7 Films Set in Vienna You Must Watch Before You Visit
Vienna is a beautiful city, teeming with gorgeous streets just begging you to walk down them, stunning buildings you can’t help but take photos of and cute coffee shops incessantly calling your name. With so much alluring charm everywhere you look, it’s no wonder filmmakers regularly pick Vienna to be the backdrop for their movies. Not only is the city one of the most refined in Europe, but it’s also brimming with an incredible history and fascinating characters who’ve achieved great things.
If you’re planning a trip to the city and you want to get a feel for the charisma, elegance and magic of the place before you arrive, here are seven films set in Vienna we recommend you watch.
1. Before Sunrise
Released in 1995 starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, Before Sunrise is a captivating love story about a man and a woman who meet on a train as total strangers. The couple hit it off and spontaneously decide to get off the train together at Vienna and spent their impromptu evening trip getting to know the city and each other. Most of the scenes are shot on Vienna’s streets, so when you watch the film, you can almost imagine yourself walking around the city. Some of the most famous filming locations include Wiener Riesenrad, Kleines Cafe, Cafe Sperl, Maria am Gestade, Friedhof der Namenlosen, Maria Theresien Platz and Zollamtssteg Bridge. Explore the city just like they did on one of our hop-on hop-off and walk tours.
The first in the trilogy of films about Empress Elisabeth of Austria, Sissi is a 1955 Austrian film which follows the story of when Sissi, along with her mother and older sister Helene, travel to Bad Ischl in Upper Austria to attend the engagement party of Helene and Franz Joseph. Things turn upside down when Franz Joseph falls in love with Sissi instead of her sister and the pair wind up marrying. Although most of the filming takes place around the Imperial Villa at Bad Ischl, there’s a wonderful scene as Sissi travels with her family on a steamboat along the Danube into Vienna. There are also scenes of their wedding ceremony filmed at the Augustinian Church in the city.
3. The Third Man
The Third Man is an old classic that lets you see what Vienna looked like over 60 years ago and compare it to how it looks today. The story follows a novelist who travels to the city and winds up investigating the mysterious death of an old friend. Although there are scenes wonderfully embodying the romantic, enchanting spirit of Vienna, many feature genuine backdrops that were devastated following the WW2 bombings. Some of the most recognisable filming locations include Zentralfriedhof, Riesenrad, Morzinplatz, Reichsbrücke, 8 Schreyvogelgasse, Neuer Markt, Hotel Sacher and Palais Pallavicini.
4. A Dangerous Method
Filmed in 2011, A Dangerous Method looks deeply at how the relationship between Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung resulted in psychoanalysis. Although the filming locations have been edited to make them look like they’re from the 20th century, since this is the era in which the film is set, you can still visit the exact same places today. The Sigmund Freud Museum (which used to be the house in which he lived), Cafe Sperl and Schloss Belvedere all appear in this fascinating film. There are also scenes where the actors travel through the streets of Vienna in a fiaker — an experience you can enjoy for yourself on one of our hop-on hop-off, walk and carriage ride tours.
Image credit: Alexbartek [CC BY-SA 4.0]
5. Museum Hours
Museum Hours is a 2012 Austrian-American drama movie primarily set in and around Vienna's Kunsthistorisches Museum. The plot focuses on the time museum guard Johan and visitor Anne spend together exploring the city and discussing the topics that matter to us the most, from history and death to theology and materialism. Although a lot of the scenes take place within the museum, the film does show shots of the surrounding area and further afield, including the Danube River, MMM Espresso Bar, Coffee House Cafe Restaurant Weidinger, St Josef Hospital and Cavern Seegrotte Hinterbrühl.
6. The Seven-Per-Cent Solution
A great film for crime lovers, the Seven-Per-Cent Solution filmed in 1976 is an adaptation of the first of Nicolas Meyer’s three Sherlock Holmes novels. The plot involves Dr Watson and Mycroft Holmes working together to lure Sherlock to Vienna, so he can be helped by Sigmund Freud to overcome his cocaine addiction and obsession with professor James Moriarty. While the film was largely shot in Pinewood Studios in the UK, there are scenes from the Austrian National Library in the Hofburg Palace, Freud’s consulting rooms at Berggasse 19 and the Spanish Riding School.
Although it wasn’t filmed in Vienna (in fact, it was filmed almost entirely in Prague), Amadeus gives you a fascinating insight into the life of one of the city’s most prominent and famous masters. Adapted from Peter Shaffer’s stage play of the same name, Amadeus is a 1984 American period drama film set in late 18th-century Vienna. The script acts as a biography for Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and follows Italian composer Antonio Salieri’s intense rivalry with him at the court of Emperor Joseph II. You’ll get to see scenes of Tom Hulce performing as Mozart, as well as more intimate aspects of the composer’s life, including arguing with his wife Constanze and working closely with Salieri. Amadeus is considered to be one of the greatest films of all time and was nominated for 53 awards, 40 of which it received, making it a must-see — even if you’re not going to Vienna.