Seeing Vienna Through a Lens: Our Vienna Polaroid Tour

on August 30, 2017

Our time in Vienna was so special, and that is largely down to the unique tour we took with Sophort HQ: a Vienna polaroid tour!

If you're short on time in Vienna, sightsee with a unique Vienna polaroid tour! Read for our experience with Sophort HQ Vienna polaroid tour.

We arrived to Vienna with sore feet and low expectations. After standing for the roughly three hour train journey from Budapest (thanks to no remaining seat reservations) we didn’t really know what to expect from Vienna. The more we researched into the city, the more overwhelmed we became with the vast amount of “must see” sights. Vienna is basically a museum in itself, and with only one full day, we needed an action plan.

Luckily, we were booked into the Classic Vienna polaroid tour with Sophort HQ – it ended up being the perfect way to see the city, and I would absolutely recommend it to anyone, especially those short on time like us!

^^Dan, me, and our tour-mate Nick! Photo courtesy of Thomas.

So… what is a polaroid tour?

This is not the typical city walking tour where you’re spoken at by someone regurgitating a history book. The premise is simple: You’re given a vintage polaroid camera and set loose on the city to snap away. That isn’t to say that the tour is not informative, though. The tour is guided by a Vienna local (we were lucky enough to have Thomas, one of Sophort HQ‘s co-founders), so you get tid-bits of history along the way, as well as local insight and general good conversation and laughs.

When I first read about the Vienna polaroid tour I was hooked. I am a sucker for anything unusual or quirky, and spent a couple years playing around with an old polaroid I bought from a garage sale in high school. More recently, I have been messing about (mostly unsuccessfully) with my Instax camera. A city tour centered around polaroid cameras seemed like the perfect combination!

If you're short on time in Vienna, sightsee with a unique Vienna polaroid tour! Read for our experience with Sophort HQ Vienna polaroid tour.

If you're short on time in Vienna, sightsee with a unique Vienna polaroid tour! Read for our experience with Sophort HQ Vienna polaroid tour.

The gentlemen at work

Polaroid vs. Instax…

One of my favorite parts of the Classic Vienna polaroid tour was the actual instruction on how to use a polaroid… and an instax!

See, polaroid and instax are two different cameras. You will probably have seen instax all over social media the last two years – they are small, cutesy, and pastel. Polaroids are a bit more dark and mysterious – they are the original instant film, but the Polaroid company actually went bankrupt around 2010.

However, there is one company in Austria that still produces Polaroid film, available for 20 a pop… who knew, right?! We brought the Instax along for the tour (Sophort allows any other cameras you desire on the tour, and our tour-mate Nick even had a DSLR!). It was really fun to compare Polaroid and Instax film.

If you're short on time in Vienna, sightsee with a unique Vienna polaroid tour! Read for our experience with Sophort HQ Vienna polaroid tour.

Polaroid v. Instax… Old v. New…

If you're short on time in Vienna, sightsee with a unique Vienna polaroid tour! Read for our experience with Sophort HQ Vienna polaroid tour.

The Polaroid film pack!

Seeing Vienna through a lens…

If you want the long story short… we loved this tour because you got the perfect combination all in one.

Learning a new skill + casual city sightseeing + chatting with a local = our perfect tour.

For me, having the Polaroid camera and knowing I only had eight photos that I could take changed the way I looked at the city. I felt myself seeing Vienna through heightened senses. Everything became angles and reflections and shadows and perfect-timings. And call me crazy, but I even felt a little adrenaline as we hid the newly snapped photos away in our dark pockets to develop away from the sun. What would they turn into? Would the film be spotted or the photo underexposed?

 

Learning…  The tour started out with a brief lecture from Thomas about how to take Polaroid photos. It was more complicated than I was expecting but we were soon pros…

If you're short on time in Vienna, sightsee with a unique Vienna polaroid tour! Read for our experience with Sophort HQ Vienna polaroid tour.

Each Impossible film pack came with a little fake photo that you used to cover each photo as it was ejected so the sun didn’t destroy the film. I loved the sayings on them!

Creativity…   As we walked around Vienna, Thomas pointed out all his favorite shots and gave lots of advice about getting good angles or the best lighting. However we also had a lot of opportunities to be creative and there was absolutely no pressure to take photos at certain places or not – it was all up to us which contributed to this really independent and creative vibe in the group!

Because we had Polaroids, my Instax, my point-and-shoot camera, and Nick’s DSLR camera in the group, we also got quite creative with our other cameras as well! I loved seeing how Polaroid shots compared to the same photos on different cameras.

Sightseeing…   The focus wasn’t purely on photography, though, and we ended up seeing so much of the city. As Dan and I only had the one full day in Vienna, this ended up being such a unique way to get around to all the major sights on our list, plus a few extra!

If you're short on time in Vienna, sightsee with a unique Vienna polaroid tour! Read for our experience with Sophort HQ Vienna polaroid tour.

If you're short on time in Vienna, sightsee with a unique Vienna polaroid tour! Read for our experience with Sophort HQ Vienna polaroid tour.

A present to take home…   Okay, and finally, my favorite part! The end result! After hiding our polaroid photos away in dark pockets for the majority of the tour, we pulled them all out at our last spot. Spreading them across the picnic table, we got to examine each unique little square. From each of our red streetcar photos snapped at slightly different times, to the reflection photos to the shadowed columns, we rearranged and mixed each polaroid across the table. It was also interesting to compare film packs – each film pack is unique and we noticed a definite orange-hue to Nick’s pack compared to ours.

In the end, we got to take home all of our photos, little snapshots of Vienna. We ended up giving one polaroid to our amazing Airbnb hosts whilst the others are waiting to find their home still…

If you're short on time in Vienna, sightsee with a unique Vienna polaroid tour! Read for our experience with Sophort HQ Vienna polaroid tour.

Results from the Polaroid film (our film turned out more blue-toned than Nick’s)

If you're short on time in Vienna, sightsee with a unique Vienna polaroid tour! Read for our experience with Sophort HQ Vienna polaroid tour.

Examining (and instagramming?!) our final products at the end of the tour

If you're short on time in Vienna, sightsee with a unique Vienna polaroid tour! Read for our experience with Sophort HQ Vienna polaroid tour.
The details

Tour types: There are four Vienna polaroid tours: the Classic (this is the one we went on), Winter Classic (November-February), Urban, and Custom. You can also go on tours in Graz, Salzburg, Rome, and Warsaw!

Price: The Classic Vienna polaroid tour is €55. A non-camera ticket is  €25. The camera ticket includes: rental of a vintage polaroid camera, one pack of the Impossible Project polaroid film (worth  €20), an informative booklet of the sights you see, and of course, the tour!

Length: Three hours

You can book yours here.

 

Would you ever go on a polaroid tour? We absolutely loved ours (if you couldn’t tell :P)… actually, we are currently sitting in a hostel in the mountains of another country, reminiscing about the best memories of our entire trip and Dan’s first one was this tour!

Sarah xx

Pin it for later…

If you're short on time in Vienna, sightsee with a unique Vienna polaroid tour! Read for our experience with Sophort HQ Vienna polaroid tour.

**We received the Classic Vienna polaroid tour complimentary from Sophort HQ in exchange for an honest review. As always, all opinions are my own and I would not promote something on Endless Distances that I did not love!

*I’m linking up with Lauren of Lauren on Location, Van of Snow in Tromso, Isabel of The Sunny Side of This, and Marcella of What a Wonderful World for Wanderful Wednesday. 

  • this sounds like a perfect city tour! I wish I would have known about it back when we visited Vienna. I’ve had an instax for a few years now but would love to get my hands on a real polaroid someday 🙂

    • Instax are lovely but there is just something special about Polaroid! I’m so bummed I gave mine away now that I know there is still a company out there producing film! I think you can actually buy a polaroid through Sophort HQ, or just scour garage sales like me!

  • Wow what an interesting city tour! I don’t know if I could manage with only taking 8 photos! But sometimes, I do feel like I’m too busy trying to get the right picture, snapping hundreds of pictures and only seeing the town through the lens. #WanderfulWednesday

    • I think I took about 500 if you count the iPhone and Canon photos in addition to the 8 Polaroid ahah… We actually have a really funny photo of me taking a photo of Dan using the Polaroid, and then in the background is Nick taking a photo of that situation and then Thomas (our tour guide) taking a photo of Nick photographing us for his insta story…. so… a LOT of cameras, basically!

  • what a fun tour:)

  • Lorelle Catalano

    Love Polaroids and looks like a great day out. #WanderfulWednesday

  • You make me want to buy an Instax now! Seriously though, that’s such an amazing idea for a tour and you even get to take lots of memories home! I would love to try this!!

    • You definitely should! I didn’t want one for a long time because I thought it was too basic (lol) but they are so much fun!!! And yeah, definitely recommend doing this tour if you are in one of those cities (unfortunately no Norwegian cities yet!!)

  • Oh my gosh! That is so much fun! I have one of those old Polaroids and use the Impossible Project film, but I’ve never thought of taking a tour with one. I wonder if there is a tour in my city!

    • Oooooh do you?! Do you just order the film? I am kicking myself for giving away my Polaroid now that I know the Impossible Project exists. What city are you in? They do tours in Vienna, Graz, Salzburg, Warsaw and Rome!

  • Addie Gray

    This honestly sounds like the ideal way to get to know a new city – and your photos turned out awesome! I’ll definitely have to check this out if I’m ever in Vienna (which I probably will be, since I’m planning on studying abroad there)!

    • It really was ideal! Especially as we only had that one full day, we pretty much checked off every sight we wanted to see WHILE doing something fun and meeting other people! Oooooh exciting, Addie!! You will definitely have to do it when you’re in Vienna, then. Maybe you could even become one of their guides ;P

  • This looks like so much fun!! My friend in Hawaii has a polaroid camera and now I really want to get one or try a tour like this! As always I’m drooling over your photos.

  • Perri

    I just moved to Vienna and am now definitely looking forward to doing something like this because I still haven’t seen enough of the city. So cool!

  • What a special and fun way to explore Vienna! I am sure this tour has left you with so many fun memories and great stories. I love taking snaps with a Polaroid!

  • Cat Holladay

    This USB such a great idea! And it looks like something that’d be GREAT for families too! The kids would love something like this!

  • This is such a fun idea! I’d love to take a tour like this!

  • Natalie Tanner

    Fun! Fun! Fun! My daughter got one of these cameras for Christmas and she would just love this sort of tour. I’ve never heard of one before! Thanks for the great tip!

  • I love Polaroid cameras and wish they still made them! Or that the film wasn’t so expensive. You’ve inspired me to by an Instax for my trip to Chicago. We’re going on a tour that I randomly heard about while browsing Facebook. It’s a tour of a pedestrian walkway beneath Chicago that a lot of people from Chicago don’t even know about–my boyfriend from Chicago had never heard of it. I don’t think there’s really that much to see down there, but I’m interested in finding out. I could see taking some cool instant photos of a slightly creepy underground walkway.

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