Although Vienna has great transport, there’s no better way to get to know a city than walking its streets. Below are several great tours that you can go on, and the best part is – they’re free!
First is Good Vienna Tours (https://www.goodviennatours.eu/). This is designed for small groups (but still up to 35 people!) To guarantee availability, they ask people to book on their website, where you can also book private tours for groups over 7 people. There’s even a tour in German, if you want to practice your language skills. You can show up to the meeting point – in Front of Albertina (1st District) – without a reservation, but those who do have one will be given priority.
Their tours run twice a day, at 10am and 2pm, and last for around 2 ½ hours. Although it’s free, they do ask that participants tip the guide according to how interesting and useful they found it (as do most of the free tours).
Original Vienna Tours (https://original-europe-tours.com/tours/vienna-free-tour-walking-city/) has both a traditional cultural tour and an “alternative” tour, which takes in some of the more modern culture.
The 2 ½ hour traditional tour takes in famous tourist sites in the city center, such as the Jewish quarter, Parliament, Hofburg Imperial Palace, Plague Column, St. Michael Square, St. Stephen’s Cathedral, and Heroes Square. It promises stories from Vienna’s past, from music to the Nazi era. You can learn your way around the city, and they encourage you to ask the guides for recommendations of restaurants, clubs and events.
The alternative tour clocks in at 3 hours, and gives an oversight of Vienna’s most notable graffiti and urban art, parks, food, and festivals – this one is even more sociable than the first, mentioning the possibility of a beer stop on the way! You can expect to see areas such as Kirchengasse, Donaukanal, and Naschmarkt.
Next is a very similar pair of offerings from Prime Tours, operated by Welcome Tour Vienna (http://www.primerooms.at/prime-tours/free-walking-tour/). The first difference is that although they have a 2-hour tour at 10:25 and 14:25 every day, they also have one later in the day, starting at 6pm, lasting 2 ½ hours. The second difference is the main stops of the evening tour, which include the Spanish Riding School and State Opera. The meeting point is Helmut Zilk Square, next to the Vienna Tourist Office, and it promises magical evening experiences, from spring sunsets and the cooler hours of summer to illuminations in winter. Once you’ve finished, you can take advantage of your tour guide’s recommendations and head to a nearby restaurant or bar.
Their alternative tour starts at 2pm from the sausage booth at Gumpendorferstraße, and again seems to vary its stops from the previous tours: Olympia Society, Erik Brauer Haus, Raimund Theater, Gürtel Street, and Westbahnhof among others.
All the tours are given by experienced guides, who are native to Vienna or who have lived there for more than 10 years. There’s no registration required, but you can sign up to give the guides/company an idea of numbers.
If large groups of people tire you out or frustrate you, you do have another option: a self-guided tour. With the map and information on http://www.bigboytravel.com/europe/austria/vienna/freewalkingtour/, you can be your own tour guide, and it still doesn’t cost a eurocent. Explore the old town for 90 minutes, or longer if you fancy visiting some of the museums and sights on the way (up to 4-5 hours). It takes you from the State Opera House to the Museum Quarter, past a mixture of Vienna architecture: both historic and modern buildings. There’s something to interest everyone on this tour – beer gardens, cathedrals, shopping – and it’s as personalised as you like.
The last free walking tour of Vienna is a bit of a cheat, but worth a mention. If you’re already planning on buying a ViennaPass, which gets you discounts and free entry to many attractions, such as Schonbrunn Palace and Zoo, Hofburg Palace and Danube Tower, then you can claim a free tour, too. Unlike the tours above, it only lasts an hour, but still includes Vienna history, main sights and historic landmarks with the same sort of fascinating facts. You can find out the origin of the State Opera’s nickname – “sunken chest” – and the history of Vienna’s most hotly debated topic – who makes the best Sacher cake – Hotel Sacher, or Café Demel? It starts and ends at Planet Souvenir, Kärntnerstraße 30, which is useful for finding your way back to your hotel again afterwards.
Whether you’re new to the city, or want to find out more from knowledgeable guides, discovering Vienna on a walking tour doesn’t have to cost you anything. There are many options available to suit all personalities and preferred distances, at multiple times of the day. Seeing Vienna has never been easier!