Expat Essentials

Parks in Vienna: Green spaces in the city for families, fun or just escaping the summer heat

Vienna is green.

As the spring matures into summer and leaves turn the trees emerald , it becomes clear just how green the city is. With the hot weather and storms that the city has enjoyed this spring, it has started to feel almost like a jungle in it’s lushness and verdancy. Contributing to this is the fact that Vienna is one of the world’s most open, green and natural cities (second only to Oslo).

A little over 50 percent of the city is dedicated to green spaces and parks. There are over 990 municipal parks in the city, with 95,000 trees lining Vienna’s streets and 200,000 trees in “forest land” throughout the city and the suburbs.

It is the beautiful and diverse parks that really define Vienna as a green city.

As a new father, these spaces have become more and more important to me as my son starts to crawl and walk, and I have spent a lot of time exploring them as the weather has improved. Some parks are more ornamental or palatial, but many are aimed at young families and children, possessing great playgrounds, shared spaces and sports fields.

As the school year comes to a close, I hope that this list of some of my favourite parks to go to with my new little family will help pass the hot summer days with kids under the shade of spreading branches.


18th District

One of my local parks in the 18th District has to be one of my personal favourites. Not only is it nearby, it’s connection to the neighbouring agricultural university BOKU means that there is a high diversity of plants and trees, in a rolling hilly area spotted with ponds and fountains.

Meierei Diglas

The park has a beautiful cafe (Meierei Diglas) in the centre to sit in the shade and enjoy a meal, and two large play areas for families, including football and basketball cages, a small bmx track with boxes and mounds, and even tree stumps set up for slack-lining. There is a family-learning centre set around one of the more ‘wild’ ponds so that the little ones can learn all about tadpoles and terrapins.

The centrepiece of the park is the tall and ornate brick tower on the top of the hill, commemorating the history of the land as a fortress during the Turkish invasions of the 1600s.


2nd District

The most famous, and biggest, park in Vienna is the Prater. Easily reached by the transport hub at Praterstern, the entrance to the park is the Prater amusement park, a historic family-fun attraction dating from 1897. Filled with rollercoasters and arcade games, the park also has the Riesenrad, or Ferris wheel, which until 1985 was one of the worlds biggest at 64-meters high and has become a symbol of Vienna.

But the best part of the Prater park is its size. The tree-lined avenue that runs the length of the park is 4.5-kilometers long, and the park itself is nearly 7 kilometers square. This leaves a lot of space for, well, everything.

The area hosts many many play areas, sports fields, public swimming pool and also a frisbee golf course.

Ponds and meadows are hidden amongst the trees, sometimes in areas so wild and forested that is easy to forget you are in the centre of the city. As one of the main parks, the Prater also plays host to summer camps and programs for kids, musical performances and pop-up entertainment for the whole family.

For those interested in a similar, but more rustic and antiquated version of the Prater amusement park and natural areas, the Parkanlage Löwygrube (10th District) has similar attractions and parkland, but in a slightly less-touristic style. The Bohemian Prater amusement park there is beloved for it’s quirky and old school vibe, and the open fields of the parkland help you really feel that you have left the city centre.



2nd District



22nd District

Although aesthetically quite different, Augarten and Donaupark are both parks that are relatively central to the city, but feel a world removed.

Augarten is attached to the hunting palace of Kaiser Maximilian, and is appropriately regal and ornate. Divided into geometric zones of decorative flower beds and lawns for playing and relaxing, the park definitely lends itself to the imperial European style. And yet there are still little nooks and crannies
in the trees to play hide-and-seek, and also a small water-play and paddling area for young kids in the summer.

Donaupark sits nestled alongside the Danube river on the side farthest from the city, next to the Vienna International Centre. Relatively new, the park has curving paths and natural ponds on nearly 7 kilometers square of land between the Neue- and Altedonau. The park has a cool skatepark, minigolf course and a few cafés and kiosks for refreshments and snacks.

There is also a butterfly meadow, packed with flowers and plants that attract insects for children to discover. Best of all, both sides of the park touch the river where you can jump in to cool down on those hot summer days.

Lainzer Tiergarten


17th District


Lainzer Tiergarten

13th District

For something a little more wild and forested, there are two large parks in the northwest and southwest of the city, pressed into the hills of the Wienerwald (Vienna woods). Both of them are more nature preserves than city parks, and consequently feels less ornamental and more natural.

Schwarzenbergpark stretches from the Neuwaldegg neighborhood up into the hills, connecting to the Stadtwanderweg 3 and many hiking and mountain biking trails. Despite it’s more woody character, there are also nice playgrounds along the stream through the park.

For dog owners, the park is a popular destination as there are many meadows and areas where the dogs can run free.

In Lainzer Tiergarten, by contrast, it is forbidden to have dogs off the leash. The 24-kilometer-square nature reserve is huge and incredibly beautiful, and home to a few different species of deer and wild boar.

For real nature with trails that stretch through rolling wooded hills, Lainzer Tiergarten is the most untouched natural parkland connected to the city, only a few steps from the Hutteldorf train and underground station.

The area affords expansive views over the city, and plenty of opportunities for young kids to climb trees and explore in the undergrowth.

Nationalpark Donau-Auen

Lobau, southeast Vienna and Lower Austria

Lastly, Vienna is one of the few capitol cities in Europe that have a national park touching the municipal boundaries. The 93-kilometer-square reserve is one of the largest remaining floodplains of the Danube in central Europe, and is a great place to escape the city heat.

The word “Aue” means “river island, wetland, floodplain, riparian woodland,” and all of these descriptions fit. With ponds and lakes for swimming, marshes bejeweled with dragonflies and reeds and extensive forest, the Donau-Auen is a great place for families to access a national park while still using Vienna’s city public transport.

The visitor centre hosts educational classes and events, and it is a great place to take a family bike ride through some beautiful and unique scenery.

I hope that this inspires you to pack up the picnic blankets and kids’ toys, get outside and explore the wonderful parks that Vienna has to offer!


See more about Vienna here in Dispatches’ archives.

Read more from Thom here.

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Thom Harding was born and raised in the UK and USA, sharing his time between Bath and Boston. Upon completing his studies in Art History and Painting in Florence, Thom travelled around Mexico and India before moving to New Mexico to start his career as a Primary school teacher.

After completing his MA in Education, he now lives and works in Vienna, Austria and enjoys spending his free time hiking, reading, travelling and exploring around Europe.

See more of Thom’s work here in the Dispatches archive.

You can read more about Vienna here in the Dispatches archives.

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