Do your kids like trains? As the temperature in Vienna falls to below zero, a long ride on the S-Bahn is an ideal afternoon adventure for a train-crazy kid. My daughter loves to spend a weekend staring out a train window with her dad (while her mum, with camera in hand, tries to get ‘the’ shot from a moving train). But there is more than one way to ride the rails. The Technisches Museum Wien houses a collection of vintage trains, planes and other automobile-esque antiques. This child-friendly museum is a must-see for the train enthusiast, and a perfect part of a kid-friendly holiday in Vienna on a cold winter’s day.
Think of a museum. What words immediately come to mind? Before moving to Vienna, for me these words were ‘expensive, quiet, fragile’. Museums were not the place to relax with a child on dark winter’s morning. The Technisches Museum Wien takes the typical museum experience and jumps on it while gleefully singing ‘The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round’. This highly interactive place is a perfect example of just how fun and kid-friendly museums can be. Visitors are encouraged to explore, to touch, to create. You and your little ones can drive a decommissioned train. You can power a computer and get exercise at the same time, or explore what it is like to be a deep sea diver. Want to whoop as you free-fall from a slide? Go for it! Everyone else does. The first time we visited the Technisches Museum Wien we didn’t make it to the two children’s playrooms. Parents, grandparents and children were having so much fun in the ‘adult’ exhibits there was no need to explore anywhere else.
If you venture past the main exhibits there are two dedicated spaces just for kids. The newly-opened Mini Mobile is all about movement. Children can pilot a ship, run through a maze of silly mirrors and star in their own Grand Prix. The second children’s play area, Das Mini, is about role play and climbing. Children can dress up as firefighters, municipal workers or builders. In an old fire engine they can race to the nearest emergency. With skills better than any shonky cowboy builder they can construct a house. There is even yet another slide. Take it from this mama who went on it with her toddler, this slide be fast. Really fast. The two playrooms find the fun in the everyday. My daughter absolutely loved pretending to be Fireman Sam. Perhaps the best part of Das Mini is the play tree that is right near the fire engine. Under the direction of my commanding officer, this firefighter mother rescued a lot of imaginary cats. During the week, Das Mini is only open from 1.00 pm.
In addition to daily demonstrations, which include firing up a Tesla coil and exploring underground mines, the Technisches Museum Wien runs workshops for children. The workshops explore community infrastructure, science and engineering. Children can design their own city, learn how boats work and even experience city life circa 1900. Who knew town planning could be so much fun? Sadly, the workshops are mainly for older children. But, this gives the little ones the chance to take over the children’s playrooms. The daily demonstrations and children’s workshops cost extra. For a calendar of events and information about how to book see the Technisches Museum Wien website.
The details parents want to know
The entrance leading into the Technisches Museum Wien is below street level. However, there are ramps on both sides of the entrance. Once inside the museum, beyond the main gates there is a dedicated pram parking spot. (You may want to bring a bicycle chain). There is a lift too; you can take the pram with you. There is also space for prams at each of the children’s areas. (This really is a child-friendly museum).
Lockers can be hired for a refundable one or two euros. The lockers are located at the far end of the museum entrance.
There are drinks machines at the children’s playrooms. There is also a cafe. However, the waiting time at the cafe is substantial. We waited more than 30 minutes for food—far too long for a hungry child. In preparing this post I consulted other parents who had been to the Technisches Museum Wien. All reported that the service at the cafe is slow and doesn’t come with a smile. It’s the one dull spot in an otherwise shiny experience.
Children under 19 can visit the museum for free. For adults, if you live in Vienna you may want to consider the yearly pass.