The Parter park allows you to relax to the sounds of nature as you sit beneath a green canopy. Or you can swap the trill of songbirds for the thrill of the fair in the Wurstelprater: home to restaurants, rollercoasters, and the Riesenrad.
- Large expanse of open-air attractions
- Everything from simple carousels to adrenalin-rush rides
- Includes the Giant Ferris wheel and Madame Tussauds
- Notable for several popular restaurants, too
- No entrance fee: you pay as you go
- See also:
Food and fun
When locals talk abut the Prater, they often mean just one part: the largely open-air entertainment complex (actually called the Wurstelprater) rather than the wider area that includes woodlands, walks, meadows and more.
Consider the Wurstelprater a huge mix of old-timer funfair and modern amusement park.
Your options range from classics like pony rides, a ghost train, dodgems, and mini-golf through to high-adrenalin activities like indoor sky diving, the Black Mamba ride, or the 117m-tall Prater Turm (which terrifies me just looking at it).
How does it work?
This is not an amusement park in the pay-once-to-go-in sense as the area is freely-accessible 24/7. You buy tickets for each ride, location, or activity separately, though various discounted combination tickets may be available.
As such, you can just wander around enjoying the sights and sounds without paying anything. Most of the action starts in the late morning and continues until late at night. The area stays open all year round, but many attractions only open from spring through to early autumn.
A few highlights deserve special mention…
As you approach the Wurstelprater from afar, one iconic landmark dominates the view: the star of the big screen that’s the Giant Ferris Wheel (or Riesenrad to give it its local name).
(Press photo © Madame Tussauds Wien)
Vienna’s branch of the famous wax figure museum sits opposite the Riesenrad on the main entrance square to the Wurstelprater.
Madame Tussauds has a visitor-friendly mix of local and international figures within: pose with Beethoven and Beyoncé, for example, or sit on Freud’s famous couch.
Vienna’s main planetarium lies just behind the Riesenrad, offering various shows in the afternoons and evenings. The building also hosts a small museum covering the history of the Prater (a much larger museum should open in 2024).
Food and drink
Needless to say, the Wurstelprater offers numerous places to eat and drink, whether a simple snack or a full-blown meal. One or two locations, however, have entered Viennese folklore. For example:
When Vienna reopened after the early 2021 lockdown, leading politicians posed for photos here in the large outdoor seating area. This tells you something of the standing the Schweizerhaus enjoys locally.
A place of large glasses filled with foaming beer and larger plates filled with traditional Viennese dishes, most notably their Schweinsstelze (knuckle of pork).
A huge location with a vast amount of outdoor seating. Popular with families, largely thanks to its own adjoining children’s entertainment area. Surprisingly and wonderfully, the entire menu at the Luftburg is organic.
Located in a pavilion built for the 1873 world exhibition, the Meierei looks out onto the tree-lined Hauptallee that runs through much of the Prater park. The dessert menu seems like a good place to immerse yourself in the sweeter side of Viennese cuisine.
Not a restaurant, but an event: the Wintermarkt counts as the Wurstelprater’s equivalent to a Christmas market.
From mid-November to early January, the main square in front of the Riesenrad fills with booths selling seasonal food and drink, with some fast food options thrown in, too, to keep the kids happy.
Another annual event with a strong gastronomic element to it. The Wiener Wiesn festival brings the Oktoberfest tradition to Vienna: big tents, folk music, food, and beer in remarkably large glasses.
Of course, if you tire of the excitement and entertainment, the wider Prater has much to offer in the way of nature trails, for example, and even an architectural surprise or too. See here for an overview.
How to get to the Wurstelprater
Subway stations flank the entertainment complex.
Praterstern station marks the main entrance to the Prater and the Wurstelprater and is best for reaching the Riesenrad. Take the U1 or U2 subway line or trams 5 and O to get there.
The Messe-Prater station on the U2 subway line takes visitors to the huge exhibition centre that hosts such events as the Vienna Comic Con. It’s also just a short walk from the eastern end of the Wurstelprater.
Address: Riesenradplatz, 1020 Vienna | Website