Vienna has a fair few sightseeing bus tours to tempt visitors. One such tour, however, also takes you places no bus should really go, thanks to the technological magic of virtual reality. Here’s my review of the Future Bus tour…
- Commentary has stories and anecdotes rather than just simple facts
- The VR elements are particularly impressive
- Travel into the past
- Immerse yourself in historical events
- Reach the heights other buses cannot reach
- Friendly staff, too
- See also:
A trip through time and Vienna
You won’t normally find me on any of the sightseeing buses, since I’ve done the routes and locations myself numerous times.
But the new Future Bus tour seemed a little different, so I packed pen and notebook and paid for a one-hour tour over a Saturday lunchtime.
Consider the experience as two parts.
The first is a sightseeing tour of the conventional kind. A pristine modern bus took us around some of the more central sights, with commentary from a live guide or through an audioguide.
So we passed the opera house, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Heldenplatz, the Burggarten park (and Mozart statue), for example, but also the Votivkirche and Karlskirche churches, and the Musikverein concert hall.
The live guide used German, but the audioguide comes in various languages, including English of course. The audio commentary offered much more colour and storytelling than your usual lists of names, dates, and historical facts.
I would have liked a few missing locations filled in (we passed Parliament and the Secession building without commentary, for example). I’m told the audioguide is going through refinements. A special children’s edition, for example, was due out just a few days after my trip.
So far, nothing out of the ordinary. But…
The second part is the virtual reality element, where you put on a headset at several stops and enjoy, well, quite an experience. I got goosebumps on occasion.
I really don’t want to spoil the surprise, should you take the tour. But the headset transports you into a variety of 360° environments.
- …modern-day Vienna slips back in time and you watch people in period costume walk past.
- …statues come to life or your seat seems to take off into the air (it’s a struggle not to grip your arm rest). The VR quality has you looking over your shoulder to catch the aerial view of Vienna behind you.
- …you end up immersed at the centre of some historical event.
Although animations and CGI play a role, the Future Bus VR includes historical reenactments with real people.
For example, you find yourself seated around a map in a field tent with Archduke Karl, back in 1809. He’s discussing tactics with his staff shortly before the Battle of Aspern and urges the officers (and you) to give Napoleon a proper slap. Spoiler: his pep talk worked.
All-in-all, the sightseeing is nice, but the VR elements really stand out and left me wide-eyed, smiling and enthused.
The Future Bus tour is a marvellous idea and a worthy addition to the sightseeing landscape. Next time, I’m taking my partner.
Tickets & tips
Buy your tickets direct from the website (see below). Inevitably, given all that technology, it’s not cheap. But you can save a bit of money if you choose the Future Bus tour as an option on a Go City Explorer Pass for Vienna, for example.
If you enjoyed the virtual reality aspect of the tour, then you might like two other attractions a short distance away from the bus stop…
- Time Travel Vienna combines 5D cinematic experiences, virtual reality, animatronics, and more to let you experience historical moments and themes
- Sisi’s Amazing Journey* has, for example, Empress Elisabeth take you on a short virtual reality boat ride through, above, and below Vienna
How to get to the bus
At the time of writing, the tour starts and ends at the very central Albertinaplatz, specifically the area reserved for buses outside the Albertina Museum (or on the right as you walk from there down Operngasse past the opera house).
Karlsplatz station is closest (U1, U2 and U4 subway lines) or take a tram to Oper/Karlsplatz (1, 2, 71, and D tram lines)
Address: Albertinaplatz, 1010 Vienna (tour start) | Website (for the tour)