• Austria's news in English

Gay Vienna gets welcome tourism boost

AFP/The Local · 13 May 2014, 08:01

Published: 13 May 2014 08:01 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Even before Conchita Wurst's Eurovision triumph helped burnish Austria's tolerant image, Vienna was already popular with gay tourists, attracted by the mix of high-brow culture and history - and also fun.

"You won't see bare bottoms or smutty word plays like you do for other cities. Vienna is sticking to its brand- classical and elegant," the city's tourism chief Norbert Kettner told The Local.

"If you just want to party 24 hours a day, there are better cities. But if you are interested in quality cuisine and culture - and also partying - then you should come to Vienna."

Vienna's baroque imperial splendour, UNESCO-protected cafe culture, world-class classical music and over 100 museums have long made it a hit with tourists straight or gay.

In the last decade the number of overnight stays by visitors sampling Schoenbrunn palace, Sachertorte cake or Klimt's "The Kiss" has rocketed 60 percent to almost 13 million in 2013.

The tourist board has made a point of trying to attract gay tourists, with a special guide and a Facebook page called "Gayfriendly Vienna" - currently fronted with a photo of Conchita Wurst.

And it has paid off. In January, 80,000 people voted Vienna their favourite cultural destination on the website GayCities.com, which calls it "one of Europe's great gay cities".

And as the website highlights, there is also fun to be had after dark, with plenty of fetish parties, saunas and gay clubs "to keep even the most energetic boy or girl happy".

"Vienna has a pretty formal image but it also has a good gay scene. It offers everything from simple bars to sex clubs," Irish visitor Brian Melaugh, 47, told AFP on his second trip to the city.

Sitting off the famous Naschmarkt market at the Cafe Savoy, a venerable gay institution in Vienna, he concedes however that the average age is perhaps higher than other, racier destinations.

"Lots of older gays come to Vienna. Younger ones go to places like Ibiza," he says.


Conchita Wurst's victory at Eurovision was as much about tolerance as it was about music, and gay visitors certainly find the Austrian capital of 1.7 million people an accepting place.

In particular, people from nearby eastern Europe find it a safe haven, says Boyan Dervishev, the manager of Cafe Savoy who arrived in Vienna from his native Bulgaria 26 years ago.

Gay visitors from eastern Europe appreciate the "normality," he told The Local. "If they embarrass themselves, it's not a scandal," he says.

Story continues below…

The city also has several gay events including the five-day Vienna Pride, which this year culminates on June 14 with a march of around 100,000 loud and proud members of the LGBT community.

In addition, Vienna city hall hosts the Life Ball, an annual event that over the past 20 or so years has become one of the world's best-known AIDS charity events.

This year's outlandish extravaganza on May 31 - with the theme "Love is a Bloom Growing Anywhere" - is due to be attended by former US president Bill Clinton and singer Ricky Martin, among others.

"Conchita Wurst is a very Viennese figure," said Kettner.

AFP/The Local (rosie.waites@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Brunnenmarkt murder 'could have been prevented'
Locals remember the murdered woman. Photo: Wien Caritas

The random murder of a woman in Vienna could have been prevented if the homeless and mentally disturbed man who killed her had been admitted to a psychiatric institution.

Iraqi family ask ECJ to help them stay in Austria
Kumberg locals hold a vigil for the family. Photo: ORF

A group of people from Kumberg in Styria have asked the European Court of Justice (ECJ) for help in trying to stop the deportation of an Iraqi family.

The Local List
Five things you need to know about winter tyres
Photo: carmagazine.co.uk

It’s that time of year when temperatures start to plunge and drivers are advised to switch to winter tyres to avoid being caught out by snow and ice on the roads.

Radioactive uranium rocks on display in Austrian schools
Uraninite crystals. Photo: Rob Lavinsky, iRocks.com/Wikimedia

Education officials have carried out urgent checks in schools across the country after one of the stones on display in a classroom turned out to be radioactive.

Austrian churches slam far-right's 'God' slogan
Campaign poster for Norbert Hofer. Photo: Paul Gillingwater

Austrian church officials have denounced far-right presidential candidate Norbert Hofer for "instrumentalising" God in a new slogan.

'Scary clown' pushes 14-year-old off his bike in Salzburg
Generic photo: Graeme Maclean/Flick

A 14-year-old boy in Salzburg has been injured after being pushed off his bike by an individual dressed as a scary clown.

Police puzzled by random stabbing of teenager in Vienna
Photo: Paul Gillingwater

A 15-year-old boy who was stabbed near his home in the Vienna district of Liesing on Friday morning by a complete stranger has spoken to the police.

'Sensational' 300-year-old Madonna found in Burgenland
The head of the statue was found beside the body. Photo: ORF

A 300-year-old statue of the Virgin Mary has been found hidden in a chapel next to a Catholic church in Loretto, Burgenland.

Baumgartner 'failed to mention Red Bull' before jumping to Earth
Felix Baumgartner. Photo: Red Bull Stratos

Felix Baumgartner has been accused of cheating his Red Bull sponsors after he failed to mention the energy drink just before he jumped to Earth.

Verdict on swimming pool rape case overturned
The Theresienbad swimming pool in Vienna. Photo: Wikimedia

An Iraqi refugee who was jailed after claiming it was a sexual emergency when he raped a boy in a swimming pool has had the sentence overturned.

12 brilliant German words you won't find in English
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Five films which will change your mind about Austrian cinema
Those surprising Austrians!
100 years since the last emperor's death
Afghani family's new home in Austria
Der you learn Deutsch?
Delighted by the light
Beware these passport scams
Of course we skipped Oarsch
Foodies rejoice at the choice!
Travel & Tourism
10 years after her escape from captivity
Surviving the Brexit for British expats
Day 2 of the World Bodypainting Festival 2016
Is Islam hostile to Western society?
Bodypainting festival in southern Austria
Europe's ice cream capital
Best Austrian beauty spots
Travel & Tourism
Three days in Vienna as a tourist
How to make friends in Austria
jobs available