Here’s an unpopular opinion: I don’t think Vienna is a dog-friendly travel destination. Vienna is often described on blogs and TikToks and travelogues as one of the most dog-friendly cities in Europe. Sure, dogs are allowed on public transport and many restaurants. But you know where they’re not allowed? Parks! Vienna may be dog owner-friendly, but it would not be an enjoyable destination for your pup.
The myth of Vienna’s dog-friendliness
Coming from Prague, where every park is a dog park and dogs are allowed pretty much everywhere, I was expecting a similarly welcoming environment in Vienna, especially given the city’s reputation. But I think we need to do a better job of parsing what it means to be dog-friendly – whether it means giving dog owners a lot of freedom and flexibility or giving dogs a lot of freedom and flexibility. Vienna’s dog-friendly status is strictly in the former camp.
I can already imagine the emails I’m going to get from angry Austrians telling me I’m wrong. And sure, if you live in some boring sterile apartment building facing Türkenschanz Park, Vienna is perfectly dog-friendly. But if you’re visiting Vienna as a tourist (and if you’re reading this blog, presumably you are), you and your dog will probably spend a lot of time in city center in or near Innere Stadt or Neubau. And not only are these areas not dog-friendly, they’re kind of dog-hostile.
If you were hoping to stroll the gorgeous grounds of Schönbrunn Palace or Volksgarten with your pup, here is a reality check. Many if not all of the most beautiful green spaces in Vienna forbid dogs. And I don’t want to hear the excuse that they want to preserve the historical integrity of Belvedere Palace and Gardens – Prague Castle is 900 years older than anything in Vienna and your dog can run around those castle grounds all day.
The one “hundezone” (dog park) that would be accessible to your pup in city center is in the heart of the museum quarter and it’s a disgusting fenced-in strip of mulch. Which is kind of insulting when your dog is surrounded by lush greenery all around. Pedestrian walkways in the heart of Vienna are mostly concrete, and where there are opportunities to have a small green square (like around the base of a tree), it’s also been filled with concrete. Medians that actually do have some plant-life are usually fenced off so dogs can’t access it.
So yes, Vienna is a place where you can take your dog to bars and restaurants or where he can ride a shaky metro with hundreds of other people. But your dog doesn’t want to go to brunch or be stuffed into a busy tram; your dog wants to run around in a nice park. And central Vienna simply doesn’t have many options for our four-legged family members.
How to find dog-friendly spaces in Vienna
Unbeknownst to us, you can’t just look at Vienna on Google Maps and assume that every green space is a safe area for your dog to relieve himself and sniff around. Some are not even truly parks. For instance, though Prater is considered a dog-friendly paradise (and it does have large green spaces and a dog park), most of Prater is a parking lot with a creep ass amusement park – that isn’t even fun for humans, much less animals. Even if Prater is actually a good green dog-friendly option, if you’re staying in city center, it’s a huge inconvenience to take a tram or metro several times a day to the only real park for miles to take your dog out.
If you’re considering taking your dog to Vienna and you’re wondering if it’s a dog-friendly destination, what you need to do is look up “hundezone” on Google Maps so you can see the meager extent of the parks where your dog will be allowed freely. Keep in mind that the use of “dog park” is tenuous at best. Check out the reviews for Hundezone Wienflusspromenade, which is a decaying canal-side promenade that also has no grass.
If after reading this, you still want to subject your dog to Vienna, at least do both of you a favor and stay near one of the better dog parks. Don’t assume that there will just be grassy medians around outside of those areas because you’ll be sorely disappointed. Or better yet, take your dog anywhere else.