The tourist's Vienna and the local's Vienna are often two very different things. The former tends to be about grand, wedding cakey Habsburg palaces, horse and cart rides, classical music recitals and deadly serious art museums. The local version is much less stiff and formal, and arguably far more enjoyable. There's a good reason why Vienna often features near the top of Most Liveable City lists …
The northern end of the Prater is somewhere between a fairground and a theme park, with dozens of rides ranging from puke-inducing rollercoasters to quaint carousels. It's the big wheel that's the icon, though, and devotees of Graham Greene's The Third Man treat it as something of a pilgrimage site. The rest of the Prater is much quieter, with walking trails and slightly overgrown grassy meadows.
The Naschmarkt is more than just a market – it's a congregation of food stalls, cafes and restaurants that just so happen to be in market-style huts. And they stay open long into the evening, meaning that those who come to browse during the day are replaced by those coming to graze later on. The range is immense, from Balkan pastries and fish specialists to teppanyaki, dim sum and wine bars. See naschmarkt-vienna.com.
It's the glorious impracticality of Friedensreich Hundertwasser's designs that make his buildings so wonderful to look at and explore. Hundertwasser Haus in the third district is the prime example of this architecture gone bonkers, with madly clashing colours, inexplicable bulges, uneven floors, and curves where anyone else would go for the easy straight option. See hundertwasser-haus.info
Vienna has an astonishing collection of extremely niche museums, including those devoted to funerals, fake art and condoms. But the Palais Mollard in the city centre hits gold dust, housing the Globe Museum, which is full of intricately detailed and sometimes outlandish globes, some of which are hundreds of years old and missing Australia. Better still, there's a museum about Esperanto, the language invented to promote global peace and harmony, in the same building. See onb.ac.at
The Graeztlhotel has an unusual, love it or hate it concept. It has bought up a few unused shopfronts in up-and-coming parts of the city – including some at the buzzy Karmelitermarkt near the Prater – and turned them into design-conscious apartments. It's an odd middle ground between hip hotel and apartment rental. Prices start at €84.10.
Vienna is surrounded by hillside wineries. On a sunny day, head to the outer districts – particularly Dobling and Floridsdorf – and you can have a hearty walk, stopping in at a heuriger (wine tavern) or five, sampling the wines and tucking into charcuterie-style grub.
David Whitley was a guest of Vienna Tourism, see wien.info