A complete guide to dark tourism in Vienna, Austria (+ the best ghost tours, most haunted places, cemeteries and creepy museums).
At first glance, Vienna doesn’t look haunted. When you are surrounded by huge imperial palaces and magnificent architecture, the last thing that comes to your mind is ghosts. However, things are quite different under the surface.
Vienna is home to one of the largest cemeteries in the world. Plus, there is a street called the Blood Alley (Blutgasse). And have you heard about the Blood Countess, Elizabeth Báthory?
In addition, there is no lack of creepy, extraordinary museums like the Funeral and Crime museums. All this turns Vienna into a great destination for dark tourism.
Dark Tourism Vienna Guide
To help you plan your trip, I created this Vienna dark tourism guide. Here you’ll find the most haunted places, creepy museums and the best ghost tours to take in Vienna.
Dark Tourism Vienna Guide (most haunted and creepy places)
- Blood Alley
- Hungarian House
- Central Cemetery
- Cemetery of the Nameless
- Imperial Crypt
- St. Michael’s Church Crypt
- Catacombs of St. Stephen’s Cathedral
- Funeral Museum
- Crime Museum
- Pathologic-Anatomical Museum
Best ghost tours in Vienna
Underground Walking Tour – discover the city’s mysterious underworld, including the morbid crypt of St. Michael’s Church (more than 4,000 people are buried here).
Central Cemetery Walking Tour – you’ll discover the most important areas of Vienna Central Cemetery and see the graves of the famous people buried there. The tour is in German, but you can book a private one in English.
The Blood Alley (Blutgasse) is one of the oldest streets in Vienna and the most haunted one. During the day it’s a charming cobblestoned alley with beautiful inner courtyards. Yet, you’d better avoid it at night unless you want a close encounter with its famous ghosts. Back in the days, the street was known as Khotgasse, or Mud Alley, because of its unpaved condition.
There are several legends about the street, but the most popular one is about the Knights Templars. In 1312 their order was gruesomely slaughtered right here on this spot, leaving the street flowed in blood. From that point, it was called the Blood Alley.
In addition, the criminals condemned to death had to walk through this street to their execution place.
The Hungarian House (Ungarisches Haus) is where one of the most prolific female murderers lived in the 16th century. Her name was Countess Elizabeth Báthory. And here, in the heart of Vienna itself, she started her murderous career.
The countess tortured and killed more than 600 young women. Unfortunately, it is unknown how many murders Báthory committed in the Hungarian House. Elizabeth used women’s blood for bloodbaths, so she could stay forever young. Most of the victims were her servants. She is also known as Countess Dracula, as according to the legends, Báthory also drank the blood of her victims.
The Hungarian countess committed most of the murders in Čachtice Castle. Ironically, the castle became the place of her own death, too. After being arrested and found guilty, Elizabeth was imprisoned there. She remained locked in the castle for four years until her death in 1614.
Unfortunately, the Hungarian House is not open to visitors.
The Central Cemetery (Zentralfriedhof) is one of the largest cemeteries in the world. However, this refers not to its size, but to the number of people buried here. There are more than 330,000 graves! Among them are those of Ludwig van Beethoven, Johann Strauss, Franz Schubert and Johannes Brahms.
The cemetery opened its gates on All Saints’ Day in 1874. Since then it’s the final resting place for people of all faiths. This tranquil place is filled with beautiful gravestones and elegant alleys to get lost in.
To get there you need to take tram 71. From here comes a popular local euphemism – that the deceased person “has taken the 71”.
Cemetery of the Nameless
The Cemetery of the Nameless (Friedhof der Namenlosen) is one of the eeriest places in Vienna. In the 19th century, Danube often washed drowned bodies on the shore. Most of them were never recognized, so they were buried with the inscription namenlos (nameless).
As for the causes of death, they were also unknown. Some of the people were drowned, others killed or committed suicide. Yet, all of them found their final resting place here, in the Cemetery of the Nameless.
There are a total of 478 bodies buried here from 1840 to 1900. Since the 20th century, the cemetery was abandoned. Nowadays it’s a grim overgrown place like a scene straight out of a gothic novel.
There are few crypts in Vienna that you can tour, but the most popular one is the Imperial Crypt. Kaisergruft is located under the Capuchin Church, near Hofburg Palace. The crypt is the burial place of the monarchs of the Habsburg dynasty.
Originally it was founded in 1618 only to hold the remains of Empress Anna and Emperor Matthias. However, during the following centuries, the Habsburg monarchs expanded the crypt many times.
Nowadays it holds the remains of 149 of Habsburgs laid to rest in metal sarcophagi. Among them are 12 emperors and 18 empresses, including Franz Stephan (the Holy Roman Emperor) and the beloved Queen Sissi.
You can tour the crypt on your own (for more information and tickets click here).
St. Michael’s Church Crypt
The crypt under St. Michael’s Church (Michaelergruft) is probably the creepiest place in Vienna. It has the same spine-chilling atmosphere as the Catacombs of Paris.
You can tour the crypt only with a guide. There are guided tours from Thursday to Saturday at 11:00 AM and 01:00 PM in front of the church.
The crypt was founded in the 16th century after the closure of the graveyard around the St. Michael’s Church. Initially, it was intended only for burials of the nobility. In the 17th century, the crypt was expanded and opened to the middle class. Today it holds the remains of more than 4000 people.
Due to the unique climatic conditions in the crypt, the bodies don’t decompose. You can see perfectly preserved 400 years old mummified bodies wearing coats, shoes and wigs.
This tour includes the Roman archaeological excavations at Michaelerplatz, too.
Catacombs of St. Stephen’s Cathedral
The catacombs below the cathedral house the Bishops, Provosts, and the Ducal Crypts. The Bishops crypt is the newest one, finished in 1952, and it’s the least creepy from the three.
The Ducal Crypt is where the first Habsburg rulers were laid to rest. One of the oldest remains is the ones of Rudolf IV, Duke of Austria, who died in 1365.
After the opening of the Imperial Crypt, the Ducal Crypt changed its functions. But only a little bit. It was still a burial place, not to whole bodies, but to parts of bodies.
To be precise, 78 urns with the internal organs of the Habsburg monarchs are kept here. As for their hearts, you can find them in the St. Augustin church in the Hofburg Palace. At that time, it was common for the bodies of royalties to be buried separately from their hearts and internal organs.
The Provosts crypt is far more spooky than the Ducal. There you can see the actual remains of people who died of plague 400 years ago!
In 1735 there was an outbreak of bubonic plague in the city. As a result, the eight cemeteries around St. Stephen’s Cathedral were closed. The remains of more than 11,000 people were moved to the newly built Provosts crypt. And to get some order, several prisoners had to do the disgusting job of breaking and organizing the skeletons.
The burials in this crypt continued until 1783 when a new law prohibited burials within the city.
You can visit the catacombs of St. Stephen’s Cathedral with a guided tour. There are tours every 15-30min between 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM and 01:30 PM – 04:30 PM.
To save money buy the St. Stephen’s Cathedral combined ticket. It gives you access to the Treasury, the South Tower and a guided tour of the cathedral and the catacombs, plus the Dom museum.
Viennese people have to be really fascinated by death to create a Funeral museum (Bestattungsmuseum). This unique museum features about 1000 objects connected to the funeral traditions.
The collection of coffins includes even a reusable coffin! Emperor Joseph II invented it in 1784 in an attempt to save wood. The coffin had a trap door from where they dropped the corpse into the ground. In this way, the coffin could be used later for another funeral.
The museum is located in the Central cemetery. So if you’re in the area don’t miss to take a look.
The Kriminalmuseum features an extensive macabre collection of killing weapons, torture devices, evidence and photos. It represents the crime scene in Vienna from the Middle Ages to nowadays. Some of the exhibits are truly gruesome, so be mentally prepared. You can see a few death masks, skulls and even preserved body parts and heads!
However, most of the labels are in German. So if you don’t speak German, buy the additional English booklet.
The museum has one of the largest collections of pathological specimens in the world. It features paraffin wax bodies and organs affected by diseases. And guess where these gruesome exhibits are housed? In a former mental hospital!
In fact, this was the first mental institution in the world. The Narrenturm (Fool’s Tower) was founded in 1784, under Emperor Joseph II. It functioned as such until 1866.
The Pathologisch-Anatomisches Museum is not open every day, so check the opening times before going.
Spanish Riding School – one of the most popular activities in Vienna, so book tickets in advance here.
Giant Ferris Wheel – if you don’t have a Wien Pass, book tickets ahead to avoid waiting in line.
Attend a classical music concert – tickets for the most popular concerts sell out fast, so book as early as you can (see all concerts here).
Vienna Dark Tourism sites map
To help you navigate, I created this map with all the spooky sites in Vienna.
The sites you can visit are marked in dark pink, the one you can see only outside – in pink.
|I’m a full-time travel blogger based in Sofia, Bulgaria. I love to travel and to discover new places, cultures and food. I’m an expert in travel planning and I am here to help you plan your dream vacation.|