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Donau
Photograph: Donau

The 11 best nightlife spots in Vienna

The Austrian capital is known for coffee and culture, but the best nightlife spots in Vienna are plenty thrilling

Written by
Kate Jackson
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Vienna is best known for its elite coffee culture and grand architecture, but the Austrian capital has a sneaky good nightlife adored by those in the know. Sure, it might not have the reputation of Berlin or the wild-child exuberance of Budapest, but a quality night out here is guaranteed. The best nightlife spots in Vienna are thrilling.

You’ll find everything from grimy bars underneath the city to rooftop stunners with unparalleled city views. That is Vienna, a city that is as comfortable in the gutter as it is in the stars. This is the City of Dreams, after all.

Best nightlife in Vienna

The interior of this club, going since the ’90s, is pretty much the embodiment of ‘faded grandeur’ – explore its three appealing rooms and spacious garden, and you’ll quickly see what we mean. Celeste attracts a range of DJs, mostly local, and there are regular karaoke and jazz nights throughout the week.

Just off the bustling Kärntnerstraße, this snug joint is famed for its near-perfect espresso martinis and art deco interior designed by revered Austrian architect Adolf Loos. Low-lit and intimate, it’s one of the city centre’s most atmospheric venues for a tipple after a long day exploring the sights.

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Vienna’s oldest and best-known gay club, WhyNot packs out fast at the weekend. Set over three floors with three bars, each with a different vibe, nights here are always fun, friendly and ever so slightly mad, and the drinks are top-notch. Themed nights are frequent, so be sure to check their website.

The epitome of a traditional Viennese Kaffeehaus, Kaffee Alt Wien has been satisfying punters since 1922. A happy mix of locals and tourists head here for espressos by day and foaming steins of beer by night. With concert posters plastered over every inch of wall space, the interior has a pleasingly old-school vibe.

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Tucked behind a metal door between Mariahilferstraße and the MuseumsQuartier, this inconspicuous club’s neoclassical arches are lit with stunning daily-changing projections. A Neubau favourite, Donau is a well-established haunt on the Vienna club scene, drawing underground electro, house and techno DJs. Drinks are relatively cheap, and the club has its own Würstelstand for after-hours snacks.

A highlight of the Donaukanal clubs, this spacious venue is spread over two floors and mainly focuses on techno and house (and underground rather than mainstream acts). Rules are strict here – photography is banned, and it’s over-21s only. Follow the fish signs along the canal, and stay until sunlight trickles through the glass ceiling.

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The area around the Donaukanal has become a lively nightlife hotspot, particularly in the summer months when the banks fill up with hip local twenty-somethings. With its rich programme of DJ sets and live concerts, this canalside venue is one of the main draws. The adjacent Flex Café has its own dance floor and stays open long into the night.

Gürtel bars
Photograph: Flickr / Kenji Ross

8. Gürtel bars

The Gürtel bars (beneath the arches of the U6 metro) may seem seedy – but don’t be put off. This part of town is your best bet for cutting-edge live music. Chelsea and B72 focus on indie rock, while Rhiz and Café Concerto put on ace house and techno nights. The annual Gürtel Nightwalk festival takes place across various venues in summer.

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It may be on the garish side, but you can’t argue with the striking exterior of this huge 1950s folly with its glass pavilion and original furnishings. Admission is usually free before 10 pm, and Saturday is the most popular night. Music tends towards the mainstream, though house and techno also feature.

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The outdoor swimming pool of this sauna-turned-club opens up in summer and makes easily one of the city’s most atmospheric party spots. The older parts of the original ’60s sauna blend well with the interior’s contemporary features – including an illuminated green bar. DJs spin predominantly techno, electro and deep house.

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