Must-see in Vienna: Spittelberg and the MuseumsQuartier

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.

The museums of the MuseumsQuartier include the Leopold Museum, which is famous for its Schieles, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, among others. It is definitely worth a visit.

My visit to Vienna was sponsored by the Vienna Tourist Board and Cool Capitals, but the opinions expressed in the article are 100% my own.

The Alstadt Hotel – unassuming luxury

The Alstadt Hotel
is a charming Vienna residence where one feels instantly at home.

Located in historic Spittelberg (Vienna’s 7th district), the accommodations are a strange blend of home and hotel, in that they share a stairway, an elevator and several hallways with actual Vienna apartments. You can see from the photo at right that at first glance, you might not even notice that it’s a hotel, as the reception level and lobby are on the 2nd floor. How often does one walk through their fancy hotel and see people carrying their groceries? I found this juxtaposition welcoming and fun.

When I stayed at The Alstadt last month, I was lucky enough to be put in one of the Matteo Thun rooms. The Alstadt has 8 rooms and one suite created by this Italian design superstar. Mine, “The Leonie,” was decked in blacks, grays, silvers and rich red. Check out the gallery to see the Victorian wallpaper, see-through black tile bathroom and the image of a naked woman on the ceiling above the bed (surprisingly tasteful!).

%Gallery-88597%Breakfast at the Alstadt is a cozy, friendly affair. Guests all gather in the common spaces downstairs to partake in the buffet and free-flowing coffee, orange juice and champagne. The food was a quirky blend of savory and sweet, most of it very light, and eggs could be made to order. One thing I especially liked about the breakfast was that it encouraged guests to make use of the comfortable and welcoming lobby space on the reception level, which can be used all day as a sitting room — and might otherwise not be utilized properly, because you don’t have to pass it to get to your room. The reception level also includes a smoking room with a free internet-enabled computer, so travelers without laptops don’t have to completely disconnect.

If you’re looking for a cool place to stay in Vienna with a little luxury and a lot of character, I would highly recommend The Alstadt. They offer packages for art lovers and honeymooners, and rates start at 119 euros (approximately $161.51) per night.

My visit to Vienna was sponsored by the
Vienna Tourist Board and Cool Capitals, but the opinions expressed in the article are 100% my own.