For the active
On hot days, the Island in the Danube is a 42-kilometre open-air paradise where you can swim, skate, climb, cycle, waterski or play beach volleyball. The lively Copa Cagrana shore, north of the Reichsbrücke bridge offers plenty of places to enjoy a refreshing soda and a snack without breaking the bank.
A night in the jungle
For budding Tarzans, the Schönbrunn Zoo, in the grounds of the imperial palace, boasts over 500 species, including elephants, orang-utans, crocodiles and giant pandas. Originally founded in 1752 as an imperial menagerie, it claims the title of the oldest zoo in the world. The modern rainforest house is a veritable adventure, and a walkway between the tree tops at a height of ten metres offers a marvellous view of the palace, the zoo and the city. Two other essential locations for animal fans: the Aqua Terra Zoo, set in the Esterhazy Park, where you can get up close to snakes and saurians, and the Imperial Butterfly House, a beautiful art nouveau structure in the centre of the city where hundreds of tropical butterflies fly free.
At the imperial palace
A big group of brothers and sisters, and a huge park to play in. That sounds like it should appeal to most kids, doesn't it? Poldi, the friendly ghost of Schönbrunn Palace says that a guided tour of the Schönbrunn Palace can make it a reality. At the end of the visit, the kids can dress up as princes and princesses in period costumes, dance the elegant dances of the court and learn to bow and curtsey like royalty. They'll even get an audience with the Empress Maria Theresa, the last of the House of Habsburg and mother of Marie Antoinette. The Hofburg Palace in the centre of Vienna also offers tours of the Habsburg royal apartments designed for younger visitors.
Free entrance to museums
Vienna has museums to suit all tastes from the extensive art collection of the elegant Belvedere to the Albertina with its collection of over a million old master prints, from the Johann Strauss Apartment where the maestro wrote the Blue Danube Waltz museum to the Haydn House museum where Haydn lived and died. And in most of the more than hundred museums to be found in the city, entry is free for children and young people under 19. On the Museumsplatz, you'll find the wienXtra information centre, which offers information about museum-based workshops and cultural activities as well as the full range of leisure activities for families and children in the city.
Fun at the Prater
The great Ferris wheel of the Prater is one of the iconic symbols of Vienna. But with 250 attractions, that's clearly not the park's full story. The roller coasters and ghost trains are bound to cause a shriek or two, while the hall of mirrors is good for a laugh. There are pony rides, and carousels, bouncy castles and even a jungle river ride. A less frenetic kind of fun is to be found at the Planetarium, where you can discover the secrets of the universe, or at least of the night sky. The Kuffner Observatory also offers a treat for those interested in the stars, including the chance to see the heavens through a telescope dating from 1886.
A sensorial approach to music
The award-winning Haus der Musik – the Music House – is an interactive discovery museum in the heart of the city where the kids can discover that music is not only about listening, but can be seen and felt, too The six-floor building not only lets the kids learn about the history of music but gives them a real sensorial experience of music.
Behind the scenes
The Schönbrunn Palace puppet theatre, the Niedermair children's theatre, the Lilarum, the Dschungel Wien and the Youth Theatre, all hold performances for children, but at the Josefstadt there are sessions where the children get to see behind the scenes while parents enjoy the matinee performance. There are visits to the workshops, and the costume department as well as a chance to experiment with greasepaint.
At Minopolis, a 6,000 square metre city built on a scale for for children, there are 25 different thematic areas where little ones from age four to 12 can play at being adults and get to try out their hoped-for profession through play, whether it's doctor, journalist, fireman...
On wet days
BOGI Park, Austria's biggest children's fun park, offers games, sports and activities for children up to age 12, including fairytale grottoes, climbable volcanoes, and a specially designed area for the very youngest... Family Fun is another option, with all sorts of fun activities including bouncy castles, giant slides, trampolines and go-karts.
A number of Vienna hotels offer special deals for families travelling with children:
Wien City Centre (Meininger City Hostels)
Novotel Wien City
Hilton Vienna Danube