A Guide to Vienna’s Wildest Nightclubs

Can a city best known for its chamber orchestra and opera house really have a wild side? Spend a few nights at megaclubs like Flex and Nachtwerk and you won’t have to ask that question again. Yes, Vienna’s reputation as a city of music does, in fact, extend to techno.

Widely considered one of Europe’s best clubs, Flex houses a sound system that’s undeniably the best in Vienna. While the music selection has become more mainstream than it once was, DJs from Austria and abroad still play a good mix of house and techno, and live performances by underground bands keep things from getting too settled.

In summer, clubbers spill out from the sultry dance hall onto the Danube embankment and crowds congregate on the waterside terrace right up until dawn.

If you don’t want to pay to join the masses in the main hall, relax in the Flex Cafe for an evening of people watching. In the cafe, computers connected to a jukebox let guests select from an archive of over 700 CDs with house, easy listening, and mellow background music.

For many, Nachtwerk sets the standard for the nightclubs of Vienna. You know a club’s got something when not even its inconvenient location out in the 23rd district can dampen its popularity. Every night, themed music parties draw hundreds to Nachtwerk’s split-level dance floors, bars, pizzeria, and classy cafe. Several times a month, the club throws a party in the name of whichever drink they’ve decided to sell cheap that night. If you’re in Vienna for the long term, pick up a VIP card for access to the reserved dance floor along and a few other perks.

The vaulted arches of a subway may seem an awkward location for a nightclub, but the owners of the celebrated Chelsea have turned this once barren space into a concert room and club area for parties of up to 250 people. In any case, the subway is more socially acceptable than the apartment cellar where the club was originally housed. The music selection consists of a little bit of everything, with live performances by Austrian and internationally known bands. Each of the Chelsea’s three dance rooms is equipped with its own bar offering mixed drinks, beer, and whiskey.

Its fortunate location in the palace garden is partially responsible for this clubs fame, but even without that the Volksgarten can hold its own. The DJs-reputedly some of the best in Vienna-spin hip-hop, house, rhythm and blues, and disco, with a different music style every night. The young and hip pack into a dance huge hall with a retractable roof, while less intense types sip cocktails in the Volksgarten Pavilion or cool off in the outdoor pool. Summer brings weekend disco and club nights and the garden is turned into an open-air ballroom. The view of the Hofburg Palace, Parliament building, and the Burgtheater surrounding Volksgarten is another reason to give this club a try.

Another club with a subway connection, the popular U4 was named after the subway stop near its entrance. Appearances here by Austrian rock singer Falco helped put the U4 on the map and the club still holds live concerts and shows featuring well-known bands. The type of clientele that gathers on the two dance floors varies according to the music theme for the night. Friday’s draws the retro crowd for 80’s and 90’s pop music. Soul, funk, and disco are on offer on Saturday nights, while Sunday is Flower Power night. Vienna’s best-known gay club event, Heaven Night, takes place at the U4 every Thursday.

The sound system may not be remarkable, but the deep red plush and creatively kitschy decor earn this little bar in the sixth district a place among Vienna’s wildest clubs. The “Dancecafe Beyond” lives up to its name with an atmosphere that’s definitely beyond the ordinary. After all, at how many other clubs can you sip your cocktails and longdrinks at a red velvet bar or munch snacks at a table under a disco ball and a portrait of Elvis Presley. Not to be outdone by the visual effects, funk, soul, jazz, and pop music play throughout the night. Unfortunately for club goers, Tanzcafe Jenseits’ popularity is bigger than its dance floor, so if you don’t come early you may have to queue to get in.

Vienna’s waltz may have lost its image as a wild indulgence, but the Viennese have found plenty of other to keep their nightlife hot. Whether its crowds and techno you seek or a night of funk and soul, Vienna’s nightclubs will give you a reason to stay out ’til dawn.

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