Vienna is a gorgeous city full of ornate palaces and wide boulevards. It is packed with history, from the Hapsburgs and the Austro-Hungarian Empire, through Anschluss and World War II. So much has happened on these streets and behind these palace walls. A walking tour of Vienna is a great way to not only get to know the old town but to learn more about this complex history and the cafe culture Vienna is known for.
We spent a month in Vienna with our kids, walking the streets, visiting the top sights, and of course tasting some of the famous pastries! In this post, we’ll cover the best Vienna walking tours, from classic Vienna old town walking tours that are a terrific introduction for first-time visitors, to in-depth tours that cover the history of a specific period. You might also like a market and food walking tour or even a dessert and pastry walking tour!
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Why Take a Walking Tour in Vienna Austria?
A walking tour of Vienna is a great introduction to Vienna for first-time visitors. A classic old town walking tour will cover the basic history of the city, from the famous Empress Sisi and the Hapsburg Empire to the bombings during World War II.
For those who are already familiar with Vienna, historical walking tours or food tours offer a way to learn more about Austrian culture- from sites specific to Hitler and World War II, to a Christmas market tour focused on Austrian holiday traditions.
All of these walking tours are best if you can arrange them toward the start of your visit to Vienna. On a walking tour, you’ll pass by a lot of interesting sites, but usually not go inside, so you’ll want time to return to places that interest you. Walking tour guides are also wonderful sources of local information, and will often give you tips on where to eat and where to go in Vienna that will be useful for the remainder of your visit.
Quick Guide: The Best Walking Tours of Vienna Austria
What Will I See on a Walking Tour of Vienna?
Vienna is a very safe city, you can walk alone in the central districts during the day and at night without worrying about safety. It is also an easy city to walk around, you’ll find that many of these longer walking tours of Vienna include a short ride on public transportation in between neighborhoods.
Depending on the theme of the guided walking tour, you may see different locations, or have a different focus. However, many of the best Vienna walking tours will include the following locations in the old city.
St. Stephens Cathedral
The tallest church in Austria, Stephansdom is in the center of Old Town Vienna. Its four towers are a landmark in the city- you can go to the top of two of them. The Roman Catholic seat of the Archbishop of Vienna, this cathedral is a symbol of Austria and the burial site of many Habsburgs as well as cardinals and archbishops.
The home of the Hapsburg royal family for more than 600 years, this palace complex started as a Medieval castle and was slowly expanded into almost an Imperial city-within-a-city. It now contains more than 2,600 rooms that house multiple museums, the Spanish Riding School, the offices of the Federal President of Austria, and the offices of various government ministries.
Vienna State Opera House
The Vienna State Opera House is the opera house with the largest repertoire in the world- they put on a different ballet or opera each evening, necessitating a set change every day. Each season they put on more than 50 different productions. This beautiful building is also the site of the annual Vienna Opera Ball each spring.
The Graben is Vienna’s most famous shopping street. On this pedestrian-only street you’ll find the Plague Column, as well as many expensive stores. This street dates back to Roman times, legend says that Richard the Lionheart walked here.
The Vienna city hall, the Rathausplatz is an ornate neo-gothic building that sits in front of a City Hill park famous for its festivals and winter Christmas market. This is part of the Ringstrasse- the outer ring that circles Vienna’s old town.
It is important to note that walking tours in Vienna generally do not enter cathedrals or museums but give you a historical overview, you’ll then want to plan to return to certain landmarks to explore them in more depth.
The Best Walking Tours of Vienna Austria
These are the best walking tours of Vienna, from the classic old town walking tour that helps you navigate and understand the city, to historical tours that dig deeper into Vienna’s tumultuous past. We’ve also got the best Vienna Christmas market tours, a Jewish heritage tour, and of course, several food and pastry tours!
🌟 Rating: 5 Stars ⏳ 2 1/2 Hours ✅ Very Small Group, City Center 🔎 Check Rates
This highly rated, very small group tour starts at the Albertinaplatz, home to the Albertina Museum, and visits such iconic places as St. Stephen’s Cathedral, the Hofburg Palace complex, the Volksgarten (a park known for its roses), and the Vienna State Opera House.
This classic walking tour of Old Town Vienna is limited to 6 people or less, you’ll get a very personal experience. This is the perfect introduction to Vienna and the history and culture of Austria.
🌟 Rating: 5 Stars ⏳ 2 1/2 Hours ✅ City Center, Small Group 🔎 Check Rates
On this walking tour of Vienna’s city center, you’ll see the highlights of the old city, from St. Stephens to Graben Street and the Hofburg.
You’ll also visit a few places you might miss on your own- like the former residence of Ludwig van Beethoven, and the Frestel Passage, which is even more interesting with a bit of explanation and history.
This tour ends at St. Stephen’s Church, so you’ll be free to explore more from there. This tour has more than 600 5-star reviews. It is limited to 15 people or less, so a fairly small group for a walking tour.
🌟 Rating: 5 Stars ⏳ 3 Hours ✅ Led by a Historian, Small Group 🔎 Check Rates
This historical walking tour of Vienna starts at Michaelerplatz, where you’ll learn about the city’s kings, queens, and revolutionaries while viewing the ornate architecture of the Hofburg Palace. You’ll head down the famous streets of Kohlmarkt and the Graben to visit Stephansdom, the central Cathedral.
This walking tour also includes the old city walls, Belvedere Palace, the Museums Quartier and Maria Theresien Platz, as well as the Naschmarkt. Since this is a slightly longer tour than others, you’ll cover a bit more ground. This is a very small group, with a maximum of 8 travelers.
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🌟 Rating: 5 Stars ⏳ 6 Hours ✅ Food Tour, Includes Lunch 🔎 Check Rates
On this 6 hour market tour you’ll learn where the locals eat and shop! This tour starts with a Vienesse breakfast of coffee and strudel and then works its way from the city center to the bohemian district of Mariahilf, and then back through the Naschmarkt market. You’ll visit Vienna’s longest street market, and have a typical Austrian lunch including dessert and local wine or beer.
This tour provides plenty of tastings, travelers report being stuffed! You may take public transportation for part of this tour. The maximum group size for this walking tour is 16 people.
🌟 Rating: 5 Stars ⏳ 3 1/2 Hours ✅ Pastry and Dessert 🔎 Check Rates
This 3 1/2 hour walking tour explores the sweet side of Vienna’s famous cafe culture. You’ll visit some of the best bakeries, pastry shops, and chocolatiers in the city. But don’t worry about having too many sweets, your third stop will be a savory stop where you’ll enjoy schnitzel or dumplings, so you’ll be ready for more desserts!
This walking tour in Vienna gets solid 5-star reviews, while you’ll mostly be walking, you may take public transportation between areas of town. This is a small group tour, expect to have ten or fewer travelers.
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🌟 Rating: 4 1/2 Stars ⏳ Up to 3 Hours ✅ Christmas Markets, Small Group 🔎 Check Rates
This walking tour of Vienna’s Christmas markets is a small group tour that includes four lovely Christmas markets, each of which is quite different. You’ll start at Mariahilfer Kirche, then head to the Spittleberg market, then to the MuseumQuartier, one of the hippest markets, and then end in Maria Theresien Platz at the Christmas Village there. Throughout the walking tour, you’ll learn about Christmas in Austria- from local traditions to specialty foods.
Drinks and snacks are included, so you’ll have a chance to taste some of the most traditional foods at the Christmas markets. This walking tour has a maximum of 20 travelers, children are welcome, but guests must be 18 or older for alcoholic drinks (non-alcoholic are also available).
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🌟 Rating: 5 Stars ⏳ 2 1/2 Hours ✅ Christmas Markets, Private Tour 🔎 Check Rates
Take a walking tour through the Old Town where you learn about Christmas traditions and visit Vienna’s famous Christmas markets. On this private tour, you’ll start at the Art Mart at Karlskirche, stroll along the famous pedestrian street Graben past the Hofburg Palace, and visit the most traditional Christmas Market at Freyung.
This private tour can be customized to your interests, or you can choose specific markets. You’ll end your tour at the world-famous Rathausplatz Christmas market, the largest of the Vienna Christmas markets, where you can continue to explore on your own.
🌟 Rating: 4 1/2 Stars ⏳ 2 1/2 Hours ✅ Hitler, WWII Focus 🔎 Check Rates
This WWII walking tour focuses on the history of Vienna from Hitler’s time in the city as a youth (where he was rejected from art school), through Anschluss, to the end of World War II. This tour includes visits to the Jewish synagogue, as well as the Memorial to the Austrian Jews killed in the Holocaust.
You’ll also see areas of the city damaged by bombing during the war, including where the Metropole Hotel stood. This hotel became one of the most brutal Gestapo headquarters during the Third Reich. This tour has a maximum of 25 travelers.
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🌟 Rating: 5 Stars ⏳ 2 Hours ✅ Poverty, Ex-homeless Guide 🔎 Check Rates
This tour on poverty and homelessness in Austria is run by an ex-homeless person who can speak to their personal experience as well as to the politics and policies in place in Vienna and throughout Austria today. This is not a history tour, but rather a walking tour focused on the current situation and the contrasts within the city.
This tour has over 500 5-star reviews. This is a great way to get off the main tourist track and gain a new perspective on Austria and the city of Vienna. Please note that the tour does not visit shelters or expose homeless people. This educational small-group tour is limited to 15 people.
🌟 Rating: 5 Stars ⏳ 3 Hours ✅ Jewish History, Small Group 🔎 Check Rates
This unique walking tour covers the history of the Jewish people in Vienna. Once one of the largest Jewish populations in Europe, you’ll learn about expulsion, genocide, and finally revival of the Jewish population in Vienna. This tour also includes information about famous Jewish Viennese intellectuals, from Sigmund Freud to Gustav Mahler.
You’ll visit the site of two synagogues, as well as a holocaust memorial. This tour may use public transportation, it has a maximum of 8 travelers so you’ll always have a personal experience.
🌟 Rating: 5 Stars ⏳ 2 Hours ✅ Crimes, Dark History 🔎 Check Rates
This historical crimes tour is a fun take on Viennese history, focusing on tales of crimes and legendary tales of nobles. You’ll learn about the “Bloody Countess” and visit St. Stephens to learn its dark history.
This tour may accommodate up to 25 people. It is the perfect tour for fans of dark legends, true crimes, the macabre, or those looking for fascinating behind-the-scenes stories not told in most guidebooks. This is a great tour for families with teens who may not be interested in a more traditional old town walking tour.
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FAQ: Best Vienna Walking Tours
Yes, Vienna is a walkable city, especially its city center. There are also trams, buses, and trains to get you from neighborhood to neighborhood easily and inexpensively.
Yes, there are free walking tours of Vienna, but of course, tips are expected at the end of the tour. These free walking tours are generally about 2 hours, and give you a basic introduction to Vienna. Many of these tours accommodate groups of up to 35 or more people. These tours are offered to give the tour companies a chance to introduce you to other tours they offer that you may be interested in.
Free tours can be great if you are looking for a basic introduction to the city. The walking tours we recommend here are smaller group tours that go deeper into a specific part of Austria’s history or have a more specific theme (such as a food tour).
There You Have It: Best Walking Tours in Vienna Austria
There are so many wonderful walking tours in Vienna, Austria. Which is the best walking tour in Vienna for you?