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The Prater, a vast stretch of greenery in the 2nd district, is one of the city’s largest and most popular parks to visit in Vienna on a summer’s day. The park was once the property and hunting ground of the Emperor, who gifted it to the general public in 1766.
The Prater park is often synonymous with the Wiener Riesenrad, Vienna’s famous pillar-box red Ferris wheel and the main attraction of the funfair that spreads across a large section of the park. Although perhaps tempting to explore this part of the Prater, it certainly isn’t its greatest asset – garish and slightly menacing, an odd medley of faded theme park rides and twisted caricature figures. However, if you do fancy a whirl on one of the rides, there are many to choose from. The gigantic swing (amazingly, the highest in the world), the Praterturm, promises to provoke an adrenaline rush – taking you 11 metres up in the air and the Riesenrad is one of the most popular attractions in Vienna.
If the fairground doesn’t appeal, a pleasant time can be had out in lush spaces, where you can amble along the long chestnut tree-lined boulevard and find a nice shady spot for a picnic. Cycling around the Prater is a great way to spend a summer’s day – and in the peripheries of the park, you can find meadows and woods to get lost in. Hire a bike for half a day and slowly make your way along the arrow-straight path that cuts across the park.
For scorching summer days, consider heading to the open swimming pool of Stadionbad, located just outside the park, can offer some relief. It’s open from May to September.
Packing a picnic to take to the park is always a good option, but there are also plenty of restaurants in the area. The historic Lusthaus is located in the middle of the Prater, originally the hunting lodge of the Emperor before the park was in the public’s possession. Today it is an ambient café and restaurant, where you can stop for a spot of lunch (traditional cuisine is available) or a glass of Viennese wine.
Inside the amusement park, various fast food vans selling Austrian cuisine can be found dotted around, with all the greasy fairground favourites, including the Bitzinger van, where you can sample KaseKrainer – a Viennese specialty of sausage stuffed with cheese.