15 Fun Things To Do In Vienna With Small Children

I love Vienna. It has been voted to the most liveable city of the world for a reason. I’ve visited plenty of times, however, never with my children until a few weeks ago. Naturally, this time it was a completely different experience, just as we did expect it to be. Not so much of Aperol-Spritzing and Museum Quartier visiting. You can’t just drag your young children along whilst visiting galleries, markets and trendy restaurants. If you plan ahead though, everyone can get something of what they wanted. City tripping with a toddler and a baby sounds challenging but it it’s not impossible!

Start with booking the right accommodation. We stayed in serviced apartments this time, because we knew that we won’t be able to eat out in the evenings. That is one thing we needed to give up. Keeping their usual bedtime routine meant, that they were able to cope a lot better, it’s something they are both (all of us, in fact) heavily rely on. We also needed space, which an average hotel room just doesn’t provides. (The hotelier inside me is gasping in horror now.) So we booked Anyna Apartments, which was OK (price-wise and staff -wise good, but with some small security and other issues) and close to transport links, near a big park with playgrounds and supermarkets.

When the weather is nice, then of course there’s plenty to do. But when it’s raining or it’s too cold outside it can be a bit tricky to entertain small children. So, my list contains a mix of indoor and outdoor activities. However, avoid traveling in winter, as lots of outdoor attractions are closed. Also better to avoid places like Nashmarkt. Whilst it’s one of Vienna’s famous attractions and it’s great fun as a grown up, it’s most definitely no fun as as a parent of small children. It’s very busy, there are a lot of hot food stations, smokers and things to grab from the stalls. (Yes, the experience is talking.)

1. Prater

One if the oldest amusement parks in the world offers a lot of fun small rides for the minis. If they can’t ride on their own, because they are too young, parents can accompany them. There’s no entry fee to the Prater, you just need to pay for the rides (cash only). Plenty of options for food, from small kiosk-type street food to a proper restaurant. Open from March till October. The mini rides are relatively cheap: cost between EUR 2-4 each.

2. Playgrounds 

Vienna has lots of playgrounds, they are all very clean and well maintained, most of them has small swings, slides and sand pits for the littlest.

3. Zoom Children’s Museum

Zoom is quite big, suitable for children of all age. For the minis (8 months to 6 years) particularly, it has a play and adventure area called The Ocean, with a glittering water grotto, a mirror tunnel and a coral reel with tickly anemones. They can explore a ship deck and play role games, untie knots, turn the ship’s wheel or communicate with the lighthouse. Entry fee: EUR 3 for a child (free admission for one adult per child); extra adults pay EUR 5.

4. Hop-On Hop-Off Bus

Sitting on the top deck of the bus when the weather is sunny and pointing to all the exciting things to see is great fun for small children. (They are also prepared for the bad weather with a cover.) There are 6 routes and 50 stops. From EUR 22.50 per person.

5. Cake Time!

No Vienna experience is complete without a cafe house visit. And that means: it’s time for a cake! The traditional cafe houses are not exactly children friendly and booking is always required. Also, at some places  smoking is still allowed (Austrians love their cigarettes.) and normally a separate room is dedicated to that, but obviously you can smell the smoke all over the cafe. However, places like Aida and Oberlaa are more relaxed and welcoming towards children. (No smoking is allowed at all, either.)

6. Schoenbrunn Zoo

Schoenbrunn Zoo is considered one of the best zoos in the world. The animal compounds have a decent sized living area and designed to imitate their natural habitat as much as possible. More than 700 kinds of animal live in the zoo. It’s a fun place for small and big children. There’s also a huge nature trail and an educational forest trail, which I really liked. Unfortunately, not too many options for buying food and drink once inside the zoo in April when we visited, more in summertime. The little train wasn’t operating either, which was a shame as my little boy is a huge fan of trains. Entry fee is EUR 18.50 for adults, free for children under 6.

7. Schoenbrunn Maze And Labyrinthikon Playground

Bobcat really liked both the maze and the playground. And watching the fantastic water fountain. We enjoyed a lovely walk in the palace park. The playground is really cool and it has unusual elements as well as classic toys: climbing poles with sounds, jumping station, puzzles and water gargoyles. He especially liked the water features and marvelled the huge eagle-shaped climbing frame, but he was too small to climb that. But there was plenty of other things for smaller children, so we spent a few hours there. Open from April till November. Entry fee: EUR 5.50 for adults and EUR 3.20 for children.

8. Family Fun

It’s a huge amusement park for children, with a section called Kiddyworld, where even the smallest kids can enjoy themselves too. There’s trampolines, ball pools, a magic climbing tree, and some more. I’d say it’s probably from 1 year up, depending on the child’s capabilities. The toddlers will love it. Entry fees: under 1’s go free, 1-3 year olds EUR 3.90, 3-16 year olds EUR 8.90, adults EUR 3.50

9. Riding An Old Tram 

Simply ūüôā Very old, vintage trams are still in every day use in Vienna. Some of them are more than 50-60 years old with wooden benches. They are one of the coolest things to see, so don’t miss our on a Ring-ride, especially if you have a transport and vehicle maniac 3 years old, like us. Just buy a ticket and complete a whole Ring loop, it’s really good fun.

10. Bogi Park

It’s a huge indoor playground for children aged between 1 and 12. Again, I’m sure even some active babies can enjoy it, and recently they started to do Baby Mondays. For very small children, they have  bouncy castles, slides, ball pools, small climbing installations. Entry fees: under 1’s go free, 1-3 year olds EUR 3.50, 3-16 year olds EUR 8.90, adults EUR 4

11. Donau Insel

The Danube Island is very popular amongst the locals, there’s so much to see and do for the whole family! There’s a family beach, which is protected by a number of small islands surrounding the beach and the water no more than one meter deep. Absolutely fantastic in summertime. There’s also a free water playground with a separate splashing area for under 3’s and a trampoline center. Free entry.

12. Horse carriege ride (fiaker)

One of the tourists favourites, an absolute must do. The children loved it, it’s a leisurely ride (really slow, very safe with being small children on board) around the historic inner city area. You can find them parking all around the old town, just hop on one. It’s normally a half an hour and prices vary, around EUR 50.

13. Cobenzl City Farm

Meet and get to know the farm animals at a working farm producing organic goods. You’ve got pony rides, a nature trail and yummy cakes to buy. Entry fee: EUR 18 for kids and EUR 28 for adults.

14. Danube Boat Tour

The shortest tour takes around 1.5 hours, it’s a lovely, cultured thing to sit on the top deck in the sunshine. Waiving to the other boats and to people strolling at the river bank, it’s a relaxing cruise on the river. It’s operating from April till October (with the heating on when needed). There’s also a restaurant or bar on all the cruise ships. Prices vary.

15. Inner City Parks

When everything fails, just let them run around in a lovely, well manicured, safe park. There are plenty of them: the Stadtpark, the Volksgarten, the Burggarten, the Sigmund Freud Park and more.

One Messy Mama

 

 

 

Real Mum Reviews

Family Day Out At The Bockett’s Farm

So I’ve been hearing about this farm for ages from my mummy friends. It’s a short drive for a South Londoner, even with a toddler having a grumpy morning.  One lovely July day (when it was 30 C all of a sudden) we finally drove down there and visited it. We initially only intended to spend there no more than two hours, but it’s like a countryside Disneyland: there’s enough to do for a whole day.

image

Hiding in the beautiful Surrey hills, Bockett’s is a working farm: plenty of animals, regularly introduced baby animals, a kitchen garden, and a barn to educate the kids about how a farm works and how they keep animals. They can also pet and feed them. For the fun part, there’s loads of exciting things to do and even small toddlers can enjoy themselves. There’s two different playgrounds, bouncy pillows, pig race, tractor ride and indoor play areas for bad (or too warm) weather.

image

We started indoor as we arrived, as the entrance is through the play barn. Good luck dragging your small children outside again when they spot the mini John Deer race course and the giant slide. After we spent about an hour inside and successfully blocked a tantrum by promising even more playground fun outside, we managed to get out.

image

Outside, Bobcat’s favourite was the giant bouncy pillow and the old tractors on the site: he loved sitting on them pretending to drive. Of course he had a go on every slide and climbing frame too. He loved feeding the animals and he’s favourite were the mini goats. He found them really funny ūüôā Mine was the pig race and the giant slide. Great fun even for a grown-up (or for your inner child).

image

In the Old Barn Tea Room you can stop for a quick meal and buy locally made onion chutney, but make it really quick, as there’s so much to do! ūüėÄ

I would say it’s relatively cheap for what you’re getting and no charge for parking. We can’t wait to be back, another Bockett’s fan here!
One Messy Mama

Family Ibiza Holiday With Children – That’s What We Call Luxury!

Ibiza is forever in my heart since I lived there for a few years. Forget about the notorious party island fame, you can take children and they will love there!

APCCDT Harbour, Dalt Vila, Eivissa, Ibiza, Balearic Islands, Spain

The sandy beaches are very safe for children: they are clean, the water is shallow and warm, and most of them has at least one small beach bar (chiringuito) serving fresh food. Small towns like Santa Eulalia, San Rafael or Santa Gertrudis are especially perfect for families being a bit away from the hustle and bustle, but they still provide you with everything: great restaurants, folklore, markets, beaches. Spain is famous for being family and children friendly: you will see a lot of small children eating out till quite late, running on the promenade or visiting the night market at Las Dalias with the parents.

image

By booking a villa with¬†The Villa Shop¬†you get the best of everything. You can find a villa of 2-3 bedrooms to 6-7 bedrooms and the villa portfolio stretches across the island. It’s a small island, so luckily nothing is too far from the sea.

image

Their experts will help you to find the best fit for you in terms of budget (with price match guarantee), location and anything you might find important. It’s a tailored customer service which will enable you to enjoy your holiday and not to worry about thing. The Concierge360 service is there for you to if you need a baby sitter, a car to rent (you will need a car on the island) someone to cook (either every meal or just an occasional), a driver for a night out or if you want to go for a boat trip. Just to mention a few. The concierge service is available 24/7.image

The company also keeps a few villas in the portfolio on the island of Formentera. The tiny island is one of the most beautiful gems of the world. In my humble view, you can compare its¬†sparkling clean water and white sandy beaches to the Maldives. It’s just a lot more private, a lot less well-known and it isn’t rammed with tourists. If you are staying on Ibiza island, it is still worth to take a boat trip and visit Formentera, you won’t regret it.

image

There’s a lot to do on the island with children. Check out¬†Aquarium Cap Blanc¬†which is great entertainment for the whole family, equally perfect for small and big people. More water fun available at AguaMar Water Park¬†For bigger children (8 years old onwards) ¬†Arcobosc Ibiza¬†could be a great adventure located in a¬†natural park in the region of Es Canar. The famous¬†Las Dalias Market¬†is open every day in summertime and they also do night markets (from 7pm). The original hippy market of the island offers lots of fun for children and adults too. If you are after more modern and quirky things to buy, visit¬†Sluiz Ibiza, it’s a great concept shopping experience for the children too and they also run a restaurant which is worth a try. There’s a lot of cute and chain stores too in Ibiza town. Food wise, in Ibiza, you can’t go wrong. Let it be a chiringuito on the beach, a famous beach bar, a Spanish restaurant in Dalt Vila (old town of Ibiza) you’ll find great food, prepared with love and passion everywhere. Everyone’s favourite is La Paloma¬†near¬†Santa Gertrudis, is famous for its organic, healthy and new wave kitchen, in a picturesque setting. Or try¬†Pura Vida¬†near Santa Eulaila.

 

 

Nautical Birthday Party Ideas For Children

I decided to go for nautical themed decoration for Bobcat’s 2nd birthday party. I really like nautical design (of everything) and it’s easy to coordinate. Because it’s easy to coordinate colour and pattern-wise, it doesn’t cost an earth either. Unlike character based theme parties you can easily find substitutes if you need to. There’s also plenty of opportunities for a crafty mummy to DIY¬†decorations. Bigger children, daddy and grandparents can also be involved, turning it into a great fun for everyone. And outsourcing some tasks ūüėČ

image

What I used for decoration:

  • For paper table ware: blue (or red) table cover. Blue, red and white paper plates, cups, drinking straws, napkins, muffin cases and cake stand. They can be plain, stripey, dotted or all of these mixed, it will all look nicely coordinated.
  • For the bunting: paper boats folded from blue, red and white A4 and A5 paper sheets and just strung¬†them on a red raffia string in random order.
  • Balloons: dark blue, light blue and red helium balloons.
  • Even the wrapping paper me the invitations can be nautical themed.
  • No plastics: since it was a sea inspired party, I only used¬†paper plates and cups, birchwood forks and glass/porcelain in order to not to produce plastic waste.

You can order everything online, I chose Party Parade for most of the paper decoration.

image

Cake. Very important of course. I found some great ideas on Pinterest and I was lucky enough to find Rabi’s Kitchen to make the cake for me. She made the absolutely perfect cake with rich chocolate filling, every guest loved it. It looked fantastic and it was very tasty. Here’s her page for fellow South Londoners and Surry mummies:¬†Rabi’s Kitchen on Facebook

image

Food -wise I was trying to combine children friendly food with the nautical theme. Now that’s challenging, but you can make it work with serving it in cute paper tubs and adding little nautical flags.

  • Use a lot of red and white coloured food, which is not too hard: tomatoes, peppers, mozzarella, all sorts of berries and grape.
  • Make it look fun: cut an octopus with 8 legs out of a red pepper topping a bowl of hummus or other dips.
  • Decorate muffins and cookies with nautical coloured sprinkles, toppings etc.
  • I was really tempted by a paper fish and chips station containing just a few toddler size fish&chips in small paper bags, but that requires someone to be in the kitchen to prepare it freshly when most of the guests arrived.
  • When it’s summer and the weather is warm, you can also serve home-made ice lollies.

image

Party bags. The trouble is with most of the loot bag fillers, that they are simply just a waste of money and they only produce landfill. I opted for something which hopefully won’t end up in the bin on the same day. So, I bought cute sets of buckets and spades and put them into paper bags (decorated with sea animal stamps). Also used a large seaweed basket (normally use it for toys) to display them. (Ordered the sets from¬†Party Packs¬†)

image

Entertainment. If it’s an outdoor party, then you have the easiest thing:

  • Use paddling pools and create a fishing game for plastic fish or rubber ducks. Or float paper boats. Or organise a boat, maybe a duck race.
  • Use a small sandpit and organise a sandcastle building competition.

If it’s an indoor party, you can still opt for the mini fishing game or sea themed puzzles.

 

Barcelona Revisited (Hotel SB Diagonal Zero Review)

We travel to Barcelona every year or two because I love there, it’s one of my favourite places in Europe. I lived in Spain for a few years, it feels like home ūüôā It’s always good fun, very child-friendly and a lot warmer in March than in London.

image

This time we wanted to be near the beach but still close to town and just go for long walks and relax. A long weekend with spa experience and great Spanish food. So we booked¬†SB Hotel Diagonal Barcelona Zero¬†which was very convenient for the beach, as it’s just on the other side of the road. Not too bad transport links, tram stops just outside the hotel. They also booked us a travel cot (nearly new, good quality) free of charge. We were very impressed with the breakfast: from grilled vegetables for your scrambled eggs to churros with chocolate sauce they had everything. They even had a dedicated kids’ breakfast section – unfortunately, mainly with stuff which would exceed an adult’s daily sugar intake: pink sugar coated doughnuts, sugary cereal and yogurt, chocolate pastries, chocolate pretzel sticks etc. So cover those little eyes when entering the breakfast room. ¬†imageTwo things we were really unhappy with: firstly, that we couldn’t enter the spa with Bobcat being under 14 years old. The information they have provided to Hotels.com is deliberately misleading:¬†Hotel Information on Hotels.com, not saying a word about extra fees (not only the treatments cost money which is normal, but just to enter the spa too) or the age limit (14 years old. Really???). So, there goes our getaway spa experience out the window. When telling this to the receptionist she simply replied: apart from the age rules, I can’t use it anyway, because I’m pregnant and the¬†chemicals in the water might be harmful. And it’s just a jacuzzi anyway. If we’ve known about this, we would not have booked this place. The other thing was that the door lock was broken and the door didn’t close properly. So they sent a handyman to fix it. On the photo below you can see the AFTER repair state.¬†image

Apart from having nice walks down at the beach and stopping at every single playground (Barcelona has loads of playgrounds and they are great), this occasion we went to Barcelona Zoo, where Bobcat had some fun with feeding goats. imageIt was just very sad to see how small space the animals get in a small European zoo. Not only in Barcelona. They are just old, founded in the 19th century, and in those days no one cared about animal rights. It was heartbreaking to see the cheetach walking up and down in its cage, seemingly beyond stressed.

The City Park though, never dissappoints. We went for a walk after the zoo, stopped at the playground again of course.

Barcelona is always a great getaway choice with kids. From early spring the weather is very plesant.

image

 

 

Ski Chalets Le Chardon – The Family-Friendly Luxury

Have you ever tried to go on a ski holiday with small kids or babies? If you have then you’ll know that you usually need to take everything with you. It can take a lot of time to research and plan childcare, family-friendly restaurants and the best ski schools for you and your family.

image

Le Chardon Val d’Isere¬†have everything you need for a perfect, stress-free family ski holiday. The 5 traditionally designed ski in / ski out luxury ski chalets located in Val d’Isere in the French Alps are easily accessible from Chambery, Geneva or Lyon airports. All major European cities also have trains going to Bourg St. Maurice, which is just 19 miles from beautiful Val d‚ÄôIsere.

image

The smallest chalet has 5 en-suite rooms and the largest has 10 rooms, so you can plan your holiday for small or big families. Each luxury ski chalet  is individually and tastefully designed and equipped with everything you need for a relaxing holiday.

image

They offer a 5* concierge service who can arrange highly qualified nannies for babies and toddlers so for a change, mummy can ski too and just pop back to the chalet for feedings. All the chalets have sledges, high chairs, cots, DVDs and games. Private or group ski lessons and ski hire for the older children and family can be arranged with the option of boot fittings done in your own chalet. When you’re not on the slopes, there’s plenty of family fun activities such as husky rides, ice karting, ice skating or a visit to the Aquasportif Centre in the village is always a popular choice. All chalets are equipped with a sauna or outdoor hot tub and you can also book in a massage with Le Chardon’s very own wellness therapists.
image

I think the best feature is the 5* dining with every meal prepared by your own chalet chef. Using the finest local produce, your chef will create a bespoke menu especially for you and your family. Each chalet also operates an open bar policy including fine wines, spirits, beers and soft drinks. So, you don’t have to worry about finding child friendly restaurants that will suit your children’s daily meal schedules. You don’t have to drive to get to a restaurant or waste your precious time with cooking. You don’t have to worry about the menu and whether picky toddlers will eat it or not. They can go to bed at the usual time and have breakfast in their pyjamas!

image

Their concierge service will provide everything you may need from airport transfers including champagne picnics to ski hire. If you wanted a private flight to Geneva Airport and back – that’s not a problem either.
The French Alps are also beautiful after the snow has melted and a popular destination for active families. The area provides wonderful mountain walking routes, mountain biking possibilities, hiking, trekking, via ferratas, rafting or even glacier skiing.
If you’d like to find out more about Le Chardon Mountain Lodges for your next luxury ski holiday then check their availability and prices. Most chalets are booked on a chalet basis, however shared chalets options are occasionally available.

And to celebrate Easter, Le Chardon are running a competition until 21 March ’16 to win a fabulous Fortnum and Mason Champagne and Truffles gift. To be in with a chance of winning, head to http://www.lechardonvaldisere.com/fortnum-mason-easter-giveaway/to enter.

 

Easy-Peasy Low-Sugar Apple Pancakes With Cinnamon

I was craving some nice and warm breakfast the other day, and these pancakes are such a treat! So we shared this yummy low-sugar full of flavour brekki with Bobcat. Who loved it, needless to say. Ready in 20 minutes, literally. Try to make not too many, Because you’ll eat it up all, trust me! ūüôā The recipe below will only make you about 4 pancakes.

image

Ingredients:

2 small sweet apples grated

100g flour

1 tbsp of vegetable oil

1 heaped tsp of brown sugar

1 egg

100ml milk

half a teaspoon of cinnamon

small dash of vanilla essence

a dash of sparkling mineral or soda water to make the pancakes fluffy

image

Directions:

Mix the grated apple, sugar, egg, cinnamon and vanilla essence. Add the flour, and in the end the liquids. Stir vigorously untill all well combined. Heat a small frying pan and add a tiny bit of oil before every pancakes so they won’t stick. Fry them each side for about 2-3 minutes on low heat. Serve with butter, jam or maple syrup. ¬†Yumm.

Monterey Bay Aquarium – great fun for kids and grown-ups

I was a little bit sceptical about the day trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium because aquariums normally just keep animals locked up like a zoo and train them to perform shows. We don’t like that. Well, the prejudice couldn’t be further from the truth. This one operates as a non-profit organisation and has a clear mission: conservation of the oceans, inspire and encourage visitors to help, save animals, especially apex predators like the sea otters, sharks and bluefin tuna, share discoveries, transform markets to secure more sustainable seafood recourses and lobbying for all of these initiatives. Buy tickets online and arrive early to avoid queues: this is a very popular place to be.

image

You can easily spend a good couple of hours here with all the tours, feeding sessions and just by walking through the whole aquarium. I can safely say, it’s great fun from 15 months onwards. Bobcat was only 15 months old when we took him there and he loved it. There’s a lot of sensory and interactive installations for small children, like the Coral Reef Kingdom with waterbed play area and touch pool. There’s some other educational and fun things scattered around, tubes they can crawl trough, ocean wave crash simulator and of course all the enormous fish tanks full with beautiful and colourful sea creatures. Bobcat loved jumping around the waterbed, the block area of the Coral Kingdom, the Enchanted Kelp Forest with the touch pool, watching the scuba diving session and after a little while, he started to enjoy the wave crash simulator.

image

There are great views to the bay and animals to spot: sea otters, sea lions, cormorants and more. There’s always attentive staff around to ask questions. Feeding times are good fun for older children and adults equally. In the auditorium they show interesting short films for visitors of all age. Even the architecture of the building is fascinating having transformed it from an old cannery. They even do sleep overs for bigger children! We really hope to be back when Bobcat is older.

image

If you’re hungry – and you’ll be if you want to explore everything – there’s a food court style restaurant, mainly with boring kids friendly food, but freshly prepared and served. Save your appetite after you left the aquarium, the town has some great little restaurants serving fresh seafood and their famous clam chowder. Also save some time for having a little historical walk on Cannery Row.

One Messy Mama