Your average kid probably won’t want to spend a morning philosophising over coffee and cake before taking in a Klimt exhibition. Fortunately, like any big city, Vienna has plenty of things for children to do…
- See also: How to save on tickets
Kids in Vienna: general tips
- Children under the age of six travel free on the municipal transport system. Kids under 15 also travel free during official school holidays, on Sundays, and on public holidays. Adults should consider a travel pass. The next major school holidays are:
- December 24, 2020, to January 6, 2021 (the Christmas holidays)
- February 1-6, 2021 (the mid-term holidays)
- March 27 – April 5, 2021 (the Easter holidays)
- May 22-24, 2021 (Pentecost holidays)
- July 3 – September 5, 2021 (summer holidays)
- Under 19s get free entrance into all federal museums. This includes, for example, the Technical and Natural History museums mentioned below.
- I’ve picked out particular locations that have a strong focus on kids, but other sights in Vienna may also offer activities for children. For example, the Art History Museum and the Mozarthaus both have an audioguide designed for children.
- If you have a pram, you should be fine getting around. See the article on accessibility in Vienna.
- Should your kids be like mine, and remain surgically attached to their screens for most periods of the day, Vienna has plenty of WiFi hotspots.
Tips for children’s activities
All you probably need to know about Schönbrunn Zoo is that it has giant pandas in it. Not to mention various other bears scoring maximum points on the cute scale.
Obviously, the zoo is a paradise for kids and you can easily lose a day in here. There’s plenty to see and do, but I particularly recommend:
- The rainforest house: a giant split-level glasshouse that mimics the climate and vegetation of that ecosystem. Full of free-roaming birds and fruit bats, as well as enclosures with otters, turtles, lizards, snakes and more.
- The aquarium: especially the underwater tunnel and the large coral reef display.
- The adventure playground: lots of opportunities to slide, climb, swing and generally muck around for a few minutes.
- The sea lion feeding: plenty of squeals and splashing
(More info on Vienna zoo)
Haus des Meeres
And if you haven’t had enough of animals, there’s the Haus des Meeres: a huge aquarium and terrarium located in an old flak tower. It has, for example, a lovely multi-level tropical house with free-ranging birds and monkeys.
Oh, and plenty of crocodiles, snakes, and sharks (not free-ranging) for that little extra touch of excitement. Be sure to go up to the rooftop restaurant for a snack afterwards and enjoy the amazing 360° views across Vienna.
(More info on Haus des Meeres)
One final animal-based suggestion before we move on – the Imperial Butterfly House, which they refurbished in late 2019.
The butterflies are quite beautiful and it’s a small hothouse, so won’t take long to get round. It’s also right next to some of the main sightseeing spots, so you can use it to keep the kids happy between palaces and paintings.
(More info on the Butterfly House)
The Children’s Museum in Schönbrunn Palace
Yep, there’s a clue in the title. The Kindermuseum Schloss Schönbrunn in the Habsburg summer palace complex gives youngsters an insight into life as a member of the Imperial family in the 18th century.
The best bit is the dressing up area, where the kids can put on period costume and pretend to be little princes and princesses (or Archdukes and Archduchesses to give them their proper title).
(More info on the Children’s Museum in Schönbrunn Palace)
Natural History Museum
Another museum which entertains kids by default. Three particular tips:
- The dinosaur hall (yep, dinosaurs!) has an animatronic model of an Allosaurus (a bit like a T-Rex) and the giant fossilised dinosaur poo rarely fails to elicit a delighted response from the children.
- Gallery 15 has a little photo installation that takes your picture and morphs it into a prehistoric humanoid.
- That prehistory section also includes a video installation that projects you onto a wall wearing centuries of different fashions
The museum shop has a huge variety of toys and other items if you need to bride/reward the kids at any point (you can go into the shop without a ticket, too).
(More info on the Natural History Museum)
Spanish Riding School
If your children are at least three and like horses, then make sure to take them to the Spanish Riding School.
Tickets to performances can be tough to come by, but you can watch the white stallions train most mornings fairly easily. This Morgenarbeit is fairly relaxed, so you can leave without any fuss if the kids have had enough.
(More info on the Spanish Riding School)
Giant Ferris Wheel and Prater
The Ferris wheel (Riesenrad) sits at the entrance to the Prater, a long expanse of fairground rides, arcades, roller coasters, and restaurants, not to mention a huge park area.
(Note that not all Prater attractions stay open in the colder months.)
The Riesenrad is an iconic Vienna experience, made famous through cameos in such films as The Third Man and Before Sunrise. Kids enjoy the ride up top and the views over the city, especially if they come with the promise to explore more of the entertainment on offer nearby.
(More info on the Ferris Wheel)
Opposite the Ferris Wheel is Madame Tussauds, which needs no introduction. Some of the waxworks are quite Austria-specific, but many are not.
For example, get your selfies with numerous international stars, such as Daniel Craig, Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, Benedict Cumberbatch, Katy Perry or Johnny Depp. (And Audrey Hepburn, my personal historical crush.)
There’s even a little bit of an educational aspect, with a section on WWII (which somehow manages to combine Anne Frank and Brad Pitt).
And if you’re at Madame Tussauds, then note that the Chocolate Museum is next door. Just saying.
(More info on Madame Tussauds)
Time Travel Vienna
A relatively new attraction in the centre, this is a quick immersive tour through Vienna’s history. It’s kept lively for kids with a 5D show, virtual reality, animated models, and various special effects as you find yourself, for example, in a WWII air raid shelter or a plague pit.
(More info on Time Travel Vienna)
As a museum of science and technology, there are big machines to gape at and – most importantly – numerous buttons to press. But the Technical Museum also has various areas dedicated to younger visitors. For example:
- If you have young kids, the “mini” and “mini mobil” sections are large play areas where toddlers can mess about in all sorts of creative environments. Both can get busy, though, as they make excellent play date venues for local families, too.
- If you have older kids, the “in motion” exhibition invites them to explore the world of mobility with 30 interactive learning stations.
(More info on the Technical Museum)
“I love the smell of popcorn in the morning,” to (mis)quote that kids’ favourite, Apocalypse Now. If you want to catch the latest Marvel blockbuster or Disney release, many cinemas show films in the original English.
Try the Haydn, Artis International or Burg, in particular, for kid-friendly movies.
(More info on English-language cinemas in Vienna)
The above should keep them entertained. And there’s always ice cream (try Zanoni on Rotenturmstrasse, just down from Stephansdom cathedral).
Here’s a map of the locations mentioned…