From Strauss to Freud, from the
last days of the Habsburgs to the dark days of war, OutUK's Adrian Gillan waltzes around the grand gay decadence of Vienna in search of the
perfect Christmas getaway.
Vienna offers the chance for a delightful old-fashioned Christmas with the smell of gluhwein in the air, twinkling holiday
decorations that cover all the imperial architecture, and three wonderful outdoor Christkindlmarkts. Have your pick of a wide variety of
artisan wares and ornaments as well as tasty finger foods and that wonderful spiced mulled wine. Of course, the Vienna Boys' Choir concerts
are a must during the holidays too, and it's a delightful time to explore the city's other top attractions.
Most beautiful of all are the Christmas decorations throughout the city notably in Rotenturmstrasse, Vienna's best-known district,
with pedestrian boulevards that connect you with landmarks like the Wiener Staatsoper (Vienna State Opera), Vienna’s iconic
Stephansdom (St. Stephen’s Cathedral) and the vast compound of Hofburg, the Habsburgs’ former Imperial Palace.
Vienna Christmas decorations
Photo: Marek Slusarczyk
CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
The Imperial Apartments and the Sissi Museum are must-dos at Hofburg. Spacious squares such as Am Hof
and Freyung host regular and quite interesting antiques markets.
Sitting in a Viennese coffeehouse, you can drink
in the history and autumnal fading aura of a once great empire, torn apart by The Great War and left savaged by the next.
Amidst what is still, in many ways, backward-looking and
conservative, you can still spy a society living on the edge - nowhere more so than on the resurging gay scene.
Why not start the day in style at the Demel Cafe a graceful 1888 salon
serving specialties such as cream cakes, scones & strudels.
Coffee and Sachertorte at The Demel Cafe. Courtesy ANTO.
Then it's time to walk off your neuroses at the Sigmund Freud Museum down
the street, take tea at Florentin 1090, one of Vienna's most stylish gay-friendly restaurants,
just north of the city's mighty inner Ringstrasse. Its simple, bright and modern design
caters to an arty crowd, many of who leaf through purchases from the superb Buchhandlung Lowenherz
gay bookstore next door.
Perhaps the most quintessentially queer Viennese experience, and hence not
to be missed, is the magical Cafe Savoy, a classic old wood, brass and leather corner café with a camp
interior of chandeliers, gilt statues and feathers, multiplied by the largest
single-piece mirrors in Eastern Europe. Best by night, it's a unique antidote to your standard gay scene:
mainly frequented by older guys, but you'd have to be young and dumb
not to pop in.
The main queer quarter is in the 6th
District, a short distance west of centre. Its gay political and social heart is undoubtedly the friendly
Rosa Lila Villa on the Linke Wienzeile, a pinkish purple building where
groups meet and friends booze and chat late into the night with a range of snacks and fuller fodder.
HOSI Vienna was founded in 1979 as a political advocacy group for lesbians and gays in Austria. They stand up for our gay/lesbian concerns
to ministers, members of parliament and other politicians as well as to political parties, authorities, the media and the public, above all through
personal contacts with politicians and journalists. They have been running their Gugg club center at Heumühlgasse since 2010.
Das Gugg – Café und Vereinszentrum
der HOSI Wien
- Photo: AntonSavitski
CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons
The HARD ON Viennais is the non-profit clubhouse of the LMC Vienna. LMC is a member organisation which represents fetish-interested gay men
and you have to join as a member to gain access to this bar. It's located in Vienna's 5th district in the midst of Vienna's trendy district and was originally
built as a meeting place for fetish-interested gay men and fetish-interested gay men. It's run exclusively by volunteer members of LMCC in their free time.
HARD ON has nowadays become an integral part of the Austrian fetish scene and enjoys great popularity among the members of the LMC Vienna.
At Felixx Bar you can enjoy your evening in a sophisticated ambience with a large selection of excellent Austrian wines and International Cocktails
in a bar that's often referred to as the classiest gay venue in town. It's been an integral part of Vienna’s gay scene for decades, well known for
its flamboyant interior and located between Naschmarkt and the museum quarter.
Other options include City Bar which is a stylish and modern gay bar with a pleasant atmosphere, delicious cocktails, good music and
select specials. It's Gay but also 100% straight friendly too! Schik which is a Gay friendly bar near Karlsplatz; Cafè Rifugio a
small gay café bar in the heart of the city and Marea Alta a small, quirky watering hole offering cocktails, playful cabaret events and
a gay-friendly vibe.
If you want something to make you feel more at home, try new American-style cocktail bar Village Bar,
which is often crowded at weekends.|
Or check out Mango just
around the corner. Located in the middle of the gay district on both sides of the Naschmarkt the small
and intimate bar offers contemporary decor & lighting, for music from the 1970s to current chart hits.
It pulls in all the young babes too green for the cruisier, harder fare in town.
A night out at Mango.
Talking of which: close-at-hand Eagle is one of Vienna's most popular bars. It's mainly Levi and leather
but the door policy's not too strict and the darkroom highly active for those
who enjoy to have sex. In their cruising area you can make use of their slings, glory holes and andreas-cross.
They also have a sex shop as part of the venue selling all the supplies you'll
F56 - FFIFTYSIX is Vienna's largest Cruising & Fetish Bar offers a large bar, darkroom, glory hole, gang-bang platform,
cabins, slings and gyn chairs. Their events include NAKED, SPORT+, FIST, FETISH, UNDERWEAR and CRUISING on a regular basis.
Vienna isn't Europe's best served capital when it comes to clubbing. Why Not in the central
district has a stylish upper bar and packed basement dance space, churning
out cheese on Fridays and chart on Saturdays. The more seriously tranced go to famous friendly, but not gay,
U4 which has a number of themed nights in its two large rooms. The venue
has an illustrious history of hosting global DJs, hip hop & rock/pop acts from Austria.
You can't beat a good steam as the nights grow long and cold. Sport Sauna on Langasse
(beneath Hotel-Pension Wild) markets to a younger crowd with its maze of themed and highly
individual cabins, and its dark rooms and porn areas. And like Café Savoy the
Kaiserbrundel sauna (aka Central Bathhouse Vienna) offers a uniquely Viennese experience.
Built in the 1870s at the height of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and with Moorish influence,
it's a steamy cathedral of exotic arches, tiled pools and marble slabs.
Apollo City Sauna has been in business for 25 years and it attracts mainly bears, butches, mature men and their admirers. Facilities include
Finnish sauna, bar & lounge, swimming pool, private cabins and cruising area.
As said, Buchhandlung Lowenherz (next to Florentin 1090) is the largest and best gay bookstore in town. The staff are friendly
and helpful - a recurring theme on Vienna's gay scene - and there is a large selection of English language books,
magazines and DVDs. Or try Man for Man on Hamburgerstrasse for all
your rubbers, mags and vids.
If you fancy a breath of fresh air, the outdoor cruising scene is well developed here. |
The Rathaus Park as you face
the magnificent Dutch Gothic town hall façade, is probably the most brimming meeting place, especially in the small wee hours
when bars close and spew forth into the cold night air.
In summer, try the Donau Insel on the Danube with its nude beaches at either end - especially the northern one at weekends.
The Riesenrad, the giant ferris wheel immortalised in
the classic film The Third Man. You'll find it in the
Prater Park. Courtesy ANTO.
We can fully recommend the Hotel-Pension Wild on Lange Gasse, with its indisputably gay-friendly management team.
Rooms are modern and spacious, breakfasts hale and hearty. It's a pleasant ten minute walk to most of the gay bars and
clubs and sits smack on top of that sauna! If you'd prefer a choice
of mainstream hotels in all price ranges you can get unbeatable offers from our hotel partners
THE LITTLE BLACK BOOK
Apollo City Sauna (Wimbergergasse 34; T: +43 660 6736133; Website)
Buchhandlung Lowenherz (Berggasse 8 next to Florentin 1090; T: 0043 1 317 2982; Website)
Cafè Rifugio (Schönbrunner Str. 10; T: +43 699 10977891; Website)
Cafe Savoy (Linke Weinzeile 36; T: 0043 1 586 7348; Website)
City Bar (Tiefer Graben 19; T: +43 680 2029020; Website)
Das Gugg – Café der HOSI Wien (Heumühlgasse 14/1; T: +43 660 2166605; Website)
Demel Cafe (Kohlmarkt 14; T: 0043 1 5351717; Website)
Eagle (Blumelgasse 1; T: 0043 1 587 2661; Website)
F56 - FFIFTYSIX (Florianigasse 56; Website)
Felixx (Gumpendorfer Str. 5; Website)
Florentin 1090 (Berggasse 8; T: 0043 676 735 5625; Website)
Hard On (Hamburgerstraße 4; Website)
HOSI Vienna (Heumühlgasse 14/1; T: +43 660 2166605; Website)
Hotel-Pension Wild (Lange Gasse 10; T: 0043 1 0 406 5174; Website)
Kaiserbrundel aka Central Bathhouse (Weihburgasse 18-20; T: 0043 1 513 3293; Website; facebook)
LMC Vienna (Hamburgerstraße 4; Website)
Man for Man (Hamburgerstrasse 8; T: 0043 1 585 2064; Website)
Mango (Laimgrubengasse 3; T: 0043 1 587 4448; Website; facebook)
Marea Alta (Gumpendorfer Str. 28; T: +43 699 19204194)
Rosa Lila Villa (Linke Wienzeile 102; T: 0043 1 587 1789; Website)
Schik (Schikanedergasse 5; T: +43 664 9139282; Website)
Sport Sauna (Lange Gasse 10, under Hotel-Pension Wild; T: 0043 1 406 7156; Website)
U4 (Schonbrunnerstrasse 222; T 0043 1 8171 1920; Website)
Village Bar (Steigengasse 8; T: 0043 1 920 4714; Website; facebook)
Why Not (Tiefer Graben 22; T: 0043 1 535 1158; Website)
Revised November 2022