A glass of wine? A “Krügerl” of beer? A sip of something that comes with an alarmingly ambiguous name and a pink umbrella?
Vienna has local vineyards and breweries, but also local laws and customs concerning the purchase and consumption of alcohol. Here some info¹:
Vienna has restrictions on opening hours for the different kinds of establishment that might serve drinks.
As a broad summary:
- Most eating establishments (restaurants, etc.) may open as early as 6am and stay open until as late as 2am
- Sausage stands and similar do not open after midnight
- Wine taverns also close at midnight
- Most drinking establishments (bars, etc.) may open from 10am and stay open as late as 4am
- Discos and clubs can stay open until 6am
These are the official rules, but actual opening hours obviously depend on how an establishment is classified and whether they want to make full use of the time slot available to them.
For example, restaurants and bars in the very centre seem to close earlier. I’ve come out of the state opera house late at night and had trouble finding anywhere that will still serve a beer. Most bars and pubs, though, do stay open late.
Many bars, coffee houses, wine taverns etc. let you sit outside in the warmer months. It’s hard to beat the continental street cafe culture in the city’s central districts, or the ambience of the village-like parts of the outer districts.
However, the city has special rules governing when (and for how long) outdoor serving areas can open. This depends largely on the location. Most establishments have to close their outdoor areas by 10pm, though you may be lucky and find a bar that is allowed to keep serving outdoors for longer.
These rules are designed to help surrounding residents get a good night’s sleep. (So where there are no residential buildings nearby, the outdoor areas tend to stay open longer).
At what age can you drink in Vienna?
Yep, anyone over the age of 16 can buy and drink alcohol in Vienna outside the home (schools being an exception to this rule). Note that legislation of this nature is local, not national. So what’s legal in Vienna may not be legal in another province. For example, you have to be 18 before you can drink spirits in Vorarlberg.
There’s a German summary of the laws here.
Drinking in public
It is broadly legal to drink in public places. Bear in mind, though, that there are exceptions. For example, it’s forbidden in stations, on public transport and around the Praterstern station. However, in my experience, drinking in public outside of bars, pubs, restaurants, picnic sites etc. is largely frowned upon in Vienna.
Equally, it’s really not done to be drunk in public. And you don’t see it nearly as often as you might in the UK, for example. The consequences can be expensive, too: there are heavy fines for drink-related anti-social behaviour.
¹Since laws and their interpretation can change, don’t take my word for any of the above: check locally or consult a lawyer…