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Austria is undoubtedly one of the most scenic and historically rich countries in Europe. It is a paradise for culture and adventure-loving families, no matter what season you visit and how old your kids are.
Start your trip in Vienna, with its rich musical and intellectual history. You’ll need to stretch your itinerary to squeeze in the plethora of museums and kid-friendly attractions on offer.
From there, devote as much time as you can to both Salzburg and Innsbruck. Both are loaded with great children’s activities & attractions, and make perfect home bases for further explorations to the surrounding mountainous regions.
Whether you want to hit the ski slopes with your kids, admire snowy peaks from hot water slides, stay in a quintessential lakeside village, or go on an epic road trip, this article will give you a taste of just how much Austria has to offer for traveling families.
Austria was my personal favorite on our two-month, 9-country trip across Europe with our 4 and 5 year olds. To fill in the gaps of places we didn’t make it to in Austria, I’ve enlisted the help of some fellow family travel bloggers who are experts on the region.
Vienna with Kids
See here for my more detailed article on visiting Vienna with kids.
Vienna is one of the great European capitals and home to 2.6 million people, nearly a third of Austria’s population. Known as a city of music and intellectualism, figures such as Mozart, Beethoven, and Freud have called it home.
So what does Vienna offer to visitors with kids? Well, it’s no wonder the Mercer Quality of Living Survey has ranked Vienna as the best city in the world to live in (for the last 10 years in a row!)
Vienna boasts a safe environment for families, numerous cultural & historical institutions and landmarks, a large number of urban parks, and a great public transportation system. Visiting Vienna with kids is a breeze, and you will be spoiled with choices for things to do, no matter what season you visit.
One of our favorite place to visit with our kids in Vienna was Prater, one of the world’s oldest amusement parks. There we rode the iconic Wiener Riesenrad (Prater Ferris Wheel) for a bird’s-eye view of the city. Not only our kids but also we loved the historical displays showing the amusement park and Ferris Wheel in decades past, including when it was mostly destroyed in WWII. You can skip the lines if you order your tickets online here.
Some of the best museums for kids in Vienna include House of Music, Vienna Museum of Technology, Zoom Children’s Museum, and the Children’s Museum at Schönbrunn Palace, where kids can dress up in royal regalia or get lost in a maze. Near the palace, the Schönbrunn Zoo is the oldest continually operating zoo in the world, and one of the best. Our kids also loved House of the Sea, a huge aquarium taking up 10 floors of a former anti-aircraft tower.
Other kid-friendly things to do in Vienna include seeing the horses at the Spanish Riding School, being surrounded by butterflies at Butterfly House, and watching traditional candy being made at Zuckerlwerkstatt. Our kids even had their first art gallery experience in Vienna, as we couldn’t miss seeing Klimt’s The Kiss at Belvedere Palace, which was walking distance from our apartment rental. You can book your tickets to the art gallery here, but make sure you print them before arriving (we forgot, and it was a hassle).
As we visited Vienna in winter, we LOVED visiting the Christmas markets. The foods and drinks were so delicious, the settings were magical, and there were often activities for kids. Our favorites included Karsplatz Christmas Market, Stephansplatz Christmas Market, and Belvedere Christmas Market.
We decided to stay in this family-oriented apartment, which was conveniently located in a pretty residential neighborhood about halfway between the train station and the city center.
You can also search for Airbnbs in Vienna here.
Vienna is also a good starting point for planning a trip to Budapest with kids, which is only around 250 kilometers away!
Salzburg with Kids
See here for my more detailed article on visiting Salzburg with kids.
Salzburg was hands down our family’s favorite city in Austria. Perhaps part of it was that we had such gorgeous weather and got to experience the city painted with autumn foliage colors, but there’s no denying that many travelers, with or without kids, fall in love with Salzburg’s charm.
Salzburg is located near the border with Germany, with views of the Eastern Alps. Its incredible UNESCO World Heritage Site Old City is a place of breathtaking Baroque architecture and one of the top sights in all of Austria.
Mozart was born in Salzburg, and the house where he grew up is now a popular tourist attraction. No visit to Salzburg, for kids or adults alike, is complete without tasting one of the town’s signature “Mozart Balls”, made from pistachio and marzipan coated in chocolate. You can find them in every souvenir shop in the city.
Besides Mozart, the town is also associated with Sound of Music, which was mostly filmed in the area. However, we didn’t feel the need to subject our kids to one of the many Sound of Music tours, which are all the rage among visitors to the city.
While we immediately fell in love with Salzburg simply because it was so pretty, the city also offered a surprising array of kid-friendly things to do. While we didn’t even try to cover all the main tourist sights, the kids were at least impressed with the ones we did make it to, such as Salzburg Cathedral and St. Peter’s Cemetery.
Our family’s favorite was the expansive Haus der Natur, with so many exhibits (focused heavily on animals) that we never made it to all of them. Nearby, the Toy Museum (more of an indoor play center) was a good place to let our kids be kids for a while.
The Salzburg Zoo was one of the better ones we’ve ever been to, with large animal enclosures built quite naturally into the side of a hill, and a quite manageable size. The Zoo, like many other attractions in the city, is included on the Salzburg Card.
Near the zoo, which is a short bus ride out of town, Hellbrunn Palace is another must. In summer, kids will love the “trick fountains” in the palace’s garden. You can easily combine the two into an easy day trip from Salzburg with kids.
We also loved dining at Augustiner Brau, the city’s iconic beer hall which is also kid-friendly. Our kids loved the huge pretzels and pastries, and mom and dad of course loved our huge beers.
Last but not least, no visit to Salzburg is complete without riding the funicular up to the Salzburg Fortress, which dominates the city.
For our accommodation in Salzburg, we decided to save money and booked this super budget Airbnb, but it really had everything we needed, including elevator access, a perfect location near all the sights, and even a view of the fortress from the window!
Hallstatt with Kids
Hallstatt is the most popular day trip from Salzburg, and arguably one of the most beautiful lakeside villages in the world. If you’re not a fan of touristy places (and Hallstatt is often associated with overtourism), then Hallstatt may not be for you.
Somewhat surprisingly, there is no direct public transportation from Salzburg to Hallstatt; we had to transfer from a bus to another bus to a train to a ferry across the lake. The transfers broke up the journey, making it easier for the kids, not to mention that the scenery was gorgeous along the way.
Because it took us 2.5 hours in total to reach Hallstatt, we decided to spend the night so we wouldn’t have to do it again in the same day. This also allowed us to enjoy Hallstatt in the early evening and next morning before the tour group masses arrived. If you want to visit Hallstatt as a day trip from Salzburg with kids, you might consider booking a private tour to Hallstatt to avoid spending half your day on the road.
This decision to stay overnight in Hallstatt came at a cost, though. Hallstatt is tiny and accommodations there are incredibly expensive. While we loved our house rental on the edge of town, it was the most expensive place we stayed in our entire 2-month trip to Europe. And even though we booked well in advance (in the low season!), many of the places in town were already sold out.
The main thing to do in Hallstatt is walk the length of the town and admire the stunning views. Hallstatt is actually an ancient salt mining town, and visiting the Hallstatt Salt Mine is one of the only things to do in Hallstatt that could be regarded as “kid-friendly”.
Getting to the mine involves taking a rather vertical funicular up he mountain to the Hallstatt Skywalk overlooking the lake. Visitors literally get to slide into the mine, sure to be a major hit among kids. It is recommended to book your Hallstatt Mine Tour on the official website before you arrive, and as of last year, the mine is now open in winter as well, except for one month (usually around January).
Dachstein with Kids
By Corina of Another Milestone
Near Hallstatt, the Dachstein region is another great place to visit in Austria with your kids, famous for glaciers, outdoor activities, and magnificent views. Dachstein can be visited as a day trip from Salzburg or you can easily spend a few days in the area by combining it with a visit to Hallstatt. If you want to make life easier, you can also visit the area on this tour from Salzburg, which includes riding on a horse-drawn sleigh.
Dachstein is a perfect holiday place for those who love mountains, nature and breathtaking views. It is easily accessed from Obertraun, another popular family holiday destination in the area, by car (there is a huge parking lot), by bus or even walking.
One of the best ways to appreciate the region’s sheer beauty is by riding the Dachstein cable car, which has two sections and is open from May to October. To thoroughly enjoy all that the cable car has to offer, you will need a whole day. Don’t forget to bring something for you kinds to munch on, as the pressure due to elevation change can affect their ears.
The first cable car will stop at an intermediate point. Here you can visit two amazing caves: the Mammoth cave and the Ice cave. For Ice cave, you need warm clothes all year long and unfortunately, it is not accessible with a stroller, so if your baby is small you must carry him/her around.
Next you can take the second cable car to the peak. From the station, there is an easy, 20-minute trail to the 5 Fingers Platform. The trail is suitable for children and for strollers, but you must take care since sometimes it can be dangerous if they run off the path. You also need warm clothes here since you can encounter snow even in August.
Once you reach the platform, your efforts will be rewarded with an unbeatable view of the Austrian mountains and the Hallstater lake.
Bad Gastein with Kids
By Priya of Outside Suburbia
Bad Gastein is an Austrian ski and spa town in the High Tauern mountains south of Salzburg. It’s known for its hotels and villas built on steep, forested slopes. While the area of Bad Gastein has been inhabited and used for gold mining over the years, it started being known as a spa town in the late 19th century because of its hot springs. Today it is a popular destination for families to visit for winter snow activities, and summer hikes and other mountain adventures.
The drive from Salzburg to Stubnerkogel in Bad Gastein is quite scenic and takes about an hour and a half. While you can also visit the mountain resort as a day trip from Salzburg, you might want to spend 2 to 3 nights to fully appreciate the area.
The biggest attraction in Bad Gastein is the Stubnerkogel suspension bridge. It is the highest of its kind in Austria, with fantastic views of the mountains all around it. We had a wonderful day in Bad Gastein with our kids, riding the gondolas up the mountain and spending the day hiking in the mountains.
Walking on the bridge was not that scary, but we did have a few butterflies in our stomachs as we walked over to the viewing platform. The bridge sways a little with the wind, and even a few adults gave up part way, while our kids enjoyed walking back and forth on the bridge. The kids also enjoyed scrambling along on the Rock Trail loop in Stubnerkogel.
If walking across a suspension bridges and rock trails is not your thing, there is still plenty to do in the Gastein valley for kids. On the four main mountains, Stubnerkogel, Schlossalm, Graukogel, and Fulseck, there is a lot to see and experience; you can go on easy hikes, ride bikes and swim in crystal clear lakes, all perfect for mountain lovers.
Kids will also love walking barefoot along the beautiful Spiegelsee Lake, also called Mirror Lake, where part of the bottom of the lake has been adapted for walking barefoot. A refreshing natural massage! If you are staying for more than a day, you can buy an Almorama Gastein Card that saves families a little money and gives you multi-day access to the mountains and activities (see here for prices).
Grossglockner with Kids
By Anjali of Travel Melodies
Grossglockner High Alpine Road—named after Austria’s highest mountain at 12,460 feet—is one of the most scenic and highest alpine roads in all of Europe.
Driving the 48-kilometer stretch with 36 hairpin bends to the height of about 3,000 feet is epic in every sense of the word. Besides the potential for carsickness (just take it slow and make lots of stops!) Grossglockner is incredibly family-friendly and worth every hairpin turn you take.
You might be wondering how a road journey could be fun with kids. Well, the Grossglockner is not your regular road journey. It’s one of the best outdoorsy and fun drives for kids, on which they can have oodles of fun and learn a lot along the way.
The entire stretch is lined with kid-friendly activities, themed playgrounds, beautiful hikes, museums, exhibitions, and info points with insights into the making of the Grossglockner. Kids get to learn about the picturesque alpine habitat in a fun way.
Our daughter made sure that we didn’t miss a single stop along the road! Her favorite remains Mankei-Wirt near Fuscher. The innkeeper there tames marmots, which children can meet and play with. By the way, a marmot named Murmi is even the mascot of the Grossglockner High Alpine Road! Our daughter also liked Wild-& Erlebnispark Ferleiten, a wildlife park just before the Grossglockner toll booth.
The Grossglockner is open from May to October, and opening times vary according to the season. When traveling with kids, make sure to pack a warm jacket, as it tends to get cold as you climb higher.
You can drive from Salzburg (the northern entrance) towards Carinthia (the southern entrance) or the other way around depending upon your itinerary. A day ticket costs 36.50 Euros per car.
Innsbruck with Kids
See here for my more detailed article on visiting Innsbruck with kids.
Along with Vienna and Salzburg, Innsbruck is one of the most popular stops for tourists in Austria. Salzburg and Innsbruck are often compared, and visitors wonder which of the two they should visit. Personally, we loved both, but for different reasons.
While Innsbruck doesn’t have quite as beautiful of an old city as Salzburg does, Innsbruck has a more beautiful alpine backdrop, with the mountains looming right beside the city. Innsbruck is very much associated with winter sports, having twice hosted the Winter Olympics. It’s a perfect base for those who prefer to stick to the cities with their little ones but perhaps make a few easy day trips into the mountain areas surrounding the city. We loved our Airbnb apartment in Innsbruck, which had a fantastic view of the mountains around the city.
For starters, you can cover the main sights of Innsbruck’s old town in half a day. Walking along Maria-Theresien-Strasse, the picture postcard main pedestrian street, is a must, while the Golden Roof, Innsbruck Cathedral, and Court Church are all worth a look.
One of the quintessential things to do with kids in Innsbruck is to ride the Nordkette Cable Car to Alpine Zoo (tickets can be ordered online here). Just don’t make the mistake we did by visiting Innsbruck during the two weeks per year (around early November) that the cable car is closed for maintenance! Another must with kids in Innsbruck is Audioversum, a music & sound-themed interactive museum.
But our single favorite place to visit with kids in Innsbruck was Swarovski Kristallwelten, the headquarters of the famous crystal company, which is just out of town. The super child-friendly facilities include a bizarre (but really fun) crystal-themed art gallery, indoor play tower with great mountain views, outdoor maze, artistic merry-go-round, playgrounds, huge fields to play in, and more. Really, you can spend a whole day there, and it’s just as interesting for parents as it is fun for kids.
You can order your tickets for Swarovski Kristallwelter online, which includes the bus transfer from Innsbruck station. If you get an Innsbruck Card, the bus transfer and entrance tickets for Swarovski are included.
Exploring the mountains aroung Innsbruck is one of the reasons you visit. We narrowed it down to Seefeld, an easy 40-minute ride by train. Seefeld is a small mountain resort devoted to skiing and other winter activities (the region is also stunning and great for exploring on foot in summer). Visiting Seefeld with kids is a breeze, as the town is very small and easy to naviagte on foot, with a beautiful lake (frozen when we visited, see pic above!) within 10 minutes of the train station.
We didn’t visit Seefeld to ski but instead to swim & soak at Olympiabad Swimming Pool, a gorgeous alpine spa that features a hot outdoor pool and two open-air outdoor slides with warm water. Sliding down a slide while taking in the snowy mountains all around was an experience we won’t forget!
Tyrol with Kids
By Jurga of Full Suitcase
Tyrol (also spelled Tirol) is the westernmost state of Austria, of which Innsbruck (see the previous entry) is the capital. It is a paradise for everyone who loves mountains and active vacations. It’s also one of the most kid-friendly regions we’ve ever traveled to. Not just in Austria, but in the entire world. Find out some of the things we loved doing most with our kids there in my guide to the best summer activities in Tyrol.
No matter where you go or in which season you visit, you notice family-first attitude in so many little details. Family trails in the mountains, playgrounds, kid-friendly resorts, baby gear at restaurants and hotels, including things like mountain strollers or kids bathrobes and slippers… Many hotels and even ski resorts have children’s daycare facilities. So you can go skiing or hiking knowing that your youngest kids are in good hands.
Tirol is a big region and we haven’t been everywhere, but every place we visited has so many family friendly things to do. Some of our favorites were mountain toboggan runs, adventure parks, and of course hiking surrounded by the most beautiful scenery. We especially loved Seebensee mountain lake in Tiroler Zugspitz Arena, Highline 179 suspension bridge, and stunning panoramas of Zugspitze in Ehrwald and Valluga in St. Anton am Arlberg.
All these places are family-friendly and fun to visit with kids. And as if all of that isn’t enough, just think of all that amazing Austrian food and Tyrollean specialties. Make sure to try some Kaiserschmarrn and your kids will never want to leave Austria!
Hopefully you’ve found all the info you need here for planning your trip to Austria with a baby, toddler, or kids! If you’ve got any comments or questions about planning your trip, please let us know in the comments below!