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Tram to nature 2 minutes to read

Every year, it’s the same old question: should you plan a city break or a holiday in the countryside? The good news: In Vienna and many other cities in Austria, you can have both.

Author: Michaela Schwarz, Yasmin Taga


More than half the metropolitan area of Vienna is made up of green space and with some 280 parks and gardens, Vienna is actually one of the greenest big cities in the world. As a guest you’ll very quickly see this for yourself. One moment you are standing on Stephansplatz admiring the cathedral, and just a few minutes later you’re enjoying the Stadtpark in full bloom. No sooner have you left the state apartments of Schönbrunn Palace than you’re marvelling at the extensive Baroque park with its artfully trimmed hedges and shady avenues, the stone fountains and splendid flower beds. But increasingly, greenery can be found where you really wouldn’t expect it. Urban gardening has become one of the hottest trends in town and amateur gardening enthusiasts are turning public spaces into productive green patches. To say nothing of the roughly 60 subsidised community gardens.

But enjoying nature in summer also means being able to take a cooling dip in the water. And nothing could be easier than that in Vienna. Barely 20 minutes from the city centre on the metro, the Alte Donau (old Danube) and the Danube Island offer wonderful opportunities for swimming. You can enjoy splashing about near a lively gastro scene or in the midst of a natural idyll. The Lobau – often referred to as “Vienna’s jungle” or the “water forest” – covers 2,300 hectares and accounts for almost one third of the entire area of the Donau-Auen National Park. Those of a more sporting disposition will probably prefer the extensive network of cycle paths on the Danube Island or one of the nine hiking trails in and around Vienna – all of which are readily accessible and are each unique in their own way.

The Murinsel, Graz © Österreich Werbung /  Popp-Hackner The Murinsel, Graz © Österreich Werbung / Popp-Hackner


Just how closely cuisine and nature are linked becomes evident at Vienna’s 26 markets, which offer a shopping experience for all the senses. Be it the Naschmarkt, the Karmelitermarkt or the Brunnenmarkt, there’s almost nothing that can’t be found here, from fresh fruit, to crispy vegetables and fragrant flowers to organic herbs and delicious honey from more than 600 bee-keepers. Samples designed to whet your appetite are served on every street corner – and if that’s made you hungry, it’s time to grab a seat in one of the many bistros and restaurants that can be found either at the market or nearby. First-class culinary treats can be found amidst the vineyards around Vienna in places like Cobenzl or Nussberg.  Not only do they enrich the cityscape, it is thanks to them that Vienna is the only world capital to produce significant quantities of wine. What more enjoyable way could there be to spend an afternoon than sipping a glass of Grüner Veltliner and munching a hearty cold platter while admiring the beautiful view over the city?  Definitely something one could get used to.
The city of Salzburg © Österreich Werbung / Julius Silver The city of Salzburg © Österreich Werbung / Julius Silver


So who would be surprised to learn that even entering a residential building in Vienna can involve nature? The Hundertwasserhaus is like a colourful, fairy-tale castle with plenty of greenery, and the artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser was very much inspired by nature when he drew up the plans. Instead of rigid forms and edges, the building boasts uneven floors, curved lines, bright colours and even “trees” as tenants. Nature is also given plenty of room at the Stilwerk; the destination for exclusive designer objects and furniture in Vienna. The approximately 600 m2 free-standing steel structure in the courtyard is home to some 20,000 different plants. And on the subject of shopping, why not take a little bit of nature home as a souvenir? Be it in the form of fine organic food or soothing natural cosmetic products, it’s a lovely way of taking some of the most pleasurable moments of your holiday back home with you.
Lentos museum in Linz © Linz Tourismus / Romy Eckerstorfer Lentos museum in Linz © Linz Tourismus / Romy Eckerstorfer


Encounters with nature

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