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School is wrapping up and spring is here. Today on the blog, one of my favorite cities-Vienna, Austria! Hands down the most family friendly city to date for us. Interestingly enough, Vienna at one time was not geared towards children at all. But it was a fan favorite for my kids, the Haus der Musik,the Schonbrunn Palace, Stephansdom, the Prater, and some local cafes. Vienna offers so much for children, making it the perfect family friendly destination. Four days is the perfect amount of time to explore Vienna with children.
We spent six days in Vienna; unfortunately, one day my kiddos were sick and one day was bitterly cold. In the end we had about 4 full days for exploring. We attempted a walking tour, but that was the day it was in the 20’s and quite blustery. Miserable friends, that is the only way to describe the walking tour. We lasted a mere 40 minutes and bailed to the closest coffee shop-Starbucks.
What to Do:
Family Friendly Haus der Musik
The Haus der Musik, built for children and adults alike made for a fun day of learning! My kids decided it was their favorite museum. It catered to children, with lots of hands on activities. They have piano key stairs, lots of hands on activities, and brightly colored exhibits. The virtual orchestra which you could conduct was lots of fun. We enjoyed trying out some unique instruments. We learned about sound waves, what a womb sounds like, walked through several conductors’ biographies, and listened to some pretty amazing music. I absolutely do not expect anything to be in English when we visit museums in other countries, but everything was, which made it more educational for my children. They even give the kiddos an adorable scavenger hunt book, which sparks curiosity, and they learn a ton. The Haus der Musik is a great Viennese place that is family friendly.
Another favorite for my children in Vienna was Schonbrunn Palace. The palace dates back to the Middle Ages. But the inside is decorated in the Baroque period, which we studied in school. The inside of the palace is beautiful, yet quite simple compared to other palaces that we’ve visited, or even the Biltmore. Interestingly, we learned about Sisi and her marriage to Franz Joseph. According to the tour guide he loved her very much, but she wasn’t thrilled with the marriage. Have you read The Accidental Empress by Allison Pataki? There is a reason she wasn’t thrilled-if you haven’t read it I highly suggest it before going to Vienna. Did you know that Mozart played at the palace when he was only 6? He ran up and kissed Empress Maria Theresa after his performance they believe. Certainly, a palace worth visiting if you are in Vienna
They offer a wide range of tours, we chose the family pass. Unfortunately, We couldn’t visit the other palace included in the pass. After purchasing, I realized the other palace was too far away. They have a free bus, but even the bus stop isn’t right there. Consequently, we were unable to use that portion of our ticket. However, it is good for up to a year after you purchase, so if you plan to come back, hold onto those tickets. But they included the Children’s Museum in the fee, which my children highly recommend. Included in your fee is a free coat drop. Sadly, you are not allowed to take photos in the palace, but you can in the Children’s Museum. Take lots of photos in your costumes!
The Children’s Museum
The Children’s Museum was geared towards younger children, but that didn’t stop my children from loving it. Our family loves museums, check out what we did in Bucharest. When researching the museum, I read several bloggers, with no children, who went solely to dress up. My kids loved the costumes, because they’re exquisite. Even I participated in the festivities; however, I cannot lie, I stressed about lice from the wigs-even dreaming about it for weeks! Thankfully, no lice, but some beautiful photos. Have you ever seen a palace dining hall, they all have fine china. The museum had a dining hall, complete with real china. Including, real wine glasses and wine bottles for the kids. My kids thought that was the coolest part. I sat down as they served me pretend wine in a crystal glass-only in Europe. The museum is a fun place for kids and adults alike. Another example of how Vienna is family friendly.
Anyone else love cathedrals? I find the advanced techniques they used for building them fascinating. My younger two have studied cathedrals built at that time period, so it was the perfect history lesson for the day. My girls begged me to take the elevator to tower at Stephansdom so we could get some sweeping views of the city. If you decide to do this, you must have cash. Quickly, we were ushered onto a tiny elevator with about 7 other American college students. As we started the ascent, the guide gave us some historical facts about the cathedral. All of a sudden the elevator DROPPED! Everyone screamed, and the operator states that we have to go down and try again. First, I can get claustrophobic, secondly I am deathly afraid of heights, and then the elevator dropping-EEK. However, the views made the harrowing ride worth it. The intricate details on the roof tiles are incredible. As with any cathedral we have visited they do have a dress code. While most of the activities I have shared fall into the category of family friendly Vienna, this one I would reserve for older children.
The Prater-A Fun Family Friendly Vienna Activity
It seems that every big city has a Ferris wheel these days, but Vienna’s is one of the older ones. It was built in the 1800s by a British Naval engineer. Located just inside the Prater, it is a easy walk from the train station. Originally, we planned to go one evening, when we arrived, I realized you couldn’t see much, other than some lights. I made the executive decision to return the following day. My kids weren’t keen on the idea of coming back, but in the end we enjoyed the views more during the day. My plan to be there at sunset didn’t quite pan out, and we missed it. You can see for miles during the day though. It moves slow enough to get some great shots. They offer meals in the cars as well, which would be a lot of fun for children.
Right outside of the entrance near the Giant Ferris Wheel is a great park. We stopped here and played for quite awhile. If you are looking for some free entertainment, I suggest swinging by the park. They have a slide, an obstacle course, swings, a merry-go-around, and a zipline. We loved playing here after the Prater.
Gluten Free Food Options
Of course as with any vacation, I have to find gluten free for my celiacs kiddo! Check out my Bucharest Gluten Free Guide if visiting there. In Vienna, we decided that we wouldn’t be eating out much. First, the food in Vienna is very expensive, secondly my kids were sick of eating out after eating out in Bucharest. At home, we very rarely eat out, I enjoy cooking for our family, and we like to eat pretty clean. But how can you resist a good Viennese desert? I also learned the cappuccino was born here in Vienna! We found an organic grocer where I would buy pork fillets and fresh veggies to make dinner nightly. The pork was marinated in a delicious pesto marinade. We hit up one restaurant after I forgot European grocery stores are closed on Sunday.
- Cafe Hofburg-Lots of gluten free desserts here. My girls loved the mousse they ate. I enjoyed my cappuccino.
- Pizzeria Scarabocchio-Delicious gluten free Italian. Also, the nicest people ever! Get the tiramisu-it is gluten free and hands down one of the best ones I’ve eaten. The gluten free pizza was delicious as well.
- Basic Austria Bio-Natural grocery store lots of gluten free options.
- Interspar-Regular grocery store also had lots of gluten free options for cheap, bread worked out to be about $2.50/loaf.
If you are looking for the perfect family getaway go to family friendly Vienna. It is the perfect vacation, they offer something for everyone. The top two activities for us were the Haus der Musik and dressing up at the Children’s Museum. It is completely safe for a solo mom trip with the kids.