen stretch of bars, where plenty of Vienna’s nightlife is happening. It’s one of the places you can always count on being busy, even most weeknights. Auslage and The Loft are two of the clubs where something is always cracking.
If you’re looking for more inspired cultural pursuits, take a detour to the parallel street Grundsteingasse, where Kunsttankstelle Ottakring offers exhibits from up-and-coming artists and bands a space to get started. Small concerts and/or exhibitions are always happening here. Along Grundsteingasse, more small galleries can be found that are sometimes hosting opening nights complete with booze and a creative-looking crowd to mingle with.
Then there’s the cheapest (and some of the best) dirty Döner Kebabs that can be picked up along this street.
The restaurant on the hill, Villa Aurora
Where: Wilhelminenstraße 237, 1160
Villa Aurora carries an aura that is distinctly its own. It may be its idyllic setting that has something to do with it – the sweeping beer garden in summer that is scattered beneath trees you’ll want to string a swing from..and well… swing, and the scuffed and rugged dark-wooded insides lit by singular candles on tables, contained inside a glorious villa where somebody obviously once lived. A place made for fairy tales.
Now the food is not spectacular, and we’re not going to pretend that it is. However, the experience of sitting in the somehow majestic garden, laid out on white pebble stones at your feet, leads one to not really give a shit.
They do specialise in one thing though that attracts fans of the deep-friend culinary delights – a Cordon Bleu that is rolled up, and served in the baton-like form of something you could use as protection if somebody attacked you on your way home after dinner. It’s called their ‘legendary’ Cordon Aurora, and hiding in it’s golden brown breadcrumb encasing is a Schwein schnitzel combined with ham, cheese, almonds, and spinach. Served with a small salad, for show, it goes delightful with our beer. If you’d like to know more about Villa Aurora, check out their website, here.
The 16th sweetest family-run business, Staud’s
Where: Brunnenmarkt, on the corner of Schellhammergasse
Starting off as a little family business around 12 years ago, when the Staud’s were selling organic fruits and a few jars of homemade jams at the Brunnenmarkt, the family-owned enterprise of sweetness have come a long way since. Today, Staud’s jams are one of the most popular Austrian jams, sold across the country in most supermarket chains. The Staud’s pavillion on the Brunnenmarkt sells a range of all their products, from jams to pickled vegetables. Staud’s homebase is in the 16th district, in a factory just 300m from the pavillion where sweet products such as jams, jelly’s, syrups and compotes are made. The family business holds two different lines of jams; the limited edition, for 5,40€ – made only from local fruits sourced from the Wachau, Styria, and the Weinviertel – and the unlimited version for 3,60€, which contains fruits sourced from all over.
We recommend… trying out their best selling jam, the ‘Wachauer Marille’
Farmers market @ Yppenplatz
Where: Yppenplatz, 1160
In the midst of all the gorgeous chaos that is the Gürtel lies Brunnenmarkt, the closest thing you will ever get from a real bazar experience in Vienna, from the cheap butchers and chicken sellers, the Gozleme being sold by the turkish ladies, and the smell of quality Naan being cooked up in tin drums. There is a special aura in Brunnenmarkt that makes you want to say “I know the price is 3€ but I I give you 6€ for 3.” And every Saturday, a farmers market snakes it’s way around Yppenplatz. Yppenplatz farmers market (Saturdays only) can be thought of as being its humbler, yet more experienced and more conservative aunt, that protects all the values of the good old days: regional products, organic fruit and veggies, oldschool bakery goods, handmade sausages and meat delights, craft beer and cider, field flowers and much, much more. These groceries often come with a story, are sometimes handed over by a grandson or granddaughter, and are always vouched for with the name of the farmer who´s sitting behind the counter and attending their customers personally. Even if you´ll sometimes end up spending more than you would at your local Billa store, you will realize soon enough that the price difference is in the quality of the products and the smiles that come with.
The pizzeria that’s actually a fabulous tapas bar, Pizzeria da Filippo
Where: Richard-Wagner-Platz 17, 1160
He pulls on my ear in a playful way. I giggle. I’ve just met Filippo, owner for the last 25 years of Pizzeria da Filippo. Now, if you’re scratching your head wondering why we’ve included an Italian pizzeria in a list of tapas places, you’re enthusiastic head scratching is not misplaced. I was also confused when my Spanish friend announced as we approached the arched entrance, ‘this is the place’, while claiming that we had arrived at one of the best spots for Spanish tapas in the city. But once the table was covered in our selection of tapas (you’ll find them under the Vorspeisen/starters section in the menu) we were giggling again.
Within a typical setting you’d see in Spain – a white walled, massive courtyard, filled with big groups of people, floored with gravel, red and white table clothes – is like another world which one could easily walk by everyday along Thaliastrasse, without knowing it exists.
The servings here are big, so don’t be turned off by the prices attached to the tapas. The Pulpo a la Feira (octopus marinated in oil and parika) we order is tender while the fish soup is the best we’ve ever tasted in this city. The Salpicon de Mejillones(muscles in a lemon marinade) and the croquettes deserve a hearty ‘Ole!’. Every dish they put down on our table makes me grateful for having been introduced to this Spanish secret. This is the most authentic tapas we’ve had in Vienna, full of flavor … and garlic.
Oh, and it has the Italian theme because Fillipo opened the place 25 years ago when Italian restaurants were popular and familiar to the shy Viennese diners, so you could say it was a marketing decision. However, over the last 10 years, Filippo has integrated the kitchen of his homeland, Spain, which has earned the place its reputation amongst those who know of it.
The city-wide favourite Turk, a restaurant named Kent
Where: Brunnengasse 67, 1160
This Turkish restaurant’s fame has managed to reach far beyond the community from which it grew and is now the automatic immediate answer when somebody asks, ‘what’s a good Turkish place in town?’ Their restaurant on the busy Brunnenmarkt, is their original (they now have 4) and the garden hidden out the back of it, is a hidden gem. Tables and chairs are set up all over the place on this white gravel al fresco setting, while the bare red brick wall adds an extra rustic charm to the garden. All the good things the Turkish kitchen is famous for is made with talent here – the Köfte, Kebap, the Pide, Baklava, all of it.
The bustling Brunnenmarkt
Where: Brunnengasse to Yppenplatz, 1160
Oh, the Brunnenmarkt and its very special charm – the enthusiastic vendors selling their goods with loud shouts of ‘Biiitte schön, biiitte schön. Nur 1 Euro!’ (which is actually true in most cases), the hustle and bustle of people pushing past you and bargaining in all kinds of languages, and the smell of fresh spices in the air.
The lively place would make us feel like we were on holidays in the Orient, if there wasn’t the lovely and incomprehensible sound of the Ur-Viennese slang in the air. You’ll find just about everything your heart desires, from olives, cheese, meat (highly recommended to veil lovers), trashy clothes, spices, cheap housewares, to creepy toys and live fish still swimming around in containers. But the speciality of this market lies in its great variety of very affordable vegetables and fruits – keep your eyes open for exotic surprises. We recommend you go with the flow of the market and stroll around the stands, dig into the free samples and maybe also compare prices.
On Saturday mornings, the local farmers market in the Northern part of the Brunnenmarkt opens up. We find it to be the perfect spot for a little chit-chat with the friendly farmers while purchasing regional and organic products.
Fun facts: The Brunnenmarkt has its origins in 1830 and is, with its 160 market stands, the largest market of its kind in Europe. And it’s also one of the cheapest markets, and easily accessible from Vienna’s city center. Weehee!
Should you get hungry, choose between either relaxing and enjoying the atmosphere in one of the restaurants (for example C.I. or An-do) around the square of Yppenplatz, or try one of the Turkish restaurants in Brunnengasse (Kent, one of the most popular Turkish restaurants is located there).
Tip: Shortly before closing time everthing is sold even cheaper.
It’s a melting pot of cultures
As you might have already noticed from this list, the 16th district is a true melting pot of culture, and therefore, cuisine. With a strong Turkish presence in the neighbourhood, especially around the Brunnenmarkt area, the sight of ladies in head scarves and Turkish men with cheeky grins under moustaches selling produce at the market is one of the most pronounced pictures that come to mind when somebody mentions the 16th district. And there’s something special about how it all melds and blends together with the remaining Austrian culture that can be starkly seen at the sole crowded Würstelstand in the Brunnenmarkt, or when the farmer’s market – populated by farmers from the region – that extends the Brunnenmarkt on Saturday mornings – this is the stuff of what makes a city, a city. When a bunch of very different people, from very different backgrounds, share the same space. The 16th district is the epitome of this.
The city’s brewery & awesome event venue, Ottakringer Brauerei
Where: Ottakringer Platz 1, 1160
We couldn’t put together a list of what make Ottakring awesome without a mention of the city’s last standing big brewery within city limits, the Ottakringer Brauerei. The yellow beer cans from this beer brand scatter plenty of festival, and many living in this city are fantastically loyal to it, so much so, that if a foreign country laid siege to the city, they’d be a crowd of people who retreat to the brewery to protect the birthplace of their beloved amber liquid. And not only does it stink up the district with the smell of hops, but it also plays the role as one of the greatest event venues in the city. With it’s industrial insides, it makes for a edgy setting for markets, concerts and all kinds of other festivals. Keep an eye out for events happening here, on the Ottakringer Brauerei website.
The wine hills of Ottakring
Most people think of Stammersdorf or Grinzing when an afternoon of wine wandering is being planned, however, the wine hills on the fringe of the 16th district also definitely deserve consideration for such fun and games. While the hills leading up to Wilhelminenberg were once blanketed with vineyards, and while not much remains, what’s there is worth sampling. For those that are only familiar with the areas of the 16th closer to the Gürtel, but further up the hill, where remnants of the old town of Ottakring (yes, Ottakring used to be a town before it was swallowed by urban sprawl) can still be seen, a few Heurigen still have their roots firmly planted. Besides 10er Marie which we’ve included in this list, we’d recommend you check out Heuriger Leitner (what a view!) and Weinbau Herrmann.
Where: Savoyenstraße 2 , 1160
This majestic and grand old place was once the crib of some prince named Prince Moritz de Montléart, who was given the place by a Russian ambassador after he had trashed the joint (well, he kind of just left it to rot). What was the Russian’s hunting palace (as everybody needs one of these, of course. We’ve got a palace for all of our hobbies – a baking palace a gaming palace, a palace to house our creepy doll collection) became a place for this prince fellow and his wife, Wilhelmine, who he named the place after. Nowadays, it houses a hotel, a hostel and a restaurant. The view from the front of the palace is epic, and the neighbouring grassy meadow makes for a great picnic, and some naughty rolling around in the grass with a loved one (we’re talking your lover…this ain’t no Game of Thrones).
Plus: In the lead up until Christmas, there’s a cute little Christmas market set up out the front of the palace, along with a ice skating rink. A great little inside tip.
We also recommend… Stadtwanderweg 4a.this Schloss-y is also good as an end point (or if you’re lazy, a starting point – catch the bus up hill and walk down!) to the city walking trail that takes you through the best of the 16th district,