This is not a sponsored article. I’m a journalist, though, so when we visit cities I write about it here and some places offer to sponsor some activities.
Thank you so much to the Vienna Tourist Office fore providing us with City Cards and an incredible press kit (and to Bianca for her patience and suggestions); to Zoom for providing us with tickets to Ocean (and to Nora for her amazingly quick reply); to Haus der Musik for providing me with one ticket (the staff was sooo kind).
While in Budapest for a month, we decided to spend a weekend in Vienna, and obviously we wanted to make it as toddler-friendly (and parent-friendly) as possible.
Turns out, it was easy as pie: Vienna offers so much for families that we saw as much as our turtle, uhm, kid pace allowed in 48 hours and put the rest in a wish list for next time.
Where we stayed
We stayed in district 4, at the Kaiserhof Hotel, close to the places we wanted to visit, but also to the centre: the hotel is great, the staff very friendly, the breakfast superb, and for only one night it felt like a reasonable price to stay in a better hotel.
While exploring, though, we loved district 6 or where district 6 and 7 meet, so if you have limited time in the city with small kids I’d recommend to stay there, near MuseumsQuartier.
Where we ate
We only had two sit-down meals, and funnily enough they were both in MuseumsQuartier.
Our favorite meal was at Glacis Beils, where we had a delicious (and relaxing) traditional dinner in the beautiful and hidden patio (to get to it, we climbed up and down the stairs on the right of the main plaza in MuseumsQuartier, and it felt like entering a secret world!). If you want to try the famous Schnitzel when in Vienna with kids, this is the place for you!
The other restaurant is Dschungle Café and it’s simply the perfect choice if you need a relaxing lunch where the kids can take off and play: there’s a big water-filled “mattress” that might look like not much fun, but it’s really good entertainment—Oliver and Emily did somersaults on it for hours!
You can’t leave Vienna without having a Sacher cake. On the first day, we shared one piece in Gerstner which, honestly, was a disappointment: the cafe, though, is so beautiful it’s definitely worth a visit (and the strudel looked really good, so please try it and report back ;-).
The second day, we shared the homemade Sacher cake in Dschungel and it was very good. A nice lady then recommended Oberlaa Café, but we thought a third piece of Sacher in two days was simply too much (even for us!).
What we did
This was my favorite spot in Vienna: the open spaces, the big fountain where you can wet your feet in, two (!) playgrounds (one for smaller kids and one for bigger kids, but Oliver and Emily enjoyed both), tall trees for shade, and the stunning white building of Karlskirche against the blue sky… Gorgeous!
You can even have a coffee from the kiosk while watching your kids play, or eat your packed lunch at the picnic tables, or even rent out electric scooters and scoot around the park. It’s simply perfect!
I really liked the Haus der Musik! With small kids, you won’t be able to give each room the attention it deserves and please note that there are plenty of dark corridors that Oliver was afraid of (we had to go through some areas quite quickly :-D).
But there was something for everyone to enjoy: Oliver loved playing the huge drum and naming the instruments, Emily liked listening to and guessing the sounds, and Alex and I looked and read everything as much as we could every time the kids were entertained 😉
To be honest, though, the museum is worth a visit even just to go up and down the giant Stairplay — stairs made of piano keys — that was definitely the kids’ favorite thing.
Haus der Musik opens daily 10am to 10pm: with older kids, night tickets at a reduced price are also available from 8pm to 10pm, which would make a nice, relaxing ending to a busy day after an early dinner.
I’ve visited a lot of children’s museums, but Zoom has a completely unique concept, and I loved it!
It’s not a museum where you show up, go in and play: Zoom is made of different areas and workshops at fixed times for children from 8 months to 14 years (although I personally think it’s more enjoyable when your child can already walk and explore).
As there’s a limited number of participants, I’d suggest you book in advance (which you can do easily by calling (01) 524 79 08), but you can also show up and try your luck (we booked).
We chose the Ocean area (8 months – 6 years), because it was the only one that Oliver and Emily could explore together: the kids had a blast (fishing, releasing the fish in the waterfall, driving the submarine…) and even I loved exploring every nook and cranny!
Ps. The Zoom Studio (art workshops for 3-12 year olds) looked incredible, so Zoom is still on my wish list for next time we visit Vienna!
I simply felt like we couldn’t possibly go to Vienna and not visit the Schönbrunn Palace — the Versailles of Vienna — and I’m very happy we did.
Apart from the fact that it’s stunning and I’d have loved to walk around the gardens the whole day (but we have kids, ya know!), there’s sooooo much to do for families that I’d recommend spending a long morning here (or a whole day, if you have time).
For small kids, I think the Children’s Museum is a must: you can dress up as kings and queens (clothes are separated by age) and each room has some activity and toys to explore and play with. We were there 1.5 hours, and the kids didn’t want to leave!
After the Children’s Museum you can spend some time outdoors and get lost in the Maze (which also has a beautiful playground), where you can easily spend another hour.
If you want to spend the whole day at the park, you can also visit the Tiergarten Zoo (which people seem to really like and is supposedly the oldest in Europe) or if you, like us, are anti zoos, you can cross the street and head to the Vienna Museum of Technology which was also high on my list as vehicles are always a hit with my kids.
When we arrived to Vienna, we decided to stock up on fresh fruit and nuts at the Naschmarkt, because we had read it’s a must: turns out it’s not family-friendly, it’s overpriced, way too crowded and there’s no restaurant where I’d sit down with small kids.
While I wouldn’t waste time going there with your bonsai people, if you find yourself in the neighborhood, I’d definitely pay a visit to the ice-cream shop Schelato (yes, on holiday we tend to be more liberal with our consumption of sugar 😉
We rented out electric scooters!
The first day we saw electric scooters for rent everywhere in the city (there are many companies and each has a different app, we picked Lime).
So on the second day, we decided to leave the pram at the hotel, and find scooters to ride… and I have to say it was the highlight of my trip as it made me feel like an ADULT tourist in Vienna :-D!
Emily rode with me in the baby carrier (it was so relaxing that she fell asleep) and Oliver rode with Alex and never complained for the entire 50 minutes… we all loved it!
Yes, we know that we ride electric scooters with kids at our own risk and blah blah blah, but it never felt unsafe (for us or them) and we all enjoyed it greatly.
How you can do it
This is how you could visit all these places in 48 hours (we had less time as we arrived on Saturday morning, wasted some time in Naschmarkt and on the second day we opted for scooters instead of public transport, which would have been faster).
This itinerary is based on the location of our hotel in the 4th district.
Spend a couple hours at Resselpark, walk around the park, admire the cathedral building, climb stairs, test both playgrounds, rent out electric scooters and drive it around the park, and have a snack before heading north to Haus der Musik (it’s a 800m walk). The museum will take minimum 1.5 hours, but it can take a lot more depending on your time and how much your kids like it.
Walk through the centre, have a coffee and a strudel in Gerstner, pass the majestic Vienna State Opera and ride the U2 metro for 1 stop to MuseumsQuartier (we like trying the metro in every city we visit), just in time for your 4pm workshop at Zoom Ocean (remember to check times online and book in advance).
This will take you nicely (and hungry) to dinner time at the nearby Glacis Beils.
At this point, if you’re lucky, the kids will be exhausted and will fall asleep (in the pram and/or baby carrier) while you walk back to the centre (through Burggarten park where you can take a photo with the statue of Mozart) to see the beautiful Albertinaplatz and then all the way up to St. Stephen’s Cathedral, which you can’t miss while in Vienna — kids or no kids!
After such an intense first day, I’d take the second day easy.
Have a big breakfast at the hotel, find a cafe where to buy sandwiches and a fruit shop where to stock up on fruit for a packed lunch and spend the day at Schönbrunn park, first at the Children’s Museum, then the maze and playground, and maybe the zoo or the Museum of Technology, depending on your time and your little ones’ energy and preference.
You can even decide to have dinner at the park (there are several cafes, I’d have picked Landtmann’s Jausen Station) or you can visit something by making make your way to the vegetarian cafe Yamm! in the University District, that has a nice play area for kids.
And now pat yourself on the back: you just did Vienna with small kids in 48 hours!
Still on my wish list
These are the few things that were on my Vienna collection that we didn’t have time to see (I was too optimistic :-D).
Museum of Illusion
Museum of Technology
Stadtpark park (Beautiful playground and the statue of Strauss, the creator of the Viennese Waltz).
Undertwasser House (I’m really sad we couldn’t make it to here, as I think the kids would have loved it… ok, ok, I would have loved it!)
Motorikpark (amazing playground, so cool it has its own website)