It isn’t the end of the world but it sure ain’t pretty. COVID-19, the coronavirus, the modern plague, we don’t care what you call it as long as you don’t say it in front of a mirror, three times. Will it ever end? We’re not entirely sure - we make city guides, not predictions - but we can promise that we’ll be here to guide you through the rubble when it does. So, what to do in Vienna during these times? Well, stay away from other people (at least two metres), wash your hands and be careful, obviously, but here are some other ways to stay sane in Vienna right now.
Gawp at palatial magic
Vienna may be a city for its people, but the wealthy veins of the Austrian capital cannot be ignored. Just take a look at the Belvedere Palace complex for a start, gorgeous buildings set in verdant gardens that are the stuff of wild, wild dreams. This is a stunner, but it is the Schönbrunn Palace that truly takes the breath away, a quite magnificent palace that served as the summer residence of the Habsburg rulers. You can’t enter, sorry, but you can look for as long as you like.
Now might be the right time to turn to God. The big man upstairs may be testing us, had you considered that? These are biblical times. Vienna is home to some quite miraculous churches and cathedrals, houses of faith and worship that inspire feelings and emotions you didn’t know you had. Stephansdom (St Stephan’s Cathedral) sits at the top of the table, a Gothic showstopper that acts as the religious, cultural and geographic centre of this life-affirming city. Be sure to check out the Otto Wagner-inspired Church at Steinhof too, along with the Minority’s Church (Minoritenkirche). Time to find God. Look, but don't go in. You can't.
Have we ever mentioned that Vienna is a seriously beautiful city? Well, Vienna is a seriously beautiful city. Ten out of ten. Two thumbs up. If you find yourself wandering around town in these plague days (a safe distance from others, of course), make a list of the city’s most beautiful buildings and tick them off. You simply can’t miss the Hundertwasser-Krawinahaus, an apartment complex that might just be the most iconic residential building in this part of the world. We’ve gone over some of the city’s palaces, but a glance at the Hofburg is an absolute must. Oh, the Karlskirche too, why we didn’t mention that in churches we’ll never know. Seriously, it is bloody beautiful.
The final resting place of genius
Visiting graveyards during such tumultuous times might be seen by some as tempting fate, but we’re never been particularly superstitious. Vienna’s Zentralfriedhof is the central cemetery, a stunning spot that is home to (if we’re giving the dead a home) such luminaries as Beethoven, Brahms, Schoenberg and more. It is one of the biggest cemeteries on the face of the earth. You won’t find Mozart there though, oh no, ol’ Wolfie is buried at the St. Marx Cemetery. Josef Madersperger is also here, and he invented the sewing machine. If you’re after a cemetery with a little more mystery, seek out the Cemetery of the Nameless, the eternal resting place of Vienna’s anonymous suicide victims.
The Old Town all to yourself
These are quiet times on the streets of Vienna, the sort of post-apocalyptic tranquility that comes after world-changing events. Vienna’s city centre is a stunning mix of architectural styles found on streets where actual history was made, where kings and queens held court as the artists of the world did whatever it was they did back in the day. The crowds will soon return.
Concrete as canvas
Vienna is home to some seriously impressive pieces of street art, although would you expect anything less from one of the most artistic cities on the planet? The famous Street Art Passage is the epicentre of it all, while the banks of the Danube offer a dizzying range of colours, styles and artistic ideas. Don’t add to it, but do appreciate it. Look out for the cow and the wolf playing backgammon, because why wouldn’t you look out for such a magnificent image?
Pigeon-spotting in World War II
Things are bad, but they aren’t World War II-bad yet, surely? We’re not about to tempt fate, but Vienna is home to some curious WWDos architecture that now primarily belongs to the pigeons of the city. The huge Flak towers were built by the Nazis during the war, ostensibly to act as gun towers against Allied air raids. These massive towers are all but abandoned in the modern age, left to act as pigeon homes for the rats of the sky.
Please survive. We have lives to live, and there is so much exploring to be done. Stay safe, as safe as can be.