(You’re welcome for that free poem I know you’re writing down on a nearby sticky note.)
But really. It’s so nice to wake up to sunshine beaming in through the shades instead of drizzle and dark clouds (yesterday and today being the exception). Austria’s spring months always seem to struggle through to the warmth and light, but when it’s time for weather enjoyment, Vienna gets real serious about it. Outdoor cafes pop up all over the city, festivals and concerts explode with popularity, the city’s inhabitants jump into the closest body of water no matter the temperature of the water. Winters may be miserable here, but summers – nobody does it better.
This summer is particularly unique for me because this year, Elliott actually wants to go outside, or simply “SIDE!!!!” as he calls it. Last summer he was still a roly-poly and didn’t care how we enjoyed the weather. Now he throws himself against our patio door until we open it and let him loose. Our little garden does a fair job of tiring him out before his afternoon nap, but if I’m being an honest parent here, most days I want him exhausted by nap time to ensure at least 3 hours of quality Holly time. I know I could take him to the park down the street or to Prater park a few U-Bahn stops away, or…
I could take him to a bomb waterpark by the Danube where he can pour sand onto himself to his heart’s content. For free.
Yeah, you heard me – a free waterpark. Are you drooling yet, moms and dads?
What To Know:
The Wasserspielplatz Donauinsel is located, well, on the Donauinsel. Take the U1 (red line) U-Bahn to the Donauinsel stop and the water park is about an 8-10 minute walk from there. Beware of your Google Maps which may try to take you there in a really roundabout away. I’m speaking from a 15 minute long experience.
Zilch. Nada. Nichts. It’s free free FREE.
When to go
If you have the morning free, I recommend going then, especially if your toddler is in a throw-everything-in-sight phase and you’d prefer to not have to apologize to all the nearby parents and kids for the sand in their eyes. We got to the park at 10:15, and the only other people there aside from ourselves were the friends we were meeting up with who got there at 10:00 and were the first ones inside.
Who it entertains
For kids of all ages, the Wasserspielplatz pretty well does the trick at keeping them entertained. There are a variety of water trinkets and shallow ponds, an enormous, shaded sandpit with a water pump in the middle for mud-making, a water raft (which appeals more to the older kids), a small waterfall, and a bridge that leads to another little pond. We checked out the waterfall and attempted the bridge. The bridge was a little out of my 20 month old’s league, but I’m sure older toddlers could manage it pretty well with a parent nearby. Stray observation… A woman who appeared to represent KinderFreunde (a Kindergarten) was set up underneath a tent with a table full of markers and colored pencils. I wanted to ask her about her stuff but Elliott wasn’t near her long enough for me to talk to her. So maybe she’s there for the kids who prefer crafts to swimming? Maybe she’s free or accepts donations? Not sure. Find out for me and let me know.
For the parents
There is quite a bit of room to lay out in the sun or shade, on the grass or on a bench. And as added plus, the park is surrounded by a picturesque view of the 22nd district to help lull you into a relaxed state. When hunger or thirst strike, there’s a snack shack for you right at the entrance. A First Aid van with two helpers is stationed close by, and the shack is also where you can find the bathrooms.
– The main entry gate into the waterpark doesn’t close. For older kids this isn’t an issue, but for curious toddlers, it may become one, so keep a close eye out for a possible escape attempt.
– The pools could use a bit of trash pick up. They’re not unusable by any means, and granted we are in the midst of windy season, but it wouldn’t hurt to make a quick scan of the place and throw away any trash that’s made its way into the water.
Overall, we really enjoyed ourselves, and my son was indeed exhausted by nap time – a win for Team Kooi!
Have you been to this spot before? Have you found any other free gems such as this one in Vienna?