Vienna’s Prater really has the best of all worlds. It balances itself with intense wild rides at the amusement park like Ejection Seat (a catapult ride), calm museums like Madame Tussauds, and quiet paths along the Green. This is the place to spend a good day with family and friends.
The Prater amusement park is the second largest on the continent. With about 250 attractions and over 60 cafes and restaurants, you could literally spend the whole day there. Each ride is between 2-7 Euro and you must pay upfront at each ride’s pay booth (there are no tickets you can purchase ahead of time).
The amusement park is open all year round, but to experience all the attractions you have to visit between March and October (the high season). But, the off-season has a lot to offer, too. Many Oktoberfest activities are held here (through the Wiener Wiesn-Fest), as well as Halloween events and a Winter Wonderland for kids where a snow-making machine bursts out white snow.
While there is so much to discover and explore at the Prater, there are a few highlights that I think should be mentioned. Here is a list of the top five things you can do in Vienna’s Prater:
1. Take a Ride on the Giant Ferris Wheel
The Giant Ferris Wheel (Das Wiener Riesenrad) is an iconic symbol of Vienna. Erected in 1827 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Emperor Franz Joseph’s accession to the throne, the Ferris Wheel is a Viennese icon. Taking a ride on the Ferris wheel is a must for visitors at the Prater (and Vienna, in general).
The ride itself is 12 Euro for an adult ticket, and 5 Euro for a child. You can purchase them online, or in person. To get onto the ride and in one of the red and white cabins, you first walk through an entertaining and informational museum that shows the history of Vienna and the Prater. Then, once you’re in the cabin, you’ll slowly lift up into the air, and eventually get a birds-eye view of the incredible amusement park. Time will seem to stop when you’re up on top, and Prater will feel like your kingdom.
The Giant Ferris Wheel in Vienna’s Prater was featured in the films The Third Man and Before Sunrise. Plus, it’s open all year round, so you’ll be able to get a chance to go on it even in the dead of winter!
2. Eat Stelze at the Schweizerhaus
Located at what the Viennese call the Wurstelprater, the Schweizerhaus is the culinary/restaurant section of the park, near the Praterturm (a 117 meter swing).
The famous and loved Schweizerhaus, opened from spring to autumn, is known for their luscious green outdoor seating area, and delicious Bavarian cuisine and beers.
Being a part of the space allows you to feel immersed in the German-speaking culture, hearing the clinking of beers coming together with the (sometimes outrageous) laughter from people who drink a little too much.
The most well-known item on the list at the Schweizerhaus is the Stelze – a marinated or pre-boiled pork knuckle in a caraway seed and garlic brine. It’s roasted until the skin is crisp and comes with two types of mustards (sweet and spicy) with fresh horseradish. The Stelze is quite large and meant to be shared in a group of four.
Eating the Stelze at the Schweizerhaus is overall a must for visitors wanting to gain an authentic experience at the Prater.
3. Enjoy One or Many of the Prater’s Attractions
What is an amusement park without rides?
Those into scary stuff in Vienna’s Prater can get freaked out at Hotel Psycho (the large gargoyles at the front of the building are quite creepy). People who want a more mild experience can ride the go-karts, motor-boats and the Wild Alps – the longest and largest water fun ride in the world.
To warp your brain, the Hall of Mirrors, the Vienna Maze, and the Labyrinth are just a few highly suggested attractions.
Then, of course, there are intense rides like the rollercoasters. According to this fascinating article Das Ultimate Freizeitpark, the Prater is number one for the best rollercoasters in Europe. Three of its roller coasters are family-friendly, while seven are extreme and three are special/unique types (such as Darkrider Insider – an indoor rollercoaster in the complete dark).
Family Friendly Attractions: Don’t fret if you’ re a parent struggling to figure out if your little ones will have any fun here – they will. The amusement park is family-friendly and takes children into consideration. There are many attractions for your child (and yourself!) to enjoy:
- Hot wheeling, mini bumper cars, and swan water rides are just a few of what you can both enjoy. Even for toddlers, merry go rounds and small car rides are meant just for them.
- Parents can sip coffee from the park’s coffee house – Wiener Rösthaus– while watching their little one on their ride.
- For lunch, families can grab pizza or chicken nuggets at one of the nearby restaurants.
4. Take a Stroll Along the Hauptallee
The Hauptallee is a beautiful avenue between the amusement park and the Green Prater. The wide paths invite you to jog, cycle, and roller-skate. If you’re lucky, you can see people horseback ride here.
The Hauptallee and surrounding areas are lovely for afternoons with family and friends. You can have a picnic, watch your kids play on the playground, and explore the woods that branch off from the alley. Or even try not to have a heart attack as you watch your kids tear it up on the BMX track.
You could literally spend an entire day just enjoying what the Hauptallee and the Prater’s green area has to offer.
One afternoon my husband Aldin and I rode our bikes all the way down the avenue. We suddenly discovered a new part of the neighborhood. Beautiful houses were found at the other end of the Hauptallee. Then, on our way back we rode parallel to the avenue, which was on a meadow with a dirt path. It was an awesome experience because we were really in nature yet still in the city.
It is especially recommended to visit the Hauptallee and the Green Prater during the autumn season. Once the leaves start changing it is a beautiful sight to see.
5. Visit the Bohemian Prater
While the Bohemian Prater is not located inside the Prater, it’s still worth making the trip to come here.
Located in the 10th district of Vienna, this attraction is still connected to the Prater, but in a unique way. According to Wikipedia, the Bohemian Prater started in the 19th century when a canteen owner set up a swing and carousel for visitors at his inn.
Now, this spot is centered on family-friendly attractions and has a 90-year-old rollercoaster. In World War II, the Bohemian Prater was almost completely destroyed by bombs, and it took until 1970 to gain popularity again.
The Bohemian Prater is hands-down one of my favorite parts of Vienna. It has a much cozier, laid-back vibe, and is frankly much more peaceful than the large Prater amusement park.
Prater Has So Much to Offer
I hope you will take the best of what this list has to offer and customize your experience when you are at Vienna’s Prater. There is so much to see and do, I’m sure you’re going to find something just right for you.