‘I can’t see the blood,’ my son said in a disappointed voice. ‘Where’s the blood?’
The blood in question was on the jacket Franz Ferdinand was wearing when he was assassinated, which as all school kids know, contributed to the outbreak of World War 1. To a boy interested in Horrible Histories-style graphic detail, the more gore, the better.
Fortunately by peering very closely we found the long-faded stains and were able to continue our tour of the Vienna Museum of Military History, which as you might expect contains lots of memorabilia to do with Austria’s chequered past.
Vienna, we discovered, is fantastic for kids of all ages. It’s stunningly beautiful, easy to get around (the trams run like clockwork, as you might expect) and oozes culture from every baroque brick (the architecture is absolutely breath-taking). There are palaces and parks and art galleries and museums (try Zoom, which has lots of hands-on art exhibits). At the Schonbrunn palace they even have a Kinder programme where your offspring can dress up as royal children and discover what their lives were like. The Prater amusement park wasn’t open when we were there but the Reisenrad – a giant ferris wheel – is one of the city’s landmarks.
A definite highlight for us though was the Vienna Ice World in the park at the Rathausplatz (City Hall Square). Every year from January to March, just in front of the imposing gothic building, there’s a giant ice rink, and lots of stalls serving mercifully hot waffles, hot dogs -including currywurst – and hot punch (it had snowed just before we arrived, and it was FREEZING. Like the song says, there was alot of walking in the cold air. My advice if you’re going in winter is to take lots of layers. And a hat).
Of course there are references to Vienna’s status as the city of music everywhere you look so it’s an ideal opportunity to help your kids discover the joys of classical music, too. We really loved visiting Mozart’s house – it doesn’t have any actual furniture belonging to the composer but it’s a fascinating tour of his life and times with some really cool exhibits – and at the House of Music they can ‘conduct’ an orchestra.
Although a lot of the buildings are very grand, the city is surprisingly compact and easy to get around. We had Vienna Cards, which give you unlimited travel for 72 hours, plus discounts/free entry to many museums.
And another definite highlight for us was the food. Particularly the pastries, strudel and cakes. My personal favourite was a slice of Sachertorte – served with cream. (A bit too rich for kids, though, obviously *cough*.)
Vienna might not be the first city you think of for a break with children, but if you want a half-term trip rich with history and culture, music and cake, the Austrian capital has a lot to offer.
*You can find out more about Vienna here.