When planning our family’s 2014 trip to Europe, I was somewhat hesitant to include Vienna on the itinerary. It’s a city I’ve wanted to visit for as long as I can remember, mainly for the history and the music. But my five-year-old daughter was joining my husband and me on the trip and I thought Vienna might be a bit too formal – stuffy, if you will – for such a young child. Boy, was I wrong.
Turns out, Vienna is a perfect city for families with young children. Not only is there an abundance of fun stuff to do, it’s so easy to get around. The well-developed city public transit system is efficient, safe, and convenient. We were able to easily get around town and not once worry that we might be in danger. Furthermore, visitors can purchase Vienna Cards, which allow for discounted admission to select attractions and free use of the transit system. We had to validate our cards one time and they were good for the next 72 hours. Talk about eliminating stress! We could hop on any of the city’s transit vehicles as often as we wanted and not have to worry about first buying tickets and then validating them before each ride.
Families also shouldn’t stress about finding affordable apartments or hotels in Vienna. It isn’t as expensive as you might think. Family friendly hotels just outside of Innere Stadt, the city center, can be found for under $100 per night. We chose to stay in a rental apartment for our time in Vienna and, honestly, I think it’s the way to go. Aside from being a more economical option, it provides a chance for the entire family – children included – to live like locals. Plus, there’s the added convenience of being able to cook your own meals, which means you’ll have the chance to shop among and mingle with the locals.
As for all the fun stuff for kids in Vienna, my daughter had THE BEST time at Schloß Schönbrunn, the palatial summer residence of the Austrian Imperial Family. Admission to the palace includes the Kindermuseum, which allows visitors of all ages a glimpse into the lives of the imperial children. There’s even a section where the youngsters can don royal garb and play “imperial dress-up.” For a few extra Euros, take the kids over to the playground behind the palace where they can interact with other children and speak the international language of “play.”
I can’t talk about Vienna and not mention the famous coffee houses and the city’s historic café culture. During our time there, we willingly subscribed to the Viennese tradition of late-afternoon coffee and pastries. Yes, we brought our daughter with us to the cafés. No, she did not drink coffee; however, she enjoyed the sweets! I mean, what kid wouldn’t love a place where dessert before dinner is not only allowed but is a way of life?
Vienna is proud of its history and the Viennese still maintain centuries-old traditions. It is one of the more formal cities we have visited as a family, but also one of the most fun.