Vienna and "The Third Man"

The Third Man Tour

  • A minimum age of twelve years is required
  • When: between 10 am and 8 pm every hour on the hour from Thursday to Sunday from May to October
  • Where: Girardipark, 1040 Vienna, opposite Café Museum, an oversized red sewer grate and an enormous neon sign mark the start
  • Ticket reservations:
Yellow neon sign for the Third Man Tour

The "Third Man Tour" is a popular tourist attraction.

The Third Man Tour is an unforgettable way to experience the world of the film classic "The Third Man". Seven metres below ground level, visitors receive information about Vienna's sewer system and work in the sewers. Equipped with a safety helmet and a headlamp, you will explore Vienna’s underground.

The original spiral staircase from the film leads you down into one of the oldest parts of Vienna’s sewer system. The "cholera sewers", running parallel to the River Wien on its left and right, were built in the 1830s and have remained virtually unchanged to this day.


Wien Kanal and the "Third Man Tour" have a long-standing cooperation with many businesses: Time Travel Vienna, Vienna Tourist Board,, Café Museum and SchokoMuseum Wien.

Working at an iconic film location

In the catacombs of the Third Man Tour

The overflow chamber - one of the original locations of the film classic

The chase scene with Orson Welles as Harry Lime in the film "The Third Man" became world famous, and with it, Vienna’s sewer system. Today, Vienna’s sewer system is a modern wastewater management system that combines technological innovation with a long history.

The Austrian crime series "Inspector Rex" and "Kottan ermittelt" both filmed episodes here, and world-famous Austrian singer Falco shot his video for "Jeanny" in the catacombs of the sewer system.

State-of-the-art projection and lighting technology will transport you into the world of sewerage workers, film agents, smugglers and spies. The new technology will make your visit to Vienna’s sewers an even more authentic experience.

Vaulted sewer bathed in purple light

The spectacular vaulted covering of the River Wien

At the end of the tour, you can enjoy a unique view of the River Wien below ground. Below the Naschmarkt market, it flows through an enormous subterranean tunnel whose impressive dimensions are illuminated with floodlights.

Other parts of the tour

In addition to the sewer tour, the Third Man Tour includes entry to the "Third Man Museum" in Vienna’s fourth district. The Third Man Walk of "Vienna Walks & Talks" follows the film classic above ground. You can also watch the original film in the old Burgkino cinema. With the Vienna Card, you will get reduced admission at the other tour partners.

A film score becomes a classic

Projection of the title "The Third Man"

An award-winning classic set in Vienna

The world-famous "Harry Lime Theme", also known as "Third Man Theme", composed by the Viennese artist Anton Karas, was number 1 of the US charts for 11 weeks. The Third Man premiered in London on 2 September 1949. Director Carol Reed was awarded the Palme d’Or in Cannes. On 10 March 1950, the film was first shown in Austria, in the Apollo cinema in Vienna. That same month, the film received an Academy Award for Best Cinematography (Black-and-White). In the 1950s, it was only shown in the dubbed German version, and it disappeared from the Austrian screens in the second half of the 1960s. In 1979, the original English version of The Third Man was shown in Vienna for the first time. In 1980, it started playing at Burgkino, and it has lost none of its attraction to this day.

Film synopsis

Black-and-white film still: Orson Welles on a spiral staircase

Penicillin smuggler Harry Lime flees underground.

It is February 1947. In the bombed-out ruins of Vienna, misery and the black market reign supreme. The American pulp Western writer Holly Martins comes to Vienna to meet his old childhood friend Harry Lime. However, he learns that Harry died in a traffic accident. At his funeral he meets Major Calloway, the head of the British military police, who laconically informs him that Harry was one of Vienna’s most dangerous smugglers.

Holly decides to investigate his friend’s death and clear his name. On his search for the truth he meets Harry Lime’s friends and his girlfriend Anna Schmid. He gradually becomes more and more embroiled in the intrigue surrounding Harry.

Harry Lime fleeing through Vienna’s sewers

Harry Lime fleeing through Vienna’s sewers

Harry, in the meantime, has gone into hiding. He had only faked his death so he could continue to ply his flourishing black market trade with diluted penicillin in the Soviet-controlled sector.

The sewers allow him to move through the city unhindered. After being given away by a lit window, Harry manages to escape through the sewers. Major Calloway realises he buried the wrong man.

After a confrontation between Harry Lime and Holly Martins on the Giant Ferris Wheel, Harry finally meets his death in the dark, dank underground of Vienna. The film ends as it began: at Harry’s funeral on Vienna Central Cemetery.

Interesting film facts

  • Four members of the sewer brigade in the sewers

    Sewer brigade, 1945

    The film idea nearly failed from the outset due to a misunderstanding. A British officer, upon hearing about a unit of the Vienna Police Department that patrolled the sewers - called sewer brigade or "underground police" - feared the existence of a secret police working "underground" against the Allies. The officer’s mind was put at ease once he realised that it was, in fact, a regular police unit.
  • In the exciting sewer chase, we see members of the sewer brigade and workers of what would later become Wien Kanal.
  • The sewer scenes for the film were all shot in one location. The excellent camera work makes it seem like different locations were used.
  • ÖNB/Wien, S 270/66

    The entrance in Friedrichstrasse at the "Day of the German Police" 1939

    Today’s entrance to the tour via a spiral staircase is not only the original film location - it also leads the visitors to the two "cholera sewers", running along the left and right sides of the River Wien, which were built in the 1830s and have remained virtually unchanged to this day.
  • Vienna's sewer system is 2,400 kilometres long - approximately the distance from Vienna to Cairo.
  • Two thirds of the locations in Vienna still exist: In addition to the Giant Ferris Wheel and Harry’s house, you can also visit the grave at Vienna Central Cemetery.
  • Paul Hörbiger did not speak a word of English. An interpreter had to be hired to say his lines so he could repeat them.
  • The streets are wet in most scenes, although it was not raining. The fire brigade would wet the streets to make the shadows stand out better.
  • The Third Man Museum is the only museum worldwide dedicated to a single film.
  • The actor Orson Welles was doubled several times by an extra from Wien Film and not, as often claimed, by a Viennese butcher.
  • Film still:  Fingers grasping up through a sewer grate

    Still from the death scene of the classic "The Third Man"

    The famous death scene, in which Harry Lime’s fingers grasp through a sewer grate, had to be filmed in a London film studio because Vienna’s sewer grates were too thick and the openings too narrow.
  • Many scenes show Vienna although they were filmed at the studio in London.
  • Little Hansel got his role by chance when he visited his father, a lighting technician, on set.

Further information

Contact for this page:
City of Vienna | Vienna Waste Water Management
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