There are dozens of different Vienna tours. Essentially, they help you gain deep insight into how the city ticks, get pointers or just have fun. explore the city in a small group, in private, or in a larger group. To help you do just that I have screened and tested a few tours and guides. Here are 6 proven ways to explore Vienna that work, and another 6 special themed tours to add an extra perspective. Click on each category and tour to learn about what’s on offer.
Most of Vienna’s must-sees cluster in the city centre’s pedestrian area, from Hofburg Imperial Palace to St. Stephen’s Cathedral. If you are a first time visitor, start with a city highlights walking tour. Group tours usually have a maximum of 30 participants. There are also small-group tours and private tours available.
Themed walks allow you to explore Vienna from a special angle, for example Jewish Vienna, Imperial Vienna, or a historic courtyards walk. Most of these Vienna tours include a visit to some of our most beautiful neighbourhoods. Learn more in Vienna Walking Tours.
Savvy professional guides like Walter (photo) can make all the difference to experiencing Vienna. While there are more personal gems like him they are not easy to find, so I decided to draw up a shortlist of the best private guides and tours.
Private tours themselves range from luxurious to down-to-earth. You can tour the city in a luxury limousine with private chauffeur, take themed walks in private or in small groups or to hiking tours in the surroundings. Find out more in Vienna Tours – private sightseeing.
Whereas music fans traditionally flock to opera performances and concerts in Vienna, tracing composers around town is only starting to gain traction.
Depending on your interests, you can generally choose between a general music tour, and an in-depth tour including the Central Cemetery.
Since most of these tours are private you will be able to call the shots at all times, and customize your tour: Why not tell your guide to let you pay tribute to Beethoven in Vienna with a special tour? After all, Beethoven lived in Vienna for 35 years, longer than Mozart.
Find out about the best tours on offer in Vienna Classical Music Tours.
The city is largely flat, has more than 1,000 km of bike paths and lush green surroundings. Guided Vienna tours by bike in the city cover the highlights of the historic old town as well as the Vienna Prater and the Danube Island. Extend your radius and sign up for a wine tasting tour at UNESCO world heritage site Wachau Valley, cycle along the popular Danube bike path, and visit the national park around Lake Neusiedl (our little ‘seaside’). You can even bike to other nearby European cities such as Bratislava, Budapest, Prague, and Krakow on a guided tour. Tours By Bike
Local bike paths are increasingly humming with Segways. They are mostly used by small groups of visitors and a few locals who want to give it a try. (It took me and most other group members 15 minutes to work it out.) Segway tour operators usually accept children from 12 years of age.
You can choose between booking a Vienna tour with a proper tour guide to see the inner city, going on a nature trail through the woodlands of the Vienna Prater or touring the Danube island. Learn more in my review. Tours By Segway
Vienna tours. These little tour cars are getting extremely popular in Germany, Spain and now Austria. They are based on original models from the 1930’s. After World War II young people with some money loved to do high-speed racing in these cars. You won’t need to go crazy over speed. Take your time and move round Vienna in a guided small group of other hot rodders.
During two hours, you will see all the key sights o Vienna. The cars are easy to drive and you’ll get instructions and safety helmets. Book either a daylight tour or a moonlight tour. (You will get your full money back in case of bad weather.)
Special Vienna Tours
There is a series of special tours through my hometown. I have joined and reviewed a few of them:
To gain the complete overview of Vienna’s diverse parts in just 3 hours, take your family or friends on this private minivan tour. Besides the historic center you will venture out to areas that are other hard to reach in that amount of time: for example, the Danube and New Danube, or Vienna’s winery paradises of Nussdorf and Neustift.
What’s more you will discover sub cultures that hardly any traveller has come across – ever heard of Auf der Schmelz? Find out more in my review of the Vienna Sights Minivan Tour.
This is an excellent pointer tour that is a little more relaxed. Other than most sightseeing tours, it allows you to venture out into popular green space you may not otherwise have gone to. You start biking from the Danube canal into Ringstrasse with the City Hall, Burgtheater, Volksgarten and Parliament, then pass the Imperial Palace, our key baroque church St. Charles Borromeo before riding to Gaudi-esque colour blob Hundertwasserhaus, the Prater woodlands, and the Giant Ferris Wheel.
Read my review of the Bike Tour.
3. Finding The Right Shops In Vienna
While common gift shops jump right at you in the tourist centre it’s the independent (vintage) stores hiding in the neighbourhoods that many travellers are after. From original baking tins to silver spoons, sugar bowls and embroidered handbags, these gifts have not only a history but character. The easiest and most fun way to find and explore these shops is to join a local who is as passionate about shopping as you are.
Explore how you can find the right shops for you in Vienna in Shopping in Vienna Austria.
Vienna’s Otto Wagner church is a masterpiece of Art Nouveau architecture. It is located in what some would call an ‘Art Nouveau historic theme park’ in the West of Vienna. Visiting the church, the adjacent Jugendstil hospital and pavilions, and the derelict Art Nouveau theatre transports you straight back to Vienna 1900. You learn all about the essence of Viennese Art Nouveau and Otto Wagner’s wonderful world of shapes and ornaments. Read my tour review.
5. Third Man Movie Tour
Discover a different Vienna by following in the footsteps of The Third Man, Graham Greene’s 1949 cult film. The walking tour is fun as it references a lot of film production flaws and cheating on various of the original locations that you will visit.
It is also highly informative as you get to know interesting parts of the city centre you probably wouldn’t have visited. Third Man Movie Tour
French star architect Jean Nouvel and three other renowned Austrian architects have put their stamp on Vienna’s most exciting urban re-design project, Gasometer City.
This tour will take you to experience contemporary local architecture and design which transformed four giant 19th-century bricked community gas containers. Gasometer city is also a showcase for contemporary urban living: Vienna’s closest knit community came into existence long before the Gasometers were finished. Gasometer City
If you want to tour Vienna on your own, the best options are:
- Taking a tour on the Vienna Ringtram. The tramways tour the Ringstrasse with all its state buildings and grand hotels, and are equipped with excellent audio guides and LCD screens.
- Rent a bike with a bike rental firm. There are a few bike rental firms that supply you with tour maps and also deliver the bikes directly to your hotel.
- Rent a Vienna Citybike. The city’s public bike rental scheme has dozens of pick-up and drop-off points in town and is open to visitors.
- Take a simple walk. I have mapped out a few of my favourite Vienna walks that may inspire you.
Need help to coordinate local tours with your Vienna itinerary? Find out more in Vienna Travel Planning – When To Hire A Trip Planner And Travel Consultant
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