Whoosh Logo

Walking and the City

https://whoosh.wien/events/202...Whoosh loves to walk. At the bottom of this page, you can see the 100+ different tours we have made in Vienna, showing new perspectives to residents. We can organise any of these for your birthday present, conference, students or office group, in English or German.

As social designers, we know that there is no better way to build strong communities than having lots of locals out on the streets, playing together and getting to know each other.

And yet 700,000 car journeys in Vienna each day are less than 1km long. Why not walk?

We organise creative events which celebrate Vienna as a good city to explore on foot. Walking is sexy, theatrical, fun, simple, free, healthy, ecological, social and political. It helps you engage with the day, refresh your head, notice new things and most of all - think more creatively.

Walkers vote more progressively than car drivers. It's all about wandering.

Geh bitte! And walk on the wild side.

Learning to walk is one of the first milestones we celebrate in a young person’s life. After that, it is largely forgotten as a skill.

For many people, the journeys to and from work are a boring daily grind. But how we choose to travel to the office (or college) is also one of the biggest day-to-day climate decisions we face. In countries like Austria and the UK, the transport sector is now responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than any other. Globally, transport produces a quarter of CO2. Too much of the world’s mobility still focuses on cars. Road vehicles - cars, trucks, buses and motorbikes - account for nearly three quarters of the emissions that come from transport.

So, the way you get around each day can make a big difference to your own carbon footprint.

Every Journey Starts with a Single Step

If you walk to a meeting or appointment, you know you will be on time, unlike with cars or public transport which can break down. And walking to work leaves more room for others on the crowded U-bahn, which is good for everybody.

To make walking easier, we recommend you download this excellent application, which tells you how long your walk takes, and gives suggestions for different routes. It was created by the innovative mobility department of Vienna City council.

There are many reasons we should all walk more. Exploring the city on foot is often neglected by residents, but once we go on holiday, people will often enjoy walking all day, around a new city or up a mountain. Why is it that we enjoy walking only when away from home? Maybe because it is so easy in Vienna, that we just don’t notice we are doing it? Or that it is free, and therefore undervalued? It is certainly not boring, with so much to look at in our beautiful, varied city. We will show you what walking means, for mental health, for building community, for physical health, for the ecological health of the planet, and also, less well-known, for developing creative ideas. Or are we all too busy and stressed to walk?

Let’s look at a few reasons why people choose not to walk - they see it as slow, unhealthy, boring or that the weather is a problem. If you check an app, Vienna is a dense city and you can walk right across it in around 4 hours. Most distances can comfortably be covered on foot, but more importantly, walking is a way to prepare for meetings, develop ideas or solve problems. Once you see it as a way to work more creatively - that walking is working - then walking is not the slowest way through the city, but the most productive.

Walking is far from unhealthy. Car drivers face much more pollution than walkers, since we know shorter ways through the city, far away from angry traffic. It only rains in Wien for 3.5% of the year, and we enjoy 1900 hours of sunshine each year.

Since walking is a metaphor for independence and courage, there are many great songs about it, which you can treat as your motivating soundtrack: Walk this way, You'll never walk alone, Radetzky Marsch, I would walk 500 miles, Walk on the wild side, Walk like an Egyptian, Walk the line, Walking on the moon, These boots are made for walking, and Eugene’s favourite: Led Zeppelin’s Ramble on. And there are many other words for walking, showing the different uses it can have: pilgrimage, promenade, protest march, passeggiata, park ramble.

And then there are silly walks - plenty of them. From the fast walkers at olympics, to walking with sticks for sport. And babies have funny walks, also dogs with three legs, Monty Python's Ministry of Silly Walks, George Clooney and footballer Arjen Robben. Your style of walk says a lot about who you are. Remember that! There are many more ways to walk than most people realise.

Walk the Talk

All you need to walk is a good pair of shoes. Less well-known is that walkers, as a group, vote differently to car drivers. They know their city much better than car drivers, and have more trust, since they encounter the real city every day, far away from all that depressing news which drivers listen to while getting stressed inside their cars, typically on their own. Walkers feel less angst. They meet people as they move through their community, whereas drivers are limited in their communications to a loud horn. Walking is part of the new mobility strategy in progressive cities. It is the greenest form of transport, and also the healthiest. 1.5 million people die in car accidents every year. And walking accounts for more kilometres travelled than airplanes or any other form of transport.

Walkers live longer than car drivers. As a group, they are also wealthier, on average, than car drivers, and better-educated. Walkable neighbourhoods are some of the most attractive in any city. And walkers have more friends than car drivers. Going for a stroll is also an opportunity to escape from the addictive quality of social media. Although it seems appealing to many to check their accounts frequently, when their smartphone buzzes, this is often wasted time which could be used doing more productive things.

Put simply, walking produces ideas, offers time for reflection, planning and problem-solving. With more oxygen flow to your lungs than sitting in front of a laptop, and more blood pumping around your brain, you will be stimulated into bigger and better thinking. It’s a technique to optimise your body and mind, and is therefore good for your mental health, as well as the obvious physical benefits.

Geographers can now estimate how overweight residents of a district are, using satellite images to measure the distance between key resources (school, park, shop, public transport, cafe). Sprawl is bad for you, and density good. 21% of drivers in the Innere Stadt are not going anywhere, simply circling, looking for a parking space. Walkers spend no time at all looking for a parking space - they just walk in the door when they arrive (on time!). Americans now spend more money on driving than on housing, which is madness. Walking is free.

When people plan a walk, alone or with friends, most will choose nature - rivers, forests, parks. Eugene finds this a mistake. There are more choices offered by urban spaces - layers of architecture, cafes, music and quite simply: people living their lives in their own district. If you need a toilet or to escape the rain, or sun, or get something to eat, that is much easier in the built environment. But more importantly, you are building community when you stroll around your own Grätzl. And maybe adding to the local economy also. Walking builds the sense of togetherness, of networks and security and the buzzy social life which most people value.

Italian film director Federico Fellini understood the appeal of street theatre. Whoosh co-creator, Eugene Quinn, is also passionate about public space, and how to animate and celebrate it. Through watching Fellini films and teaching spatial-planning at Vienna Technical University, he developed the theory of street capital. This is a measure of how much theatre and joy we find on some city streets, and the reverse - how dull and cold so many other streets are, because they lack people and interactions and a sense of play. Next time you walk along a city footpath, try to measure how much fun you see, and you will be applying the concept of street capital to your hometown. Poorer, more diverse, colourful vierteln usually score higher than rich, empty, parked-car streets, and in this sense it is a new way of judging which part of town we might enjoy living in. People living inside the Gürtel walk twice as much as those outside it. 30% of trips in Wien are made on foot.

Eugene enjoys the hustle and flow of big city streets - just think about how it feels to move through Siena or Brooklyn. The Italians in particular understand that walking is not just a way to get from A to B, but an opportunity for personal marketing and joy. It often resembles a catwalk, and is super entertaining. In Paris, all the bar chairs are arranged to face the river - and therefore the people walking by. Locals go for colourful performance and sexy strolling, but in self-conscious Wien, almost nobody puts on a show or turns the space into a catwalk. A missed opportunity! People-watching has long been one of the key attractions of walking, even if some walkers may not recognise this fact. Just take away the people and you realise what a joy other people - in all their colourful, crazy, sexy oddness - can be. There is a carnival element to life, of play on the streets, and we should never forget this theatre that plays out, every single day.

You'll Never Walk Alone

The Danish urbanist Jan Gehl says there are 60 km/h- and 5 km/h-cities. The difference is that the faster ones were built in 20th century, for cars, and the slower ones earlier, and on a more human-scale, for an age of walking. The slower places are full of details to enjoy, whereas car cities are boring, because at 60km/h, you do not have time to take in the richness of place. Vienna is a 5km/h, cinematic metropole.

When Eugene is leading tours around Vienna, local people often ask him what his real job is. They don’t believe that walking could be a profession. But it is one of the best jobs in the world, to explore this city on foot, creating urban adventures to start debates. One tour which he does not recommend to the average person is our Lange Marsch, where we visit all 23 Vienna districts in a single day. That nine hour walk is only for the crazy ones.

A practical recommendation to start your urban adventure, is simply to walk out of your front door one Saturday morning, and head off in a new direction, getting lost a couple of times. Leave your phone in your pocket, and just see what happens, as you move…

Another useful tip is to put your address into the website walkscore.com, which will rate your neighbourhood for its walkability (criteria include good footpaths, street lighting, weather, steepness, safety, how near you are to useful things, and how attractive the place looks). Walking gives you the opportunity to connect with each new day, watch the seasons change, have adventures to tell your workmates once you arrive at the office, and of really belonging to your city. The street is where people meet, not just drive by. Walkers have a greater intimacy with the city, a more emotional, intellectual and spiritual connection to it. Walkers know the city. They know its back ways and side streets, its different rhythms and how it fits together. To walk it is to own it.

Urban walking has a certain poetic aesthetic to it. Just think of flaneurs, and psychogeographers. Walking can be art, with people like Francis Alys and Richard Long turning urban odyssies into culture. Walking some distance is about marking the contrasts between neighbourhoods, and understanding the connections and geography, which you don't experience on the U-bahn, while it is underground.

Famous walkers in history included Aristotle, who would make his philosophy lectures as walks through Athens, because he wanted his students to concentrate on the real world, and found they learned more when standing up and more active than the passive university seating.

Beethoven walked for five hours every day, around west Vienna, always with musical sheets, composing as he moved. It was a central part of his way of working, and you can hear it in his music, with its rhythms and contrasts.

Charles Dickens struggled to sleep at night (like Eugene). Instead he walked through Victorian London, listening to ordinary conversations for research, but also, as a committed socialist, to understand the poverty and reflect this in his stories.

Steve Jobs turned job interviews into walks around Palo Alto in Silicon Valley. He was interested in discovering how potential colleagues approached the walk, psychologically - how often they looked at him, how they crossed at lights, but also how they reacted to things which happened on the streets, in terms of empathy and spontaneity. For confirmation of the importance of walking to thinking, consider how many philosophers and poets used it as a central part of their practice: Nietzsche, Rimbaud, Kant, Rousseau and Thoreau.

Repeated academic studies show the improvement in quality and creativity of ideas developed, but also in memory tests, in participants who went for a walk, compared to those who were sitting at desks.

There are fewer rules for walkers than with any other form of transport. And therefore we get less stressed than cyclists. Walking is not competitive, but collective and social. One of the ways you see this lack of formality is in the Desire Paths (Trampelpfad/Wunschweg) which walkers create, when an official path does not go where they want to. You see these as patterns on grass, but also as footprints in snow. They are a form of resistance to city-planners, and a show of independent thinking. Snow allows you to break the rules of where paths used to be, should be, usually go. You can literally make tracks which others will follow. It's a special and romantic feeling, and the sound of walking on snow is magical.

Another mental benefit of walking is that you get to anticipate good things that are coming up in your life, rather than the constant stress. Get ready for a holiday, meeting a friend for dinner, or a film you are about to see.

And being in public space is the best way to burst your social media bubble: the risk of believing that everybody thinks like you do, because your friends reflect your own views back at you in an echo chamber.

Walking is Working

Walking is seen as boring because we do it everyday. You only come to value it, when you are not able to do it, because of injury, or corona lockdown. No other animal walks on two legs and it gives us humans the opportunity to write things down while we walk. Even the best animation cannot recreate walking as we do, since it's such a complex interaction of so many parts of our body.

We mentioned earlier how cool walking sounds in pop songs, and it undoubtedly can motivate people in their day But we recommend that you walk without earphones, since this adds to the atomised sense of modern life, with too many individuals and not enough social engagement. Those who walk around with loud music miss out on the humour and spontaneity and possibilities of the streets. They are saying 'fuck you' to the rest of the world - 'I don't want to speak to you, or think about you, or be here.' Or that you are anti-social.

Listen to the rhythm of the city and its fascinating urban soundtrack. Engage with the world and respond to its stimuli. And in the city, there is plenty of music around you anyway, from clothes shops, cars, apartment windows and buskers. So please, let the city be your soundtrack, not something alien, from outside. Be ready to chat to those who would like to.

In many countries, even short journeys which could be made on foot or by bike, are usually made by car. In Austria, 60% of 1-2km trips are made by car. Like slow food, this is partly a celebration of the possibility of slowing down our world, of taking time to reflect on each day, but also to smell the day, sense the weather, the people around you, the shops, bars & street life (and yes, the cars and adverts), but also the 1.9m people who live in their rhythm around you.

The Viennese pass each other on the right when walking, but in London there is no corresponding drift to the left - it is more freestyle and chaotic.

An anecdote from Eugene in his previous job as a tour manager for Great Rail Journeys. I used to move from city-to-city with a group of travellers, and each time we arrived at our new hotel - always by train - I would say, ‘OK, there's the spa, there's the bar (a priority for the Brits), and for anyone interested, meet me back here in the lobby in 20mins and we'll go for an orientation stroll, to get a feeling for our new location before dinner together’. And through this, I'd discover the most curious and often the brightest in the group, those who valued a sense of place and more belonging (smells and tastes, people and mood), those who had their eyes open and really wanted to experience a place (roughly 40% of each group).

Even if you don’t commute, because you work from home or are retired, this is still a manifesto for you to recognise what a useful tool walking can be. There is a great value in family walks, even if children are at first sceptical. Younger children can walk for seven hours, no problem. Maybe teens get bored, but before that they see things we don't because they're closer to the ground & see insects, money, little details. A picnic will always taste better if you've walked to get there with your bottle of wine, good tasty bread and strawberries. You have earned some tasty treats!

They say that a child learns more from walking in a forest than any other experience or lesson they have, up to six years old. It engages all five senses - if you find something to eat like blackberries or wild mushrooms. Kids rarely get excited when joining a family walk, but they usually enjoy the experience, and Eugene regularly manipulates school classes (14+) into having a walk, by suggesting the teacher ask her group if they would prefer to have next week’s English lesson in the classroom, or as an open-air event, on one of Eugene’s smart city tours.

Who hasn't had a memorable walk with a partner? There is a romance in walking - let’s call it strolling or rambling. Walking is now rebellious in the context of a culture of speed. And you are much more likely to meet someone new while walking with friends in the streets, than cycling past them. The image of an odyssey or exodus - an extended journey on foot - is biblical and epic and out of time. See the reaction to this woman in black and her 1500km walk. She would not have got this attention as a car driver, or even on a bike. It is the slowness and time that is striking, alongside her mystery.

Walkers break many rules and are rebellious in practical ways. We are in the place itself, rather than in an unchanging vehicle, and so are open to more immediate and more varied external stimuli. Examples include when you are surprised to find a green space, beautiful vista or piece of street art. Walking offers a contemplative engagement with the city.

Among walkers, it is sometimes appropriate to say 'hallo' to your fellow pedestrians, who are strangers. There are no rules, but most people sense it instinctively. Cyclists almost never greet each other. In the night time or very early morning. you have joined a little club and so greet each other. Like being in a lift, it can be more comfy to say something than to walk by in silence.

Eugene loves that sensation, at the end of a big walk, where you know that the minute your head hits the pillow, you will fall asleep. So our advice is to walk the city, walk to work, to college, to markets, to parties, to the cinema, to meetings. And also home again. And walk with curiosity, courage & friendship.

This Walk to Work Day is part of the Whoosh event, Vienna Walking Week, to celebrate urban walking, and also the concept of #TourismForLocals

Here are the 140 urban tours we offer:
100 Jahre Bundesverfassung
100 Jahre Gemeindebau - 10 Bauten in 10 Jahrzehnten (mit WienMuseum)

1848 Revolution
2 Graetzeln - Neulerchenfeld & Hoernesgasse
50 Jahre TU Raumplanung - Wie ein Uni die Stadt Veraendert hat
50 years of TU Raumplanung & a more feminine city-planning

7 eigenartige Wiener Kirchen - am Sonntag

75 Years UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights: Human Rights & Vienna Walk

A g’mischter Satz instagram walk - Semper Depot & Theobaldgasse
A g’mischter Satz: geh bitte, ein Streifzug am Hbhf
All 15 Oslo Districts in a day
Alles Gute Otto: all Wagner buildings on his Birthdays

Architecture of Education - inspirational tour

Arsenal, Hbhf, Sonnwend & Umgebung - an Impulstanz Introduction
Aufzeichnungen des Unterwelt - Meidling & OTK Film launch
Back to 1900: Freudian Wien
Baroque Architecture & Meaning

Before Sunrise romantic film tour

Brexit tour - on the value of intercultural dialogue between London & Vienna

Bye Bye Boris! Brexit Tour
Classical Vienna…with a Twist Tour
Circle of stars- EU made our City Pre-election tour

Der große Marsch
Der Kleine Josef
Die besten Grätzloasen Wiens

Die Dohnal

Die Ringstrasse des Proletariats (fuer Wiener Wohnen)
Disruption tour
ESC Swedish wien tour- Whoosh goes Nordic for pre-PARTY

EU Klimapakt- Youth Climate Action Walk

Euro capital of culture 2024 Salzkammergut: Dom & Euge lead 3-day storytelling mountain walk

Falco: 40 Jahren Ganz Wien

Favoriten Jetzt - 5 hour tour ending in Heurige

Feminist Walk for Men, by Men (Brigittenau)

Football Architecture - Five Vienna Stadiums on big Champions League Match days
Future of Intimacy

Ganz Wien walk - jeden Bezirk in einem Tag
Geheimnisse der Westguertels
Gemeindebauten der Innenstadt-100 years of social housing in Vienna

Gerueche des Westguertels
Geschichten des Westguertels
Gesichten des Westguertels

GMPDFR - touring the Creative Wien scene & Psychogeography introduction

Green Wien

Haessliches Wien - Vienna Ugly auf Deutsch

Hedy Lamarr - Early life of a Superstar

Heisses Wien - Tabu Walk

Hietzewelle - Ganzen 13.!

Hostile design insta campaign & tour with die Angewandte

Hot Summer Night - Yppenplatz to Donaukanal
Human Rights & the City walk

Invisible Smart City (English lesson for schools)
Impulstanz, HBHF & Sonnwend
Jane's Walk: Canteen scene: exploring Vienna Through 6 mensas
Jane’s Walk: 10 academic researchers on their work in Wien Now

Jewish memorial culture in wien


Kaspar – Seestadt Child-led Walk - Free-range Parenting
Landstrasse: Ein Ganzes Land in einem Bezirk

Living Statues
London vs Wien Mariahilf - comparing Social Housing
Lost Places - Joy of Freudenau

Lustenau - 10 best buildings

Lustenau Balkon Poesie Rundgang

Lustenau Judischer Rhein Flucht 1939

Lustenau Schweizer Ried
Lustenau Waogli

Lustenau World tour

Lustenau: Grenzen

Lustenauer Jugend bei Nacht
Market Analysis Tour
Meine Meidling
Midnight Walk – All Along the Gürtel
Munich Ugly Tour
Neubau Jetzt- Lokale Agenda 21 tour

Nordbahnhof urban exploration
Oida Donau - gesamte Alte Donau swim-walk


Placemaking in Floridsdorf
Pop-up Culture & Zwischennutzung

Ringstrasse des Proletariats- Birth of Red Vienna
Rotes Wien - 15 Beautiful Brick Buildings

Russian Echoes in Wien Tour

Secret Courtyards of Central Vienna Tour
Seestadt – A Critical Exploration
Silly Walks Contest
Smells Like Wien Spirit Tour
Sonnwend Rooftops tour

Spuren des Wiener Rassismus

Street Art Mariahilf

Street Art NWbhf - Last Chance

Streetvibes am Brunnenmarkt

Süddöbling surprise

Tall Towers Tour
TED Talk 2 (VOLKSTHEATER, Oct16): Walking and Creativity

The invisible smart city tour

The New Donaukanal Tour
The Red & the Green - an Irish-Wien Storytelling walk

The romance of urban walking in Vienna (UN lecture)
The Trend for Urban Gardening

Toni Spira -Reality TV a la Wien
Tribes of Donauinsel Tour
Tribes of Wien - Anthropology

UNHCR Langen Tag der Flucht: Wien Unbekannt Walk
Ukraine Refugees Welcome to Vienna


Vienna all'Italiana

Vienna & The Beatles magical mystery tour on Eurovision day
Vienna Beautiful
Vienna is full of social innovation ( Nordbahnvtl )
Vienna Ugly Tour
Walk on the Wild Side party
Walk the Line: Neubau Grenze tour
Walk through Augarten for new parents
Walk-to-Work Day

West Penzing Comedy Beisln
What Christmas means for Atheists - a tour

Why Vienna is the Best City in the World Tour
Wien & Wasser - Storytelling Swim walk
Wien bei Nacht Walk

Wien Zeit
Wiener BAUHAUS- 1920s context

Wiener Bäume - It's a Tree Story
Wiener Schatten Tour
Wien’s prettiest park tour: Türkenschanz


Willkommenskultur - Die Tore der Stadt
Wine Walk Bisamberg - A G'mischter Satz
Worldwide Food & Diversity Wiens
Worldwide Food tour – Hamburg
WU Wien tour of Bricolage Careers
Yppenplatz and the spirit of Ottakring (walk)
Zentralfriedhof - How to Die Better (with Caritas)