Think of good shopping during tourist travels and the mind naturally wanders to Paris or New York. Perhaps, for those a little more experienced, San Francisco and London might make the list, too. But travelers who shop should never neglect Vienna. Not only is the shopping great, but the whole city provides a wonderland of sights that make the whole experience a heady pleasure.
The First District (Innere Stadt) provides lots of opportunities and has for centuries. As far back as 1693, the city officials built the Pestaule in typical Viennese Baroque style to celebrate the end of the Black Death. It wasn’t long before kroner (the coin of the period) were flowing along with the nearby fountains.
Today, luxury shops along Graben street are nestled in an area not far from beautiful palaces. Meinl am Graben is a favorite of many, offering select foodstuffs that are not just filling but also works of art.
The U-Bahn (subway) that leads to Stephanplatz drops visitors and their credit cards to an area filled with street musicians and lovely buildings designed by renowned architects Adolf Loos and Otto Wagner. That’s shopping Viennese style.
The Kohlmarkt and Karntner Strasse house similarly fine opportunities to spend. Window shopping is encouraged, but the most fun comes from picking up a fine item at any of the stores here. For something a little more downscale but just as delightful, try Billa in Singerstrasse, around the corner from Stephansdom.
For a taste of what the locals prefer, one of the best places is Mariahilfer Strasse. On Saturday afternoons the Viennese will descend on this 2km (1 mile) strip that stretches from Ringstrasse to the Westbahnhof railway station to test their bargaining skills. Doing likewise can net a clever tourist many a fine item at a discount price.
The street is filled with department stores and specialty shops of every description. Along the quiet side streets, you can find a fine pair of shoes that may be badly needed after walking around Vienna. But, not to worry, there are plenty of little cafes at which to relax and have a cup of the local brew.
To see what a shopping mall Viennese style is all about, step into the Donauzentrum. The sheer size is enough to persuade you that this is not your average mall. There is an enormous variety of shops that offer bargains not found elsewhere. There are also a number of worthy restaurants, so you need not fear not having the energy to spend your money.
For the flea market bazaar experience, be sure not to miss visiting Naschmarkt and Brunnenmarkt.
The Naschmarkt is the largest and yet will still prove crowded on a Saturday. Prices have risen, but to compensate there are lots of new bars to drown your sorrows.
Brunnenmarkt is a little cheaper, and therefore even more crowded. But for your trouble, you’ll be rewarded with some of the best bargains available in this grand city.
Shop in Vienna and you too will rank it along with the great shopping cities of the world.