One consequence of COVID-related restrictions on movement is the increase in armchair travel opportunities. Various organisations now let you explore the sights and sounds of Vienna from afar via livestreaming, video recordings and other forms of virtual tours.
- See also: An introduction to Vienna
Vienna from your armchair
(Travel the streets of Vienna from the comfort of your own home)
The list of virtual tours seems to grow daily, but I’ve picked out a few highlights and examples for you. Feast upon them until such time as you can experience the joys of Vienna in person…
Necessity is the mother of invention, and some of Vienna’s many tour guides have taken their expertise online to offer live walking tours of the city. For example:
- Virtually Vienna offers prescheduled live tours via Zoom in several languages, but you can also book your own private themed or custom tour experience.
- Heygo lets you join prescheduled tours where a guide takes you on a themed walking tour via a livestream on your browser. Tours are free but you have the opportunity to tip the guide at the end.
The YouTube channel of the official tourist information service is your friend. Their VIENNA/NOW Sights playlist, for example, has brief introductions to top locations like the State Opera House. And the VIENNA/NOW Top Picks playlist takes you on short, themed journeys through the city. So you can view, for example, a selection of Christmas markets or Art Nouveau landmarks.
(Though Christmas markets are only half the fun without inconceivably large amounts of the kind of food and drink you probably won’t see in healthy eating guides.)
Virtual tours of locations
(Go inside Schönbrunn Palace’s staterooms)
Many sights themselves allow you to go inside and explore the buildings through recorded tours, virtual presentations, and even live tours. Your best bet is simply to browse official homepages and look for appropriate links.
Some examples I’ve stumbled across recently:
- Schönbrunn Palace has a collection of photo slideshows that build a virtual tour of the Habsburg summer palace.
- The United Nations building has bookable live sessions with their official tour guides.
- Take a 3D or Virtual Reality tour of the Ernst Fuchs Museum featuring interior design from the cofounder of the Vienna School of Fantastic Realism.
- The Baroque Peterskirche has quite breathtaking interiors. Get up close to the dizzyingly spectacular decoration and frescoes with their virtual presentation.
Virtual art tours
(Browse Bruegel’s masterpieces inside the Kunsthistorisches Museum)
One of the unfortunate side effects of the COVID situation has been that many wonderful exhibitions in Vienna’s museums and galleries did not get the audience they deserved. But if the people can’t come to the exhibitions than (some of) the exhibitions can come to the people…via virtual presentations. For example:
- The Kunsthistorisches Museum has the world’s greatest Bruegel collection, which you can view up close via their online 360° tour. Their YouTube channel also has numerous video tours of exhibitions including this one that takes you through the museum’s highlights (with a focus on the picture collection).
- Belvedere collates all its digital guided tours on this page, which includes artist discussions and lectures as well as video tours through their art collection
- Explore the Vienna section of Google Arts & Culture. It presents highlights from the collections of many of the top Viennese art museums, including the Albertina, Belvedere, Kunsthistorisches Museum, MAK, and Leopold museums.
The Google site may include virtual tours of the buildings. For example, roam through the astonishing State Hall of the National Library there.
(Stream performances at the State Opera House)
One or two institutions and music festivals have begun streaming both live and recorded performances in the absence of audiences. Check over the events pages for festival links to see what might be available. Notable examples include:
- The Staatsoper’s streaming service (which has been free during lockdowns)
- The Theater an der Wien opera house has been making selected opera performances available over streaming platforms
- The ViennaArtNetwork offers on-demand streams of musical performances from artistic and historical locations in Vienna
I suspect many of these resources will continue even after the COVID situation eases and people can travel “normally” again. And I’ll be adding more as I discover them in my own virtual travels.
So put the kettle on, grab a bar of chocolate, and enjoy a virtual trip to Vienna.