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Vienna – Solo Gay Trip Guide to the Capital of Austria

Vienna or Wien as the locals call it is the capital of Austria and the largest city and the hometown of Habsburg; the richest and one of the most influential family in the history of Europe that not only shaped the continent with their politics but also gave the world some amazing gifts from Maria Theresa’s idea of teaching every child to read to the coffeehouses and not to forget artists like Beethoven and Mozart and scholars like Freud. It is also one of the 4 Danube Capitals. (The other three capitals that are located on Danube river are Bratislava, Budapest and Bucharest).

It is a city of splendour and magnificence and the tradition of patronage of arts and culture runs deep within the city and within the people in general. Vienna is full of museums, art galleries, palaces, cathedrals, churches and some stunning examples of Baroque and Renaissance architecture.

Read my country guide about Austria to find answers to all your questions for a comfortable trip.

It is generally quite easy to explore Vienna in 3 days with most of the attractions located within the Innere Stadt or Inner City. This is what Vienna used to be historically and the Ring road around it used to be the fortification which was dismantled later.

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All Things Vienna

Vienna Airport

Vienna Airport is modern and located about 15-20 minutes away from the main city. There is plenty of options available for food and you can buy the Vienna Card here as well. It is very well connected to the city with trains and busses. There are the usual car hire and money exchange shops at Arrival lounge.

There is an express train that takes you to the city in 15 minutes or you can take the normal S Bahn (S7) which takes about 25 minutes, the difference is the price is quite significant with S7 costing only €4 and express about €20.

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Vienna Airport

Public Transport

Public Transport in Wien is really good, you will get metro or U Bahn which is underground, S Bahn which is the normal network rail for extended travelling towards the outer city, nationally and internationally, trams, busses and all. I would recommend buying a Vienna Card that grants you access to all public transport except the direct train to the airport (but it gets you discount for that) along with other discounts. Public transport is quite good in the city and busses and trains are quite frequent.

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The best app to take you around on Public transport is Quando Wien app which helps you plan your journeys and includes all modes of transportation. Uber is also readily available and is quite cheap. For other useful apps related to traffic, bikes etc use this link.


The richest family in Europe that shaped the whole continent for centuries. The Habsburg dynasty ruled over Austria, Hungary and the neighbouring countries for centuries and most of the beauty, magnificence and grandeur in Vienna comes from their wealth including their patronage of arts that attracted artists like Beethoven, Mozart and many others and from all fields, not just music and theatre. The palaces in Vienna are all a testament to their wealth but apart from being rich, they were also revolutionary and smart. Maria Theresa for example, came up with the idea of educating the masses and ‘Sisi’ came up with the idea of toilets for Austro Hungarians, they also introduced Coffee to the whole of Europe.

Schnitzel, Apfelstrudel & Sacher Cake

The Viennese food is quite delicious…

Wiener schnitzel is world famous and I would highly recommend Veal, it is just amazing. It is a thin slice of veal, breaded, fried and served with Potato Salad. You will find it at a lot of places easily but Figlmuller is the place to go if you want it Wiener style from a  restaurant more than 100 years old. More details on that below.

Apfelstrudel is a pastry filled with apple and quite delicious especially for evening tea or coffee, I would suggest trying it at some coffee house.

Sacher Cake is another Viennese invention and is made up of two layers of slightly dry chocolate sponges with apricot jam in the middle and coated with chocolate outside. I would recommend Hotel Sacher or Demel bakery near Albertina for this but again this is quite easily available around Vienna.


One cannot come to Vienna and not see the Opera and while there are quite a few opera houses the most iconic is the Vienna State Opera in the city centre. You do need to buy tickets well in advance if you want good seats at a good price and you can book it here through the official seller. The ticket sellers in the city centre sell it more expensive. An alternative is your hotel concierge or the tourist information centre near Albertina which has a counter for tickets.

Tip: It is worth every penny to get good seats and while going in suited and formal isn’t necessary it is appreciated. I wouldn’t recommend buying the cheap standing tickets because you won’t be able to see anything, opera is generally 2-3 hours and you won’t have the energy to stand that long after standing in the ticket queue for 2-4 hours.


Coffee and coffeehouses are the life and blood of Viennese culture in some respects. Coffeehouses are the places for socialising, enjoying a good book, doing leftover work, studying and generally relaxing and might as well because like I mentioned, Viennese introduced coffee to Europe from the Turk Ottomans.

While I always thought the word Cappuccino comes from Italian it actually comes from Vienna. Coffee was originally drunk without milk and finally, when someone added milk to it, they loved the colour which resembled the cloaks of Capuchin monks which gave it the name Cappuccino. interesting!

There’s plenty of coffee houses to relax your feet while sightseeing, take a book with you or enjoy the free wifi. No one will disturb you for hours.

Public Wifi

Vienna has a system of Public wifi which will let you connect to free high-speed wifi at multiple spots for different durations. This is called Freewave and it is quite amazing.

Christmas Markets

Coming from London I am generally used to big Christmas markets but it is quite different when it comes to Vienna. While I see a small square Viennese see an amazing opportunity for small Christmas markets and the whole city is full of Christmas markets big and small from city hall to Hofburg palace to Belevedere palace to Schonbrunn palace courtyards, enjoy the magic!

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Free Walking Tour

I generally love walking tours and for most cities, they are absolutely amazing and integral to understand how the city functions but this one was slightly disappointing because it seemed a little unprepared. The guide didn’t give much information about the history and the start and end was underwhelmingly mundane. I hope Good Vienna Tours will have a look and improve and expand the circle and provide some more information on their tours.

Entry to Museums and Buildings

To see every building, museum, palace and important place or see only the masterpieces will require a lifetime and a small fortune so you have to be very selective about where you want to go in. My interest lies in churches and cathedrals more than museums so plan accordingly.

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Day 1

Karlsplatz –> Vienna Opera House –> Tourist Centre –> Albertina –> Hotel Sacher –> Kaisergruft (Imperial Vault) –> St Stephen’s Cathedral –> Mozarthaus Vienna –> Figlmuller –> Hofburg Palace –> Museumsquarter –> Karlskirche –> Naschmarkt.

The first day you can spend in the Inner Stadt or Inner city which is 1km by 1km and most of the places lie within this area.


Probably the most central and useful metro station in Central Vienna, it will help you get to all the locations quite easily and it is also the starting point for a lot of places like Opera House, Naschmarkt, Albertina, etc. I took the metro to Karlsplatz and got out at Opera house to start the tour at Albertina. It was a cold snowy morning and that somehow enhanced the beauty of Vienna and its beautiful Baroque and Gothic buildings…

Karlsplatz and Tourist Info centre

Vienna State Opera

The world-famous Vienna State Opera is located right next to Albertina and Karlsplatz and you can book tours for the building itself on the official website. Booking the tours in advance is highly recommended but since I bought my tickets for Manon I didn’t bother with the tour. It is a beautiful building and the interior is equally grand as is the exterior. Both the architects that started with the building committed suicide when it was widely criticised back in the day, such a shame…

The three hours spent inside were some of the best of my life and I would highly recommend attending opera, the whole experience is just magical.

Getting good seats can make or break your experience so I would suggest getting good seats with good visibility to actually experience it otherwise the money you will save on tickets will go towards a neck massage.

Vienna State Opera at night after the Opera, the whole area comes alive because of this building.

The interior is just as exquisite as the exterior with grand chandeliers, beautiful pieces of art and marble.

The first time I saw the Opera house early morning and I was happy to start my trip with such a beautiful place.

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Albertina is an important museum housing a huge collection of graphics, drawings, prints and recently impressionist works. The collection was built by Duke Albert and his wife Maria Christina which lead to the name Albertina. I didn’t go in but the upper terrace will give you a beautiful view of Vienna, the state opera and the surroundings.

From the side, you can go down and relax in the back gardens of Hofburg palace and see the back of the palace.

Hotel Sacher

After a long walk, I chose the Hotel Sacher for some good breakfast. Hotel Sacher along with Demel bakery nearby take the credit for the origins of Sacher cake and you have to try it here.

It was a relaxed, inviting place after the cold walk outside. The breakfast was slightly expensive and just ok but the coffee and cake just made up for pretty much everything else. I would definitely recommend a coffee stop here.

Kaisergruft; The Imperial Cemetry

For centuries this church has held the bodies of the Royal family, the Habsburgs. It will cost you €5 to get in and the steps down including the first room is very plain but a further turn right will take you to the world of kings, queens, princes and princesses. Since the early 1600s, this has been the place of choice for the burial of Habsburg with 145 buried in here. The church next door is the Capuchin church and the latest entombment was in 2011 (Yes there are still Habsburgs left in Austria with their titles and names but no power).

The ceremony of burial is quite interesting with the last one taking place for Otto Habsburg in 2011. The hearts and bodies are buried separately in two ceremonies. The herald approaches the gate of capuchin church and knocks. The monk asks who demands entry to which the full titles of the dead person are told. The monk replies “We do not know him/her”. This is repeated a second time with slightly different titles and the herald gets the same answer and on the third time, the herald replies with “a sinful mortal human being” and is granted entrance.

The vaults downstairs are beautiful, elegant with some extremely elaborate sarcophagi with the grandest and beautiful one of Maria Theresa. She was probably the most important monarch who cultivated a united Europe through the marriages of her 16 children and a long-running war.

The more modern ones are quite simple and the sarcophagus of Franz Joseph is also located here. A good hour spent overall. I would definitely recommend this place for some quiet contemplation and it doesn’t weigh you down just because it is too early in the day…

St. Stephen’s Cathedral

Without any doubt my favourite building in the whole of Vienna! It is located in the very centre and has a metro stop next to it called Stephenplatz. This Romanesque and Gothic cathedral has been standing here since the 12th century and despite its destruction twice, it is still as beautiful and grand as ever. The streets around it constitute the main shopping district and it is in some respects the centre of Vienna with other areas radiating out from it.

I walked from The imperial Crypt to St. Stephens cathedral at a leisurely pace because the sun was out and the city was shining with the sun. A few steps in any direction will bring you in front of statues, plinths and monuments and I enjoyed all of them. But the first time I stood in front of St Stephens Cathedral facing this mammoth I truly understood the scale and grandeur.

The cathedral is lit at night, I think this was for Christmas market on the right side.

The cathedral is absolutely, ridiculously, magnificently grand and beautiful and definitely one of my favourites amongst all the ones I have seen so far. No aspect of the building seems ignored or made without attention to details.

The interior is just as exquisite as outside and the main hall just dazzles you no matter which side you look and the orchestra at the back will just blow your mind with just its size.

You need to pay to visit the treasure of cathedral some of which is above and while it is prized possessions you get to see, I would also recommend spending these €5 because the view of the main hall from high above is just priceless.

The cathedral and its exterior and its Romanesque and Gothic features just stun you. It is the grandest, most elegant building around and dwarfs the surroundings, spend a few hours inside it will truly salvage your soul.

Day 2

Schonbrunn Palace –> Belvedere Palace –> Therme Wien

A day of walking and exploring the Innere Stadt left me tired so I decided to go slightly easy on the second day, also because I had my opera booked that night. You will need to sue Taxi/Uber/Public Transport to get around and the addition of Therme Wien will help you relax.

Schonbrunn Palace

The next day started for me with a hearty breakfast around Pilgramgasse before I took U4 line to Schonbrunn Palace. The metro stop is a few minutes walk away. To enter the palace you need to buy the tickets from the ticket office which can have very long queues especially in summer and you can reserve tickets in advance and collect on the day, I would recommend this. Now the ticket is slightly confusing with a few different packages and I would recommend going for the cheapest option because even with 22 staterooms, it will take you ages to go through everything especially if you listen to the audio guide in every room. There are some tour options available but you need to book that in advance. You can check the details of tickets here.

Schonbrunn is an important 300 years old palace and it was the Imperial summer palace for Habsburgs and you will see signs of that in each room; 1441 in total to be precise. It is made in Baroque style and while the exterior is quite bland and plain the interior is anything but mundane with interior changing from one room to another beautifully. Unfortunately photography is strictly forbidden and I only managed to take one picture (without flash of course) of the Grand gallery, oh, the chandeliers and the painted ceiling just melted my heart, I could sit there for days and stare at it.

Every room has been set up as it was during the time when the palace was in use and most of the stuff for Franz Joseph is still part of the experience.

The front courtyard also had a Christmas market set up which made the atmosphere quite chirpy with children running around.

The oldest zoo in the world belong to the Schonbrunn estate and if you want to see it you will need to buy the correct ticket that includes the zoo entry.

The grand gallery

The gardens spanning the areas around the palace match the palace in beauty. Though quite simple the gardens are very neatly laid and I imagine these would make for an amazing picnic spot for summer.

Belvedere Palace

After a good 3 hours of roaming around Schonbrunn, I decided to head back to Karlsplatz to get some quick food from Naschmarkt and then took the tram ‘D’ from Karlsplatz to Belvedere palace which dropped me right at the door. I was excited to see the Belvedere complex which makes upper and lower Belvedere.

The Upper Belvedere palace is really beautiful and fascinating. You can buy the ticket in advance or at the door and enter this beautiful palace. The ticket here is also tiered like Schonbrunn and I bought the basic one. Unlike Schonbrunn, the rooms are mainly emptied and devoid of any furniture but the beautifully decorated interior, walls, ceiling and exquisite lighting make up for lack of furniture.

Some rooms have been dedicated to art exhibitions and not sure why but photography is totally allowed inside this palace.

The view of lower Belvedere from the entrance is amazing and you can see an outline of the city from East side.

The ceilings, walls, chandeliers and lighting all offer an amazing experience along with the Christmas market outside.

Therme Wien

Bless the lord for thermal spas! I am not sure what I would do without this amazing spa in Vienna. I was quite tired after a day of exploration from yesterday and walking miles inside two gorgeous but massive palaces. I took the uber from Rummenplatz metro station and I was there in 15 minutes costing about €6 which was quite good and I was in no mood to sit on a bus for 30 minutes.

Therme Wien is a big complex and offers full spa facilities including a gym and massage services, indoor and outdoor pools and thermal springs. I would recommend dropping them an email to book your massage in advance and take your swimming trunks with you or you can buy them expensive from the shop which closes at 6pm.

The basic ticket is for the general spa but you can add different options like sauna and flotation pool which I loved. It mimics the dead sea with a very high salt content so you flat around and after a nice relaxing massage and 3/4 hours of splashing around I got ready to head for my Opera performance which I was very ready for after this amazing spa.

Day 3

Ferris Wheel (Prater) –> Universitat –> Burgtheater –> City Hall (Rathaus) –> Parliament –>  Secession Building –> Concert House (Konzerthaus) –> Johann Strauss Monument & National Park –> Greek Orthodox Church –> Bermuda Triangle, Greek & Jewish Quarters

The third day in Vienna for me was quite amazing. I started walking but soon realised I could use the metro network to my advantage but I still walked around a bit. The buildings and spots I explored on this day were slightly outside the inner city and because of their size, the walking distance can tire you out pretty quickly. I will add the metro directions with the spots as much as I remember, for the rest you can use Quando Wien app.

Prater (Ferris Wheel)

Prater is the Vienna eye version of the London eye except for it is quite far out of the city and it is quite old. I took the metro U1 from Karlsplatz to Praterstern and then a small walk to this park which is more like a theme park. It was pretty empty at that time in the morning and there was no queue for the tickets.

I got the tickets and then got on pretty swiftly. It was a nice sunny day but unfortunately, the wheel is so far from central Vienna it is almost impossible to see any significant spots of the city.

This area was developed and the Ferris wheel built by the royal commission and these used to be the hunting grounds.

There are options available to hire a car of the wheel for a romantic dinner and I suppose the view would be much better at night. If I were to redo the trip, I’d most definitely drop this spot from the list.


After 15 minutes of rotating on an axis I took U2 to Schottentor which dropped me right in front of the University of Vienna, another amazingly impressive building with hoards of young people around.

Universitat Wien is one of the oldest universities in Central Europe and the oldest in modern German world and it was modelled after the University of Paris. The building is quite impressive even from a distance and with so many Nobel Prize laureates originating from this place it was humbling with its proud facade and mammoth size. If you want to go inside I would advise checking the library for sure.


From the university a small walk will bring you to Burg theatre and Rathaus or the city hall right opposite each other.

Burg, as it is affectionately called, is probably the most important theatre in the Germanic world and with its Renaissance architecture has a statue of Shakespeare’s along with other notable writers like Goethe and Schiller. If you want to see a play here you need to book well in advance.

Rathaus (City Hall)

Rathaus or the new city centre is located right opposite Burgtheatre and one of the most expensive structures at the end of Habsburgs reign. Its tall central tower can be seen from a distance and the impressive building itself is built in Neo-gothic style.

The square in front of called Rathausplatz and the Christmas market here is one of the most important here and quite big compared to the rest of them in the city. The main entrance also has a hall dedicated to Christmas market cafe and the lighting reminded me of Harry Potter and the dining hall of Hogwarts. The corridors are massive and just amazed me. It is the current seat of Vienna City Council.


One of the 5 grand buildings located on Ringstraße  (Ringstrasse; this grand boulevard was built when the city walls were torn down in mid-nineteenth century), the parliament of Austria is made in Neoclassical style with a clear Greek influence and with the famous statue of Athena in front of it. It houses both the upper and lower houses of parliaments of Austria. You can also book a tour of Parliament building here. For me sitting there hearing the trams go by and the stillness of Athena was quite therapeutic and the building itself and the views from the platform in front of surroundings are amazing.


The Secession building appeared to be a bit of a misfit in the city skyline but its intricately carved golden dome and distinct style make it stand out in a distinct way, one that has an air of self-importance. The building is an exhibition centre and represents the Secession movement that has important names like Klimt as its founders that broke away from the conservatism that prevailed back in the day and with Austria currently divided perhaps the country needs another artistic secession movement. Another beautiful gem in Vienna but other than chilling around with some coffee from the nearby market, I enjoyed the view from outside as well as Karlskirche from the area which is just beautiful…

Konzerthaus (Concert House)

A relative newbie this Concert house was commissioned very much at the end of monarchy and is a massive building with three halls and an elaborate schedule. It is a 15 minutes walk from Secession building and if you are not in a mood to walk, you can skip this building and take the U4 metro from Karlsplatz to Stadtpark for next stop.

Johann Strauss Monument & National Park

Stadtpark or National Park is a few minutes walk from the Konzerthaus and is a beautiful park that emerged after the city fortification was removed. With a tiny stream of Rive Wien passing through it, its an amazing place to sit down and relax. Another claim to fame for this place is the Johann Strauss monument as well as statues and busts of other famous musicians.

Johann Strauss was quite famous for his Waltzes and his amazing music and his statue perfectly shows the mood. I sat there after a bit of a walk and enjoyed the sunshine. In some ways, I really enjoyed coming here in Autumn because the falling leaves formed this brown/orange layer over the city that made everything so beautiful and the randomly spread Christmas markets just set the mood that makes you fall in love with the city no matter how unwelcoming the residents seem, just like the city has a mood of its own. It kinda reminded me of this elegant and regal looking elder lady that would smile at you when no one is looking that made you feel special. Despite it being cold there were a lot of kids playing around and families enjoying the Saturday in the park…

Greek Orthodox Church

Another 15 minutes walk from National park and you will be in the Greek quarter. Ancient Vienna which was more densely populated than the current number was also more multicultural and a lot of districts had a lot of different characteristics. Greek quarter still has some Greek influence and this absolutely gorgeous church is a prime example. You will enter through a small door with shops on both sides which run the facade a bit but the dimly lit corridor and its beautiful ceiling restore the mood.

The church didn’t have a lot of visitors int he early evening when I visited and when I entered the main hall it was like being transported into a different world, the intricately decorated walls and ceiling with the relative simplicity of the floor with almost no chairs. It is indeed very beautifully decorated. I sat down for a few minutes admiring not only the beauty but the calm and quiet the place offered in the middle of a hustling bustling city. It is times like these I enjoy the serenity religious sites offer and you get to realise it is not about sin and fury but about tranquillity and peace.

Bermuda Triangle & Jewish Quarters

The last stop for the day was the infamous Bermuda triangle which is a small area in the Jewish quarter and between the bars in a triangular shape. You will see the synagogue and the bars at a stone’s throw, Bermuda bar being the most famous. It also has an upstairs restaurant which I had my final dinner in, not bad at all. There is a mix of bars around and the crowd is generally mixed and as the night passes the area turns quite fun with drunk people, kind of reminded me of Soho. I absolutely loved First-floor bar and spent most of the time there after food and shisha.

Fun aside, the area has another claim to fame in the name of Freud who was a famous Jew and spent most of his life here in this neighbourhood until he left for Switzerland when Nazi’s arrived. It almost seemed like an honour to breathe in the same space as him, he did give us some crazy theories that helped me made sense of my own head at least, May God bless his soul!

A few minutes walk away is Feria Shisha lounge which is a good spot for relaxed shisha and positive vibe with good music and drinks.

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The exterior of Bermuda bar


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