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!
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 – 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!
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A Vienna polaroid tour with Sophort HQ
This Vienna polaroid tour 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’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 with my Instax camera. A city tour centered around polaroid cameras seemed like the perfect combination!
Related: 7 Best Polaroid Cameras for Travel
Polaroid vs. Instax… What’s the difference?
One of my favorite parts of the Classic Vienna polaroid tour was the instruction on how to properly use a polaroid camera… and an Instax camera! See, polaroid and Instax are two different brands that both do instant photography.
If you want to check out my top recommended instant photography cameras for travelers, check out this blog post.
You will probably have seen Instax all over social media the last few years – they are small, cutesy, and pastel. I have an Instax Mini 9 myself and love to travel with it because it’s very lightweight.
Polaroids are a bit more dark and mysterious – they are the original instant film, but the Polaroid company actually went bankrupt around 2001 and then again in 2010. As of 2020 the company is back up and running under the same name, but with a different operator.
I brought my personal Instax camera along for the tour (Sophort allows any other cameras you desire on the tour, and our tour-mate Nick even had a DSLR!). We were provided a polaroid camera during the tour and the film to go along with it. It was really fun to compare Polaroid and Instax film and user experience throughout the tour!
Why you should go on a Vienna polaroid tour
If you want the long story short… we loved this tour because you got the perfect combination of experiences 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.
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?
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The Vienna polaroid tour itinerary
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.
As we walked around Vienna on the polaroid tour, 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.
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!
The big reveal: Taking our polaroid photos 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 to take a look when we reached our last spot.
Spreading the photos across the picnic table, we got to examine each unique little square. We rearranged and mixed each polaroid across the table. We admired each of our red streetcar photos snapped at slightly different times, comparing each person’s angle and differences in the film.
It was SO 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. I love these little snapshots of Vienna. We ended up giving one polaroid to our amazing Vienna Airbnb hosts whilst the others are now hanging above my desk at home on some polaroid fairy light string…
Locations: Vienna is the original location, but you can also go on tours in:
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 your polaroid city tour 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!
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*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!
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:)
It was really, really fun!
Love Polaroids and looks like a great day out. #WanderfulWednesday
Polaroids are just so unique!
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!
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.
Omg it really was so much fun. You should totally start a franchise in Hawaii haha
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!
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!
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.
Ah I love this tour! Even living in Vienna they are so much fun to take and play with the camera 🙂 Glad you enjoyed my adopted hometown 🙂
Oh man that is so cool!! What an interesting idea for a tour