The Prater contains around 6km2 of open woodland, meadows and long water features, with footpaths, cycling paths, the perfect road for runners, and an official hiking trail (Wanderweg 9) that takes you on an 11km loop around the whole park.
- Wander past the amusement park before hitting nature
- Extremely flat with excellent paths
- Filled with playgrounds, skateboard areas, sports meadows and similar
- Take the trail to reach parts rarely seen
- Take a detour for some remarkable modern architecture
- End the trail or day in a gastro-quarter for your well-earned drink or meal
- See also:
The park area
The public have enjoyed the fresh air of the Prater since 1766, when Emperor Joseph II decided to share the woodlands and hunting grounds with his subjects. Much has changed since then, of course, with notably fewer sword-bearing horsemen travelling the numerous paths through this extensive park.
Good quality cycle paths and footpaths crisscross the whole area, though all pale in comparison with the broad Hauptallee that cuts right down the middle of the Prater from almost one end to the other.
Emerge from Praterstern station and a few steps take you to an underpass and the start of the wide, perfectly-straight 4.5km boulevard whose origins began in the early 1500s.
The trees lining both the route and the smaller paths that flank the sides offer plenty of shade, making the Hauptallee a popular resource for walkers, joggers, runners and cyclists.
The boulevard ends at a circular plaza with roads and paths shooting off in all directions. So you can continue out to, for example, the Danube canal or the Danube itself, visit the Lusthaus or other restaurants on or near the plaza, or simply circle round and go back down the Hauptallee.
The length and condition of the boulevard are such that Eliud Kipchoge chose the Hauptallee for his successful 2019 attempt to run a marathon in under 2 hours: the INEOS 1:59 challenge.
Bikes, trains and segways
Since the Hauptallee links up to other cycling paths (and the wider road network at either end), it’s one of the more popular routes for bike tours and similar.
Various places will rent you a bike or segway for your trip around the Prater. These places, for example (at the time of writing):
- Segway Flotte
- Almradler (rent a rickshaw-like bike)
- Radverleih Hochschaubahn (rent various kinds of bikes)
The WienMobile bike system also has two stations close to Praterstern.
(One of my most memorable Prater moments was seeing England fans travelling to the match against Austria on the Liliputbahn in great excitement.)
Wanderweg 9 – the Prater trail
Naturally, you’re free to explore the Prater on foot. One of the official city hiking routes (Wanderweg 9) actually circles around the park from one end to the other on an 11km route.
Look for the Stadtwanderweg 9 signs, and the authorities also kindly provide an online map (zoom in):
My tip would be to do the trail anticlockwise. That way you finish up at the amusement park with its various restaurants. So you can flop down and reward yourself for your walking endeavours with some traditional Austrian fare.
Wanderweg 9 starts you off at the Hauptallee just outside Praterstern station (U1 and U2 lines) before branching off to the right at the monument to the Viennese composer Carl Michael Ziehrer (1843-1922).
You then continue past some of the park’s recreational facilities, such as a mountain bike course, skate park, beach volleyball courts, slackline facilities and open meadows for ball games.
The first “nature” highlight is the Konstantinteich water feature, where we spotted herons and turtles.
Back in 1873, the Prater hosted the World Exhibition and the spoil from construction works created the small hill (the Konstantinhügel) you can still see today alongside the large pond.
After more sports facilities, including the home of the Austrian Baseball Federation (!), the Wanderweg becomes a proper park trail.
The route takes you alongside meadows and through woodlands on well-kept, entirely flat paths. Though you will still find yourself encountering reminders of the urban surrounds, most notably as you cross under the A23 motorway, where I’ve spent many happy hours sitting in traffic jams.
After some time, you’ll reach that central plaza that marks the end of the Hauptallee, home to the Lusthaus summer house (once used by the Habsburgs for rest, relaxation, and festivities). The Lusthaus itself is now one of several restaurants in this area, should you need a break.
Continue on past the Lusthaus to reach a part of the Prater park rarely visited by most. You trace the route of a long elongated water channel that once formed an arm of the Danube.
(The river used to shift around in the past, so you often find relics of its previous meanderings throughout Vienna.)
You turn back at the end of the narrow lake, where you’re actually quite close to the Danube itself, with more woodland walks and another waterway (the Prater Heustadelwasser) to liven up the hike back.
Once you reach the end of the Heustadelwasser and cross the Hauptallee, you’re into sparse woodland and park again.
You might consider taking a few detours off to the north here, since some quite intriguing architectural highlights await the curious hiker, including the national stadium and the astonishing buildings of the new campus for the Vienna University of Economics and Business.
Finally, the trail skirts the edges of the amusement park before returning you to the Hauptallee and your starting point at Praterstern.
That route actually passes two of Vienna’s most popular open-air eating establishments: the Schweizerhaus and Kolarik’s Luftburg.
To discover more of the Prater’s attractions, check this overview.