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Vienna has plenty of parks and green spaces to choose from, but the most famous one is, without a doubt, the Prater. Next to the “green Prater” with its countless meadows, streams and forest, the “Wurstelprater” (“sausage Prater”) theme park is open to children and the young at heart 365 days a year. Check out these four must-try attractions.
In 2016, the Viennese Prater celebrated its 250th anniversary. What used to be the hunting grounds of the imperial family was opened to the public by emperor Josef II in 1766. Soon the first eateries, swings and carrousels moved in, preparing the grounds for what was to become the oldest theme park in the world. During summer, many Viennese spend lazy afternoons in one of the restaurants situated in the widespread area or, at least the braver ones, prove their courage on a roller coaster or a similar attraction.
Arguably Vienna’s most iconic landmark, the Riesenrad has looked over the Prater since 1897. Upon construction, it was one of the biggest Ferris wheels in world, built to honour the greatness of emperor Franz Joseph I, for whom the 65-meter-high attraction was built to celebrate the 50th anniversary of his rule. While regular tickets can easily be bought on the spot (be prepared for some queuing time during peak hours though), those looking for a more exclusive experience can also rent out a whole cabin for a romantic candlelight dinner or even a wedding celebration.
The Austrian TV cook Oliver Hoffinger has recently taken over the kitchen at this Prater institution. He modernized the menu and offers Viennese classics, like schnitzel and goulash with a contemporary twist. If you are looking for a treat to surprise your loved one, book the three-course menu; after the main dish, you will be asked to walk across the square and board the Ferris wheel to enjoy desert and champagne looking out over the city.
This historic pavilion, built in 1873 for the world exhibition, is our first choice to get a coffee and recover from the heat in the shade of the surrounding trees. It’s one of the best places to enjoy the view of the Prater’s tree-lined boulevard and watch the runners, horses and cyclists flow by while sampling their excellent cake selection or trying one of the simple and heart-stopping classics, like the pork and sausage explosion known as the ‘Praterplatte’.
A word of warning: you’ll need to be vertigo-free to enjoy this chairoplane that spins you in big circles, 95 metres above the ground. At 65 kilometres an hour you’ll be whirled through the air while enjoying a view of the entire city – if you aren’t too busy holding on to your chair. Those who prefer to keep both feet on the ground can get an ice cream from a nearby stand and watch the others circle overhead.