If you want to see 14th-century stained glass, a 15th-century pulpit, a 16th-century sarcophagus, 17th-century choir stalls, and the chapel where two of Mozart’s children were baptised, then grab your audioguide and step this way.
The self-guided tour offered in Stephansdom (St Stephen’s Cathedral) takes you beyond the barriers and up close to over 700 years of history. Here the details, plus my impressions and tips…
- Audioguide tour of Stephansdom’s interior
- Pass through the barriers to get close to the main altar and other features
- Reveals lovely details and background stories
- €6 for an adult (or buy the all-inclusive ticket on site or in advance*)
What do you get?
First and foremost, this is the only way (outside of a guided tour) you can access the main part of the cathedral. Otherwise, you’re left pressing your nose up against the railings among the masses, vainly wishing your smartphone had a longer lens.
In fact, by paying you get to enjoy the cathedral in relative quiet.
There are 12 stops on the tour, each with 2-3 mins of audio text. It covers the history of the building and provides an array of often intriguing stories and background information on the cathedral and the features inside. The highlights for me were:
- The 1476 marble font in St. Catherine’s chapel, with its remarkable wooden crown featuring scenes that represent the seven sacraments
- The huge marble sarcophagus of Emperor Frederick III, complete with lamenting monks and bishops. It took so long to finish he was only moved here 20 years after his 1493 death
- The 17th-century main altar, whose black and white marble introduces a beautiful ebony/ivory quality
- The late 15th-century sandstone pulpit, complete with snakes, lizards, and frogs crawling their way up the handrail to be repulsed by a stone guard dog
Since Stephansdom is not as opulently baroque as many religious buildings in Austria, it’s easy to get a feel for the basic spiritual atmosphere that people would have enjoyed even centuries ago. You can imagine the awe it would have inspired.
Tickets & visitor information
Buy a ticket and pick up an audioguide from the information counter (middle-left when you enter the cathedral). You need to leave some form of identity (like a driver’s licence) as a deposit. Tell them you want an English guide and they’ll set it up for you.
When I visited, a ticket was €6 for an adult, €2.50 for a child, but if you’re going to visit more than a couple of Stephansdom attractions, get the all-inclusive ticket from the counter or in advance*.
Stephansdom is a working cathedral, so the tour is not possible during services. The most reliable times to get in are probably between 1 pm and 4 pm. Check the official website for the latest details on opening times, prices, etc.
- To start the audioguide, put in a number and press the play button
- Look for the burgundy signs with numbers on them, as indicated on the map you get with your ticket. Those are the audioguide indicators. Ignore the numbers mounted on brackets on the walls and columns – they’re something else
- You can get round in half an hour if you want, but take time to look more closely at what you pass. There are lots of tiny details to delight the eye (like the frogs mentioned above)
- When at the main altar, look back down the nave for a beautiful view of the cathedral with the bright stained glass at the other end
- If audioguides aren’t your thing, there are guided tours at 3 pm every day (German) and 10 am Mon-Sat (English)
How to get there
See the main Stephansdom article for travel tips.
Address: Stephansdom, Stephansplatz, 1010 Vienna | Website