Plenty of Vienna’s lesser-known architectural treasures remain inaccessible to the public. Which is bad luck for us. Except on one weekend a year, when the Open House Wien initiative invites you to tour dozens of them for free.
- Guided tours of interesting houses, workplaces, and industrial buildings
- Often the only time a building opens to the public
- Some tours may be in English
- 2022 dates: TBA (was Sept 11-12 in 2021)
- See also: European Heritage Day | What to do in Vienna
Architectural tours for free
(Ottakringer Brewery – one of the locations that has participated in a previous Open House Wien)
Think of Vienna and you probably think of palaces, museums, and churches (and, possibly, chocolate cake). But this is a city of almost 2 million people, and most of us don’t live or work in a Baroque masterpiece (sadly).
Nor has architecture stood still since someone decided to build a nice place in the country for Eleonore of Gonzaga in 1642.
Open House Wien (Open House Vienna) introduces you to some of the architectural jewels that may not feature quite so often on tourist maps. Each has its own attraction, whether innovative design, historical importance, or relevance to some prevailing issue of the day.
So you might discover some of the public housing gems created during the 20th century, look inside a 19th-century factory once famous for its piano manufacture, or view a house built on stilts.
One year, I used the Open House opportunity to take a look at an early example of a council flat with a fitted kitchen (far more interesting than that perhaps sounds).
The event is only made possible by the kindness of participating institutions and, particularly, the efforts of dozens of volunteers. It’s all part of a wider initiative, Open House Worldwide, which began in 1992 in London.
2022 dates & tickets
The last Open House event only just finished, so I don’t have 2022 dates just yet. That previous event took place across a September weekend.
Watch for listings at the Open House Wien website and plan your tours accordingly. To give you an idea of what to expect, around 56 locations participated in 2021. (Note that some places are in the surrounding province of Lower Austria and some may open on the Saturday only, rather than on both days.)
You don’t need a ticket, because the event’s free. However, most tours are inevitably in German and you may have to wait at a location for the next tour slot.
My tip: pick those locations where the visual component is most important to you, then it doesn’t matter which language the tour is in.