When one thinks of Vienna images of opera houses, schnitzel and Christmas markets come to mind but perhaps what is less known is the city's plethora of world cuisines, vintage shopping and innovative cocktail bars.
We speak to bar-owner Roberto Pavlovic, of Roberto American Bar, who tells us where's best to view the historic city, enjoy a date night and when to avoid the crowds. Tip: the city doesn't just come alive at Christmas!
When is the best time of year to visit Vienna?
May and December.
Spring starts to break in May and when the sun is shining and the blossom is blooming, there’s no better place to walk around and explore. The city is great for shopping and visiting museums as well as simply stopping for coffee and soaking up the sun. It is also off-peak season so the city is quieter than later in the year or at Christmas so you’re guaranteed to get a good seat at a top restaurant. It’s also warm enough in May to sit outside and have drinks or dinner.
December is a special time of year for Vienna, not least because of the fairy-tale like snow and Christmas Markets but also because of the variety of opera’s and ballets on show in the theatres. It’s very magical.
Vienna is known for its beautiful opera houses and music venues – if you could visit just one, which would it be?
No doubt about it, the Vienna State Opera. It’s an incredibly beautiful building where you can smell the history as soon as you enter!
Best view of the city?
It might be a cliché but it is a cliché for a reason – the Donauturm is the tallest building in Austria and has unbeatable views of the city and the landscape beyond. If you’re after a good view but don’t have a head for heights then the top floor of the Sofitel is fantastic for enjoying dinner and drinking in the views too.
Tell us about Vienna’s food scene
Vienna has an ever growing food scene with new places opening up each month, especially in the Innere Stadt, Neubau and Alsergrund districts. Local residents are welcoming this developing food scene as it is breaking away from traditional Viennese restaurant, which though are amazing and very special, are no longer so current. Due to Vienna’s location right in the centre of Europe, it is a magnet for all kinds of cuisine from Italian and Spanish to Croatian, Serbian and Turkish.
Where and what is your go-to place on a Friday night?
I like to start the evening at my bar with my wife, Alexandra. We stay for a drink or two before heading to dinner at Il Melograno, a sweet Italian restaurant with a pianist playing in the background. I recommend the bistecca fiorentina– it’s the best in the city! If we don’t go here then we might try Cantinetta Antinori for something a bit fancier. If I’m looking for delicious fish, fresh from the Adriatic Sea then you cannot beat Kornat.
If we are seeking out traditional Austrian food then there is no other place to visit other than the restaurant at Hotel Sacher. Not only are the interiors opulent and grand, the food is fantastic too. Finally, for something a little different visit Schwarzes Kameel, a 400 year old wine bar with accompanying restaurant. This place is visited by old school Viennese locals and is known for its small sandwiches and aperitifs.
Where can you find the best markets for shopping?
Anywhere in the historic centre is worth a visit as there is a great mix between old and new; traditional and modern. In the Neubau district there has been a real resurgence and revitalisation of the area so one can now find lots of fun, creative stores.
Sunday brunch spot?
It depends on when in the year you are in Vienna. If you’re here during the summer then Do & Co Albertina has a lovely, quiet terrace which has great views of the Albertina Museum, not to mention good food. During the winter you want to head to Le Bol, a small yet lively French bistro.
Best spot for people watching?
Fabios which is a restaurant and bar is located in the city centre and always provides a good spot to sit and stare. Alternatively the Museumquartier during the summer months when you can sit outside with a cold drink and watch the crowds go by.
Last-minute date spot?
I may be biased but my own bar, Roberto American Bar. Amazingly I have had the pleasure of introducing dozens of couples over the years and there have been some amazing love stories to come out of it!
Where’s best to stay in Vienna?
Do & Co Hotel is right in the centre and have a beautiful view of St. Stephen’s Cathedral plus everything is in walking distance so is very convenient. For something a little luxurious then Hotel Imperial or Hotel Bristol, both of which are very traditional and Viennese. A real treat. Alternatively if you fancy something a little more modern and cool then The Guesthouse is fun.
Where’s best to grab coffee? A cold beer?
If beer is on the cards then the 1516 Brewing Company is a fun pub in the city centre, near Schwarzenbergplatz.