One of the world's oldest amusement parks, which has a century-old Ferris wheel that offers the best seat in town for views over Vienna.
The Weiner Prater is an amusement park with a serious pedigree, which has been dishing out fun to the Viennese for over a century. Most of Vienna's must-visit attractions lie on the west side of the Danube, where the Inner Stadt puts down its roots. But at the east bank’s Weiner Prater, culture and art are put to one side and visitors are treated to a large dollop of fun.
Once an imperial hunting ground, this area was gifted to the city by Emperor Josef II in 1766, to be used for public leisure. Restaurants, stalls and entertainments soon followed. The 1873 World Fair gave the Wiener Prater a whole new slew of attractions, and eventually led to the first proper amusement park – the Wurstelprater. Its central attraction then (and now) was the enormous Ferris wheel, the Riesenrad, which was built in 1896.
The Riesenrad is the first thing you’ll spot as you head toward the Prater, and it makes for a great starting point for your visit. The ride is thrilling and the views spectacular, as you are swept upwards 65 metres, leaving the whole of Vienna to unfold beneath you. It remains the oldest, and one of the largest, Ferris wheels in the world.
There's plenty more nostalgic fairground fun to be had at the Prater. Among its 250 attractions are merry-go-rounds, bumper cars, ghost trains and a hall of mirrors. The aroma of fairground sweet stalls and vendors of Viennese delicacies adds to its heady, old-time atmosphere. And the Wurstelprater offers more modern attractions too. There are careening roller-coasters, death-defying rides, neon-lit gaming arcades, and plenty of loud music.
If that all gets too much, the wider Grüner Prater may offer a refuge. This is the open forested park that the Wurstelprater is set in, with 600 hectares of tree-lined walkways, ponds and wild meadows to explore. Here you can stroll or bike your way along kilometres of tracks. Or, if the Wurstelprater fun-house has left you a little too drained, take the Liliputbahn miniature railway and be whisked around the Grüner Prater in no time – and back to the Wurstelprater for a second helping of fun.