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St. Stephen’s Cathedral: the Fiakers

Through Vienna in a horse-drawn carriage

They are just as much a part of Vienna as St. Stephen’s Cathedral and the Giant Ferris Wheel: the fiakers. For many tourists, a ride with the two-horse carriage is one of the highlights. There is almost no cozier way to explore Vienna’s attractions.

Couple in horse-drawn carriage
Horse-drawn carriage in front of Schönbrunn Palace
Fiacre in front of the Imperial Palace

The term "fiaker" originates from the French and refers to the hackney carriage stand in the Parisian Rue de Saint Fiacre. In 1720, the carriages - which had previously been referred to as "Janschky" coaches in Vienna - were renamed "fiakers" (and numbered).

Then the carriage trade really began to boom: more than 1,000 fiakers were on the road in Vienna between 1860 and 1900. The carriage drivers were often characters that were known throughout the city and also sometimes performed as singers. They were appreciated for their discretion, especially when one or the other fine gentleman was amusing himself in the fiaker with his paramour. Probably most famous among them was Josef Bratfisch, the royal coachman of Crown Prince Rudolf, who brought the prince's lover Mary Vetsera to Mayerling in 1889, where both lives found a tragic end.

Today it is hard to imagine the cityscape without the Viennese fiakers. You can find fiaker stands in different areas of the city:  Stephansplatz, Heldenplatz (occasionally Michaelerplatz), Albertinaplatz, Petersplatz and Burgtheater. The short tour (approx. 20 min. through the centre of the Old City) costs € 55; the long tour (approx. 40 min. through the Ringstrasse and the Old City) € 80. You can also book individual sightseeing tours directly through the fiaker companies (List of fiaker companies).

Since the spring of 2012, carriage rides have also been possible at the Central Cemetery: the carriage rank at gate 2 is occupied from Thursday to Sunday, from 10.00 am to about 4.30 pm. The tour includes numerous memorial graves of prominent Viennese personalities (Mozart, Schubert, Beethoven, Hans Moser, Falco, Adolf Loos and many others), and also brings visitors closer to the cemetery's natural attractions. The short tour (30 min.) costs €4.00, the long one (60 min.) €70.00 per carriage (for 4 people). Tours are operated from the beginning of April to the end of September. Reservations can be made from Monday to Wednesday by calling +43-(0)699-181 540 22.

A special tip: If you would like to enjoy a romantic journey, you should ask the fiaker coach for a "porcelain ride", which is a particularly calm and steady drive. This was provided long ago to transport precious porcelain safely from one place to another. Today, it's a nice way to enchant your beloved.