The Fiaker in Vienna
Having once been the primary mean of daily passenger transportation in the city, the Viennese Fiaker horse carriages are associated to Vienna as closely as Saint Stephens cathedral or the Giant Ferries Wheel. These vehicles are nowadays mostly used for tourist excursions around the old city and for special occasions such as weddings (then featuring beautiful flower decoration).
History of the Fiaker
The Fiaker has been around in Vienna since 1700ad. The word Fiaker originates from the French Rue de Saint Fiacre in Paris, where this kind of "short-term rental carriage" was first introduced. As the city quickly expanded under Habsburgs rule, so did the need for transportation: about 700 of these carriages existed by 1800ad , and by 1900ad the number had risen to approx. 1000 - just to drop sharply after the 1st World War.
The Fiaker in Art and Music
Many of the coachmen (referred to as Fiaker as well) were not only drivers, but genuine characters know throughout the city - often because of their earthy humor as well as their famous songs.
The famous Fiakerlied (by Gustav Pick) starts as follows:
A echter Weana Fiaka,
is` stolz auf sein`n Stand,
mia hab`n a an Charakter,
zeig`n euch gern Stadt und Land.
Another famous character was the singer Fiakermilli, immortalized by Richard Strauss in his opera Arabella. Last but not least the yearly Fiakerball (Ball of the Fiaker) was a well-known event.
Part of Viennas coffee tradition - the "Fiaker"
Did you know that even a traditional Viennese coffee speciality is named after the Fiaker?
Just give it a try and order a "Fiaker" in any café in Vienna and you will be served a Mocca (black coffee, similar to espresso) with Rum or Cognac and whipped cream, prepared in a glass instead of a cup...
The Fiaker in Modern Vienna
As mentioned above, approx. 100 Fiaker nowadays serve mainly for tourist excursions around the old city. The carriages can either - based on availability - taken directly from one of the stand areas or conveniently be pre-booked for a tour.
The stands can be found at Stephansplatz, Heldenplatz, Michaelerplatz, Petersplatz, next to the Burgtheater and behind the Opera (near Albertina).
Circling Ringstrasse boulevard or exploring the narrow streets in the old city by Fiaker is a unique Vienna sightseeing experience - you should definitely give it a try!
For additional info on Fiaker carriage tours visit fiaker.co.at.
We hope you enjoy the visit on this site and your time in Vienna!