Old Town West Walking Tour, Vienna (Self Guided)

The Innere Stadt, first district of Vienna, is part of the World Heritage Site Historic Centre of the city. Originally the inner city was divided into four quarters, which were designated after important town gates. The Western part of the Old Town houses the Parliament Building, The Rathhaus, beautiful churches and magnificent palaces. Take this tour to explore the famous attractions in the West area of the Innere Stadt.
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Old Town West Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Old Town West Walking Tour
Guide Location: Austria » Vienna (See other walking tours in Vienna)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 17
Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.1 km
Author: leticia
Hohes Haus

1) Hohes Haus

Hohes Haus in Vienna is located on the Ringstraße boulevard in the first district Innere Stadt, near the Hofburg Palace and the Palace of Justice. The foundation stone was laid in 1874; the building was completed in 1883. The architect responsible for its Greek revival style wasTheophil Edvard Hansen. He designed the building holistically, each element harmonizing with the others and was therefore also responsible for the interior decoration, such as statues, paintings, furniture, chandeliers, and numerous other elements. Hansen was honored by Emperor Franz Joseph with the title of Freiherr (Baron) after its completion. One of the building's most famous features is the Pallas Athena fountain in front of the main entrance, built by Hansen from 1898 to 1902 and a notable Viennese tourist attraction. Following heavy damage and destruction during the Second World War, most of the interior has been restored to its original splendor.

The parliament building covers over 13,500 square meters, making it one of the largest structures on the Ringstraße. It contains over one hundred rooms, the most important of which are the Chambers of the National Council, the Federal Council, and the former Imperial House of Representatives (Abgeordnetenhaus). The building also includes committee rooms, libraries, lobbies, dining rooms, bars and gymnasiums. It is the site of important state ceremonies, most notably the swearing-in ceremony of the President of Austria and the state speech on National Day each October 26. The building is closely associated with the two parliamentary bodies, as is shown by the use of the term "Hohes Haus" as a metonym for "Parliament".
Sight description based on wikipedia
Stadtpalais Liechtenstein

2) Stadtpalais Liechtenstein (must see)

Stadtpalais Liechtenstein (City Palace), is one of two palaces in Vienna belonging to the Princely Family of Liechtenstein. The palace was built during the period of 1692 to 1705 by the Italian architect Domenico Martinelli and the Swiss architect Gabriel de Gabrieli. It luckily escaped destruction during WWII when bombs went down nearby. It is still used as a private residence by the princely family. After restoration in 2013, the palace houses the 19th-century section of the princely art collection, whereas 16th–18th-century artworks are shown in the Liechtenstein Garden Palace.

Why You Should Visit:
Following an extensive renovation with great attention to detail, the palace again appears in all of its former glory and can be viewed exclusively as part of an event or a guided tour.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Sat: 9am-8pm
Sight description based on wikipedia

3) Burgtheater (must see)

The Burgtheater is the national theater of Austria. It also serves as one of the most important German theaters in all the world. It was founded in the year 1741. The place received its name from the audiences that have come to see plays there for centuries now. It is located on Ring Boulevard.

It started out as the home for the theatrical troupe. In 1888, though, the group moved to a new location that was procured by Gottfried Semper and C. von Hasenauer. Since that time, the current location has been just the theater itself.

This location also sports one of the largest performing stages in the world. The depth of the platform is a full 13 meters deep. This large venue lends itself well to the type of plays performed there.

The local company of actors has received worldwide fame and renowned for its interpretation of German writers and playwrights. There is also a rather unique speech and style to the plays that any local would recognize. Many tickets can be purchased for as little as 25 Euro. If you call the day of any play, any leftover tickets will also be on sale for 50 percent off.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Fri: 9am–5pm
Sight description based on wikipedia

4) Rathauspark (must see)

The Rathauspark is one of the most visited parks by Viennese locals. Designed in 1863 as a public park, it has been used and loved by local families and visitors alike since then. Its large open grassy spaces are perfect for a picnic or for finding a sunny spot to read a book. In the evenings, street vendors turn the park into an impromptu outdoor café and there is usually entertainment courtesy of street performers.

The park has a large square which is used for public gatherings such as the Christkindlmarkt (Christmas market) during the Christmas season. After the New Year the square is used for ice skating and in the warm summer months, this area is the site of films, concerts and festivals. Public restrooms make the area very user-friendly and the area is handicapped-accessible.

On either side of the square are large grassy areas that are home to a whole host of trees and shrubs. Some of these are rather exotic such as the Gingko biloba trees and the umbrella trees. There are paths that wander through the park and it is a great way to get a bit of exercise before going to a concert in the evening or walk off some of the street vendors' foods.

Why You Should Visit:
To experience a lovely getaway from Vienna's busy streets.
Lots of benches to while away a summer afternoon.

It's like a fairytale in winter!
Rathaus (City Hall)

5) Rathaus (City Hall) (must see)

The Rathaus is the building in Vienna that holds the local city government. The mayor of the city as well as the city council, all have offices there. This same location also serves as the state headquarters for the government of the State of Austria, called the Landtag.

This building got its start in 1872 and was designed by the noted architect Friedrich von Schmidt. Lovers of architecture will note the classic Gothic design of the building, including the large tower. A large city park is located just across the way. The famous Rathskeller restaurant is also located in the building.

It will take a visitor 331 steps to reach the top of the tower. However, the watchtower portion is only 256 steps up, which is more easily managed by people wanting to get a view of the city from here.

Why You Should Visit:
Here you can learn interesting, amazing and bizarre facts about Vienna City Hall and 150 years of the Ringstrasse.
The place is always used for outdoor activities; Christmas market, skating in winter, and lots of concerts in summer.
The building itself looks like it's made from sugar and when all lit up at night – like a fairytale castle.

There is a free German-speaking guided tour every Mon/Wed/Fri at 1pm where they also provide audio guide devices in a number of languages. You'll just need to give up your passport as deposit.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Fri: 8am-6pm
Sight description based on wikipedia

6) Pasqualatihaus

The Pasquiltihaus is named after Josef Benedikt Baron Pasqualatihaus the home’s owner. What makes the home famous is Ludwig van Beethoven lived here and composed his only opera here. Beethoven actually lived in the house twice from 1804-1815. Beethoven moved frequently and lived in over twenty different residences while in Vienna.

This particular home was built in late 1700s and has been turned into a museum to hold some Beethoven memorabilia. One of the interesting features is drawings of the view from the fourth floor apartment during Beethoven’s time at the house. He did some of his best work here including his 4th, 5th, 7th and 8th symphonies. Having lived in so many places, this one must have been special as he came back and did some of his greatest work here.

Some of Beethoven’s personal possessions are on display as well as a portrait that was made in 1805. There are also several features discussing the composer’s life here and it just an amazing spot to visit. Just thinking about the music that was composed in these little rooms, Beethoven climbing the small narrow staircase to his apartment, the view before the city was built up to the size it is today. It is a step back in history.

The home is located at Molker Bastei 8 and there is a small entrance fee.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Galerie Szaal

7) Galerie Szaal

Located at Schottenring, Vienna's inner city, Galerie Szaal features 19th and 20th century Austrian oil paintings, period furniture and ecclesiastical art. Established in 1921, Galerie Szaal is a family business in its third generation, currently managed by Wolfgang Szaal. The gallery also offers painting restoration services.

Operation Hours Tuesday - Friday: 11 am - 6 pm, or by appointment
Palais Harrach

8) Palais Harrach

Palais Harrach has had a long and interesting history. Although it is no longer used as a palace it is easy to imagine the grandeur the building once had. The building is now home to high end shops and offices. The whole area in fact has some of the best shopping in Vienna.

The first palace to be built on this site was erected in 1435 by Jörg of Puchheim. Then in the early 17th century to home was bought by Karl of Harrach. Unfortunately, most of the original palace was destroyed by fire in 1683. The current building was then constructed with the architecture being design by Domenico Martinelli. Mozart and his sister performed at the palace in 1762 when they were children.

Count Harrach was a huge collector of fine art, and that was a tradition that was carried by the family throughout the centuries. The art collection finally outgrew the Palais and gradually the collection was moved to other family holdings. By the beginning of WWII, all of the art was no longer housed here.

It is fortunate that the art collection was not here during the war. The building suffered severe bomb damage that was repaired. But the damage to the gardens around the palace was not repaired. There is a patch of cobblestone that remains from the original Vienna street but otherwise, the building does not look or feel like it is centuries old.
Palais Ferstel

9) Palais Ferstel

Palais Ferstel was built in the 19th century and is a great representation of Wilhelminian-style architecture. The building housed the Stock Exchange, Austrian-Hungarian National Bank and the well-known Cafe Central, where Europe’s intellectual elite spent a great deal of time. It currently acts as a historic convention centre that can accommodate a crowd of 735 persons.
Bank Austria Kunstforum

10) Bank Austria Kunstforum

Bank Austria regularly has some of the best art exhibits on display to be found anywhere in the city of Vienna. Over 300,000 visitors come each year to see them, even though it is not a public institution per say. They bring in exhibits from across the world.

Their private collection has over 10,000 pieces now. You can find the works of such great artists as van Gogh or Lichtenstein. They very frequently add new items to the count that are from more modern artists also. The biggest single portion of their collection, however, comes from the Viennese art nouveau movement. They also house one of the bigger avant-garde contemporary art collections in the whole city. It is definitely worth the visit.

The museum is the brain child of Heinz Conrad, who helped to organize the first display for the company. This was in the year 1980.

The museum is open to the general public daily from 10:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. On Friday of every week, the museum stays open an extra two hours, and closes at 9:00 p.m. You can get a guided tour of the building every Friday at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at 3:30 p.m., or Sunday at 11:00 a.m. All the tours are conducted in German. There is no pre booking of the tour.
Palais Schönborn-Batthyány

11) Palais Schönborn-Batthyány

Palais Schönborn was built at the beginning of 18th century. It includes the Museum für Volkskunde and is located in Josefstadt, the 8th district of Vienna. This beautiful Baroque palace houses excellent works of art from several of Europe's most significant artists.
MOYA - Museum of Young Art

12) MOYA - Museum of Young Art

The Museum of Young Art is as young as the type of art that they like to exhibit. It was founded in the year 2005. The location also houses many conferences and seminars on the topic as well. It is located in the central part of Vienna, in the Belle Etage.

The works of the young artists for sale here also makes this a very unique place to visit. The proceeds of the institution go to foster the work of the people there, and to give new artists a chance to be seen in a very large venue.

Everything you see in the place has been created since the year 2000, so this really keeps the place very new indeed. The location also has conference rooms available for rent, which also helps to raise money for the students of the institution. You will need to call ahead and book the room of choice well in advance of the event, though, as this is a very popular location for meetings.

Operation hours: daily 10 am - 6 pm.
Wienerroither & Kohlbacher

13) Wienerroither & Kohlbacher

Established in 1980 in a student flat in the heart of Vienna, Wienerroither & Kohlbacher has since become a well established Viennese art gallery, now set at the lofty vaults of Palais Hardegg, next to Café Central. The gallery focused on Austrian classic modern artists from 19th and 20th century, including oil paintings, watercolors and drawings. Over the last few years, the gallery started showcasing more international modern art. Wienerroither & Kohlbacher also publishes detailed exhibition catalogues and participates in art fairs.

Operation Hours Monday - Friday: 10 am - 6 pm; Saturday: 10 am - 12 pm, and by appointment
Palais Niederösterreich

14) Palais Niederösterreich

Palais Niederösterreich, historically known as the Niederösterreichisches Landeshaus (Estates House of Lower Austria), is a historical building in Vienna. The building housed the estates general of the state of Lower Austria until 1848. After 1861, the state assembly and some state government ministries occupied it until 1997, when St. Pölten fully took on the role of the new capital of Lower Austria. In the revolution of March 1848, the Niederösterreichisches Landeshaus played an important role as the focal point of the revolutionary forces. The uprising was subsequently crushed by the military. After the legislature and the ministries moved out of the building in 1997, the building underwent substantial renovations and restoration work, and is now used for exhibitions and for private functions and events. It was renamed the Palais Niederösterreich in 2004.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Loos Haus

15) Loos Haus

The Loos Haus was designed by the famous architect of the same last name, i.e. Adolf Loos. It represents one of the most important contributions to Viennese architecture, because of its classic Wiener Moderne style. It has a simple, yet sticking facade, which was the source of much controversy in the day. One will notice that there are no window bays done with the usual “stucco and lintels.”

Emperor Franz Josef, at first sight of the project, considered it to be an eye sore, and tried to work to have the project stopped. He considered the building to really be a silent form of protest against the luxury of the Hofburg. The citizens of Vienna were also shocked by its simple design. In fact, they ended up naming the place “the home without eyebrows.” The local community actually resorted to attacks against Mr. Loos. To help the problem, he agreed to decorate some of the window ledges with flower pots.

There is a simple beauty in the sleek lines of the structure though. Many buildings designed after it also started making use of the simpler design, and also moved away from the classic facade that was so much the hallmark of Wienner Secession style architecture. The total project was not completed until 1912, because of the issues with the change in style.
Sight description based on wikipedia

16) Michaelerkirche

St. Michael's Church (German: Michaelerkirche) is one of the oldest churches in Vienna and also one of its few remaining Romanesque buildings. Dedicated to the Archangel Michael, St. Michael's Church is located at Michaelerplatz across from St. Michael's Gate at the Hofburg Palace. St. Michael's used to be the parish church of the Imperial Court, when it was called Zum heiligen Michael. Over its long history, spanning more than eight centuries, the church has incorporated a medley of architectonic styles. The church represents late Romanesque, early Gothic architectural styles dating from about 1220–1240. There is a document giving 1221 as the foundation date of the church, but this is most probably a 14th-century forgery. Over time, there have been many alterations, resulting in its present day aspect, unchanged since 1792.
Sight description based on wikipedia

17) Michaelerplatz (must see)

Michaelplatz is a very famous section of old Vienna. It is essentially the entrance into Hofburg. As you first enter the area, you will notice perhaps the most famous part of the place, which is the Michaelertor gate. It is designed in classic neo Baroque style.

The oldest building in this area is the Michaelerkirche. This used to be the official church of the Emperors for years. The center of the square is dominated by ancient Roman remains of a house. There are also some old Medieval walls to be seen here. The remnants of the old Burg Theatre are viewable too.

In stark contrast, the location also houses one of the most modern buildings in all of Vienna. It is called the Looshaus. During its building in 1911, it was considered an eye sore. Now though, the place is very famous. Its owner and designer loved the simple, yet elegant design of many of the world’s skyscrapers, and tried to incorporate that design into his building.

The Palais Herberstin sits across from the Looshaus. It was built in 1896, and replaced an older building that was famous for the young writers and artisans that used to be found there. That old café, called the Griensteidl, has been rebuilt in the structure, though much of the artisans have moved to the Café Central.

Walking Tours in Vienna, Austria

Create Your Own Walk in Vienna

Create Your Own Walk in Vienna

Creating your own self-guided walk in Vienna is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Landstraße Attractions Walking Tour

Landstraße Attractions Walking Tour

Landstraße is a densely populated urban district of Vienna, located southeast of the city center. Established largely during the 19th century, it is mostly known for the 18th-century castle and gardens of Belvedere, the residence of Eugene of Savoy (housing the Austrian Gallery, these days) and the Hundertwasserhaus block of flats, designed in a dream-like manner by architect and painter...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.6 km
Nightlife Walking Tour

Nightlife Walking Tour

Vienna has a reputation for history, classical music and elegance, but don't forget about its hot nightlife. The city is full of trendy bars, cafes, disco and clubs, where you can spend a fantastic evening dancing the night away. You can't visit Vienna without stopping at some of the following after-hours hot spots.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.2 km
City Orientation Walking Tour II

City Orientation Walking Tour II

The capital of the once mighty Austro-Hungarian Empire, today's Vienna is still much revered for its great historic and cultural past, as well as present. The biggest city in Austria with the second largest population of German speakers in the world (after Berlin), Vienna has no shortage of international guests coming each year to visit its imperial palaces, numerous museums and other art...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.4 km
Old Town Souvenir Shops

Old Town Souvenir Shops

It would be a pity to leave Vienna without having explored its specialty shops and bringing home something truly original. We've compiled a list of gifts and souvenirs, which are unique to Vienna, that a visitor might like to purchase to reflect their visit.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.2 km
Old Town Churches Walking Tour

Old Town Churches Walking Tour

Sacred buildings in Vienna impress visitors with their historic architecture and magnificent interiors. The remarkable Gothic Stephansdom, charming Baroque St Peter’s church, and other sacred buildings of Vienna provide not only a history of the city, but a refreshing look at truly beautiful architecture, as you will see in this tour.

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.6 km
Old Town South Walking Tour

Old Town South Walking Tour

The Innere Stadt, first district of Vienna, is part of the World Heritage Site Historic Centre of the city. Originally the inner city was divided into four quarters, which were designated after important town gates. Take this tour to explore the beautiful landmarks, art galleries and specialty shops in the Southern part of the Innere Stadt.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.4 km

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip

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Tips for Exploring City on Foot at Your Own Pace

Whether you are in Vienna for a quick stopover or have a few days to see the city in more detail, exploring it on foot, at your own pace, is definitely the way to go. Here are some tips for you to save money, see the best Vienna has to offer, take good care of your feet while walking, and keep your mobile device – your ultimate "work horse" on this trip - well fed and safe.

Saving Money with City Passes

To save yourself time and money visiting Vienna's multiple sights, you may want to resort to the so-called city passes, such as the Vienna PASS, Vienna City Card, or Vienna Card. A city pass combines all or multiple Vienna's top highlights, tours and experiences in one prepaid attractions pass, using which you can save incredible amounts on general admission fees as compared to purchasing tickets separately. Often, a city pass also allows you to skip the lines at major attractions, thus saving you precious time.

Staying at Walk-Friendly Hotels

Since you're keen on exploring cities on foot (we assume that you are, and this is why you're here), it is important that you stay at a hotel close to the city's major attractions. It saves you time and energy. Here are a few of Vienna hotels conveniently located for a comfortable stroll: Hotel Kaiserin Elisabeth, Hotel Royal, DO&CO Hotel Vienna.

Taking Care of Your Feet

To ensure ultimate satisfaction from a day of walking around the city as big as Vienna, it is imperative to take good care of your feet so as to avoid unpleasant things like blisters, cold or overheated soles, itchy, irritated or otherwise damaged (cracked) skin, etc. Luckily, these days there is no shortage of remedies to address (and, ideally, to prevent) these and other potential problems with feet. Among them: Compression Socks, Rechargeable Battery-Powered Thermo Socks for Cold Weather, Foot Repair Cream, Deodorant Powder, Shoes UV Sterilizer, and many more that you may wish to find a place in your travel kit for.

Travel Gadgets for Your Mobile Device

Your mobile phone or tablet will be your work horse on a self-guided walk. They offer tour map, guide you from one attraction to another, and provide informative background for the sights you wish to visit. Therefore it is absolutely essential to plan against unexpected power outages in the wrong place at the wrong time, much as to ensure the safety of your device.

For these and other contingencies, here's the list of useful appliances: Portable Charger/External Battery Pack, Worldwide Travel Charger Adapter, Power Converter for International Travel Adapter, and Mobile Device Leash.

Exploring City on Guided Tours

We have a strong bias towards exploring a city on foot, at your own pace, because this is how you get to see things up close with a maximum freedom. You decide how much time you wish to spend at each attraction and don't have to worry about following a crowd. That said, however, we also understand that some of you may want to go with a guided tour. If that is your case, here are some guided tours to consider. Be ready to fork out a bit of money, though, as a guided tour of Vienna typically costs somewhere between US$20 and US$100 or more per person:

- Board a hop-on hop-off double-decker to admire Vienna's best-known landmarks in comfort from the open top of the bus listening in the headsets to the commentary provided in a variety of languages, and be able to get on and off at any of the stops along the route. The tickets are valid for 24, 48, or 72 hours.

- Pedal your way around Vienna on a 3-hour bike tour to see the city's most spectacular highlights stopping at some of them for a bit of rest, watching the surroundings, and learning interesting facts about the attractions along the way from a knowledgeable group leader.

- Follow an expert guide on a 2.5-hour walking tour of classic Vienna to see the city's greatest landmarks such as the Imperial Palace, Sacher cafe, and St Stephen's Cathedral, plus a number of hidden gems only the locals know about!

- Travel back in time for a glimpse of what the life of the Austrian monarchs was like on a 2-hour tour of their fabulous summer residence and the matching beauty baroque gardens. Feel yourself like a royal, if only for a few hours!

- Follow the trail of Graham Greene's “The Third Man” novel made into a movie in 1949 by Orson Welles, depicting post-WWII spy-ridden Vienna. Explore this fascinating city as it was more than 60 years ago.

- Give yourself away to the sounds of music on a memorable Mozart-filled evening in Vienna attending a combo of the world-renowned Vienna Mozart Orchestra concert and a lavish 3-course dinner at the elegant Bristol restaurant visited, back in the day, by the likes of Theodore Roosevelt and other historic figures.

Day Trips

If you have a full or half day to spare whilst in Vienna, why not use it to explore some of the out-of-town destinations like Salzburg, Melk Abbey and Danube Valley, Wachau Valley, Mauthausen, or Vienna Woods and Mayerling. For as little as circa US$60+ to US$160+ per person you will get a chance to discover the highlights of the UNESCO World Heritage sites - harmonious blend of natural and cultural beauty manifested in Austria's medieval towns and countryside, visit Mozart's birthplace and original filming locations of "The Sound of Music" movie, admire picturesque Danube valley with ancient castles, grand monasteries and cute little villages, explore historic locations bearing sometimes grim memories of the past (e.g. the horrors perpetuated by the Nazis) and pay tribute to the Holocaust victims at one of the largest Nazi labor camps during World War II, take a boat trip along the Danube or down to the largest subterranean lake in Europe, and more. For any of these tours you will be picked up either straight from your hotel or a designated place in Vienna and transported by a comfortable air-conditioned coach or private vehicle to the destination of your choice and back again.