Vienna, a city with a serious luxury factor, and a generous amount of green space is bursting with attractions including historical palaces, UNESCO sites, and the world’s oldest zoo. We love visiting the capital of Austria and compiled a list of our favourite things to do in Vienna with kids.
Explore a Garden
As a frequent traveling family, we know that ample green space or a great beach is a prerequisite for a quality vacation, and Vienna boasts glorious green all over the city. Our favorite gardens are the Schönbrunn Palace Gardens, Belvedere Palace Gardens, Burggarten, and Volksgarten.
Schönbrunn Palace Gardens
The former summer palace of the imperial family is a UNESCO cultural heritage site and the most visited attraction in Austria. The extensive gardens at Schönbrunn Palace have something for everyone – garden mazes, labyrinth, playground, flower beds, fountains, or quiet spot amongst the trees. You can read more about touring the interior of Schönbrunn Palace Visit a Palace.
Be sure to visit the Schönbrunn Maze and test your skills. Once you find your way through the highest maze, you can climb to a viewing platform and watch people try to find the path through the towering hedges. There are numerous mazes with varying hedge heights so small children can have some fun while you keep an eye on them.
Stretching between the Upper Belvedere and the Lower Belvedere, you will find graceful gardens designed in a French style by Dominique Girard. These manicured gardens include impressive water features, statues, and room to roam. If you need another reason to visit the Belvedere, you can read more about this remarkable attraction under Visit a Palace.
Also known as the Gardens of the Imperial Palace, the lush Burggarten is home to a magnificent statue of the musical genius Mozart.
The elegant Volksgarden is the first garden we visited in Vienna, and one that we love to return to often. Located near the famous Ringstrasse, this lush garden contains over 400 varieties of roses, comfortable benches and shady spots for relaxation. The accessible Volksgarden is designed to encourage you to smell the flowers. Be sure to look for the statue of Empress Sisi tucked away in a quiet corner.
Listen to Music
Haus der Musik (House of Music)
If you are looking for a playful, experiential and educational music experience, you will love the multi-level House of Music! Play the piano by running up ‘piano-key’ steps, roll dice to compose a tune and conduct the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra – this is all possible at the House of Music.
Visit a Cathedral
St. Stephen’s Cathedral
St. Stephen’s Cathedral is one of the greatest Gothic structures in Austria and gorgeous inside and out. For a unique experience and impressive views of Vienna, consider climbing 343 steps to the tower room in the South Tower. If an elevator is more your style, visit the North Tower for a ride to the top.
Experience the Spanish Riding School
Watching stallions prance around in a beautiful baroque arena adorned with crystal chandeliers, red velvet, and ornate carvings is a magical experience. The program at the Spanish Riding School varies with the season and during the summer months, the famous white stallions enjoy a break in the hills. During this time the Lipizzaner foals, their mothers, and young horses take over the arena. The performance is called Piber meets Vienna because it showcases the future stars from the Lipizzaner Stud Piber.
Discover the Danube
The centrally located Danube Canal offers a range of things to do in Vienna with kids during warm weather. Choose from pedestrian walkways, outdoor restaurants, boat tours and outdoor pools.
The Badeschiff, a floating pool, allows you to swim on but not in the Danube. During summer months, this pool welcomes children and adults during the daytime and serves as a bar in the evening.
Visit a Palace
A luxury family travel guide to Vienna wouldn’t be complete with a visit to a palace and in Vienna there are plenty.
The Belvedere is two Baroque palaces connected by expansive 17th-century gardens, and the gardens are just one reason to visit the Belvedere. It was interesting to learn that Belvedere comes from ‘bel’ meaning beautiful and ‘vedere’ meaning to see; this makes perfect sense give the impressive views of the city from the Belvedere Palace.
A gigantic Incredible Hulk statute welcomed us into the main lobby of the Upper Belvedere setting the stage for a fun-filled experience. I was expecting a more serious atmosphere at the home of the world’s largest collection of Austrian art and loved discovering these playful touches throughout the museum.
The Upper Belvedere is also home to the world’s largest collection of works by Gustav Klimt, including his well-known piece The Kiss.
While The Kiss and other Klimt works may be considered suggestive, many of his pieces appeal to children. Our kids enjoyed the playful landscapes of Sunflower, Avenue in the Park of Schloss Kammer and Poppy Field.
The Lower Belvedere contains seasonal exhibitions so be sure to check the current schedule online.
For a more grown-up experience, tour the many rooms inside the Schönbrunn Palace and imagine life as a royal.
After all of the sight-seeing, sit down and enjoy a yummy treat while you learn how to make Viennese apple strudel at the Strudelshow in Schönbrunn Palace’s Café Residenz.
Hang with the Animals at Tiergarten Schönbrunn
Tiergarten Schönbrunn, also known as Schönbrunn Zoo or Vienna Zoo, is the oldest zoo in the world and recognized as one of Europe’s best. Founded in 1752, and formerly reserved for the exclusive use of the Habsburg family, the Schönbrunn Zoo is home to at least 500 creatures.
The children loved every minute, and a visit to the Schönbrunn Zoo is undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Vienna with kids.
Wander the Ringstrasse
The 5.3 kilometer Ringstrasse boulevard, celebrating a 150 year anniversary this year, is home to numerous historic buildings. Walk or cycle along the majestic thoroughfare, lined with approximately 2400 trees, and visit sites including the Vienna State Opera, Museum of Fine Arts and luxury hotels, such as the Hotel Imperial.
Vienna Ring Tram
If you prefer to experience Vienna’s beautiful boulevard from the comfort of a tram, hop on the Vienna Ring Tram. LCD screens inform passengers about highlights along the Ringstrasse, and a children’s audio program is also available. The Vienna Ring Tram runs year round from 10.00 am to 5.30 pm and departs on a lap of the Ringstrasse every 30 minutes from Schwedenplatz.
Live like Royalty
The Hotel Imperial offers luxurious, family-friendly accommodation located on the fabulous Ringstrasse. Constructed in 1863 as the Vienna residence of the Prince of Württemberg, the Hotel Imperial became a luxury hotel in 1873. Presidents, chancellors, kings, queens, princes, princesses, and countless other VIPs often enjoy the elegant surroundings and world-class service offered by the Hotel Imperial.
- Plan to spend a full day at the Schönbrunn complex. Explore the 160-hectare site on foot or via a diesel-powered train. A train tour includes nine stops and takes about fifty minutes. Trains run daily between 10:00 am and 6:00 pm and stop at the Gloriette and Schönbrunn Palace every hour and every half hour. Restaurants are located throughout the site. Purchase tickets to Schönbrunn online or onsite.
- Don’t miss the Apple Strudelshow at Schönbrunn Palace’s Café Residenz. The price includes the apple strudel demonstration, a piece of strudel, coffee, tea, or hot chocolate, and a copy of the original apple strudel recipe.
- Purchase tickets for the Belvedere online or onsite. The Upper Belvedere is located above the Lower Belvedere so it is physically easier to visit the Upper Belvedere first and then walk downhill towards the Lower Belvedere. Allow extra time to explore the extensive gardens between the Palaces, stop for a drink and a snack at a café, and browse the family-friendly gift shops.
- Download the free Belvedere Museum App for tablets and smartphones. This app includes information on the Belvedere Palace, pictures from the art collection, and additional visitor information.
- Purchase a 48 or 72 hour Vienna Card and receive more than 210 discounts at popular attractions, restaurants, shops, plus enjoy free travel on Vienna’s public transport system.
- For the best seats, book tickets to the Spanish Riding School in advance using the online ticket purchase option.
- Explore the online travel guide for Vienna for the latest happenings and information on city attractions.
Our most recent visit to Vienna was part of a collaboration with The Vienna Tourist Board. As always, my opinions are my own. Thank you to Schönbrunn and Belvedere for supporting our visit and providing press photos.