Local traditions and culture in Vienna

  • Cafes
    Cafes
    by colin_bramso
  • City centre
    City centre
    by colin_bramso
  • Local Customs
    by croisbeauty

Most Viewed Local Customs in Vienna

  • Escadora7's Profile Photo

    New Year's in Vienna - part I: Silvesterpfad

    by Escadora7 Updated Jan 1, 2006

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    If you don't have relatives or friends living in Vienna, or you just wish to be around a LOT of people, the "Silvesterpfad" (New Year's Path) might be the right thing to do. It's a huge party spanning the entire inner city. Traffic for vehicles is closed, and people walking around all over the place. Lots of booths offering hot drinks such as Glühwein (hot wine flavored with spices), punch in different flavors (our favorite: berry-punch with lots of real berries), and champagne. Other vendors offer foods: Frankfurter (Viennese name for Wieners), Langos (garlic-flavored hungarian deep fried flat bread), Leberkässemmel, sausages, sweets, etc. And then there are tons of booths selling Glücksbringer (Good Luck Charms) for the New Year's celebration. At some of the major squares you can find stages with radio stations broadcasting all the happenings: dance-performances, bands, DJs, Karaoke-shows, contests, and music of all types. With 2006 being the official Mozart-year, this year Rathausplatz was dominated by Mozart: waltz courses, string performers, a retrospective of "Wolfi", and even some metal: "Rocking Mozart".

    The Silvesterpfad spans all over the inner city: from Rathausplatz, Freyung, Am Hof, Hoher Markt, Graben, Stefansplatz, Kärntner Strasse, all the way down to the Prater. Just take the Underground to the Inner City and you'll be right within the happening. A word of caution: the closer to midnight it gets, the more crowded - and at times a bit rowdy - it gets. We went from about 5 - 7pm just to get a taste of it all - and it was just right!

    Rathausplatz food booth mommy + me Good-luck charms booth Vienna - city of lights
    Related to:
    • Festivals

    Was this review helpful?

  • Escadora7's Profile Photo

    New Year's in Vienna - part II: private party

    by Escadora7 Updated Jan 1, 2006

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    So you decided to avoid all the hustle and bustle around town and stay in. Here's the scenario you typically get if you celebrate New Year's in a Viennese home:

    You find yourself in a big party, or a smaller circle of friends; either way, first things first - dinner. There is no special New Year's dinner, food ranges anywhere from fondue, steak, duck,... anything the heart desires. Needless to say that with the food you get wine or beer. After dinner, which takes its good time, you'll very likely receive a glass of brandy or schnaps for digestion. Then it's just good old "hanging out" till midnight: chit-chat, dance, laugh, rest, watch some TV, play games, have fun, relax. Near midnight the action picks up again: TV or radio on so that we won't miss the New Year's countdown; bring out the champaign glasses, open the bottles, pour, and then when midnight strikes to the sounds of the Pummerin, raise your glasses to a bright and happy new year. Everybody hugs and expresses their wishes, and then quickly out of the house: FIREWORKS EVERYWHERE. It is customary for everybody to shoot up some fireworks, so the display in the sky is simply amazing - fireworks as far as you look, from every house and apartment. Radios sounding out of all houses are playing the "Donauwaltzer", and you can find people waltzing on the streets.

    After about 1/2 hours the fireworks wear off and everybody returns inside, but the fun isn't over yet. Now it's time to exchange "Glücksbringer" (Good luck charms), do the "Bleigiessen" (lead pouring), eat New Year's herring, and finish up the champaigne till the early morning hours. In the morning (or more likelely early afternoon) when you get up, you'll get spicy Hungarian Goulasch-soup as a cure for an upset stomach and hangover.

    fireworks pouring the champaign lead-pouring champaign and dinner good-luck charms

    Was this review helpful?

  • Escadora7's Profile Photo

    New Year's in Vienna - part III: the customs (1/2)

    by Escadora7 Written Jan 2, 2006

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    As mentioned above, there are several customs on New Year's. Following is a little more detail:

    Silvester - why don't they call it New Year's like everybody else?
    Calling it Silvester goes back to the 4th century Catholic church: Pope Silvester, one of the most well-known popes (fundamental in the 4th century reorganization of the church), died in Rome on December 31st 335, and thus December 31st officially became the day to celebrate the holy Silvester.

    Glücksbringer - Good Luck Charms
    One of the Silvester customs is to exchange good luck charms - these are figurines and trinkets, differing widely in size and price. Glücksbringer include pigs, chimney-sweepers, mushrooms, 4-leaf-clovers, black cats, etc. - basically you'll have them sit around your house for a year, since one doesn't dare to throw them out......

    Bleigiessen - Lead Pouring
    This custom stems from antiquity, but till today people melt lead in a spoon over a burning candle. After a couple of minutes the melted lead is poured into a container of cold water, in which it hardens again. The forming figures are regarded as Oracles, from which future events can be read off. Often the lead figure is held into the candle light. The form of the shade serves as an assistance for the interpretation the figure. Mine looked like a moose or a camel - I'll leave the interpretation of what that meants to the reader.

    Bleigiessen good luck charms for sale in the city St. Stephen's - home of the Pummerin
    Related to:
    • Festivals

    Was this review helpful?

  • Escadora7's Profile Photo

    New Year's in Vienna - part III: the customs (2/2)

    by Escadora7 Written Jan 2, 2006

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    New Year's customs continued:

    The sounds of the Pummerin
    New Year's is one of the few occasions Vienna's most famous bell is rang - the Pummerin, located in St. Stephen's cathedral. At midnight thousands of people gather on St. Stephen's square in the inner city to hear the bell. The rest of the country listens to deep ringing sounds over the radio, since every station broadcasts the Pummerin.

    The sounds of Strauss - Donauwaltz
    Right after the Pummerin, the world-famous Donauwaltz (danube waltz) is broadcast. You can hear it from radio in the city, and you can find couples waltzing away in the snow and under fireworks throughout the streets of Vienna.

    Fireworks
    the custom of fireworks stems also from ancient times - its original meaning was to drive away demons and bad spirits. Nowadays it is done more for joy and to celebrate the New Year than to shooo away demons. The fireworks over Vienna are spectacular since they come from every house and apartment. This is much more impressive than any professionally organized fireworks-show I have ever seen....

    Good luck charms Fireworks streets of Vienna good luck charms in all sizes Bleigiessen
    Related to:
    • Festivals

    Was this review helpful?

  • croisbeauty's Profile Photo

    The "riviera" of Vienna

    by croisbeauty Updated Aug 28, 2013

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Vienna Promenade, which stretches along the Danube Canal, is a popular promenate and gathering place of idle Viennese. The canal is embanked and except for the walk there are still many small bars. At several points of the bank there is a small "riviera", oasis with sand and deck chairs where people can enjoy sunbathing. In another section there is a small exhibition space displaying posters, graffiti and other street creations.

    promenade bars&sunbathing exhibition section

    Was this review helpful?

  • tiabunna's Profile Photo

    Viennese hot dogs

    by tiabunna Written Aug 13, 2007

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    I’d read that hot dogs are something of a Viennese favourite ‘eat out’, so when we found several hot dog stalls not far from our hotel, it was only a matter of time before we tried them out.

    We instantly encountered a small problem: it seems that Viennese hot dogs share something in common with Viennese coffee – there are a great many variations on the theme. To our surprise, quite a diverse range of drinks is also available at these stalls, as you can see on this price list (Photo 2) which encompasses everything from vodka to mineral water!

    Fortunately, the very relaxed looking gent leaning on the counter (Photo 3) who, with his rubber thongs almost looks like an Australian, was able to give us expert advice on what we needed – we chose the cokes ourselves! This isn’t a restaurant tip, but we found the hot dogs to be both excellent and inexpensive. Give them a try during your visit – hot dog stalls seem to be everywhere.

    Viennese hot dogs Hot dog stall drinks list Viennese hot dog stall
    Related to:
    • Family Travel
    • Budget Travel
    • Food and Dining

    Was this review helpful?

  • tiabunna's Profile Photo

    Remote control watering!

    by tiabunna Written Aug 13, 2007

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Am I alone in being fascinated by the sight of unfamiliar gadgetry used by municipal authorities? You are also? Well, at least there are two of us!

    The Viennese gadget which prompts this tip was the “tree watering truck”, seen in these photos splashing water on the trees and gardens in Columbusplatz, just outside our hotel. I hadn’t seen one of these previously. The driver simply rolls up and by remote control extends an arm from the cab, then drenches the greenery as needed. What a great job this would be for all those kids who spend their time driving joysticks for video games!

    Zap it! This could be fun That's it for that one

    Was this review helpful?

  • tiabunna's Profile Photo

    Brass bands: how many trombones?

    by tiabunna Written Aug 13, 2007

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    We were to attend a VT meeting on the Saturday of our visit to Vienna: still jetlagged from travel, there was a slight risk of oversleeping. A local Viennese marching band eliminated any worries in that regard, by providing a recital and display outside our hotel in Columbusplatz. A brass band does indeed command attention!

    Consider the remarkable skill of these bands to play music while following complex marching patterns. It always seems a bit like patting one’s head while rubbing one’s stomach for 30 seconds: then reversing hands (try it now, it’s not easy)! I know if I was let loose in these circumstances I’d cause all manner of chaos, by playing dud notes and turning the wrong way into the bass drummer (quite apart from the passing detail that I have no musical abilities).

    The band’s name remains unknown, but they have red and green shield shaped patches on their sleeves, if that helps any Viennese locals with identification. Yes, they were quite good and drew a small but appreciative crowd. Note the photographer in the striped shirt in Photo 3 – by the time we get to Photo 5, he’s either trying to read the music or check on the marching instructions!

    76 (well almost) trombones Follow the leader! Round in circles - photographer in foreground This is getting complicated! Now, let's have a close look!
    Related to:
    • Music

    Was this review helpful?

  • croisbeauty's Profile Photo

    Sigmund Freud Park

    by croisbeauty Written Sep 8, 2013

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Public city parks are places where artists like to exhibit their sculptures, improving the whole area and making it more beautiful. Park visitors should admire work of art, or if not, at least ignoring them. Some visitors, and it is very obvious, have totally different ideas about the purpose of sculptures in public areas.
    On the first monument there are visible remnants of the night party, such as food, beverage and even part of the clothing. Whoever did it, have demonstrated extreme primitivism and lack of manners.

    Was this review helpful?

  • TheWanderingCamel's Profile Photo

    Summer festivals

    by TheWanderingCamel Updated Oct 11, 2006

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Austria is a predominately Catholic country and most of the holidays celebrated there are literally Holy Days. In June, the Feast of Corpus Christi on the Thursday following Trinity Sunday celebrates the Christian Eucharist, the Holy Body and Blood of Christ, and in Vienna that celebration is marked with the solemn procession of the Host around the Stephansdom, accompanied by representatives of the various confraternities and lay religious orders, dressed in traditional finery.

    A military band taking up its position in front of the Cathedral is the signal that something is about to happen. Crowds gather and the Cathedral bells start to ring out , the great doors of the main entrance swing open and the procession starts with little girls, dressed in white with garlands of flowers in their hair, strewing rose petals in the path the procession will take. Youths in velvet jackets, breeches and plumed hats come next, group after group of men and women in ceremonial dress, then the religious establishment of the Catheral in all the finery and finally the Host is brought out in a golden monstrance and protected by a brocaded canopy. Following on behind come the congregation and so the whole parade makes its way around the Cathedral in a tradition that is hundreds of years old.

    The Feast of Corpus Christi has always signalled the beginning of a time of festivity. For the last 20 years in Vienna that has translated into a celebration of music, food and culture known as the Donauinselfest that attracts huge crowds to an island in the Danube for a three day festival, the biggest free event of its kind in Europe.

    Related to:
    • Arts and Culture

    Was this review helpful?

  • themajor's Profile Photo

    CIVIC PRIDE VIENNESE STYLE!

    by themajor Updated Jul 8, 2005

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    No doubt about it, Vienna is one of the world's most beautiful cities. More impressive still, the local inhabitants are trying their very best to keep it that way. For Vienna is one of the cleanest, sparkliest cities I have ever seen. You get the feeling that if a passer-by inadvertently dropped a crisp packet they would pick it up and then hand themselves into the nearest police station for suitable punishment. Having a working social conscience seems to be a rare thing nowadays. So whilst London is awash with litter and my own beloved Brighton rattles with the empty carcasses of polystyrene take-away containers, Vienna seems to take an hourly shower and regular rub-down. I mean, just look at the bath they're giving the Natural History Museum!

    To be honest, if your hotel has a terrible shower I'd just pop into the city centre first thing, strip off, and stand in front of any classical facade that has a dirty mark on it. You're sure to come away with you're frontage freshened and your promentaries polished!

    SPOT THE DIFFERENCE!
    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Arts and Culture
    • Architecture

    Was this review helpful?

  • Ekaterinburg's Profile Photo

    Relieving the Pain of Plague: Liebe Augustin

    by Ekaterinburg Updated Jan 2, 2007

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    This statue of Dar Liebe Augustin is just outside the oldest restaurant in Vienna at Fleischmarkt and Griechengasse. Liebe Augustin, who was a frequent guest at this restaurant ,was a charismatic figure in 17th century Vienna who played the doodle sac ( probably bagpipes to most of us) and brought some happiness and relief to people devastated by the plague. Even though he was in constant contact with peole afflictd by the disease he never caught it himself. There was even a songwritten about this "oh, du lieben Augustin/Alles ist hin'. This local custom was pointed out to me by Globetrott who tried but didn't quite manage to teach me the song.

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Budget Travel
    • Backpacking

    Was this review helpful?

  • globetrott's Profile Photo

    Silvester-Pfad - the festivities at new Years Eve

    by globetrott Updated Apr 4, 2011

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Silvester-Pfad is the name of the festivity in Vienna at New Years Eve, when all of the inner city of Vienna is full of different shows, food-stands and when you are able to dance in the streets ( IN CASE that you find enough place to do so !!) In front of the townhall / Rathaus you may get dancing-lessons for viennese-waltz, beginning at 02.00p.m. and at night you may dance there as well in the open air, another open-air-dance-floor will be on Graben.
    Silvester-Pfad starts at 02.00p.m. and has an open end, although the official end is at 02.00a.m. - see the program and some pics at the web-link below !
    Be aware of the fact that the city of Vienna will be terribly crowded that day, especially close to Stephansdom, where Bummerin, the biggest bell of Austria will ring at midnight !
    Pfad is the expression for path and aqlong that path you will find the right place for your kind of music :
    Boogie Woogie and Rock n’ Roll live will be at Lugeck
    Samba & greek melodies will be at Freyung
    Music of the 80s, 90s, and today will be am Hof
    and so on...

    Click here for the opening-times of Museums in Vienna at Dec. 31st !

    Related to:
    • Wine Tasting
    • Food and Dining
    • Beer Tasting

    Was this review helpful?

  • tiabunna's Profile Photo

    Drinking fountains

    by tiabunna Updated Aug 21, 2007

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Vienna has excellent drinking water – there is absolutely no need to purchase the bottled variety. The city kindly provides drinking fountains around the streets at various places – from memory, this one was in the Kärntner Straße. Here we see a local Viennese citizen (who looks surprisingly familiar :)), demonstrating that local knowledge is a marvellous thing: the secret to getting the best use from these fountains is to carry a small empty water bottle to fill as needed for later in your travels.

    Viennese local at drinking fountain
    Related to:
    • Family Travel
    • Budget Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • tiabunna's Profile Photo

    Travel Mascots

    by tiabunna Written Oct 16, 2007

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Heard of travel mascots? They’re the animal companions you take with you while travelling and, unlike pets, there is no worry about whether they’re allowed in rooms, no feed, no need to take outside occasionally etc.

    I suspect they’re essentially a “European thing”, though somehow we found ourselves accompanied by a Royal Penguin – complete with travel pack! Then, when we met the other VTers for our Vienna VT Meeting, we also were joined by a whole group of travel mascots, who had their own meeting in the middle of the table. Maybe you should check your luggage, to see if one is lurking there – or if there’s room to also carry one!

    Come to a point, that Royal Penguin kept hogging the camera at tourist destinations too!

    Main photo: Meeting of travel mascots during the VT Meeting
    Second photo:Macca at the Belvedere.

    VT Travel Mascot meeting Macca visits the Brandenburg
    Related to:
    • Travel with Pets
    • Arts and Culture

    Was this review helpful?

Vienna Hotels

See all 467 Hotels in Vienna

Latest Vienna Hotel Reviews

Pharmador Pension
Best (5.0 out of 5.0) 1 Review
Austria Classic Hotel Bleckmann
Good (3.0 out of 5.0) 2 Reviews
Hotel Pension Liechtenstein Apartments
Good (3.0 out of 5.0) 1 Review
Westend City Hostel
Very Good (3.5 out of 5.0) 2 Reviews
Hotel Rustler
Best (5.0 out of 5.0) 1 Review
Hotel Porzellaneum
Great (4.0 out of 5.0) 2 Reviews
Hotel Urania
Great (4.0 out of 5.0) 4 Reviews
Happy Hostel
Good (3.0 out of 5.0) 1 Review
Hotel Mercure Josefshof
Excellent (4.5 out of 5.0) 3 Reviews
Austria Trend Hotel Savoyen Vienna
Best (5.0 out of 5.0) 1 Review
Gabriel
Great (4.0 out of 5.0) 2 Reviews
Atel Congress
Poor (1.5 out of 5.0) 2 Reviews
Pension Elisabeth
Good (3.0 out of 5.0) 1 Review

Instant Answers: Vienna

Get an instant answer from local experts and frequent travelers

25 travelers online now

Comments

Vienna Local Customs

Travel tips and advice posted by real travelers and Vienna locals.
Map of Vienna

Vienna Members Meetings

Jul 04, 2015 
Homer & Ed are coming to Vienna

see all Vienna member meetings