Vienna: Know Your $h!t



This is Know Your $h!t – a series where I help you get in the know before you Shut Up And Go. Get the historical, political and social lowdown before you touchdown (and maybe some recs on the hotspots and hidden gems of the area).

Vienna has been featured a lot recently here at Shut Up And Go – haven’t you read Damon’s post about it? There’s a reason: Vienna is one of the most stunning cities ever, offering the culture-thirsty traveller a cup that runneth over with Baroque architecture, fascinating history, and other high-brow areas of interest, including art, theatre and, the rarest of all beasts to indulge when travelling, psychoanalysis. Ja meine Babys – it’s time to Know Your $h!t in Vienna.


Hofburg museum at night Vienna, Austria
Museum Lovers Unite

Another European capital, another fiiiiine selection of museums for you to choose from. What else would you expect from this remnant of the Renaissance? Everything from art to history, from the quirky to the traditional, and, of course, the über Freudian.

If it’s art you came for, you came to the right place. Take your pick from the iconic Schönbrunn Palace, the Belvedere, or the largest museum in Austria, the Kunsthistorsches Museum (sniggers in English) if you like your art prestigious and your surroundings palatial. Just across Museumplatz (an obvious starter destination if you plan to get your museum on) is the Mumok for all your contemporary art needs. To continue the Know Your $h!t metaphor of you (the insatiable wanderer) and the destination (the source of all good sustenance), the art lovers among you won’t be able to manage another bite after a trip to the Viennese galleries. Not even of that delicious looking Klimt over there.

Maybe you’re like me, a huge history nerd in case you couldn’t already tell, and you’re just dying to get stuck into the complexities of European political systems of the 20th century (who wouldn’t be, right?). A visit to the Jewish Museum will be exactly what you’re looking for. Not only does it offer thoughtful and comprehensive information about Viennese Jews in a Holocaust context, but you can go underground and see the foundations of the original Medieval Jewish synagogue in the museum’s Judenplatz location. The museum also has a second location in Dorotheeregasse 11, where you can learn more about Austrian politics and the political ideologies that dominated Europe during the Cold War. When I visited, there was also a really interesting exhibit about Helena Rubinstein, an American-Polish Jew who founded her own iconic makeup brand. Tickets for students are only €8 (free for under 18s) and give you access to both sites for the day.

Monument to the Jews of Vienna that died in the Holocaust, Judenplatz
Memorial to the Jewish people that perished in the Holocaust outside the Jewish Museum in Judenplatz

Of course, you’ll probably want to delve a little deeper into the consciousness of Vienna’s prodigal son, Sigmund Freud (oh how the therapy couches have turned). The Sigmund Freud Museum is in his old living quarters and office, slightly out of the city centre, and gives you the chance to learn more about the father of psychoanalysis, see where and how he worked, and see the contemporary art collection by Joseph Kosuth inspired by Freud’s work.

Sigmund Freud museum, Vienna
Take Me To Kirche

(Other buildings are available).

Believers and atheists unite as one in Vienna, for everyone can enjoy the majesty of the churches this city has to offer. Perfectly in keeping with the grandeur of the city’s architecture, my friend and I found ourselves wandering through quite a few churches in Vienna on the day we chose to follow our feet. Not only are they beautiful, they’re also a) free and b) interesting, whether you’re into religion, history, art, architecture, or just want to get more of a well-rounded taste of Vienna and its culture. Oslo may have the monopoly on modern architecture, but Vienna is your girl if you’re hardcore into Baroque.

Architecture in Vienna
Interior of a church in Vienna
Get In Nullnummer, We’re Going Shopping

Anyone that has known me/saw me since January 2018 will know my dungarees, because after finding them in Urban Outfitters in Vienna reduced from €45 to €15 (!!!), I didn’t take them off. It was also in Vienna that I bought the iconic stripey jumper that I paired with my ‘rees. What I’m trying to say is, if you feel like treating yourself in Vienna, there is ample opportunity. All the brands you know and love, plus some you don’t.

A personal brand I can recommend to anyone from outside of Europe is Monki – a Scandinavian brand with a fab store on the main shopping street in Vienna. If you find yourself in Vienna, or any city that has a branch, look through their sale! I promise you won’t be disappointed.

And, if you feel like really treating yourself (or just pretending that you’re wealthy), a stroll around the designer shopping district is a must. It’s pretty, it’s bougie, it’s flashy, and it’s really close to Mozarthaus, which I feel just adds an extra touch of class to the whole experience.

Shopping in Vienna
Harriet in the Urban Outfitters changing room in Vienna
Sounds Good, But I’m Starving

So your cultural stomach is full, but your second stomach (your actual stomach) is, as yet, empty. Fear not, for there is food in Vienna.

As you probably already know, Vienna has a rep for a thriving café culture, especially with the famous Café Central, which is always packed (booking is recommended if you’re looking to splash the cash on delicate patisserie) and used to serve up sweet treats to the likes of Freud, Trotsky, and even Hitler.

Even if you’re not heading to Café Central, between the famous Naschmarkt (great name) and the many cafés and restaurants of Vienna, you’ll be able to track down some more affordable cakes and pastries, goulash, or even some kick-ass Italian food (that’s what I did anyway – and I’d do it again).

Cakes in a window in Vienna
Who’s heading to Vienna for the winter?

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