The “City of Waltzes” retains the elegance of centuries past. It’s a monumental city filled with churches, museums, concert halls, and government buildings of such a massive scale and grandeur that you can’t help but recall this city was once the center of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Now the capital of the rather small Austria it seems a bit oversized, but part of its former importance has been restored by housing the offices of large international organizations such as the United Nations and OPEC.
Among the most capable military commanders of Austria and the Holy Roman Empire, Prince Eugene of Savoy is famous for pushing the Ottomans from the gates of Vienna and back to the Balkans during the course of several 17th century wars. A great patron of the arts, he was was well known during his lifetime to prefer same-sex affairs. Among the buidings he had constructed, during the era of peaceful prosperity he helped to secure, was a grandiose complex of Baroque palaces. He spent summers here, at the Schloss Belvedere - now part of the Austrian Gallery, with its collection of paintings by artists such as Klimt, Schiele, and Kokoschka.
Vienna recently celebrated the 150th birthday of Gustav Klimt. A pioneer of the Modernist painting style, Klimt spent most of his life in Vienna and is best known for The Kiss, currently on display at the Belvedere. Almost 200 of his drawings are on exhibit at the Albertina museum.
Prince Eugene came to Vienna from Paris during the reign of Emperor Charles VI, who was also said to prefer men, writing of his intimate relationship of 19 years with Count Michael Johann Althan III. Charles had the Church of St. Charles Borromeo (Karlskirche) built, along with numerous grandiose baroque structures by prominent architects. Schönbrunn Palace and the Hofburg were also enlarged.
The Museumsquartier (or MQ), a playground for art-lovers, is home to the Leopold Museum, the Museum of Modern Art (mumok), the Kunsthistorisches Museum, and many artists' residences and studios. It's also full of restaurants, cafes and bars wiith distinctive lounge chairs. The house where composer Franz Schubert was born and another where he died can also be visited. Schubert shared his room and bed for two years with his librettist Johann Baptist Mayerhofer, who was known to be gay.
Although not as famous as those in Berlin or Paris, the gay scene here sizzles and goes late into the night. There are dozens of major events every year, including film festivals, circuit parties, bear gatherings, and, of course, June's Rainbow Parade. There’s a complete list of LGBT events at Wien.info, the city’s official tourism office. Much of the gay scene of club, bars and restaurants, is clustered just south-west of the ring road surrounding the historic city center, around Pilgramgasse, Neubaugasse, Museumsquartier and Karlsplatz subway or U-bahn stations
Vienna International Airport is about 12 miles southeast of the city. The best way to get downtown is the streamlined City Airport Train, the CAT, which delivers you to the downtown Wien Mitte station in about 16 minutes, for 11 euros. Their website sells tickets and has a Vienna guide for your mobile phone (also at the iPhone app store) called a "handy" here.
The S-Bahn train (see rail connections) between the same destinations takes 25 minutes, and costs just 4.40 euros. Tickets are sold at machines on the platform, but if paying with plastic you need a card with chip and pin number. The Trainline is a good website for info on rail transit --local, throughout Austria and beyond. Postbus buses also serve the route from the airport to downtown, for 8 euros (buy your ticket on the bus); and to Bratislava, Slovakia.
Arriving at the downtown Wien Mitte station there are trains from every part of Europe. For Austrian national and international travel see OBB.
The best way to see the city is to traverse the Ringstrasse, the street that encircles the oldest part of the city. Streetcars Number 1 and Number 2 run here in opposite directions. The tram system operates on over a hundred miles of track, connecting 1,071 stations across the city, and the U-Bahn subway system has 104 stations on five color-coded lines. See Wiener Linien for an easy-to-use guide to public transport.
City Bike is the bike share program of Vienna, with 120 stations in operation, and 1,500 bikes out on the streets the whole year. Click the English language button on their homepage for directions. Registration is required via the Internet or at a Citybike terminal using a VISA, MasterCard, or JCB credit card. Following that, you can take out one bike per card immediately. The first hour of each ride is free of charge. Wait 15 minutes before taking it out again and get another hour at no cost. Their website explains rental rates for longer times, but return the bike before the 4 hour mark and the total should not exceed 3 euros. Add 4 euros each time you pass any subsequent hour marks. Do not keep for 120 hours or more, and be sure the bike is properly locked when returned (or pay a hefty surcharge).
What to do
Make sure to see the Kunst Historisches Museum, the stately fine arts museum with its unmatched collection of pieces by Breughel, Titian, Rembrandt, and Rubens. Among the best historical structures is the Schönbrunn Palace, where you can explore the history of the Habsburg rulers.
Art and culture have long traditions in Vienna, including theatre, opera, classical music and fine arts. The Burgtheater, the Akademietheater, Volkstheater Wien, and the Theater in der Josefstadt are nobtable examples. Many smaller theaters are less mainstream, with modern experimental productions and cabaret.
Vienna opera houses include the Theater an der Wien, the Staatsoper, and the Volksoper, presenting Viennese operettas. The Wiener Musikverein, home to the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Wiener Konzerthaus, have concerts of classical music. The works of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Johann Strauss can be heard at various venues around town including the Palais Liechtenstein. Mozart became a celebrated composer here, with a wide circle of friends, giving concerts at the houses of the Viennese nobility. His last surviving residence (1784 to 1787) Mozarthaus Vienna, is open to the public at Domgasse 5. This grand apartment was home during his happiest years, when he wrote his most popular opera, The Marriage of Figaro.
The Vienna Boys Choir sings during Sunday Mass at Hofburgkapelle, the Hofburg Chapel, at the Imperial Palace, from mid-September to the end of June; also now and then at MuTh, Vienna‘s new music and theater venue, and the Konzerthaus Mozartsaal.
Hot and tired? Vienna has lots of options for cooling off with their many public swimming pools, especially during summer months. Most pools are surrounded by shade trees and/or lawns, and feature sports areas, sunbathing meadows, and usually a restaurant or cafe. Find a good list of the most popular facilities, and their website links, at Vienna4U. One of the largest and most popular, Gänsehäufel-Strandbad, has lots of facilites, including restaurants, sports facilities, massage services, large bathing areas, a wave pool, a 2km long beach, and places to go nude if you want to. For other naturalist sunning and swimming options see the FKK Wien website, with maps and directions. GayInVienna lists the gayest of these, of which Schönbrunnerbad is the most popular.
Currency and Money
Austria is part of the Euro Zone, so the euro is the accepted currency. There are plenty of ATMs in the downtown area.
Media & Resources
GayBoy.at online magazine has a guide to all the club nights and parties, and online hook-up clubs for diverse gay preferences. GAYNET is an online gay lifestyle magazine, with updates on and photos of the local club scene. Rainbow.at is another local gay guide.
At Gay In Vienna they'll show you around this city, from the gay beach, to the Belvedere palaces, to pet-friendly spots in town; with daily lists of whats on at the bars, clubs and saunas online too.
Vangardist is "a progressive men's magazine" with slick photo layouts, fashion, travel spreads, and general queer appeal.
Xtra! is Austria's largest gay magazine, for sale each month at newstands and bookstores, in German.
HOSI, the LGBT activist group, has information resources, free WiFi and Cafe Gugg, open to all on most days, except Wednesdays and Thursdays for women and youth groups only. HOSI also produces the annual January Viennese Rainbow Ball (Wiener Regenbogenball), one of the city's most popular LGBT social events of the year; also the June Rainbow Parade (Regenbogenparade).
See the website of LMC Vienna for what's going on in the large leather/fetish community here, with frequent events.
Wien Info has a wealth of general tourist information about Vienna, in English - especially good for checking out all the concerts scheduled in this City of Music.
The Rosa Lila Villa LGBTQ Community Center (Linke Wienzeile 102) offers a variety of services including a library, with books and newspapers, gay guide maps, and an archive. Their Cafe/Restaurant Willendorf is open from 6pm to 2am, with garden seating, and food service until midnight.
See our Vienna gay maps & listings pages for business locations and web links.
Hotels & Guesthouses
Arcotel Wimberger Hotel (Neubaugürtel 34-36), moderately-priced rooms and suites, balconies, vegan-option breakfasts, restaurant/bar, spa and gym.
Art Hotel Vienna (Brandmayergasse 7-9, Vienna Margareten), 3-star modern rooms and long-stay apartments near gay scene; cable TV, breakfast, internet.
BaKul Guesthouse (Stolberggasse 51), four inexpensive rooms, apartment, kitchens, quiet district; shops, cafes, easy/nearby transit.
Best Western Premier Kaiserhof Wien (Frankenberggasse 10), quiet setting at sentral location, 74 single/double rooms, and suites, breakfast buffet, cafe/bar.
Das Tyrol Hotel (Mariahilfer Strasse 15), 30 lavish rooms, full amenities, home comforts; private sauna, steam bath, light-therapy shower.
Falkensteiner Hotel Am Schottenfeld (Schottenfeldgasse 74), 144 rooms, breakfast buffet, SkyTV, WiFi, fitness facilities, bar/lounge, steam/sauna and gym.
Fleming’s Hotel Wien Westbahnhof (Neubaugürtel 26, Neubau), 168 rooms, 5 suites near main train station; breakfast, WiFi, brasserie/ wine bar.
Hotel Altstadt Vienna (Kirchengasse 41), artworks collection, 42 unique rooms/suites, apartments, massage therapy, breakfast buffet, 4pm tea and cake.
Hotel Bajazzo (Eßlinggasse 7), small 12-room hotel, quiet street, breakfast buffet, easy transit connections.
Hotel Beethoven Wien (Papagenogasse 6, Naschmark), 4-star hotel a few minutes’ walk from the Opera, concierge, private concerts, airport transfers.
Hotel Kärntnerhof (Grashofgasse 4), Viennese art nouveau, French flair and Italian elegance; 44 rooms/suites, roof garden views, breakfast, cable TV, WiFi.
Hotel Kunsthof (Mühlfeldgasse 13), 49 modern rooms in various sizes, breakfast, restaurant/bar, green courtyard oasis.
Hotel Mercure Wien City (Hollandstraße 3), 122 rooms at the center, 24-hour bar/club, sauna/Jacuzzi, satellite TV, WiFi.
Hotel Mercure Wien Westbahnhof (Felberstraße 4, Westbahnhof), 252 rooms, restaurant/bar, swimming pool, sauna/massage, bike rentals.
Hotel Pension Wild (Lange Gasse 10, Josefstadt), guesthouse standard, budget, comfort and luxury rooms, buffet breakfast, gay sauna and bar.
Hotel Roomz Vienna (Paragonstrasse 1), gay-friendly budget design hotel near the Gasometer, 152 rooms, 24-hour cafe/bar, buffet breakfast, restaurant lunch/dinner, WiFi.
Hotel Savoy Garni (Lindengasse 12, Spittelberg), 42 spacious en-suite rooms, balconies, TV, WiFi, breakfast.
Hotel Steigenberger (Herrengasse 10), 194 rooms and suites, two with roof terraces, sauna/steam room, fitness center, massage services, restaurant/bar.
Hotel Urania (Obere Weissgerberstrasse 7), central, gay-friendly lodgings, 35 modern/ individually furnished designer guestrooms, breakfast buffet, e-bikes.
Hotel Vienna (Große Stadtgutgasse 31), 40 quiet rooms, various sizes; international cable TV, WiFi, guest laundry, bike rentals, buffet breakfast.
Hotel ViennArt (Breite Gasse 9, Spittelberg), 4-star boutique hotel in the Museumsquartier, 60 rooms and suites, buffet breakfast, satellite TV with Sky channels, WiFi.
Schick Hotel Erzherzog Rainer (Wiedner Hauptstraße 27-29), 4-star rooms and services; Wiener Wirtschaft gourmet Viennese restaurant and tavern.
Wombat's City Hostel - The Place (Rechte Wienzeile 35, Naschmarkt), mixed central hostel, dorm beds from 15 euros/night; bar, kitchen access, guest laundry, WiFi.
Badeschiff (Danube Canal, between Urania & Schwedenplatz), barge dance club, open-air swimming pool, fine dining.
Café Berg (Berggasse 8, enter from Wasagasse), lively gay coffeehouse/cafe/bar, late breakfast until 3pm, lunch specials, wine.
Cafe Rifugio (Schönbrunner Straße 10), friendly neighborhood cafe/bar, 3-8pm happy hours.
Cafe Rüdiger (Rüdigergasse 14), hustler bar, naked male strippers and shower shows, food menu, open every day of the year.
Cafe Savoy (Linke Wienzeile 36), bright, beautiful, ornate and elegant gay Viennese coffeehouse and bar, leather-upholstered seats, summer terrace.
Cafe X Bar (Mariahilfer Straße 45/ Raimundhofpassage), café/cocktail-bar, casual after-work gay regulars crowd, tables and bar stools
Café-Bar Cheri (Franzensgasse 2), small neighborhood gay pub, mixed, mostly men, games, free buffets.
Camera Club (Neubaugasse 2, at at Mariahilfer Straße), Neubaugassedance party venue, summer home to gay events.
Club Losch (Fünfhausgasse 1), men's cruise club, uniform/fetish/leather/military/jock MLF crowd; Friday and Saturday all-nighters, naked nights, smokers' club.
Club Stiefel (Herklotzgasse 18), Monday through Saturday neighborhood men's bar, warm cozy interior, games, Saturday erotic male strip shows.
Eagle Bar (Blümelgasse 1), men's basement cruise bar, dark backroom, maze, wet area, sling; multi-lingual staff, Levi-leather encouraged/ not required.
Felixx Café (Gumpendorfer Straße 5), upscale gay cocktail/martini bar/lounge, 70-90s music, snacks, summer terrace, mostly men.
Frauencafé (Lange Gasse 11), women, lesbian, transgender, intersex "feminist cafe."
Fluc + Fluc Wanne (Praterstern 5), legendary electronic, hip-hop and techno dance music program, national and international DJs, 7 days a week; live music concerts, hip young artsy crowd.
Gugg HOSI Center Cafe (Heumühlgasse 14), cafe/pub at HOSI gay community activist center.
Inside Bar (Schikanedergasse 12), Naschmarkt gay party club, men/women, older/younger mix, weekend house/deep house music DJs, themes.
Mango Bar (Laimgrubengasse 3), tiny, usually packed cocktail bar, stylish young crowd, retro-pop to contemporary music.
Motto Bar (Schönbrunner Strasse 30), cosmopolitan bohemian all-gender mix, food, drinks, music.
Ottakringer Brauerei (Ottakringerplatz 1), big dance club, occasional gay/alternative burleque parties.
Peters Operncafé Hartauer (Riemergasse 9), opera lovers' Café, walls of opera stars' photos, classical music, small plates; performers and fans meeting place and hang-out.
Pitbull (Lechenfelder Gürtel 43), monthly Friday bear & butch dance parties at home Club Auslage; plus special dates around town.
Queer:Beat venues include: Aux Gazelles (Rahlgasse 5); Camera Club (Neubaugasse 2); Viper Room (Lerchenfelder Gürtel 47-49); and Weberknecht (Lerchenfelder Gürtel 47-49). Periodic Saturday gay dance party, young/mixed crowd, pop, trash and chill-out music.
Red Carpet (Magdalenenstraße 2), 7pm-4am gay/straight-friendly cafe/bar, lively young mix, men/women, weekend late hours, food all night.
Replugged (Lerchenfelderstrasse 23), live music concert venue, trendy, national and international bands and DJs; dance events.
Schik (Schikanedergasse 5), mixed neighborhood cafe/bar, WiFi hotspot, TV, snacks; mixed crowd, special bear party nights.
Sling (Kettenbrückengasse 4), men-only, day and night cruise bar, dark basement naked playroom.
Village Bar (Stiegengasse 8), cocktail and music bar, video wall, mixed younger crowd, mostly men.
Why Not Club (Tiefer Graben 22), Vienna's gayest dance club, three bars open Friday and Saturday nights for a young, mixed crowd of men and women.
Wiener Freiheit (Schönbrunner Straße 25), small homey basement neighborhood bar run by LGBTQ activists; dancing, diverse mix of regulars.
X Bar (Mariahilfer Straße 45 / Windmühlgasse 20), gay-friendly daytime cafe in Raimundhof passage, WiFi; evening cocktail-bar.
Other special party nights include: GM1 dance parties; G-Mix, monthly at Club U, Karlplatz; G-Spot at Club Auslage; Meat Market at Flex, a queer electro/techno dance for lesbians and gay men; and Ken pop dance at Camera Club or Club Auslage. The Circus at Arena is billed as Austria's biggest LGBT dance night. UP! Club is now at Die Kantine (Schnirchgasse 9).
Heaven, one of Vienna's longest running gay club nights has special events Saturday gay dance parties until 6am at various venues.
Apollo Sauna Wimbergergasse 34 saunas, pool, videos, bar, 2pm-2am, sex club, fetish/group, bears and older guys.
Kaiserbründl Sauna (Weihburggasse 18-20), beautiful classic-syle bathhouse, bistro/restaurant, sauna, fitness, bio-sauna, steam, massage.
Römersauna (Rüdigergasse 2), men's sauna open daily until midnight, dark cellar, bear nights, Roman parties.
Sauna Papillon (Müllnergasse 5), bi-sexual sauna facilities, mixed men/women.
Sport Sauna (Lange Gasse 10/11), small popular sauna/steam room, bar, TV room, daily in Hotel-Pension Wild basement; young guys., open 24-hours on weekends (Friday 3pm-Sunday midnight) with snacks and breakfast.
Kino-Labyrinth (10, Favoritenstraße 164), gay and straight porn movie sales, private rooms, mixed maze, darkrooms, glory holes, showers, bar.
Le Swing Club (20, Hannovergasse 5), erotic party playspace, bi-sexual sex club, buffet spreads; electronic music bar, quieter main bar.
Man for Man (Hamburgerstrasse 8), gay DVDs and magazines, sex shop toys and accessories; porn video cinema, cruising area.
Kärntner Strasse, a pedestrian street from the Opera house to Stephansplatz, is one of the most popular shopping strips, with upscale brand stores, restaurants and cafes. The upmarket Graben, from Stephansplatz going west, where you'll find the Julius Meinl coffee and gourmet food shop, and the nearby Kohlmarkt also offer good shopping options. From U-Bahn stations Volkstheater and Museumsquartier, Mariahilfer Strasse is another commercial strip with options ranging from tiny storefronts to big box outlets and department stores. Vienna does not have the likes of Macy's or Berlin's KaDeWe, but Steffl and Gerngross offer upscale fashion collections topped off by restaurants, the latter with a nice roof terrace. The streets of Westbahnstrasse, Siebensterngasse and Neubaugasse offer more alternative choices, including some ethnic markets.
Lugner City Mall (Gablenzgasse 5-13) and Ringstrassen Galerien (Kärntner Ring 5-7) at the center, and SCS/ Shopping City Süd down the Süd Autobahn in Vösendorf, are indoor shopping malls with restaurant courts and cinemas. SCS, the largest of these, has over 330 stores, an IKEA and 70 restaurants, but you'll want a car to get there.
ChickLit (Kleeblattgasse 7), feminist books and gift shop, LGBT literature/biographies in German and English, calendars, cards.
Dorotheum (Dorotheergasse 17), paintings and sculpture gallery, auction house, jewelry store.
International Bookstore (Airport Terminal & 1230 Wien, Mosetiggasse 1), international books, British and American books and magazines of every kind
Löwenherz (Berggasse 8), gay and lesbian bookstore; literature including English-language books, magazines, DVD and CDs, toys and accessories.
Restaurants & Cafes
Andino (Münzwardeingasse 2), Latin American cuisine, tapas, bar, wines, summer garden, Saturday/Sunday brunch.
Aux Gazelles (Rahlgasse 5), hammam/spa, nightclub, Moroccan restaurant, deli and brasserie.
Café Berg (Berggasse 8), next to Löwenherz queer bookstore, lively gay-popular coffeehouse/cafe/bar, late breakfast, lunch, wine.
Café Prückel (Stubenring 24, Luegerplatz), turn of the century Viennese coffeeshop, Viennese cuisine, fine pastries, sunny patio, domestic and foreign newspapers.
Cafe Standard (Margaretenstrasse 63), Viennese coffeehouse, beverages, cakes, pastries, tortes.
Cafe Willendorf (Linke Wienzeile 102), cafe/bar, good restaurant, vegetarian options, fair prices, drag burlesque, Sunday brunch.
Die Halle Cafe/Restaurant (Museumsquartier 1), imperial splendor, emperor's riding hall, cafe/restaurant, garden terrace, weekly changing menu.
Fett+Zucker (Hollandstraße 16), lesbian-owned coffeehouse, salads, buttermilk drinks, pasties, tarts, streusels, cakes.
Fusan Restaurant (Getreidemarkt 18), Chinese buffet restaurant, Dim Sum, Sushi, Sashimi, Maki, green curry steak.
Gugg HOSI Center Cafe (Heumühlgasse 14), cafe/pub cocktails and snacks at the HOSI LGBT community activist center, free WiFi, tourist info.
Kiosk (Schleifmühlgasse 7), classic hot dogs, world-wide sausages, meat or veggie options, beer and soft drinks.
Kussmaul (Spittelberggasse 12), stylish cafe/restaurant and bistro, breakfast, late lunch, cocktail bar.
On (Wehrgasse 8), traditional Chinese cuisine with many international influences, Wenzhou-style fish, seafood and vegetables.
Palmenhaus (Burggarten 1), cafe/brasserie, breakfast and lunch under glass canopy, German/Austrian/Swiss cuisine, art exhibits.
Santo Spirito (Kumpfgasse 7), restaurant, cafe/bar, Mediterranean accent, classical music for music lovers.
Schwarze Katze (Girardigasse 6), original Greek recipes, bakery, meze and entrees, fresh seafood, moussaka, souvlaki, and local lamb.
Vapiano (Theobaldgasse 19), Italian restaurant/bar chain, antipasti, soups and salads, pizza, pasta and wines.
Würstelstand am Hohen Markt (Hoher Markt), quick, classic hot dogs; open 7am-4am, broad client mix.