When Jess and I visited Vienna last Christmas, it was mainly to look around the markets. I wanted to go somewhere to get into the Christmas spirit, whilst exploring somewhere new in the process, so we headed out to Austria.
Truth be told, I didn’t really know what to expect – apart from the obvious mulled wine, chimney cakes and Christmas trees – so I was surprised to find that I fell in love with the city.
It had absolutely everything I look for when I visit somewhere new – something to appease every type of geek in me. I wanted to share all the places I discovered in the hopes that you’ll also find something you love if you decide to visit.
16 GEEKY THINGS TO DO IN VIENNA
Visit the Wes Anderson Exhibition
If you’re a movie geek, you’ve probably heard of Wes Anderson, the director of The Grand Budapest Hotel, Royal Tenenbaums and The Darjeeling Limited. Well, he has partnered with the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna to curate a rather quirky exhibition filled with over 400 unique artefacts – some of which have never been seen before. The collection, named ‘Spitzmaus Mummy in a Coffin and other treasures’ features a mummified mouse, which is just one of the unusual things you can expect to see at the museum.
Explore the Third Man Museum
Did you know that the 1949 British film noir, The Third Man, was filmed almost entirely in Vienna? Based on the book by Grahame Greene, the film has it’s very own museum in the heart of the city, with over 14 rooms filled solely with exhibits from the movie. The collection includes Trevor Howards personal script littered with annotations in his own hand, letters and photos from the set, props from the film, and special exhibitions about the cast, including Orson Welles. You can also check out over 70 different movie posters and 100 editions of Graham Greene’s novel.
Check out Votivkirche
This impressive neo-gothic church, built after the attempted assassination of Emperor Franz Joseph – to thank god for saving his life – features heavily in the British mini-series, The Pillars of Earth. Starring Ian McShane, Hayley Atwell, Rufus Sewell, and a young Eddie Redmayne, the show centres on the construction of a cathedral in the fictional town of Kingsbridge during the 12th Century. Vienna’s Votivkirche stands in for said cathedral in the series, so if you’re a fan of the show, you won’t want to miss out on visiting the Votivkirche.
Go on a Game of Thrones Tour
Whilst the world of Westeros in the Game of Thrones series is a fictional place, people have speculated it could be based on the United Kingdom. Well what if it was actually based on Vienna? Vienna Wurstelstand have created a rather amazing ‘What if Game of Thrones was set in Vienna’ series, where they match each of the seven kingdoms up with a district in Vienna. King’s Landing is obviously in the centre of the city, whilst the Lannister’s Casterly Rock is represented by the expensive villa’s in the 19th District and Winterfell by the most hipster parts of town. Tour the city and see if you agree.
Pick up a comic from Comics Hutterer
Hidden away, near the River Danube, Comics Hutterer isn’t the biggest Comic Book Store you’ll ever visit, but it’s certainly packed full of fun things to look at. Walls of comics circle the store, whilst pop vinyl’s and other collectables pile up from the floor to the ceiling, filling just about every space available. There’s no Fandom that isn’t covered here, so whether you’re a Marvel, DC or Boom Comics fan, you’ll find something you love. Just don’t take any photos while you’re inside or you’ll get told off by the rather stern lady at the till – my bad!
Visit Runch Comics and Toys
Another one for the comic book lovers, Runch Comic and Toy store in Vienna is packed full of comics and collectables, making it a paradise for comic geeks. With a massive selection of graphic novels at its finger tips, and even more that they can order in if there’s anything you need that they don’t have, it’s the largest of its kind in the city. They’ve made use of every possible piece of space, so expect to see cabinets filled with rare figures and geeky clothes hanging here there and everywhere.
Gawp at the Austrian National Library
If you’ve always wanted to live out that Beauty and the Beast fantasy – the running around the insanely beautiful library one, not the Stockholm syndrome one – then you can’t go to Vienna and not check out the Austrian National library, as it’s probably the most stunning library you’ll ever see. It holds over 200,000 books and at 80 meters long, it’s the largest library in Austria and the biggest baroque library in Europe – plenty of space to twirl around as you sing Disney songs.
Browse the shelves at Shakespeare and Company
A small oasis for book geeks, Shakespeare and Company is the best English Language bookstore in Vienna. Every wall is covered with bookcases, bursting at the seams with different volumes, including rare and special editions. They stock everything from classic novels to comic volumes and travel books. If you want to visit more bookish locations in Vienna, I’ve made a little Literary Tour of some of my favourites here.
Eat at the Rollercoaster Restaurant
For anyone looking to appease their inner child, you need to add the Rollercoaster Restaurant to your Vienna bucket list. Located in Prater Amusement Park, it’s the most fun you’ll ever have whilst eating dinner – especially if you’re a game geek. Watch on as your drinks and dinner are delivered to your table via an intricate network of rollercoasters planted throughout the entire venue. Not just that, but your food is prepared for you by robots who dance. It genuinely feels like you’re in some sort of crazy video game.
Try our VR at the VREI Café
VREI is Europe’s first VR café, where you can dive into other worlds with your friends, and play together – or against each other – whilst simultaneous chilling out with a drink and great food. You have numerous games and simulations to choose from, including racing, flying and fighting games, on everything from a simple VR Console strapped to your head, to a slightly more complicated motion simulator.
Walk around the Natural History Museum
Vienna’s Natural History Museum is as beautiful as it is interesting. If you’re looking for somewhere to channel your inner Darwin, then there is no better place than one of the most important museums in the world. With 39 exhibit halls and over 30 million specimens, the museum holds an impressive collection of unique objects, including massive dinosaur skeletons, animals that have been extinct for hundreds of years, and the worlds largest, and oldest, collection of meteorites.
Learn at the Sigmund Freud Museum
Built in Freud’s former office and living quarters, the Sigmund Freud museum has been welcoming visitors to come learn about the life of the renowned neurologist since 1971. Freud lived and worked in the house from 1891 until his exile in 1938. The building still has some of the original furnishings and antiquities from his stay, along with signed and first edition copies of his work, and unique film material. It is also home to Europe’s largest psychoanalytic research library, with 35,000 volumes.
Visit St Stephens Crypt
St Stephens Cathedral is one of the most beautiful buildings in the whole of Vienna, with amazing views over the city if you head to its roof, but if you’re a horror geeks, you should head to the catacombs instead, because just beneath the stone floor lies the remains of over 10,000 people – including most of royal Habsburgs. The organs and entrails of princesses, princes, emperors and queens can also be found here, spread out in over 60 jars.
Explore the Crime Museum
For lovers of the macabre, The Crime Museum needs to be your first port of call. Housed in one of Vienna’s oldest buildings, the museum features crimes and murders from the middle ages to the present day. The displays include a selection of photos from murder scenes and relics from executed criminals, along with leaflets and newspaper reports of Vienna’s most notorious killers. Learn about everything from assassination attempts on the lives of the Imperial family, to the kidnapping of some of the most important people in the city.
Learn a trick at Vienna Magic
One for the magic fans out there – Vienna Magic is my favourite store in the whole of Vienna. The outside is adorned with a giant white rabbit coming out of a hat, and the inside is just as beautifully decorated, like the inside of a circus tent. It’s filled with every kind of magic trick, from the most simple to the terribly complicated. It also stocks pranks and costumes. It’s like a wizards heaven.
Discover legends at Blutgasse
If you’re a lover of fairy-tales or folklore then you’ll want to pay Blutgasse a visit. Blutgasse means Blood Alley, and it’s one of the oldest areas in Vienna. Legend has it that in 1312, the Knights Templar were slaughtered here at the midnight ensign and the road ran with their blood, which is where the streets name came from – but that could also have been from the numerous slaughterhouses that were said to have lined the road.
Have you ever visited Vienna? What was your favourite thing you did or saw? Did you manage to check out some of the places from my geeky guide?
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