If you’re looking for something to do in Vienna that’s off-the-beaten-path, I would suggest a visit to the historic Spittelberg area in the 7th district. Some define the entire 7th district as Spittelberg, but purists will tell you that it is actually just a collection of about six little cobbled streets, each more charming than the last. It’s just a quick skip-and-a-jump from the MuseumsQuartier, which I’ll tell you about, as well.
Spittelberg was built from the 1700s to the early 1800s in an area belonging to a hospital. Over the years, the area became more and more run down, and by the 1960s, it had devolved into a red light district complete with drugs and prostitutes. The government made a move to tear it down, but suddenly, support for the area sprang up from groups all over Vienna. It was decided that Spittelberg should be restored and preserved. Now, it’s home to interesting boutiques and restaurants, art galleries and even a playground. Like with much of Vienna, Spittelberg is a mix of old and new.
The MuseumsQuartier, or Museum Quarter, is a well-designed grouping of several museums outside the Baroque structure where Emperor Charles VI kept his horses. The standalone museums were begun in the 1990s and opened in 2001 to bring a younger, more diverse crowd to Vienna’s art scene. In the summer, the courtyard of the MuseumsQuartier is filled with benches for relaxing — and every year, the public votes on what color those benches will be. DJs or bands play, and people sit outside the Istanbul-infuenced Milo cafe with coffees and drinks, whether they’re visiting the museums or just enjoying the ambience. This is not a tourist trap; this is where you will find the actual cool Viennese people.