Lonely Planet Writer

Put the smartphone down, Austria and Poland now run Polaroid photo tours

In the era of selfie sticks and ubiquitous camera phones, the humble Polaroid camera is making a comeback thanks to a company in Vienna that runs urban photo tours in Austria and Poland. Sophort, which was originally founded in Austrian capital, now runs two distinct walking tours in the city as well as guided trips around Graz and Warsaw, Poland.

Images in Warsaw.
Images in Warsaw. Image by ©Sophort

In the digital age, when any holiday can now be recorded in instant detail, a manual Polaroid camera with a limited number of photographs is now considered retro, but it’s that old-fashioned appeal that the company believes has made the tours so popular.

Speaking about the tours from the Sophort headquarters, where vintage Polaroid equipment adorns bookshelves and snaps of happy customers are pinned onto the walls, co-founder Thomas Preyer said: ‘these days, getting a physical souvenir photo that you can hold after your tour, is something quite different and special. […] The tours really make you think about which picture to take, especially when you have only eight photos for one roll of film.’

After the tour.
After the tour. Image by ©Sophort

Founded in Vienna in 2013, Sophort now runs two distinct walks in the capital: the Classical, which focuses on historical aspects like the Hofburg palace and the city’s grand Kaffeehäuser (coffee houses); and the Urban route which goes off the beaten track to uncover hip art galleries and colourful graffiti.

Starting with an in-depth introduction to the history of Polaroid photography, followed by a crash course in using the camera, the two-hour tours then become a relaxed stroll through the best the city has to offer. With limited film, keen photographers are advised to choose their photo opportunities wisely.

Graz. Image by ©Sophort

The Polaroid tours have proved so popular that Sophort are now looking to launch routes in different cities across Europe. The next major locations set to run tours will be Rome and Salzburg, with more locations expected to be added if demand dictates. ‘It’s something I would do anywhere, a fun and different way to see the city, even if you live here,’ said Kati, a tourist from Nuremberg taking one of the tours in Vienna.

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