Ah, the Wiener Staatsoper (Vienna State Opera House)! Getting standing room tickets at the Vienna Opera House was, by far, the BEST thing we did in Vienna. For as little as 3 Euros, you basically get to see class-act performances PLUS get a free tour of the historic opera house!
There’s nothing luxurious about it, but it’s an experience I highly recommend you have at least once. It’s quite the adventure! Not unlike going into battle, except at the end of it are ballerinas, cake, and hot dogs. Read on to see what I mean…
There is remarkably little written about standing room tickets on the official Vienna State Opera website, but don’t worry, I answer ALL your questions below!
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What are standing room tickets?
Standing room tickets, as their name implies, are tickets where you can stand inside the opera house to watch a performance. These tickets go on sale the day of a performance only 80 minutes before showtime.
It is the only opera house in the world to offer 567 standing room spaces every evening.
The whole idea behind this is something very much ingrained in Viennese culture: everyone, including the poor, should have access to the arts.
Are standing room tickets only for operas?
No! In fact, when I got standing room tickets, I did it for a ballet, Swan Lake!
Can I bring my purse?
Yes, I brought a MASSIVE purse (more of a messenger bag), and no one checked or cared.
Can I bring my camera?
Yes, but you cannot take photos during a performance. I brought my DSLR inside my messenger bag, but I did not take it out while inside the opera house.
Do I have to use the coat check?
No. I’ve heard that this is required, but again, no one asked me to check my purse. I did not have a coat on.
What if I don’t have a scarf?
You don’t have to have a scarf. I used an old T-shirt (’cause I’m classy) to tie around the railing and mark my spot. Heck, you could use a plastic trash bag for all anyone else cares. Just as long as you have something that can be tied around the railing, you’re fine.
How much does it cost?
Three or four euros, depending on the area you choose.
You have three areas you can choose:
Parterrestehplatz (Ground floor): 4 Euros
Balkonstehplatz (Balcony): 3 Euros
Galeriestehplatz (Gallery): 3 Euros <—— My personal fave!
What time should I get there?
Standing room tickets officially go on sale 80 minutes before a performance starts, but many people will get there WAY before this. We arrived at the standing room ticket office 120 minutes before the ballet started, and there was already a line snaking around the inside of the building.
What should I wear?
I don’t think anyone enforces a dress code. We saw a wide range of attire, from jeans and button-down shirts to full-out business suits. I wore a one-shouldered dress and sandals.
The official Vienna State Opera House website has this to say regarding dress code:
“We appreciate if you would match the way you dress to the elegant setting of the opera building. Please understand that persons dressed very informally (for instance, wearing short pants or leisurewear) may be refused admission by our supervisors even though they hold valid tickets.
For premieres and gala performances, we welcome festive evening attire.
The Vienna Opera Ball has a mandatory dress code:
Ladies: long evening dress
Gentlemen: white tie or military dress uniform”
What to Bring to Get Standing Room Tickets at the Vienna Opera House
✔A scarf (or T-shirt, necktie, trash bag, or really anything you can tie around a railing). This is how you will mark your standing spot. You must have something to tie around the railing to claim a spot.
✔3 or 4 Euros in EXACT CHANGE. You MUST have exact change; they will not accept anything else.
✔Every person who wants to attend. The standing room ticket office will only sell one ticket to one person each. So you need to have your WHOLE group with you. You CANNOT buy someone’s ticket for them!
✔A book or something to keep you occupied while you wait. We got there two hours before the performance started, and 40 minutes before the doors to the standing room ticket office opened, so we sat around in the hot building with nothing to do. A girl behind us was reading The Picture of Dorian Gray, and it made me wish I had brought a book.
How to Get Standing Room Tickets at the Vienna State Opera House
To begin with, make sure to check the Vienna State Opera House schedule to see what performances are showing each night and at what time.
Step 1: Find the “Standing Area” sign outside the Opera House.
Go to the outside of the Vienna State Opera House, the side that runs along the street Operngasse, across from the Aida cake shop.
My friends grabbed a drink and a pastry at Aida just caddy-cornered to the Vienna Opera House. Thinking there would be plenty of time, we got there right at 5pm, still a full TWO hours before showtime (7pm). Doors to standing room open 80 minutes before.
Look for the white sign that says “Stehplatz-Kasse | Standing Area.”
There it is!
Step 2: Go INSIDE the door underneath the sign, and walk all the way down the hall to the box office.
IMPORTANT: A huge group appeared behind us was standing underneath the Standing Area sign outside. We were all confused as to whether we needed to stand underneath the sign or go inside. There were no employees, and it wasn’t clear.
We then figured out that YES, YOU MUST GO INSIDE the door under the sign. When we walked to the end of the long hall and turned right, there was already a long line that snaked around railings and into the next hall. With all the people inside a small area, it gets VERY hot, so dress accordingly.
Step 3: Wait patiently for the box office to open.
At this point, feel free to take a seat on the cool tile or, if you’re brave, on the railing (it felt pretty wobbly when we did this).
Step 4: Pay for your ticket.
Precisely 80 minutes before showtime, an employee will come out and open the ticket office window. Get your Euros ready to pay! And be fast!
Step 5: Immediately go inside and hand your ticket to the usher.
After you pay, you’ll be handed a paper ticket. Turn right. Then left. When you walk, go all the way to the END where the stairs to the balcony are. There will be an usher in a black suit. Hand him your ticket he will tear the stub off and hand you the rest back. Then head up the stairs. Here you will queue again as you all wait for the doors to open to the section.
Remember, you want to be one of the first in line to nab the best standing spots, so you want to walk as quickly as you can without running…it’s quite competitive!
Step 6: Follow the usher’s instructions and queue outside your area.
When you get to the doors of your standing area, you have to wait in line…again.
Step 7: When the doors to your standing area open, rush in and claim your spot!
When they open the door, people start running. Try to maintain your decorum yet remember that you must hurry to get the best spot. Our section employee asked us if we spoke German and then asked if everyone spoke English and gave us the rundown in English.
Step 8: Once your scarf (or whatever) is tied to the railing marking your spot, go explore!
There’s A LOT to see. There’s a little museum on one floor with old costumes and props from operas.
There’s a terrace on the top floor with some gorgeous views of the city.
There are also lots of little bar areas where you can buy overpriced food and drinks:
Step 9: Come back in time for the performance and enjoy!
Now, I didn’t have high heels on, but even one hour into the performance, my legs were KILLING me. We only stayed for the first half. At intermission, we left, and honestly, even though I LOVED the ballet (it was breathtaking!) that was just enough time for me.
What to Do After the Performance at the Opera House
Dessert first! Grab a slice of cake at Cafe Landtmann
After the performance, there was still some daylight left to stroll down to Cafe Landtmann and enjoy the landmarks along the way, like the Volksgaarten (a garden filled with gorgeous roses), Rathaus (city hall), and the Austrian Parliament Building.
Then we each ordered a slice of cake and sat outside underneath the awning at Cafe Landtmann. I ordered the Sachertorte (chocolate cake with apricot filling) because it’s one of the most famous items there.
It was beautiful, but honestly, I didn’t like it much (and I LOVE cake!). It was rather dry and didn’t taste chocolate-y to me.
Grab a Viennese hot dog from a street card, a Würstelstand
I heard from good ol’ Rick Steves that a popular thing to do is grab a Bratwurst from one of the many stands nearby the opera house. In his podcast, he said that’s where people go to discuss the opera afterward. It seemed like quite a classy affair.
And I, being the classy lady I am (do you recall my T-shirt tied to the railing?), thought it a fitting place to go after the ballet! Since we had gone to Cafe Landtmann for cake, that meant by the time we walked back to the opera house, the ballet was ending, and people were just leaving.
Perfect! This meant we could go to a Bratwurst stand and get a bite and discuss the arts. No. No, this did not happen.
Well, first, there were only men at the stand, and they did not look like they had just come from a ballet. They looked miffed we were intruding on their space. Or rather, they in ours. A man came up behind me while I ordered and was practically breathing down my neck. Thankfully, my friend kept an eye on him.
And actually, we had done no research on the best hot dog stands in Vienna. And now, after the fact, as I research this, I cannot even find that exact stand we went to. It’s basically unmapped, so I’m pretty sure we went to the sketchiest one possible. Please don’t go to this one.
The whole experience was uncomfortable, but we happily walked home with our greasy dogs in hand. And the mustard was AMAZING, unlike any I’d had before. Much thicker and creamier. The curry powder was a nice touch.
So there ya have it! The adventure of getting standing room tickets at the Vienna Opera House. If I could do it again, I definitely would. In fact, I told my friends if I lived in Vienna I would try to get standing room tickets every night. Enjoy!
If you want the best Vienna travel guide, you cannot beat Rick Steves on Europe travel knowledge! I listened to all his podcasts before my trip, and that’s how I found out about standing room tickets at the Vienna Opera House! Definitely check out his Vienna travel guide.