Dodging Vienna’s crowds unearths some gems

Dodging the peak season crowds at Vienna, Austria, can be quiet an art.

But, if you do a little exploring, there are some real gems in this most elegant of cities.

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Hofburg Imperial Palace

One of Vienna’s finest attractions is the Hofburg Imperial Palace, with its striking architecture, statues and stables harking back to the luxury of the Hapsburg Empire.

Reluctant to join busy organised tours of the palace rooms, we wandered instead around the cobblestone square and spied the Cafe Hofburg near one of the main gates.

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Courtyard Hofburg Imperial Palace

A quick check on Trip Advisor and we settled in for coffee and Apfelstrudel, as grand as any we’ve tasted in Austria.

It was the perfect way to chill and avoid the bustle.hofburg-cafe

Likewise with the Naschmarkt, a popular shopping/market area just outside Vienna’s Inner City.

We spent some time there, but finally escaped to quieter side streets, where we were delighted to come upon Crossfield’s Australian Pub, on Maysedgasse 5.

What a place!

The pub not only serves typical Australian fare – including kangaroo burgers – but also boasts drinks such as ‘Kakadu Ale’ and the exotically-named ‘Snake Bite’, which we discovered was a ‘middy’ (about 285ml) of cider, accompanied by a middy of Forsters beer and raspberry.

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Crossfield’s Australian Pub

Each ‘Snake Bite’ cost a little more than five Euros and certainly had a different taste.

Viennese cuisine is exceptional and the city boasts some of the finest restaurants you’ll ever encounter.

We’ve tried traditional Wiener schnitzel (veal coated in breadcrumbs and fried) followed by Millirahmstrudel (milk-cream strudel) but, when last in Vienna, we fell back on an old ploy called ‘follow the locals’.

Vienna university is located in the inner city and – knowing that students are usually able to sniff out a good, cheap meal – we followed a group of students to a small licenced cafe in the shadows of St Stephen’s Cathedral.

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Traditional Apfelstrudel

There, we were able to get a hearty meal, accompanied by a few ales, for a particularly good price.

This ploy is thoroughly recommended. We’ve even eaten at university canteens, where the cost is usually very low.

Another shopping area in Vienna that is popular with tourists is the MariahilferstaBe.

We avoid the crowds by heading for the Raimundhof Passage, a cute little walkway that yields some lovely shops and destinations known mainly to the locals.

One of our favourite stops down the passage is Sir Hardy’s Tea, an olde world tearoom that serves some awesome brews.

Again, we thoroughly recommend.

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