Vienna is like Paris in that it gives off a sense of intellectual romance – the palatial home of the Hapsburg royal family, the former capitol of a vast wealth empire, the culture that inspired so many artists musicians, and intellectuals and the glamour of the Viennese Waltz and Vienna’s balls. We will be travelling with children though so we won’t have a chance to sit in a cafe and drink endless cups of espresso soaking in the ambience. Sitting still is not an option when you have kids. Luckily, family fun in Vienna is easy to find because there are plenty of things to do in Vienna with kids.
We’ve come up with five things to do with in Vienna with children in addition to just generally walking the city looking for interesting sights (and those delicious Viennese cakes). After multiple trips to Vienna, we have added some more sights in Vienna for families that we found in our travels. Vienna is seen as a sophisticated city of history and culture but there’s also plenty to do in Vienna for children.
5 Things To Do With Children in Vienna
I’ve put together 5 things that to do in Vienna with kids. Armed with a plan, you can march confidently into this beautiful city knowing what to do in Vienna with kids.
1. The Spanish Riding School
The Spanish Riding School in Vienna and their Lipazzaner stallions are famous around the world among equestrians. Next year will be its 450th anniversary. My daughter is at the age where she is still very horse-crazy.
Watching white horses prancing around should go a long way towards providing fodder for her princess-dreams. You can book tickets directly at the Spanish Riding School website but unfortunately it is all in German. We booked tickets through Vienna Tickets so I could understand what I was paying for!
Be careful though in what tickets you get. The morning practice was not as interesting to the children as the actual show where the horses perform jumps and dances. Our first time in Vienna, we went to the morning practice and the next time we went to the actual performance. My kids much preferred the show even though it was more expensive.
2. Vienna Boys Choir
I grew up listening to the Vienna Boys Choir Christmas CD every Christmas. So, of course, if we are going to be in Vienna in the prelude to Christmas, the boys’ choir was on the list of things to see and do. Can I tell you that it was a magical experience?
You can get tickets to the Vienna Boys Choir Mass at the Hofburg Palace on Sunday morning through Vienna Ticket. Sunday church and a cultural event – how’s that for multi-tasking??
3. The Prater
The Prater is nostalgia-driven amusement park which is perfect for kids who are still a little bit afraid of the full throttle of modern amusement parks. We discovered that there are some crazy scary rides too for older children and teens.
The season for The Prater runs from Spring to Autumn but the rest of the other year,, the giant ferris wheel and a few of the other rides will be open. It’s a pay per ride system which is cost-effective in the off-season (not so much when all the rides are open!).
Next door to the Prater is a lovely park which is beautiful to spend time in when the weather is good. It seems the entire city comes out to sunbathe. We rented a 4 person surrey bicycle and had loads of fun pedalling around the city.
4. Therme Wien
A thermal spa in Vienna after we have been hiking around in the cold outside? Yes, please. My friend describes Therme Wien as a cross between a community pool (but cleaner) and an upscale mineral spring spa (but noisier).
There are different thermal pools in this complex AND a separate water slide area for the children. We went once during a saturday night and we discovered it was either families or couples! A place that is good for either date night or family night is not something a lot of places can advertise.
5. Haus der Musik
Vienna is renowned for its musical tradition, and you can’t possibly visit the city without going to one of its famous museums. We”ve chosen Haus der Musik which bills itself as an interactive sound museum.
For example, there are exhibits where you can practice being a conductor or listen to what it sounds like inside your mother’s womb. Don’t expect it to be a serene experience but the kids will have fun. My kids liked the staircase with the piano keys and the exhibit where you can conduct your own orchestra. I thought they would like the in-utero room but they completely freaked out. Bad memories of a claustrophobic twin experience??
We’ve heard Mozart’s House, where the composer lived from 1784-87, has great children’s tours as well.
Other Ideas for Spending Time in Vienna With Kids
We have several more suggestions on what to do in Vienna with kids. You wouldn’t think of it as a particularly family-friendly city but there’s plenty of family fun in Vienna to be had.
Tour The City
Even though we did not take a hop-on hop-off tour of Vienna, I think it is a great way to introduce children to a new city.
We opted instead for that old tourist favourite – a horse and carriage ride through Vienna’s historic streets. My kids really enjoyed the horse-drawn carriage ride clip-clopping down the street.
Visit More Museums!
There are dozens of museums in Vienna. Trying to convince my kids to do more than several would be a challenge. Here are some of our choices:
The Schonbrunn Palace for Children (next door to the Schonbrunn Palace) has fun things for children to do , including dressing up in period outfits. Unfortunately, the tours are in German but we still had fun.
We also visited the Haus des Meeres based on the recommendation of our friend who was living in Vienna. He said his other friends with kids rated this aquarium located in a world war II battery tower. Both the building and the aquarium was cool and a good thing to do in Vienna with children.
Visit At Christmastime
Christmas in Vienna is magical with the city all decorated and Christmas markets everywhere you turn. There are alcoholic gluhwein for the adults and non-alcoholic versions for children. Different markets have different cups for the gluhwein for which you can pay a deposit. Return the cup and get a deposit or keep it as a cool souvenir. My kids were so enamored with the cups that we went to Christmas markets just to collect cups.
Check Out the Imperial Palaces
The Schonbrunn Palace is pretty cool to visit inside and outside there is a maze.
We also visited the imperial apartments at the Hofburg which has a great collection on Empress Sissi. She had everything – wit and beauty, gorgeous clothes, a husband who adored her, a large family and even an empire but she was still unhappy. My children were especially impressed that she could order the equivalent of room-serviice from the Demel Cafe.
Go to to the Vienna Zoo
The Schonbrunn Zoo is the oldest zoo in the world and it has … pandas! My kids adore pandas and before their trip to China, this zoo was their first experience with pandas.
Indulge in Cake
In a city filled with patisseries, you could easily put on some serious weight if you are not careful! The Viennese appreciate their cakes of all kinds. We went in search of the best of the famous Sacher Torte (a rich chocolate cake with a jam filling) which originated in the city. It was gluttonous, but it was fun!!
Enjoy the Food
My kids could live on schnitzel (a thin slice of veal, pork or chicken covered in breadcrumbs and fried). Along with dumplings and goulash (a tomato beef stew) and spatzle (cheesy noodles), you should be able to feed your kids easily.
We also enjoyed kasekrainer (Viennese hot dogs which can come with cheese pumped inside). We had to agree with conventional wisdom that the Bitzinger sausage stand does have the best kasekrainer in the city even though the service was terrible. The food is hearty and definitely filling as we found at Plauchettta, a restaurant known for its classic Viennese food.
Have you been to Vienna with children? Do you have any more suggestions to add?