Life in Vienna can be pretty damn sweet and uncomplicated compared to life in other big cities. And with the right know-how, it can only be sweeter. That’s why we asked our audience for life hacks they’d recommend that helps them enjoy life that little bit more, and make the most out of the city.
Here are 19 life hacks that will help you win at life in Vienna:
1.) Set up your own popup bar for drinks with friends in the green
Vienna is super green and the best way to experience the city is to buy a couple of beers from a Würstelstand and enjoy them somewhere green, or near the Donaukanal. Check out our list of some great outdoor public spaces for a few drinks with friends.
2.) Always…and we mean ALWAYS carry cash with you
Keep in mind that the Viennese don’t use their credit card much and most places (bars, restaurants, cafes and even some stores) don’t accept card, so always, and we mean ALWAYS have cash with you.
3.) Learn how to deal with ‘bad’ service
People are as friendly as they need to be, no less, but certainly no more. If you’re not happy with it, nobody will really care. So instead of ranting and hating on it, learn to deal with it.
What we suggest is when you receive cold, robotic, careless service, bring it back to a human level. This approach has worked on countless occasions for us. This works by either making the person giving you the bad service laugh by calling out the bad vibes in a humorous way. Otherwise, what’s also worked for us in the past is nicely asking them if they’re having a bad day and why the rudeness is necessary. Just think – some people in service jobs just don’t know they’re being rude and unpleasant. This approach tends to pop the bad customer service bubble and spark a human connection.
4.) Get cultured for free, or for cheap, by knowing the gallery and museum discount days
Many cultural institutions offer half price, or discount entry days. You can find a list of these galleries and museums in our guide to Where & how to get your culture fix on a budget (or for free) in Vienna.
5.) Do what the locals do – book ahead
The people of Vienna like to plan ahead, meaning brunch and breakfast places are booked out weeks ahead. If you enjoy brunching, or breakfast-ing on the weekend, keep this reality in mind and do yourself a favour – book for brunch weeks in advance.
6.) Try ye’ old ‘I’m on the guest list’ trick at the club door
As people are generally quite trustworthy in Vienna, we’ve been successful in pulling off this little game on many occasions. However, it does require some solid confidence and a game face that’s on point. When you want to skip the long line in front of a club, or get in for free, just go to the person at the door and tell them you should be on the guest list OR that you’re with somebody on the guest list (be sure to quote a super Austrian name like Julia Mayer or Lisa Müller).
But remember, when you go in for this hack, you’ve got to be prepared to see it through and lose your shit if they deny you entry: Throw a pot plant, cry and scream, get on your phone and pretend your calling your contacts. If they don’t let you in, atleast you’ll be putting on a show for others waiting in line. Oh, and if you like, just tell them you’re with the magazine, Vienna Würstelstand (wink, wink).
7.) Buy a bike, not a car – the city’s smaller than you think
Vienna is a crazy compact city and is relatively flat – this makes it the perfect city to get around with a bike. It can be often quicker than getting on the public transport, and with such a seamless running transport system, you certainly don’t need a car.
8.) Don’t show up too early… but don’t be too late, either
If it’s a party, feel free to come fashionably late – that’s normal. However, if it’s a meeting, a brunch date, or a date in general – being too early, or being late will only earn you disdainful looks in Vienna (ok, maybe we’re exaggerating, but people hit the mark with appointment times in Vienna).
9.) Know where to shop on Sundays
It’s a common experience getting stuck without not even an eggplant in the fridge on a Sunday in Vienna, and than having that swift kick of an idea to the head – the stores of the city are all closed. Don’t go rummaging around in your neighbour’s trash just yet (what?! are we the only ones that do that?). Every train station in Vienna has atleast one supermarket that is open on a Sunday, plus, no matter where you live, you’ve probably got a Turkish store or bakery in your neighbourhood that never seems to close. If you get really desperate, you can also hop on a train, boat or bus to Bratislava where all the shops are open on a Sunday.
10.) Get a monthly pass for the city’s swimming pools
There are plenty of public swimming pools in Vienna (indoor and outdoor) and a monthly pass for a cool 29.50€ (more info. here) will get you access to all of them. Throughout winter, you can use the saunas and indoor pools, while in summer you can spend your days using the outdoor pools. Here’s a list of Vienna’s best swimming pools for summer. Also, here’s a photo story of Vienna’s surreal-looking indoor swimming pools.
11.) Make the most out of the island and river located in the middle of the city
Vienna is actually a brilliant city to enjoy when the sun is out. It has the Danube river running through it which is perfect for swimming in when the boob and bum sweat is no longer tolerable. Also, the Donuainsel is the perfect escape where you can surround yourself with green, or get sporty.
12.) Get in the back carriage of the old trams – there’s always more room
For one of those inexplainable phenomenons relating to our species (perhaps there is a reasonable explanation for this that we just don’t know about), more people tend to get on the front carriage of the tram meaning it’s always the fullest. Head to the back carriage and you’re more likely to get a seat.
13.) When heading to, or coming back from the airport, take the local train and NEVER the expensive CAT train
If you’re to define the target market of the CAT ‘express’ airport train, it would be the poor tourist suckers that know no better. Really, there’s absolutely no reason to catch this train if you’re a local of Vienna. Unless you’re running late from your flight and this is the next train heading there. The local train line will get you to the airport for around 4€ (less than 2€ if you have a metro card already) while the CAT costs 11€ one-way. Plus, there’s literally only a couple of minutes difference in speed when you compare them. So, once again, unless you’re a clueless tourist (which now is not possible if you’ve read this far) or running late for your flight, save the money for your trip and stick with the local train.
14.) There’s exercise gyms and table tennis tables in parks and on the Donaukanal
The city of Vienna obviously likes to keep its population fit, and also obviously hopes that one day it will produce a young rising ping pong star. In the many parks of the city you’ll find the perfect exercise option – outdoor gyms. Plus, there are often ping pong tables in the parks too! There’s also a exercise gym on the Donaukanal, near the Roßauer Lände station.
15.) Get involved in urban gardening
Vienna’s big on urban gardening, with the city and neighbourhoods allowing a lot of its green spaces to be used for it. Reasons to get involved are numerous – you meet plenty of people, it’s somehow therapeutic watching your little tomatoes grow into big ones, and it will save you a bunch of cash if you do it right.
16.) There are people giving away FREE stuff on the internet!
Who doesn’t love free stuff, right? The online secondhand market, Willhaben, has a filter option, ‘zu verschenken.’ Click on this little box baby and a bunch of free stuff will flood your screen. Also, lots of stuff exchanges hands on the sizeable Facebook group, share & care – wien . If you’re a fan of free stuff, better get in on this! Sometimes we just get stuff because it’s free. Free old phone box that doesn’t work? Don’t mind if we do!
17.) For a good and affordable feed when dining out, consider the midday menu
Nearly every restaurant in Vienna offers a midday menu for lunch at around 7.90€ If you’re on a budget, but like eating out, consider doing your dining in the daytime. In Austrian culture, the big meal is typically eaten at lunch, anyway, so you’re practically eating to integrate.
18.) Bring your own drinks to the Donaukanal and still enjoy the atmosphere and music of the waterside bars
It’s a little cheeky, but its kind of an accepted practice that everybodies doing and accepts. That’s what makes the Donaukanal so loveable – it all comes together to make an awesome atmosphere. Bring your own drinks down to the Donaukanal on any warm evening, sit on the edge with your legs hanging over the water in front of any of the bars lining the water, and soak in the buzzing atmosphere and enjoy the music.
19.) If a cafe is full, ask to share a table
If you walk into a coffeehouse and the place is packed, don’t go walking out mumbling insults at all the people who are having a great time on their seats. It’s common practice to ask if there are unoccupied seats at a table if the other people mind if you share. We’ve had some of the best random conversations in situations because of this cultural quirk.