You might argue the whole of Tiergarten Schönbrunn is suitable for children. And you’d be right. But along with the animal highlights, I’ve picked out some particularly kid-friendly attractions available at the zoo…
- Top tips:
- The sea lion feeding (fun!)
- The adventure playground
- The train & wagon rides
- The new petting zoo
- Book Vienna zoo tickets* online
- See also:
Activities for children
First of all, look out for…
(A well-fed sea lion)
Who hasn’t smiled at queuing penguins, each patiently waiting their turn for a fish or two?
The map of the zoo you pick up at the entrance includes a list of feeding times throughout the day, so you can plan your schedule accordingly.
I particularly recommend the sea lion feeding (ensure you get there early enough for a good view). The animals put on quite a show with plenty of splashing.
Playgrounds and petting zoo
Several small play areas dot the entire area, but a large playground near the centre has climbing frames, tunnels, and other surprises.
This adventure area includes an adjacent petting zoo featuring rabbits, pygmy goats and Ouessant sheep (one of the world’s smallest sheep breeds) in an animal-friendly environment.
Look out, as well, for the fire salamander mini-climbing walls near the rainforest house. The small square in front of the latter also has a couple of water-driven installations to play with, which our kids always enjoyed.
Food and drink
(One of the frequent snack bars)
As you might expect, plenty of snack bars, cafes, and restaurants pop up around the zoo.
If you want to give the kids something local and different, try a langos – a fried potato snack the size and shape of a giant frisbee.
If you want something healthier, then try the organic fare usually on sale in the Tirolerhof…
The zoo continues up the hill at the far side from the main entrance, where a wooded slope leads you to the Tirolerhof.
This complex includes a farmhouse and enclosures with rare breeds, a restaurant, and a lovely organic farm shop.
The path up through the woods has some educational, themed trails (mostly labelled in German though), with nice little bonus displays, such as a wood ant nest.
One route also takes you along a raised walkway through the treetops.
Climbing the hill is a good way to tire the kids out a little, if you need them sleepy (or grumpy). Though a more comfortable alternative is…
The Zoo Train
During the warmer seasons, a zoo train runs between the Tirolerhof and the elephant house.
A ticket* cost €3 for adults and €1.50 for children the last time I checked.
A similar train (the Panoramabahn) outside the zoo offers trips around the wider Schönbrunn complex.
(The three wise monkeys)
Kids seem to love the Kumpf bronze statues dotted around the zoo, which also make great photo motifs.
Gottfried Kumpf is a famous Austrian artist whose works include statues of distinctive animal figures; the kind you might find in a gorgeous children’s picture book.
His contributions to Schönbrunn zoo include, for example, the frog prince and the three wise monkeys.
A booth just north of the hippo house hires out little pull-along open-top wagons for a small fee (€2 when I visited) and €10 as a deposit.
They’re a fun way to carry around little ones. However, if you’re planning to go through the woods and up to the Tirolerhof, then that’s quite a climb with a wagon in tow.
(Note that the rental station may not be open during less popular parts of the year.)
The big cat enclosure
(Here be cats)
I mention this not just for the tigers, leopards, and cheetahs. The big cat building includes a display area presenting conservation projects and featuring simple games that young kids might enjoy, like “Find the Red Panda.”
Also, it has buttons to press. And you can’t beat buttons to press.
Extra animal tips
(Don’t forget the pandas. I’ve seen the consequences if you do and the kids find out they missed them. Not pretty.)
Obviously all the kiddies’ favourites are inside the zoo: elephants, giraffes, monkeys, lions, etc., but let me throw out a few extra tips for you:
- If your kids enjoy (and can handle) the darker side of animal life, the indoor aquarium and terrarium have piranhas, jellyfish, giant spiders, scorpions, snakes, crocodiles, and bats. The meters and meters of glass leaf-cutter ant tunnels are kind of neat, too
- Another scary alternative is the insect house with its alarmingly large stick insects and praying mantis. Not to mention giant locusts
- The new giraffe house lets you be at eye level with these long-legged giants
- If it’s winter and snowing, visit the reindeer: perfect for regaling the impressionable with some Santa-related stories
Oh, and don’t miss the giant pandas. You do not want to be the parent who took their children all the way to the zoo in Vienna and forgot to see the panda bears.
For broader advice on visiting Tiergarten Schönbrunn, check out these visitor and ticket tips.