With some of the most enjoyable shopping venues in Europe, the experience of finding a gift to bring home from Austria is best in Vienna, and certainly parallels the quality of the merchandise. A variety of different types of shops, with offerings ranging from clothing, to gourmet foods, to local art, provide gifts for many different interests.
Austrian Chocolate and Beverages
Among the gourmet foods that make good gifts from Vienna are the many famous brands of Austrian chocolates. Created by the Hotel Sacher, one example is the Sacher torte, which is sold in several different sizes and in a sturdy wooden box to secure it during shipping. Heindl and Mozart chocolates are both also well known for their quality. Another popular sweet to take home from Austria is Marzipan, a sweet almost paste dipped in chocolate, often made in artistic shapes.
A great place to find these delicious sweets as well as other traditional Austrian foods is the famous open-air-market, Naschmarkt. Supermarkets, such as Billa, also carry these famous chocolate brands and for much less than the specialty shops. They also carry Austrian favorites such as Meinl coffee, Almdudler herbal lemonade, and Mannerschitten wafers. On your way out, you may want to pick up a bottle of traditial white wine since Vienna is known for having some of the best.
Local Viennese Crafts
Many Viennese shops sell delightful local crafts that can serve as wonderful gifts for family and friends. Among these gifts are hand-painted porcelain, ceramics, handmade dolls, wrought-iron work, petit-point needlework, knitwear, down quilts, wood-carvings, and leather goods. Porcelain from the manufacturer Augarten, is especially famous from Vienna and should be considered as a gift for someone special. Glass and crystal items from the same organization that adorned the royal palaces of Austria, and continue to inhabit the likes of the Kremlin and the King’s Palace in Saudi Arabia can be purchased at J&R Lobmeyr. Looking for a gift for an art lover? Check out art inspired by the Austrian art nouveau artist Gustav Klimt, particularly art deco items. Boutiques often sell jeweled items and accessories such as silk scarves and neckties that are reminiscent of his work. Galleries, such as Wolfrum, featuring more direct reflections of Austrian art can be found in Vienna offering items such as old prints, modern graphics, reproductions, art postcards, art calendars, and art books on Austria and Vienna specifically.
Helmut Lang and Austrian Fasion
While Austria is not traditionally known as a pioneer in fashion, there are some high-end boutiques offering items to be worn by those of the most impeccable taste. The Helmut Lang store showcases the best in Austria’s homegrown design talent. The Kohlmarkt is home to top international designers such as Gucci and Chanel. Ludwig Reiter offers the equivalent in shoes, world famous for both his daring, trendy designs as well as his classics. At A.E. Koechert, you can bring someone at home a piece of jewelry made by the jeweler to the Habsburgs. For a different taste of Austrian fashion, Tostmann Trachten offers traditional style dirndls, lederhosen, and both adult and child full costumes.
Other Miscellaneous Gifts
Karntnerstrasse and Mariahilferstrasse are probably the two best-known areas of Vienna in terms of shopping. Many different types of merchandise can be found here, including clothing, music, jewelry, books, and handmade goods such as knitwear, candles, and ornaments. Additionally department stores such as Gerngross and Euro-Center offer a wide assortment of goods in a convenient location. For a more unusual group of items, Flohmarkt, the biggest flea market in Vienna, open on Saturdays from 8:00am to 12:00pm, is a good place to find interesting gifts. The Dorotheum auction house is a great place for antiques, art nouveau furniture, stamps, and many different types of collectibles. Outside of Vienna, Salzburg is a great place to find gifts.
When and Where to Shop
Most shops are open between 8:00am or 9:00am and 6:00pm on the weekdays and noon to 6:00pm on Saturdays. In smaller towns many shops take one or two-hour midday breaks. Additionally, Austria has more national holidays and religious festivals than most other European countries, so it’s a good idea to pay attention to a calendar when planning on shopping. Visitors from outside the EU can reclaim the 20% Value Added Tax at the airport. While major credit cards are often accepted, it is a good idea to travel with cash.