Vienna - Giant Ferris Wheel at Prater park © WienTourismus | Christian Stemper

Prater park

Giant Ferris Wheel and green lung of Vienna

Both, entertainment park and relaxing place

The Vienna Prater is entertaining and exciting, but it can also be relaxing and quiet. One part of it contains attractions ranging from a nostalgic merry-go-round to an ultra-modern roller coaster. In the other area, known as the "Green Prater", one finds widespread meadows to lie on, shady trees, and quiet paths. The motto is to have fun and enjoy yourself...

About 250 attractions entertain you at the Vienna Prater, from casino automats to auto-drome rinks, ball toss and shooting booths, exciting roller coasters and ghost trains to flight simulators.

Children especially enjoy merry-go-rounds, Punch and Judy Shows, the old Viennese grotto train and much more. This varied entertainment program is complemented by more than sixty cafés and restaurants, and ice cream and snack stands. The Viennese call this part of the Prater the "Wurstelprater" (literally: Clown's Prater, the equivalent of an old-fashioned amusement park).


Excursion destination "Green Prater"

Right next to the amusement park area, one finds the "Green Prater" - the spacious forest and meadow area which was once an imperial hunting ground and was opened by Emperor Joseph II to the public. As a consequence, the first coffeehouses and restaurants opened their doors.

Today the Green Prater is a paradise for walkers, runners, bicyclists and horseback riders, and is highly appreciated as a large leisure area within the city limits. To get an overview of this green oasis in the city of Vienna, one best takes the Liliputbahn, a miniature railway spanning more than three miles.


Green Prater

The Prater comprises 6 million square meters. Expansive meadows and forests as well as a great deal of water offer the ideal surrounding for relaxed walks, spirited hikes, extensive jogging, skating and bicycle tours, and much more. Indulge youself...

The "main artery" of the Green Prater is the 4,5 kilometer-long Hauptallee, a straight and wide avenue between Praterstern (Underground, Suburban railroad, streetcar and bus) and the Lusthaus, a former hunting pavilion turned into a restaurant.

Many runners know the avenue, which is marked by distance signs and running checkpoints, from the Vienna Marathon, where it is known as a notoriously long and hard haul. Inline skaters find more enjoyment on this tree-lined avenue, which is also frequented by pedestrians, bicyclists and sometimes by old-fashioned Viennese horse-drawn carriages (Fiaker).


Simply Biking

If you want to get to know this splendid promenade in a leisurely way, rent a bicycle, or even a "Pedi cab" (a bicycle rickshaw) - or step onto the "Liliputbahn" miniature railroad, which leaves near the Riesenrad and takes you to the Ernst Happel statium in the Prater.

You will pass not only the BMX rink for cool bikers and boarders, but also the public swimming pool Stadionbad, which offers cool and modern relaxation from May to September.


Off the Main Avenue

If you take a few steps from the main artey of the Prater, the Hauptallee, you will find yourself in a vast area of meadows, forests, and former side branches of the Danube. In addition to solitary walks and hikes, you can take a boat (rental at Heustadelwasser) as well as discover the area high atop a horse.

Golfers may want to play a round at the Freudenau Golf Club right behind the Lusthaus, but if your heart rate spikes during horse races, you may want to attend one of the events of the Vienna trotting race society behind the Vienna trade fair grounds.


Giant Ferris Wheel

You may want to visit this landmark of Vienna in the footsteps of the immortal movie "The Third Man" or simply enjoy the view of the city from almost 200 feet up. One thing is certain - only when you have taken a ride on the Riesenrad are you really in Vienna!

The Giant Ferris Wheel is open yar round and is one of the most frequented attractions in the Danube metropolis. Ferris Wheel Square was redesigned in 2008. Now this entrance to the Prater amusement park is a nostalgic theme world reminiscent of the Prater in the year 1900.

The traditional city inn "Zum Eisvogel" has returned to the Prater and offers award-winning Viennese cuisine. After its inaugural opening in 1805, the inn and its tasteful, sophisticated offering gradually rose to become a Viennese institution. Even today, the kitchen chefs hold fast to this qualities of yesteryear. Thus the menu is missing neither the classic Vienna schnitzel nor the imaginatively served yeast dumpling. The local foods are creatively dished up when a decent portion of "Viennese charm".

Fairy tales and legends come to life in the Miraculum at Ferris Wheel Square. Visitors are charmed into Magic University by breathtaking feats of magic. State-of-the-art technology transports them right into the middle of things, making them part of a captivating show. The 1st Vienna Magic Theatre rounds off the world of magic.


An Attractive Adventure World...

Today, the Riesenrad offers an attractive adventure world: at the entrance area, a "Panorama" tells the history of this monumental ferris wheel and the City of Vienna - with nostalgic installations that drift past you in giant ferris wheel cars. At the Riesenrad Shop, you can buy exquisite Viennese porcelain and crystal, models of the Riesenrad and high-quality textiles in the Riesenrad-Look. A café-restaurant provides culinary delights and pampers you in a cozy ambiance with Viennese specialities.

The Giant Ferris Wheel was built in 1896/97 by the British engineer Walter Basset and wasn't the only one of its kind back then: Basset built similar panorama wheels - extremely popular at the end of the 19th century - in Chicago, London, Blackpool and Paris as well.


Nostalgia: The Prater around 1900

It was a long way from the former river landscape on the Danube to today's leisure and entertainment center. For some it is paved with many nostalgic memories.

As early as 1403, the "Pratter" appears in official documents. In 1766, Emperor Joseph II donated the area to the Viennese as a public leisure center.

The emperor also allowed the establishment of restaurants and snack bars - small wonder that it didn't take long until the precursors of today's Wurstelprater appeared on the edge of the former aristocratic hunting grounds.

Inkeepers, coffee brewers, and gingerbread bakers (Lebzelter) hung out their shingles; seesaws and merry-go-rounds as well as bowling alleys were not far behind. The World Exhibition of 1873 on today's trade fair grounds also gave a great boost to the Prater.


Where the Waltz King Performed

In 1895, the amusement area "Venice in Vienna" was established, in whose midst one of the landmarks of the city, the Riesenrad, appeared in 1897. The Prater became a place where everyone finds enjoyment.

The "better" class of people came here in their horse-drawn carriages, military cadets and laundry girls met on secret dates, one found barrel organs, Heurigen singers and ladies orchestras - and some of the great composers of their time, such as the Waltz King Johann Strauss or the composers Joseph Lanner and Carl Michael Ziehrer performed here.


"Calafati" Lives...

Many Austrians poets and writers, among them Adalbert Stifter and Peter Altenberg, were inspired by the lively activities in Prater.

Today, the memory of the old Viennese Prater lives on in the figure of "Calafati" - the giant statue of a Chinese man in the center of the amusement park.

Originally the 27-foot-high statue, which has become somewhat of a modest landmark of the Prater, was the central figure of a merry-go-round owned by the magician and restaurant owner Basilio Calafati (1800-1878) in the middle of the nineteenth century. At the Prater Museum near the Planetarium, you can still admire Prater artifacts from around the year 1900.


© WienTourismus

Vienna - Giant Ferris Wheel © WienTourismus | Peter Rigaud
© WienTourismus | Peter Rigaud
Vienna - Giant Ferris Wheel at Prater park © WienTourismus | Christian Stemper
© WienTourismus | Christian Stemper
Vienna Prater park - amusement park © WienTourismus | Karl Thomas
© WienTourismus | Karl Thomas
Vienna Prater park - merry-go-round © WienTourismus | Karl Thomas
© WienTourismus | Karl Thomas