Visiting Vienna with kids confirms why the Austrian capital was named the most liveable city in the world for 9 years in a row. There are so many cool things to do in Vienna for kids that our 6-day family trip wasn’t nearly long enough.
Our 6 days in Vienna got off to a bumpy start when M got sick on day 1. But I’m convinced the great choice of child-friendly museums, parks, and other attractions contributed to his speedy recovery. And did I mention the fact that a doctor came to see us in our hotel room?
Here is our summary of all the cool things to do in Vienna with kids, tips for eating and drinking, and which hotels are family-friendly. You’ll also discover that there is a surprisingly big selection of free things to do in Vienna for kids.
5 reasons to visit Vienna with kids
- Any city that was named the best city to live in (for the quality of living) nine years in a row (from 2000 to 2018), must be family-friendly too.
- While Vienna hasn’t entirely escaped the mad rush of mass tourism, it’s nowhere near as bad as other European capitals such as Paris or Rome.
- Many, and I mean MANY, attractions and museums in Vienna are free for kids.
- There are plenty of uncrowded green spaces and pedestrian areas in Vienna where kids can run wild.
- The variety of things to do in Vienna with kids is endless. From watching twin pandas in the world’s oldest zoo to “conducting” the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra to dressing up like emperors and empresses – it’s all possible in Vienna.
Top 10 cool things to do in Vienna with kids
Vienna Museum of Technology
If your kid excitedly runs from one museum exhibition to the next it’s only natural to wonder if there’s a catch. Maybe it’s because it was the first place we went to after M spent almost 2 days cooped up in a hotel room? We seriously doubt it after spending an entire morning in the Vienna Museum of Technology without any of us getting bored.
When a bunch of local families is standing in line to get into a museum before it opens on a Sunday morning, you know it must be something special. But despite the big number of visitors, it never feels crowded inside. The Vienna Museum of Technology is BIG. And there are so many interactive stations for curious minds to get hands-on experience that kids aren’t frustrated by not getting a turn.
Distinct areas focusing on different aspects of technology make it easy to navigate the Vienna Museum of Technology. The fact that there are simple-to-understand explanations in English, is an added bonus.
There are lots of buttons to press for entertaining examples of action and reaction. Find out what it’s like to travel 1,000 kms an hour around the gardens of Belvedere Palace, take a cable km ride in South America, stand in a hot air balloon, record your time on a speed slide, and present the news.
Only the railway collection of the Vienna Museum of Technology is almost worth the entrance fee. There are more than 60 large-scale exhibits, including the court saloon carriage of Empress Elisabeth.
Parents of very small children will be delighted by the MINI Mobil area. Here, kids between 2 and 8 can ride on cars, fly a model airplane, launch a rocket, and play dress up.
|MUSEUM OF TECHNOLOGY BASIC INFORMATION|
|Entrance fee||€13 (adults), kids under 19 free!|
|Opening hours||Monday to Friday: 09:00 – 18:00|
|Saturday, Sunday, Public Holidays: 10:00 – 18:00|
|Address||Mariahilfer Street 212, 1140 Vienna|
For an extra fee of €3,50 (adults and children), you can watch a high voltage demonstration or tour an underground coal mine.
TIP: Combine a visit to the Vienna Museum of Technology with an afternoon or morning at Schönbrunn Palace. The two are only a 10-minute walk apart.
From the Vienna Museum of Technology it’s just a short walk to Schönbrunn Palace, so that’s where we headed next.
Of all the Viennese Palaces, Schönbrunn is the best one to visit with kids. Not only is there a special children’s museum but the gardens and park are like one giant playground. And don’t forget the Schönbrunn Zoo which deserves its own separate section below.
Start your visit to Schönbrunn with a plan to avoid wandering around aimlessly. You can even split up to ensure every member of the family enjoys the outing.
I used my Sisi Ticket to go on a grand tour of the Schönbrunn Palace interior, while C and M headed straight for the maze. It’s fun avoiding the dead ends before climbing the platform in the centre to watch other people getting lost.
But the maze isn’t the only cool thing to explore in this part of the Schönbrunn Palace gardens. The Labyrinth is also home to climbing poles with sound-effects, water gargoyles, and a jumping station. And in the Labyrinthikon playground, there’s an Archimedes screw and unique bird climbing frame to make sure the kids spend all their excess energy.
|Note: While walking around the gardens and park is free for everyone, an entrance fee to the Schönbrunn Maze and Labyrinthikon is charged. Tickets cost €5,50 for an adult and €3,20 for children between 6 and 18.|
While M wasn’t particularly interested in the Schönbrunn Children’s Museum, I can imagine that little girls might find it fascinating. Here, children of three and over discover what it was like to be the child of an emperor. It includes dressing up and learning “court manners” such as the correct way to address the imperial couple.
Adults pay €8,80 to enter the Children’s Museum and kids from 3 to 18 pay €6,70. For a few Euros more, you can also buy a combination ticket for the Schönbrunn Maze and the Children’s Museum. You can find all the Schönbrunn ticket details here.
Your kids won’t give two hoots that this is the world’s oldest zoo, but they will love the giant panda twins Fu Feng and Fu Ban. Or any of the other 700 plus species from anteaters to penguins for that matter.
The Schönbrunn Zoo entrance is not even a 5-minute walk from the main palace building. It was on our itinerary during our first family trip to Vienna. You’ll need at least four hours to thoroughly enjoy it. This means you can easily plan to spend an entire day in and around Schönbrunn Palace with kids.
Schönbrunn Zoo is well laid out with lots of shady resting places between the animal enclosures. There’s a South America Park where the anteaters live, a Polarium for the penguins, and guess who lives in the ORANG.erie?
For a unique view of Schönbrunn Palace and the outskirts of Vienna, you must walk the treetop trail. In the new Giraffe Park, you can also look the African longnecks in the eye from the 3-metre high gallery.
|SCHöNBRUNN ZOO BASIC INFORMATION|
|Entrance fee||€18,50 (adults) and €9 (kids 6 – 17)|
|Opening hours||Daily from 09:00 to 16:30 from November to January, to 17:00 in February, to 17:30 from March to October, and 18:30 from April to September|
|Address||Schönbrunner Schlosspark, 1130 Vienna|
Haus der Musik / Vienna House of Music
The Vienna House of Music is a great way to introduce kids to music and composers in the music capital of the world. The Viennese certainly know how to successfully introduce interactivity to museums.
Walking up the “piano stairs” to the first of five floors of musical exploration is a taster of what awaits. Conducting the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and rolling a virtual dice to compose a waltz and hear it played back to you are just some of the activities for kids to create music magic in the Vienna House of Music.
The prenatal listening room is filled with the sounds a baby hears in the mother’s womb. In the adjacent sound gallery, you can listen to some beautiful and not so beautiful sounds. If you don’t know what a Pfurtz (fart) sounds like, you will after a visit to the Vienna House of Music 😊. (Although M wasn’t convinced the sound was authentic 😊).
|VIENNA HOUSE OF MUSIC BASIC INFORMATION|
|Entrance fee||€13 (adults), €6 (kids from 3 to 12), and €9 (kids from 12 to18)|
|Opening hours||Daily from 10:00 to 22:00|
|Address||Seilerstätte 30, 1010 Vienna|
Time Travel Vienna
If you want your kids to learn at least a little bit of Viennese history, then Time Travel Vienna is the place to go. In 50 minutes, you’ll journey through 2,000 years of Viennese history by way of a 5D cinema, magical Fiaker ride, and Viennese waltz to mention a few.
Time Travel Vienna is an underground experience in the former wine cellars of St Michael’s monastery and has a bit of a “ghost tour” feeling to it. You’ll get a rat’s eye view of ancient Vienna from the top of St Stephen’s Cathedral, see “bodies” move in the plague pit, find out what it felt like in an air raid shelter in WWII, and listen to the Habsburgs having a go at each other.
The tours are in German, but English audio guides are available. Tours start every 20 minutes, so there’s not really long waiting times. However, they do recommend making a reservation on weekends.
|TIME TRAVEL VIENNA BASIC INFORMATION|
|Entrance fee||€19,50 (adults) and €15,50 (kids 5 – 14)|
|Opening hours||Daily from 10:00 to 20:00|
|Address||Habsburgergasse 10 A, 1010 Vienna|
TIP: If you buy your Time Travel Vienna tickets online before your visit, you get quite a substantial discount.
|We visited the Vienna House of Music in the morning and Vienna Time Travel in the afternoon of our 2nd day of sightseeing. They are within an easy walking distance from each other in the historic city centre. In between, we walked down the pedestrian zones of Graben and Kärtnerstraße, taking in sights such as St Stephen’s Cathedral, the Plague Column, and St Peter’s Church. And don’t forget to stop for coffee and cake in one of Vienna’s famous coffee houses!|
Even if you don’t know what the Prater is, you must’ve heard about the Vienna Giant Ferris Wheel or Wiener Riesenrad that was built in 1897 to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of Emperor Franz Josef I.
At the entrance to the Prater amusement park, the Vienna Giant Ferris Wheel is still as big an attraction today as it was over 100 years ago.
“If you haven’t once in your life taken a ride on the Giant Ferris Wheel and enjoyed the breathtaking views over the roofs of Vienna, you haven’t really been to Vienna at all.”
That’s what the official website of the Vienna Giant Ferris Wheel says and that’s what we did. M found it a bit slow, but while his mom and dad were enjoying the golden hour views over Vienna, he used our elevated position to check out the rides in the amusement park.
The Wiener Prater is a large public park in Vienna’s 2nd district. Known as the Wurstelprater, the Prater amusement park is the oldest of its kind in the world.
Be warned, there are hundreds of rides and stalls with the potential to make a huge dent in your wallet. The best is to give your kids a fixed allowance with which they must make do. The individual rides cost anything from €1,50 to €5,00 per ride.
M and I went on a roller coaster and he challenged his dad to a bumper car dual. He also won a keyring with target shooting. In true Prater style, we ended our evening with a sausage and drink from the Würstelstand Bitzinger.
|WIENER PRATER BASIC INFORMATION|
|Park entrance fee||Entering the Prater is free, with the different attractions and rides charged individually|
|Giant Ferris Wheel ticket||€10 for adults and €4,50 for kids (3 – 14)|
|Website||www.wienerriesenrad.com / www.praterwien.com|
|Address||Riesenradplatz 1, 1020 Vienna|
Prater Opening times
The Giant Ferris Wheel goes every day of the year except for about 10 days in January when it’s closed for maintenance. The opening and closing times vary slightly according to the different seasons, so always check here before you go.
The Prater amusement park is also open all year although most of the rides are closed in winter, with exceptions during holidays and on good-weather days. The main season, when everything is open, is from mid-March to the end of October.
More Prater attractions for families
- Madame Tussaud’s Vienna is directly opposite the Giant Ferris Wheel entrance on Riesenradplatz. A highlight is the interactive Sisi Uncovered experience.
- The Prater Museum takes you back in time to when the former imperial hunting grounds were opened for the public’s enjoyment in 1766.
- Stepping off the Giant Ferris Wheel, you can reach for the stars in the Vienna Planetarium.
- A special winter market, basically a Christmas market, from mid-November to the first week in January.
- Become a chocolatier in the Vienna Chocolate Museum.
House of the Sea – Aqua Terra Zoo
Get this – Vienna’s aquarium is in a former WWII anti-aircraft tower in Esterházypark. (One of the fascinating facts we learned on a Big Bus Tour 😊)
The Haus des Meeres or House of the Sea – Aqua Terra Zoo is home to more than 10,000 creatures living under the water as well as on land. The latter includes crocodile, monkeys, and fruit bats which can be seen in Krokipark and the House of the Tropics.
Surrounded by 500,000 litres of water and schools of fish in the Atlantic Tunnel, it must feel as if you’re in the middle of the ocean.
Sadly, we didn’t have time to go inside the House of the Sea. But judging by the lines to get in (mostly locals on a school holiday morning) I think the place must be a hit with kids.
|HOUSE OF THE SEA BASIC INFORMATION|
|Entrance fee||€18,50 (adult), €8,40 (6-15 years), €5,60 (3-5 years)|
|Opening hours||Daily from 09:00 to 18:00, and Thursdays to 21:00|
|Address||Fritz-Grünbaum-Platz 1, 1060 Vienna|
Play in a park
More than half of Vienna’s metropolitan area is made up of green space. You will encounter many gardens and parks while out sightseeing with your kids. It’s generally safe to just let them run wild or use the play equipment if there is.
Some of the gardens M played in on our trip, are Schönbrunn Palace, Belvedere Palace, the Volksgarten, and Wienerberg Nature Reserve. The latter is adjacent to the Arion Cityhotel, the first hotel we stayed in. It was great to have all that natural space to move around in and watch the sunset after a day out sightseeing.
In summer, the Danube Island is an open-air paradise for sport and nature enthusiasts. Here, you can try from swimming to stand-up paddling and climbing to jumping on trampolines and taking a boat ride.
The CopaBeach near the Reichsbrücke on Danube Island is a free beach and recreational area, complete with loungers, sunshades, sand, and tropical plants.
Spanish Riding School
Although we only had time to peek into their stables, attending the morning exercise of the famous Spanish Riding School is on our list of things to do on our next visit to Vienna.
The famous Lipizzaner stallions are still performing the same dressage tricks as 450 years ago when the Spanish Riding School started. You can watch them perform some of these tricks during their morning exercise.
If you’re unable to attend the exercise, you can also go on a behind-the-scenes guided tour or even watch a gala performance of the “white ballet”, as the horses are sometimes referred to.
If, like us, you want to have a quick, and free, look at the horses in their stables, simply head down Reitschulgasse from St Michael’s Square in front of the Imperial Palace. There are big viewing windows into the Stallburg, as it is called, from where you can watch the horses and their handlers.
|SPANISH RIDING SCHOOL BASIC INFORMATION|
|Ticket prices||From €13|
|Opening hours||Depends on performance|
|Address||Michaelerplatz 1, 1010 Vienna|
Note: Kids under 3 are not admitted to the Spanish Riding School in Vienna.
Visiting the Butterfly House or Schmetterlinghaus provides a great change in scenery when out sightseeing in Vienna’s historic centre. It’s part of the bigger Imperial Palace complex right behind the Albertina Museum.
There are literally hundreds of free-flying exotic butterflies in the Tropical Butterfly House. See if you can spot the beautiful Blue Morpho Butterfly.
|VIENNA BUTTERFLY HOUSE BASIC INFORMATION|
|Entrance fee||€7 (adults), €5,50 (schoolchildren/students), €4 (3-6 years)|
|Opening hours||Daily from 10:00 to 18:15 (Apr-Oct) and till 15:45 (Nov-March)|
|Address||Burggarten, 1010 Vienna|
Disclosure: We received a media kit from Vienna Tourism which included white Vienna City Cards, Sisi Tickets and press accreditation for the Museum of Technology and the House of Music. As usual, all opinions are our own.
How to save money when visiting Vienna with kids
Visiting Vienna with children need not break the bank. There are many cool things to do in Vienna with kids that don’t cost a cent. And if you do visit attractions with an entrance fee, there are ways to pay less.
Entry to over 30 museums in Vienna is free for kids under 17 or 18. They include the brilliant Museum of Technology, Belvedere, the exhibition section of the Zoom Children’s Museum, and the Natural History Museum.
Here are my tips for saving money on your family trip to Vienna:
- Do research about all the things to do in Vienna with kids. Make a list of everything you find interesting. Use this to draw up separate lists for “must-see” and “maybe”.
- Check the entry fees of attractions on your must-see list and add them up for each person in your group.
- Now, compare the prices of the Vienna City Card, Vienna Pass, and the Flexi Pass with the entry fees on your list. In my opinion, a combination of the red Vienna City Card (free travel on public transport) and the Flexi Pass can be a good deal if you’re visiting at least 3 high-cost attractions.
One child up to the age of 15 travels free with every Vienna City Cardholder. It also gives you discounts to many attractions, restaurants, and cafés in Vienna. We used it to get a discount at Time Travel Vienna, the Giant Ferris Wheel, and the maze at Schönbrunn. The Flexi Pass is a lot cheaper than the Vienna Pass and includes all the cool things to do with kids in Vienna.
- If breakfast isn’t included in your hotel rate, you can end up paying €15 per person extra for breakfast. In this case, check if there’s a café or bakery near your hotel where you can find a much cheaper (and probably nicer) breakfast with better coffee. Aida in Mariahilfer Street was a great choice for us.
- Carry water bottles and fill them up at one of the many free drinking water fountains scattered around the city.
- Buy sandwiches from a bakery or supermarket and enjoy them in a nearby park for lunch.
- If you’re looking at eating in a restaurant at least once a day, opt for lunchtime. The reason is that many restaurants have special lunch menus with a starter and main or main and dessert for under €10.
- On Sundays and public holidays, all children under 15 travel free on the Vienna’s public transport.
Eating and drinking with kids in Vienna
Schnitzel, Würstel (sausages), cake, pastries, and open sandwiches are all hits with kids. Thank goodness they also count among the staple foods of the Viennese.
Schnitzel – Most Viennese restaurants have Schnitzel on the menu, some also in a kids’ portion. The real Wiener Schnitzel is from veal and more expensive (anything from €16 to €20). Pork Schnitzel is much cheaper (from €8).
We had 4 Schnitzel in just as many days. They all came with different accompaniments – from potato salad and parsley potatoes to a mixed salad and French fries. Sometimes you get lingonberry sauce with it and sometimes ketchup (tomato sauce).
Würstel – For in-between hunger pangs or something on the go, a sausage with bread from a Wiener Würstelstand is ideal. The most popular and arguable the best-tasting sausage to try is the Käsekrainer. Currywurst, another favourite, is a sausage smothered in curried ketchup with curry powder sprinkled over. I also tried the Burenwurst but wasn’t impressed.
Cake – Your kids won’t complain if you want to taste all of Vienna’s famous cakes. Besides, visiting a famous Viennese Coffeehouse like Café Sacher or Demel where you are served by waiters in formal black and white attire, is an experience in itself.
Naturally, you should try the Sachertorte at Café Sacher and the Klimttorte in Café Klimt. Then there are Schokotorte, Jogurttorte, Apfelstrudel, Linzer Torte – and too many others to mention. Take a look at the displays where possible and decide what you want before sitting down.
TIP: We found Café Sluka in Kärtnerstraße to be very family friendly. The waitress kept on bringing us glasses of ice-cold water to quench our thirst. Don’t get stuck in the front of the café. There are many beautiful seating areas at the back, with a “hidden” entrance in Weihburggasse.
Open sandwiches – A fellow South African who regularly visits Vienna put us on the trail of Trzesniewski, a Viennese institution for over 100 years.
With 23 different toppings on small dark bread slices, all laid out on a counter for you to choose from, this is a great brunch or lunch venue with kids in Vienna. M loved the colourful mashed pea and carrot topping. At €1,30 apiece, you can get a variety of sandwiches for everyone to try.
The original Trzesniewski, which opened in 1904, is on Dorotheergasse off Graben in the historic centre. You can check their website to find more branches.
Maybe not as healthy as Trzesniewski, but not unhealthy either, is Duran Sandwiches. Gourmet toppings on mostly fresh white bread are what makes this open sandwich maker stand out.
We discovered Duran while walking down Mariahilferstraße and simply had to sample some of the delicious-looking sandwiches.
Both Trzesniewski and Duran sandwiches are the perfect size for little ones to hold and bite into.
Krapfen – You can’t visit Vienna with kids and not introduce them to Krapfen. These are doughnut-like treats with fillings in the middle. The best-known and most popular Krapfen is the Marillenkrapfen which is filled with apricot jam. For the moment, a Vanillekrapfen, filled with vanilla custard, is M’s favourite. You’ll find Krapfen in any decent bakery and even some cafés.
Family-friendly hotels in Vienna
Of course, it wasn’t possible for us to stay in them all, but I did do thorough research before making our choice based on our budget. We stayed in:
- Arion Cityhotel – It’s not fancy, but the location next to the Wienerberg Nature Reserve is great. We loved our room with a balcony looked out over the trees. The 3-bed room was huge and the best place for M to recover from his tonsillitis. The hotel kitchen made a good schnitzel at a good price which we could have in our room. A direct bus from the Vienna Opera stop about 4 minutes away from the hotel. The journey is no longer than 15 minutes. However, finding more public transport options can be tricky if you don’t know the city.
- Arthotel Ana Boutique Six – Kids stay free when sharing a bed with their parents. However, we paid €30 for an extra bed for M for 2 nights. The rooms are much smaller than Cityhotel Arion but the location more convenient for sightseeing. The Mariahilfer shopping street and Zieglergasse U3 station is a 3-minute walk away. The breakfast at Art Hotel Ana Boutique Six isn’t great but there is free coffee and tea in the reception at all hours.
Some of the other family-friendly hotels that looked good are:
- Falkensteiner Wien Margareten – Close to the city centre and the 2 main train stations. The Falkensteiner Wien Margareten make families feel welcome with a gift for the kids, children’s corner at breakfast, and Falky Corner play area. They also organise family events inside and outside the hotel.
- Jufa Hotel Wien City – Large family rooms, a chill lounge, buggy rental, and a play corner with table tennis and more make this hotel a hit with families visiting Vienna.
- Hotel City Central Wien – Vienna which is especially family-friendly, with staff trained to make children feel welcome and special. Family rooms consist of two interconnected bedrooms. There are also three apartments where families can cater for themselves if they wanted to.
- a&o Hostels – Really affordable but simple, but functional family accommodation where children under 18 sleep free in their parents’ room. There is one near the main train station and one near the city hall.
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