Vienna has a rich history and was once the capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Today, it is the cosmopolitan capital of Austria and the country’s economic, cultural and political centre.
The city has a population of around 2.4 million and it is the second largest German-speaking city in the world. Vienna is located in the east of Austria close to the borders of the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary.
In 2001, Vienna city centre was recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage site, thanks to the abundance of extraordinary historic sights including palaces, churches, monuments and public parks. Vienna is also known as the “City of Music” thanks to its world-class musical legacy.
Visitors can explore a huge number of museums, theatres, opera houses, enjoy regular open-air concerts and contemporary art exhibitions as well as a huge range of fabulous outdoor markets.
Homosexual acts have been legal in Austria since 1971. Following a decision by the European Court of Human Rights, cohabiting same-sex partners were given the same rights as unmarried cohabiting opposite-sex couples.
In 2010, registered partnerships were introduced although gay couples still face some legal challenges such as adopting, having access to IVF and artificial insemination. But as of January 2015, the Austrian government allowed full joint co-adoption by same-sex couples.
Many gay men have played prominent roles in Austria’s political, cultural, architectural and musical history.
Probably the most famous gay man was Prince Eugene of Savoy (1663-1736), one of the most successful military commanders in modern European history. Under his command, Vienna was freed from Turkish siege and the Ottomans were pushed back to the Balkans. He was said to be fairly open about his desire for other men. His influence on Vienna can be seen today at the Palace of Schloss Belvedere.
Famous gay architects included Eduard van der Null (1812-1868) and August Sicard von Sicardsburg (1813-1868) who built the State Opera House. Vienna’s music scene has many gay figures including composer Franz Schubert (1797-1828) who lived with Johann Baptist Mayrhofer.
Vienna has a lively and diverse gay scene. Although most places are mixed and ‘gay-friendly’, there are a growing number of ‘exclusively gay’ venues in town. The majority of gay bars, clubs and gay saunas in Vienna are located around Wienzeile street and the Naschmarkt open-market area which connects the 4th with the 6th district of the city.
Attitudes are liberal and the city’s vibrant gay scene attracts a large number of gay tourists every year. Annual gay highlights include the fast-growing Rainbow Parade (Regenbogenparade) in July and the Vienna Bear Congress in spring. There’s also a Queer Film Festival in June and a charity event, Live Ball, in May.
Many airlines fly directly to Vienna from across Europe and beyond. Flights arrive and depart from Vienna International Airport (Flughafen Wien-Schwechat) located just outside the city limits.
There are plenty of options to transfer to your hotel like trains, taxis and buses which are all signposted at the airport. A taxi will cost anything around €25 – €35. The City Airport Train runs to the city center every 30 minutes and costs €11 (2017).
Bratislava Airport is also located around 34 miles from Vienna International Airport, just over the border in the Slovak Republic.
Low-cost airline Ryanair flies into this airport and it is often a cheaper option for flights. Again, trains and buses depart from this airport for Vienna’s city districts.
Vienna is a very large city made up of several districts. The local public transport system provides buses, trains, trams and metros that travel throughout the city and link up districts.
It is highly recommended to use public transport because hiring a car and driving in the city districts can be extremely busy and parking is often a problem, especially in the areas most visited by tourists.
Taxis are metered but visitors are advised to ask for a quote before jumping in. The subway is probably the most popular way to get around as it’s cheap, punctual and efficient.
Spring starts in late March giving way to summer by June when the weather really warms up. During July and August, days can be very hot and humid with temperatures reaching up to 35°C (95°F).
Generally, summer is very pleasant and average temperatures are around 25/26°C. September signals the start on autumn, although what is known as an ‘Indian Summer’ often means mild temperatures and sunny days.
As autumn progresses, temperatures begin to cool and winds get stronger. In winter, Vienna can be wet, cloudy and cold. Average temperatures are between 3-5°C in January and February.
We recommend staying within the Old Town (Altstadt) area. For a list of hotel recommendations, click here to go to our Vienna Hotels page.
Polar bear at the excellent Vienna Zoo (Tiergarten Schönbrunn)
Historic Center of Vienna – an area filled with historic buildings, beautiful architecture and parks.
Schönbrunn Palace (Schloß Schönbrunn) – a former imperial Rococo summer residence and one of Austria’s most important cultural attractions,
State Opera House (Wiener Staatsoper) – world-famous opera house with a history dating back to the mid-19th century.
Ringstraße – a circular road surrounding the Innere Stadt district of Vienna lined with monuments and major sights.
Tiergarten Schönbrunn – the oldest zoo in the world, founded in 1752.
The Third Man Museum – the place to learn about pre- and post-war history of Vienna, with artefacts relating to the classic film “The Third Man”, filmed in Vienna in 1948.
Kunsthistorisches Museum – Vienna’s most important fine arts museum and one of the most impressive buildings of the 19th century.
Imperial Palace (Hofburg) – a palace that has housed some of the most powerful people in European and Austrian history.
Stephansplatz – a beautiful square in city centre with the Vienna’s Cathedral and other places of interest.
Rathaus Vienna – the New City Hall, built between 1872 and 1883, now serving as the seat of the mayor and city council.
Another picture of Vienna Pride 2015
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