Vienna with kids – How to enjoy a city break with children
Navigating a city break as a family can be daunting, but my opinion is that if you would take the kids to visit London, then why not a city abroad? I’ve put together the information you need to enjoy exploring Vienna with kids, based on my experience on a September trip with my husband and toddler.
Vienna with kids - How to enjoy a city break with children
I’ve put together the information you need to enjoy exploring Vienna with kids, based on my experience on a September trip with my husband and toddler.
Vienna is most well-known for its musical history because composers like Beethoven and Mozart called it their home. This rich history can be seen throughout the city in opera houses, museums and thousands of souvenirs with Mozart’s face. But if your family associates Beethoven more with a friendly St Bernard dog than an 18th Century composer; there are plenty of non-musical things to do with kids in Vienna.
My top places to visit in Vienna with kids
Top of my list when planning a family city break, is looking for places to see animals. It’s usually entertaining for us all, and means good facilities like play areas, children’s menus and baby-changing.
Haus Des Meeres - open daily 9am-8pm
Literally meaning ‘house of the sea’, this is a 10-storey aquarium and terrarium filled with interesting and unusual exhibits. The excited shrieks I heard from our toddler as she watched marmosets leaping around made the entry fees worth it. You’ll walk from floor to floor through a range of habitats, seeing 10-feet long anacondas, hammerhead sharks and a giant sea turtle named Puppi.
The layout is very confusing so you do need to ensure you walk through every door, and try walking up and down every staircase because we found several small areas of animals which no one else seemed to visit.
Being an indoor attraction, it gets very busy on a rainy day so I recommend getting here at 9am and booking your tickets in advance to avoid queues at the door. We had to leave our pushchair in front of some fish tanks on the ground floor, and there are two elevators which you can use. We spent just under two hours here, but you could stay longer and visit the rooftop restaurant or café. There’s also a play area behind the building for the kids to let off some steam afterwards. Entry was 22 EUR an adult, 6.50-10 EUR for children and under 3s go free.
Schonbrunn Palace Park - open daily
Schonbrunn Palace is a UNESCO World Heritage site and Austria’s most visited tourist attraction. It was historically the summer home of the monarchy and it’s set within a park and grounds so large that it has its own U-bahn station. You can pay to tour several of the grand rooms at the palace, but if you’re travelling to Vienna with kids then you might prefer the Children’s museum next door.
Here you can find out about the everyday lives of the imperial children, and use the time wheels to make comparisons to modern life. There are toys from the past to play with, and children can set the imperial dining table too. At the end of the visit they can dress up as princes and princesses. Entry is 8 EUR per person, and there are combination tickets available if you also want to visit the palace, zoo or other attractions.
There is a Baroque maze to explore, with a central viewing platform and ‘harmonising energy stones. Though at 4.50 EUR per person, I thought it was a little expensive for the size of it.
The palace park itself is free to enter and it’s huge. You could spend over an hour walking around and exploring, with several ruins and statues to find. There are horse and carriage rides available as well.
Tiergarten Schonbrunn (Vienna Zoo) - open daily
Vienna Zoo is the oldest zoo in the world, and one of the best that I’ve visited. I recommend following the trail of paw prints around. It took us three hours with a lunch stop, and meant we saw every animal there. You could of course spend shorter/longer there, particularly if you spend time at the parks and play areas.
There are over 700 species of animals here and they do a lot of conservation work. My highlights were the hippos; I hadn’t seen them out of the water before and was in awe of how huge they were. We also loved the giant pandas, elephants, giraffes, rhinos and polar bear. A top tip is to watch the sea lion feeding; it got busy 15 minutes before the start but was really entertaining.
Adult entry was 24 EUR, children 14 EUR and under 6s free, though there were family passes and combination tickets available.
Natural History Museum (Naturhistorischesmuseum) - Open Weds-Mon
In the Museum Quarter are two, near identical grand buildings which face each other onto a monument for Empress Maria Therese. One is an art history museum, and the other is the Natural History museum. There’s an impressive entrance hall, complete with marble staircases.
The extensive array of taxidermy isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but it is awe-inspiring to see. The sheer number of animals and birds on display was impressive, and provides a way for children to see all of these species. There are also several dinosaur skeletons to see, as well as a Planetarium should you wish to buy a ticket.
We were disappointed that there was a 14 EUR admission fee per adult, given that the equivalent in London is free to visit, but under 19s don't have to pay.
The Spanish Riding School - dependent on training and performance timetable
For the chance to see the true elegance of the Lipizzaners, you can watch them in action at the riding school. For a cheaper way to watch, book to see one of the hour-long morning training sessions. You’ll see both the young, grey stallions and the more mature and famous white ones practise to classical Viennese music.
Alternatively, you can book tickets to a performance; but at 70 minutes long and prices starting from 27 EUR just for standing room in the gallery - only you can judge whether that’s a family-friendly activity.
More family-friendly activities in Vienna
Prater amusement park - open daily
Prater is a classic funfair, with free entry and ticketed rides and attractions. If there are a few rides you’d like to try then it’s worth getting a pass; but if you only want to go on a couple I’d suggest pay as you go. You will need cash for most of them, and there are high charges within the park (6 EUR to withdraw!) so be prepared before you go. You also have to pay for the toilets at 50c a time so have coins too.
I decided to brave the Prater Turm; a high swing carousel. For 5 EUR you can ascend 117m in the air and swing around for panoramic views of the city. It’s incredible as long as you’re not scared of heights! For smaller children there were calmer rides such as the Grottenbahn fairytale train. There are plenty of rollercoasters of different sizes, ghost trains, go-karts and a mini golf as well as restaurants and cafés.
Prater is also home to the Riesenrad, the giant ferris wheel which was built in 1897. It had famous appearances in the films The Third Man, and James Bond’s The Living Daylights. It is one of those activities that you feel you must do, and there is a charming display of old carriages with scenes from the Riesenrad’s history. The views from the ferris wheel are great, though at 13.50 EUR per adult, I did think it over-priced. The views from the 5 EUR Prater Turm are better; if you can stomach the height!
A September bonus for us was coming across Oktoberfest at Prater. It was free to enter before 17:30 and there were three huge beer tents and several small food and drink stalls. We each bought a stein of beer (11.80 EUR each!) but we all enjoyed the traditional Austrian folk music, and our toddler loved waving the flags she found on the tables.
Stadtpark - open daily
We stayed on the edge of this city park and it’s a great one to visit with kids, especially as it’s free! There is a large duck pond which our daughter loved, and also a covered sandpit area. There are several play areas with slides and swings too. Several statues of famous composers like Strauss and Schubert are dotted around and it makes for a pretty walk to go and find them.
Tips for eating out in Vienna with kids
Like any major city, you can basically just choose which cuisine you want and start from there. We usually looked up somewhere close to our accommodation but did also receive a couple of recommendations of particularly family friendly places.
Family and Friends restaurant - it was only when we turned up that we realised this is actually the restaurant of the Novotel. However, it has a kids menu, highchairs, baby-changing and a small play area with children’s TV. We stopped in for the buffet breakfast which was 20 EUR per adult. We initially thought this was expensive, but compared with paying 10 EUR for just one coffee and a pastry; it's more than worth the price. It was quite close to Prater so we went before our visit there.
Dschungel café came recommended as it’s opposite a children’s theatre in Museumsplatz. Baomi is a new restaurant with a children's play area in Vienna, and offers Vietnamese cuisine.
Personally, you can’t go wrong with a pizzeria when eating out with kids. Pizzeria Grado was just around the corner from our apartment and had a warm, family feel to it and there was a highchair. I wouldn’t necessarily travel to visit it, but if you are close by then the pizzas were excellent and the wine was lovely and a good price.
For traditional Viennese food there are a plethora of restaurants, it really depends on your budget. Children would typically be happy with the classic Wiener Schnitzel with fries and you’ll find this dish on most menus in the city. There are also hundreds of wurstel stands where you can pick up a sausage in a roll quite cheaply. Do try kasekrainer - a delicious cheesy sausage!
There is a strong coffee and cake culture here too, and again you can choose based on your budget. Hotel Sacher is the famous place to go and have the original Sacher-torte experience and it will set you back 20 EUR for your coffee and cake. Or there are multiple other places where this will be more like 10 EUR. And a hot chocolate from Demel is highly recommended.
Naschmarkt is a popular street market which could be a good option as there are plenty of stalls to sample foods from, or pick up easy baked snacks. There's a fleamarket on a Saturday which was very busy but it was fun to browse the stalls.
There are several Spar and Billa mini supermarkets around the city where you can pick up cheaper snacks and drinks for the kids. We took some tupperware and took out some chopped fruit and veg each day for our toddler. You can also drink the tap water so take a refillable bottle. Just be aware that the majority of supermarkets are closed on a Sunday.
How to get around Vienna with kids
There is so much to see and do in the city, that I will say it’s worth researching the Vienna City Card. You can get unlimited travel on public transport and free admission to loads of places; but do some comparisons to see if it will save you money.
Travel from the airport is really simple. You can get the CAT (City Airport Train) from arrivals, to the city centre in just 15 minutes but it does cost 19 EUR for a round trip per adult and children under 15 are free. Alternatively, we took the S-bahn to our nearest station Wien Mitte and this was only around 5 EUR round trip, and takes around 20-25 minutes. It was ok to get around with a pushchair and luggage; most of the trains are modern - just look out for the pram/wheelchair signs on the doors.
Once in the city, you could get around by U-bahn, S-bahn, trams and buses. I found Vienna to be quite a spread out city although the inner city is very much walkable. I’d recommend the U4 line for visiting Schonbrunn, and we walked to Prater from our apartment but it also has a large train station.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this review of our trip to Vienna with kids, and if you have any questions please get in touch.
Accommodation - Parkview Boutique Apartments
I find it much easier to book an apartment when travelling with kids; mainly to get a separate sleeping area so we don’t disturb ours. It means we can stay up and watch something on TV and have a glass of wine.
I really recommend Parkview apartments; it's located on the edge of Stadtpark so you can easily access the U4 for Schonbrunn, and Landstrasse for airport and central connections. It’s a short walk into the inner city.
We received a very warm welcome and good communication in the lead up to our booking. The reception staff were friendly with excellent English skills. The apartment itself was clean and modern and had essential facilities available like cot bed, highchair and luggage storage. We were able to check in early at midday, and there was also a smart TV meaning we could log in to our Disney+ account - lifesaver!
The 5 night stay cost us £738 for a one bedroom apartment and was thoroughly worth it.