Lonely Planet Writer

Vienna offers tours led by homeless guides to give travellers a new perspective on the city

In Vienna, a walking tour guided by homeless people is attempting to change the way tourists experience the Austrian capital. Taking in the city centre, the tours will give travellers a unique perspective on the city, whilst offering an opportunity to support homeless people.

A photo posted by SHADES TOURS (@shadestours) on Jun 20, 2016 at 1:07pm PDT

Conducted in both English and German, Shades Tours Vienna offers three routes led by three different guides who share their personal experience about living on the streets and their in-depth knowledge of the different ‘shades’ of homelessness that occur in Vienna.

Speaking to Lonely Planet about the initiative, Shades Tours Vienna founder Perrine Schober said the aim of the project was to ‘alleviate poverty through tourism and […] help people overcome their prejudices and questions surrounding homelessness’. 

Initially inspired by similar tours in Amsterdam, London and Barcelona, Schober has worked closely with local charities and social organisations to build a supportive system that encourages travellers to ask questions and have open discussions surrounding homelessness. The tours also encourage homeless guides to reintegrate back into full time work.

The tours run throughout the year and hope to offer a new perspective on the complexities of homelessness in a fun and accessible manner. Tours can be booked online or arranged for private groups. There are around 9736 homeless people in Vienna, with 1174 of them living on the streets.

Get the top travel news stories delivered straight to your inbox every weekday by signing up to our newsletter.