Three days in Vienna – go green in the great outdoors - day 3

Vienna has been voted the world’s most livable city by the Mercer Study four times, and it’s no secret that its outdoor opportunities factor in its earning this distinction time and time again. For a city, it is unparalleled in terms of the amount of green space it offers - more than half of the metropolitan area, which statistically equates to 120 square metres of green for each of Vienna’s residents. Pretty wunderbar for a city of 1.7 million people.

With so much on offer, you could easily spend an entire day taking advantage of Vienna’s great outdoors and not even make a dent in all there is to see and do. Where to begin? With an overview.

Facts and figures

Vienna is one of very few capital cities in the world to have its own vineyards. It also has 2,000 parks, 280 of which are imperial, a mountain (Kahlenberg) in the north, a river (the Danube) in the east, dense woods (The Vienna Woods) in the west, and an official wildlife reserve (the Lainzer Tiergarten) in the south. There’s also a river island with sandy beaches, marinas, and endless trails (the Danube Island), and a park large enough to comfortably house a golf course, horse racing tracks, and cross-country skiing trails in the winter (The Prater). Even one of Austria’s six national parks is within the confines of the city’s limits (The Lobau).

With so many options, you’ll have to narrow them down to make the most of a day of fresh air in the Austrian capital. Here, a sample itinerary of the best Vienna has to offer in terms of green space. (Note this day is meant for warm weather.)

09:00 – back to nature

Lainzer Tiergarten Vienna Hermesvilla Garden by Wien-ViennaAfter breakfast, set out for the Lainzer Tiergarten. Located in the southwest of the city in the 13th district, this is a 6,000+ acre walled-in wildlife preserve that was previously used as the private imperial hunting grounds. Opened to the public in 1919, shortly after the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, it’s a vast expanse of green teeming with lush meadows, thick woodland, myriad hiking trails, six playgrounds, a view tower, and roaming wildlife including elk, deer, mouflons, and wild boars. Popular activities here include walking and hiking, bird watching, animal sighting, and following the various nature trails set up to teach visitors about the flora and fauna species found within the preserve.

After you’ve had your fill, take a quick rest and refuel at the Hermes Villa. The onetime imperial hunting fortress now houses a museum, café, and one of Vienna’s best fine-dining restaurants.

12:00 – 17:00 – the Danube Island paradise

Danube Island by potomoIf the weather’s nice, pack a picnic and spend a few hours on the Danube Island. This is a long, narrow, man-made island in the river Danube that stretches over 21 kilometres. Many know it as Vienna’s recreational paradise. With numerous sporting opportunities, beaches, bars, nightclubs, and restaurants, you could actually spend an entire day on the island from sun up to sun down and never get bored. Head to one of its many beaches for lunch and spend the rest of the afternoon doing anything from rollerblading to jogging, swimming to windsurfing, bike riding to sailing.

Evening – views and vineyards

Wien - Aussicht Kahlenberg by nozoomiiOur evening plans for your last night in the city will have you outside and walking through woods, so make sure to check when the sun is scheduled to set and time your evening plans accordingly. Take the 38A bus up the scenic Höhenstraße to Kahlenberg passing stately villas and private vineyards along the way. Kahlenberg is the city’s mountain, with an altitude of 484 metres. Located in the north in Vienna's 19th district, it offers sweeping views of the capital and beyond, making it a popular destination. By making use of the panorama terrace at the top, visitors are met with a spectacular sight. With the Danube to the left, lush vineyards below, the city straight ahead, and the Vienna Woods and (on a clear day) a view of snow-capped mountains to the right, the view is unforgettable.

Vineyard in spring by and3kBefore the sun begins to set, it is now finally time to enjoy the city’s vineyards. Follow the wooden signs and take a walk down the City Hiking Trail 1. Thick woods will soon give way to lush vineyards. When hunger strikes, head for a Heurige along the way. These are unique dining establishments in Vienna loved by tourists and locals alike for their rustic décor, traditional food, local wine, and outdoor dining gardens nestled among the grape vines. From Kahlenberg, the closest Heurige with a phenomenal outdoor dining garden is Sirbu. Located a 20-minute walk down from the top of the mountain, this is the perfect place to wrap up your day spent entirely outdoors.