Vienna closes down on Sundays and Public holidays. We mean, it really closes down. The streets are so empty in the outer districts that you could run naked laps around them and you wouldn’t even be noticed. That is, except by the other naked runners doing the same thing as you. The sleepiness on these days tends to really piss a lot of people off. But perhaps with these 11 tips, you’ll now see Sundays and public holidays as an opportunity.
Here are 11 tips on what to do to not only survive a Sunday or a public holiday in Vienna, but to make the most out of them:
1. Play the tourist
From the moment you wake up, you will see your city through the eyes of somebody who’s never been there before. Wander the city center, disappearing into all of the hidden Hofs (inner courtyards of buildings) and tunnels (check out our self-guided tour that will lead you on a city center adventure), or do something a tourist would do (experience the city through our guide to 48 hours in Vienna). Whatever you do, try to do it with virgin Vienna eyes.
2. Breakfast or brunch for hours on end
There’s nothing like a lazy day, munching on breakfast foods until you look at the time at some point and realise the time would dictate that your breakfast has become lunch. And then you order another coffee, and keep on brunching.
3. Jump on a boat to Bratislava
While Vienna closes down, just upstream, and a pleasant short boat ride away, there’s Bratislava where you’ll find all shops and restaurants open on a Sunday, and most Austrian public holidays. Also, if you haven’t been there before, Bratislava makes for a great sightseeing day trip. Not to mention the cheap beer.
Regular boats leave from the Donaukanal in front of Schwedenplatz daily. Find more info. here.
4. Escape into nature
Vienna has a wealth of nature walks in the forests and vineyards surrounding the city. Wander into the woods, find a tree stump to sit on, look up and watch and the trees swaying in the wind, and hear nothing but the rustling of the leaves and the birds.
Check out 4 of our favourite nature walks in Vienna.
5. Bike or hike up to Cobenzl for a picnic and a view
Hiking or biking up here is one of our favourite things to do on a sunny day in Vienna. By the time you reach the top, you’ll definitely feel like you deserve a reward. One of those rewards will be the amazing view over the city, while the other will come in the form of the new cafe perched on top of the hill. To the delight of many, the Cafe & Schloss Cobenzl has been born again and experienced a facelift done by a creative bunch of young people with a plan, recently. What used to be the kind of place you’d look at and think – nice view, but I think I’ll wait until the next place – now has visitors lying on its lush green lawns while indulging in a picnic spread prepared by the cafe, a DJ providing some background beats and an overall chilled and funky vibe kind of hanging around the place like a cloud of coolness. This is quickly becoming one of the go to spots on a Sunday. Keep an eye on their Facebook page as they promise to regularly host events involving DJs, food trucks and the like.
6. Picnic in the park
This one requires a bit of planning as you’ll need to get all of the tasty food to fill your picnic basket with the day before as all shops will be closed on the day (Tip: some train stations contain stores that are open 7 days a week in case you forget). One of the beautiful things that happen as a result of everything being closed on a Sunday or public holiday, is that you’ll find most of Vienna enjoying their days in a park. To help you throw the ultimate picnic, check out our article listing our favorite parks for a picnic and also our guide on how to have an authentic Viennese picnic.
7. Do the Heurige hop with a glass of wine in your hand
The Heuriger (wine taverns) and Buschenschenke (a Heuriger, minus the warm food) of Vienna are made for laid back Sundays and public holidays. During the summer season, if you feel up to it, combine your wine with a walk through the surrounding hills of Vienna. One of our favourite Buschenschenke to make as our end destination up the hill is Mayer am Nussberg.
If you want an alternative to the sometimes Disneyland of Heurige happening in Grinzing, we’ve created for you a guide to Heurigen hopping in Stammersdorf, another great wine region to explore.
To check out Vienna’s Heurige opening times, use this handy interactive map.
8. Catch some culture in a gallery or museum
If you’re suffering from the Sunday blues or a general lack of motivation, checking out what some of the greatest creative minds have imagined at an art or photography exhibition can be the best medicine. And Vienna has a wealth of galleries to visit. Check out the greats of the past and combine art with a history lesson at the Kunsthistorisches Museum (not to mention the grandiose interior of this place), or if it’s contemporary art that does it for you, visit one of our favourites, the Leopold Museum, and for inspiring photography exhibits, hit up the Kunst Haus Wien.
9. Browse the kickass bookshop in the Museumsquartier
For some reason, the bookshop in the MQ is excluded from the normal shopping opening hours, and is open 7 days a week. And we’re so grateful for it. With a huge selection of books about design, architecture, art, photography, philosophy and other random additions, browsing the shelves of this bookshop are an adventure of discovery, and a nice thing to be doing on a sleepy day.
10. Check out Vienna Würstelstand‘s event guide to see what’s happening around town
Every week, we research far and wide to bring you a curated collection of event tips that we think you’d like in our week and weekend guides. They act as a good place to start when planning your Sunday or public holiday, as they’re packed with the markets, the festivals, the parties and more happening around town.
11. Spend a day reading in a Viennese coffeehouse
Viennese coffeehouses pay no attention to time, or the world outside. And their bohemian, romantic charm only grows as they get older – the wooden floorboards, the feeling like you’re sitting next to a poet or an artist, newspapers on wooden holders, hat racks, marble table tops and Thonet chairs. Incredibly, all these years on, coffeehouses are still a refuge for all kinds of people in the city, everybody having their neighbourhood favourite. And you can spend a whole day in them, without a waiter ever bothering you. Grab a good book and dissappear into one of the booths of one of these coffeehouses for an afternoon.