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 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 has regained a part of its former importance by hosting the offices of some international organizations, such as the United Nations and OPEC.
Prince Eugene of Savoy, famous for pushing the Ottomans from the gates of Vienna and back to the Balkans during the course of several wars, was well known in his lifetime to prefer same-sex intimacies. His mark remains at his summer palace, the Schloss Belvedere - now the Austrian Gallery - with collections of paintings by Klimt, Schiele, and Kokoschka.
This year Vienna celebrates 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.
Vienna flourished during the reign of Emperor Charles VI, father of Maria Theresia, who wrote of his intimate relationship of 19 years with Count Michael Johann Althan III. During this years the Church of St. Charles Borromeo (Karlskirche) was 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, the Kunsthalle Wien exhibit center, and many artists' residences and studios. It's also full of restaurants, cafes and bars wiith distinctive lounge chairs.
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 events at Vientourismus, the site for 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 10 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 between the same destinations takes 25 minutes, and costs just 3.50 euros. Tickets are sold at machines on the platform, but if paying with plastic you need a card with chip and pin number. Buses also serve the airport to downtown route, for about 7 euros; and to points in Bratislava, Budapest, Brno, and Prague.
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. There’s also the U-Bahn subway system that runs like clockwork. See Wiener Linien for details.
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 Liechtenstein Museum. 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), 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 each Friday afternoons and some Saturdays, August through November 8, 2013, at MuTh, Vienna‘s new music and theater venue. Also Sundays at Hofburgkapelle, the Hofburg Chapel, during Mass at the Imperial Palace.
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. Name IT is a gay lifestyle magazine, with updates on the local club scene. Rainbow.at and GayNet.at are two more online gay guides to Austria, mostly in German.
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.
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. Vienna Eventseeker also has English-language info on concerts, nightlife, sports, theater and more.
The Rosa Lila Villa GLBTQ 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.