Nightlife in Vienna: music for everyone

by diane.naar.elphee

Vienna now has plenty of choice when it comes to going out for a good time at night. Listen to all kinds of music, live acts or just party and dance. This city is alive and you can feel the beat!

Cocktailbar - Restaurant Comida – Red Room

This restaurant, bar and music club, serving Caribbean and Mediterranean cuisine, attracts Vienna's jet-set. Famed for the devilishly delicious cocktails and good DJ soul sounds in the stylish “Red Room” cellar, the illuminated floor and red decor is quite eye-catching. Open daily 8pm till 2am; Thursday to Saturday until 4am (Stubenring 20; 01 512 40 24; www.comida.at).

Flex

For lovers of loud music: join the crowd in the unused subway shaft under the Danube Canal. Notably equipped with the best sound system in the city, only a few years ago the Flex was named one of the best clubs in Europe. International stars and newcomers perform a wide range of music styles. Techno and drum 'n' bass is what you'll hear when famed DJs come to town. The Flex club serves free soda water when the going gets hot. Open daily from 6pm to 4am (Donaukanal at Augartenbrücke; 01 533 75 25; www.flex.at).

Passage

The best known, and possibly best loved, disco in town is located in a defunct pedestrian underpass on the Ringstrasse next to the Burggarten. Amazing Dr Who style lighting effects, flexible, futuristic interior decor and funky sounds attract a very chic clientele. Open Tuesday to Thursday from 8pm-4am, Friday and Saturday until 6am (Burgring / Babenbergerstraße; 01 961 88 00; www.sunshine.at).

U4

Grace Jones, Nirvana, Sade and Johnny Depp have been to this cult disco. Conny de Beauclair, Vienna's best-known bouncer and photographer, published a book recently highlighting thirty years of the U4's colourful history. Open Monday-Saturday 10pm–2am (Schönbrunner Straße 222; 01 817 11 92; www.u-4.at).

Volksgarten

Set in a romantic garden pavilion, dance indoors or out to music that varies from rhythm 'n' blues to reggae and hip hop. On Sundays from May until September, starting at 6pm, ballroom dances are on the bill: Latin, salsa, Tango Argentino, swing and boogie. Open 
Friday and Saturday from 11am-2am (Burgring 1, Volksgarten; 01 5324241,; www.volksgarten.at).

Donau

Close to the MQ, this hip locality offers special light effects from Dr Flash! A daily DJ line-up from 8pm plays techno, minimal and electronic music. An in-house sausage stall serves vegetarian sausages - takeaways too. Open daily from 8pm–2am (Schweighofer-Gasse 10; 01 523 81 05; www.donautechno.com).

Holy-Moly

Star chef Christian Petz cooks in the galley of the Badeschiff - a floating cargo container that was transformed into a restaurant, swim bath and club – one of the key nightlife venues in summer. Open 11am–4am. Closed Sundays from January until March. Anchored on the Danube Canal between Urania and Schwedenplatz: Donaukanallände (0699 15130750; www.badeschiff.at).

Fluc

This popular club and concert venue was built above a disused pedestrian underpass, the downstairs passage became the Wanne (Tub). Artists and stylish youngsters make up the audience here. Upstairs party and concerts, downstairs very loud rock concerts and DJ sounds from hip hop to techno. Open daily 6pm–4am (Praterstern 5; 01 218 28 24; www.fluc.at).

Jazz

Jazz clubs are usually less expensive than other night venues, some offer free entry and food and drinks are cheap. In a few locations musically gifted patrons get a chance to participate in sessions. See Manfred Kramlinger's Jazz in Vienna website for more information about live performances: www.jazzpages.com/JazzinWien.

Porgy & Bess

This 10-year-old jazz and music club is one of the very popular central locations for live gigs. In the basement of this former cinema, Austrian and international acts perform on a regular basis. The restaurant offers a good choice of food and drinks at fair prices: main courses for under 10 euros, draft beer for 3.70 euros for a half-litre glass. It's open daily from 7.30 pm (Riemergasse 11; 01 5128811; www.porgy.at).

Reigen

Just opposite the Hietzing U4 underground station at Hadikgasse 62, the Art Nouveau-styled Reigen stages international acts and holds regular jazz and disco evenings. A newly-installed sound system attracts well known musicians like Charles Lloyd and Bill Evans - with open end sessions on occasion. Saturday night is Latin music dance night. Open 6pm–2am, weekends until 4am; the restaurant serves good hot food until midnight; closed Sundays (01 89 40 094; www.reigen.at).

Jazzland

The first authentic Vienna jazz club opened nearly 40 years ago and saw many of the local jazz artists rise to fame after making their first appearances in this cellar under St Ruprecht's Church. More than 300 international jazz stars, like Tony Coe and Roy Williams, have performed here since the club's opening in 1972. Open Monday–Saturday from 7pm, live music from 9pm; closed Sundays (Franz Josefskai 29; 01 533 25 75; www.jazzland.at).

Vienna Unplugged

A cellar with a stage just big enough for 10 musicians, where anything from jazz, blues, folk, rock and pop - even punk and metal - can be heard live on stage. Open daily 6pm–2am; Friday and Saturday until 4am (Liechtensteinstraße 61; 01 310 14 04; www.vienna-unplugged.at).

Tunnel

From Tuesday to Saturday all variations of live music can be heard. On Sunday and Monday a jazz group plays from 9 to 10pm, after that a session starts and musicians in the audience are invited to take the stage and show what's in them. Open daily from 8pm (Florianigasse 39; 01 405 34 65; www.tunnel-vienna-live.at).

More nightlife

Visit my overview on Vienna nightlife or read my other guides: Nightlife in Vienna: come and have a ball! and Nightlife in Vienna: concerts and operas.

Where to stay

For a full list of my recommendations on where to stay in Vienna, see Vienna Hotels – Award winning expert hotel reviews, from cheap to luxury hotels in Vienna.

diane.naar.elphee

As a local guide and Vienna expert I’ve spent many years sharing my passion for this city with visitors from all over the world.

I started writing about  Vienna a few years ago for Fodor’s. I now regularly update and write for travel guides including, among others, National Geographic/Spirallo, DuMont, Baedeker, Marco Polo and Polyglott.

Leaving  Yorkshire to come to Vienna decades ago was the start of 30 years of exciting global travel: I lived in Spain, spent months in Brazil, crossed South Africa, New Zealand, India and Japan. I’ve seen most of the USA, S.E Asia and China but today my trips keep me closer to home. I love Italy and Switzerland. And when I’m back in Vienna you’ll probably find me in one of the many art museums, comfortable coffee houses or concert halls - apropos music: sometimes it’s hard to choose which performance to go to there’s always so much on.

My Vienna

Where I always grab a coffee: Café Sperl at Gumpendorferstrasse 11. For an excellent café melange, meeting friends or perusal of various broadsheets, this is my home from home.

My favourite stroll: this might sound a little morbid but I love to stroll through cemeteries, especially Vienna's huge Zentralfriedhof. The commemorative graves of Schubert, Beethoven, Brahms, Salieri and Mozart – to name just a few – are to be found in the composers section and, with the help of a brand new multimedia guide, relatively easy to find.

Books for inspiration: Frederic Morton: A Nervous Splendour and Thunder at Twilight for a better understanding of – and an easy approach to – Austria's fascinating history. These two “gossipy” historic novels allow a clever insight into what led to the empire's ultimate collapse in 1918.

The most breathtaking view: St Stephan's tall and slender steeple, lovingly known as “Steffl” by the Viennese, towers high above the roofs of the city centre. The climb up 340 spiral steps, for a terrific view across the rooftops of central Vienna, may be a little strenuous, I know, but certainly worth the effort. Alternatively, the half hour walk uphill to the Gloriette terrace, in the park at Schönbrunn Palace, allows the best vantage point from which to enjoy the beautiful sprawling gardens.

The best spot for some peace and quiet: come in plenty – both indoors and out. A favourite of mine is in Belvedere gardens, where park benches stand between a maze of hedges that have been cut to shape by master craftsmen, offering a tranquil shady corner, particularly during warm summer days.

Shopaholics beware: style-conscious shoppers looking for funky fashion will find the latest trends on Neubaugasse and the adjacent Lindengasse – these side streets are an alternative to the, sometimes overcrowded, commercial Mariahilferstrasse. And as for gifts, gadgets and gimmicks, I always find something to buy at the design shop in the MAK (Museum of Applied Art) www.makdesignshop.at.

City on screen: Perhaps the best is The Third Man, a black and white film classic staged in allied-occupied Vienna following World War II – starring the great Orson Welles as Harry Lime. Before Sunrise, a romantic love story featuring lots of sights and sounds of the city, starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy.

City soundtrack: Well do I have much of a choice? The Danube Waltz by Johann Strauss Jr. Clichés are sometimes unavoidable and some things just don't seem to change. However, for me it has to be 'Vienna waits for you' – from Billy Joel's breakthrough album The Stranger, simply my favourite!

Don’t leave without... tasting: Tafelspitz, Wiener Schnitzel, Sachertorte, Apfelstrudel and a delicious glass, or two, of Viennese white wine, try a Grüne Veltliner or Weiss Burgunder from one of the best Viennese vintners – www.wienwein.net.