Things to Do in Vienna With Kids
Last Updated: April 3, 2018
As some of my attentive readers may remember I visited Salzburg, Austria with a group of friends. I teamed up with a family of three to explore the central part of Europe and the Greek islands. After spending four days in the City of Mozart, we decided to gather information about some of the highlights in Vienna to pay the Imperial City a visit. It wasn’t my first trip to Vienna, but I was still looking for a chance to broaden my horizons. With a charming pedestrian area in Vienna’s city center, a number of kid-friendly museums and a park, there are plenty of things to do in Vienna with kids.
For my 2 days in Vienna itinerary, I have put together an ultimate guide filled with a memorable food scene, beautiful baroque architecture, and family-friendly attractions. Vienna stopped being an imperial city a hundred years ago. But this eclectic city retains many of its cultural traditions today. In this post, I wanted to show how we spent three days in Vienna with a kid.
1. Explore the Center of Vienna
The first thing that comes to mind upon thinking about Vienna – you just can’t skip exploring the Inner City. Vienna’s Inner City used to be surrounded by a vast medieval wall meant to keep out unfriendly armies. Now with that wall dismantled in the 19th century, you can stroll down a large boulevard that’s now called the Ringstrasse (Ring Road).
The best way to explore the historic Inner City is by simply wandering through it. I love exploring the old quarters filled with wonderful ambiance northeast and east of the splendid Stephansdom (St. Stephen’s Cathedral) – including Domgasse, where Mozart lived. Like in Salzburg, there are plenty of shops and buildings dedicated to Mozart. But before heading to explore them we also paid a visit to an area between the Opera and Votivkirche.
When you only have two or three days in Vienna, take a tram ride around the Ring Road. On our first day in Vienna, we went with a city’s public tram just to make things easier. Take the №2 tram counterclockwise from the Opera House and then switch to the №1 tram at Schwedenplatz. Some of the city’s busiest streets are Kärntnerstrasse and Kohlmarkt. Both streets are pedestrianized and worth visiting because of its street performers.
2. Time Travel Vienna
This is a fun way to learn entertaining facts about the history of Vienna and keep kids entertained. The main reason to attend this 50-minute partly guided tour is the 5D cinema ride. You will get the chance to meet the Austrian imperial family, learn all about the masters of music from Beethoven to Mozart through an engaging and educational show. I’m glad we could attend this tour because, with audioguides and multimedia show, it makes the entire process both entertaining and enjoyable. Free of charge with the Vienna Pass.
3. Explore The Museums Quartier
With all the things to see and do in Vienna, you don’t have to be an avid museum-goer to have fun in the Museums Quartier. The area is home to several most significant museums and design exhibits in Europe. There are also wide open spaces, lovely cafe, and a number of open-air events throughout a year. If you do want to know what these museums have to offer for families, check the hubs of theater, art, and culture for families – Dschungel Wien and the ZOOM Children’s Museum. Those interested in photography and architecture exhibits should not miss the Albertina art museum with an impressive array of art, including permanent and temporary exhibitions.
4. Hofburg – the Habsburg dynasty’s Imperial Residence
Once an awe-inspiring winter palace of the Habsburgs, the Hofburg Palace now includes the Austrian President’s residence, museums, chapels, Treasury and the Spanish Riding School. This vast complex is conveniently situated along the southern part of the Ringstrasse and was among the highlights of our Vienna itinerary. Depending on the age of the kids and your own interest, there are several sections you should know about before going to the Hofburg Palace:
Imperial Apartments — This is where Emperor Franz Joseph and his wife, Elisabeth (aka Sisi) used to live. There’s also a Sisi museum, which features the apartments, ornaments and silver collection.
Imperial Treasury – while this museum isn’t very large, I would definitely recommend doing some research before going there. Home to some significant and priceless artifacts, which look almost new, yet are upwards of 1300 years old. Going there with kids is an enriching experience. You can buy a combined ticket for €20 to get free access not just to Imperial Treasury but to Kunsthistoriche museum on Maria Theresia Platz as well.
Spanish Riding School – Such poise. Such grace. This traditional riding school is home to 72 Lipizzan horses that made us stand in awe. This is one of the world’s oldest and most famous equestrian centers that offers public performances and a number of delightful morning sessions. We weren’t lucky enough to attend a performance, instead, we proceeded with a much cheaper morning practice session. You can buy tickets at the box office near Josefsplatz, or get them online to avoid lines. Kids have to be at least 3 y/o to attend performances.
Hofburg Music Chapel – I always considered attending Mass a sublime experience. On most Sunday mornings from September to June, the Vienna Choir Boys sing at Mass at the Hofburg Chapel. The Chapel is relatively small because it was designed for the Imperial family. So you will find that most of the seats are in boxes. You have to get tickets to hear the Boys singing but if you’re on a tight budget you can also enjoy the Mass on a large video screen in the lobby.
The Augustinian Church (Augustinerkirche) – situated on the side of the Hofburg, it is, in fact, one of the oldest parts of the palace. Once part of a monastery, it is the final resting place for 54 members of the House of Habsburg. The Church has a popular Sunday Mass that’s performed with a choir and orchestra.
5. Seegrotte Hinterbrühl
Yes, I know it’s almost impossible to condense the things to do in Vienna with kids in a list of 10. But I just couldn’t have skipped Seegrotte Hinterbrühl underground lake on this list. Located about 35 minutes drive from Vienna’s center, Seegrotte is actually the largest underground lake in Europe.
While the cave wasn’t on our list of things to do in Vienna that time, it’s been a while since my last trip there. This mysterious cave was once a gypsum mine that had grown into several levels with dozens of caverns. When an underground blasting operation went wrong, most of it was flooded and sometime after the cave was turned into a tourist attraction. Today you can attend a guided boat tour that will take you through an elaborate labyrinth of chambers. I still remember that shallow water with the old railway tracks can be seen in it.
The most interesting thing about Seegrotte is that it was turned into aircraft assembly plant shortly after the Anschluss. There is a small exhibition featuring some original parts of “Heinkel HE 162 Volksjäger” – one of the fastest aircraft during WWII.
6. Schönbrunn Palace
Visiting Schönbrunn Palace was like re-reading my old history books. This UNESCO Site used to be the imperial summer residence of the Habsburgs for many decades. And it was turned into a museum after the collapse of Austro-Hungarian empire. Schloss Schönbrunn is an extremely popular attraction in Vienna. So it usually gets very busy when summer sun reaches its zenith. But when we arrived on a rainy autumn day, and the entire site felt like we had it completely to ourselves.
When it comes to visiting an impressive Schönbrunn Palace with kids, I should say it is far more family-friendly than the Hofburg. Located just a 15-minute subway ride from the city center, it may take a whole day to explore it. Depending on your interest and the weather, you, of course, can shorten your trip by sticking to the highlights. I love revisiting places where I have been, that is why I was happy to include Schönbrunn Palace in our Vienna itinerary.
With a mixture of formal gardens and a parkland, along with its own zoo and an amazing 18th-century hedge maze, Schönbrunn Palace also offers short and long guided tours. I can’t recommend obtaining Vienna Pass enough. It can come in handy if you plan on attending the Grand Tour and the Apple Strudel show, visiting Children’s museum, Orangery, the Zoo and Imperial Carriage museum. All these come for free through Vienna Pass.
7. Lainzer Tiergarten
Home to over 850 wild boars and deers, the Lainzer Tiergarten is the largest park in Vienna. Located on the western outskirts of Vienna and 25 minutes from downtown, this nature reserve is perfect when it comes to a short hiking trip. There is no fee to enter the park, and you can reach it by riding a metro to U4 Hütteldorf station.
This special recreation area has been a popular spot to unwind for decades. If you visit it on weekdays chances are you will be the only person there. Even if you don’t into admiring the great panoramic views of Vienna or hiking in the woods, the forest is worth visiting because of splendid Hermes Villa. That is where Elisabeth of Austria escaped the hustle and bustle of the Imperial Court.
Here are 25 things to do in Vienna from my friend Jordan!
8. Prater Amusement Park
While you can face some really mixed reviews about the Wiener Prater Park in Leopoldstadt, Wurstelprater is still one of the oldest amusement parks in the world. It can be easily reached by using either line U1 or U2. Wurstelprater is best known for its 19th-century iconic Ferris wheel (The Wiener Riesenrad). It slowly takes you on a vertical circuit allowing plenty of time to take photos and enjoy the panoramic view of Vienna. Visiting Prater was a relaxing way to end our first day.
The best thing about the park is that anyone can visit it free of charge. The downside is that you have to pay individually for rides, which can add up quickly. The entire place is filled with street vendors, but I saw families with their own food in the park. Apart from rides and games, there is a three-mile-long boulevard (Hauptallee) and a dedicated small area for little kids. You can also hop on a funny Prater Train or rent a rickshaw to explore the park.
With more than 120 stalls around here, Naschmarkt is the largest and very popular market in Vienna. Situated at the Wienzeile over the Wien River, the market may offer things you have never seen before. While locals come here to do their Saturday morning shopping, there is far more than just exotic foods and spices.
Every time I’m creating my Vienna itinerary I set aside some time for the Flohmarkt. It is where I can spot treasures among the junk. The flea market is open every Saturday and you can find it right after the Naschmarkt. It is one of the coolest places to go vintage hunting. So you can expect to see some old books, records, old postcards, carpets and, of course, toys.
We spent three hours here, negotiating prices and watching people. And I think it is pretty amazing just to watch the old stuff vendors have to offer. They usually sell vintage railroads, toy cars, and dolls. Thus, visiting this place is definitely an unusual thing to do in Vienna with kids.
10. Waldseilpark Kahlenberg
This nature-friendly rope park offers a range of 15 high ropes courses with varying difficulty levels. These courses are suitable for youngsters and adults. While there are several rope parks around Vienna, Waldseilpark is the one that Mia loves the most. Climbing in the rope park allows training basic motor skills such as endurance, flexibility, strength, and coordination. As you climb through setups of ropes, swinging bridges, platforms, and zip lines, there is also a chance to enjoy the spectacular views of the area around. Kids must be at least 110 cm tall to enter the easiest courses.
I love Vienna. Of course, the city has much more to offer than what I have mentioned on my list. When it comes to picking things to do in Vienna with kids, there are also amazing cafes, astonishing music scene, horse-drawn carriages to name a few. Now it is your turn. Have you ever been to the Imperial City? What are your favorite things to do in Vienna?