Visitors can spend many happy hours shopping or just browsing in Vienna's shops, where handicrafts are part of a long-established tradition of skilled workmanship. Popular for their beauty and quality are petit-point items, hand-painted Wiener Augarten porcelain, gold and silver work, ceramics, enamel jewelry, wrought-iron articles, and leather goods, among others.
VAT Refunds -- Fortunately for visitors to Austria, the country's Value-Added Tax (Mehrwertsteuer Rückvergütung, or VAT), which can be as high as 34% on some luxury goods, is refundable.
The Shopping Scene
The main shopping streets are in the city center (1st District). Here you'll find Kärntnerstrasse, between the State Opera and Stock-im-Eisen-Platz (U-Bahn: Karlsplatz); the Graben, between Stock-im-Eisen-Platz and Kohlmarkt (U-Bahn: Stephansplatz); Kohlmarkt, between the Graben and Michaelerplatz (U-Bahn: Herrengasse); and Rotenturmstrasse, between Stephansplatz and Kai (U-Bahn: Stephansplatz). Other destinations are Mariahilferstrasse, between Babenbergerstrasse and Schönbrunn, one of the longest streets in Vienna (U-Bahn: Mariahilferstrasse or Schönbrunn); Favoritenstrasse, between Süditrolerplatz and Reumannplatz (U-Bahn: Süditrolerplatz); and Landstrasser Hauptstrasse (U-Bahn: Schlachthausgasse).
The Naschmarkt is a vegetable-and-fruit market with a lively scene every day. To visit it, head south of the opera district. It's at Linke and Rechte Wienzeile (U-Bahn: Karlsplatz.)
Right in the heart of the city, opening onto Stephansplatz, stands the supremely modern Haas House, designed by the renowned Pritzker Prize-winning Hans Hollein. You can see the mirror image of the cathedral reflected in its semicircular glass facade. Today, Haas House shelters a number of exclusive shops and boutiques and also boasts a terrace restaurant with a panoramic view over the historic core.
Shops are normally open Monday to Friday from 9am to 6pm, and Saturday from 9am to 1pm. Small shops close between noon and 2pm for lunch. Shops in the Westbahnhof and Südbahnhof railroad stations are open daily from 7am to 11pm, offering groceries, smokers' supplies, stationery, books, and flowers.
Shopping A to Z
Antiques -- Vienna's antiques shops constitute a limitless treasure trove. You can find valuable old books, engravings, etchings, and paintings in secondhand shops, bookshops, and picture galleries.
Open-Air Markets -- Since the Middle Ages, Viennese merchants have thrived by hauling produce, dairy products, and meats from the fertile farms of Lower Austria and Burgenland into the city center. The tradition of buying the day's provisions directly from street stalls is so strong, even today, that it discourages the establishment of modern supermarkets in the city center.
The largest of the city's outdoor food markets is the Naschmarkt, Wienzeile, in the 6th District (U-Bahn: Karlsplatz), just south of the Ring. It occupies what was originally the riverbed of a branch of the Danube, which was diverted and paved over during the massive public works projects of the 19th century. It's the most popular and colorful of the markets, as well as the most comprehensive.
Entire books have been written about the subcultures and linguistic dialects that flourish among the Naschmarkt's denizens. Observe the following unwritten rules if you want to avoid the wrath of the notoriously short-tempered women selling their goods: Never touch merchandise unless you intend to buy something. Don't try to buy less than a half-kilo (about a pound) of potatoes. And -- even if your German is good -- don't even try to understand the raunchy Viennese patois.
Get there early in the morning and wander through the labyrinth of outdoor food stands, and at the end of your tour, head for the nearby Coffeehouse Drechsler for breakfast or a cup of coffee.
Somewhat smaller and less varied are the Rochusmarkt, at Landstrasser Hauptstrasse at the corner of the Erdbergstrasse, in the 3rd District (U-Bahn: Rochusgasse), a short distance east of the Ring; and the Brunnenmarkt, on the Brunnengasse, in the 16th District (U-Bahn: Josefstädterstrasse), a subway ride west of the center and a short walk north of Vienna's Westbahnhof.
Most merchants in these markets maintain approximately the same hours: Monday to Friday from 8am to 6pm, Saturday from 8am to noon.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.