Vienna Isn’t All Opera and Art! Open space occupies more than half the total area of Vienna, which means that on hot summer days we like to take a break from all the high culture and frolic in the park.
Vienna’s largest playground, the Jesuitenwiese, sprawls 10,000 square meters across the west bank of the Danube. Owned by the Jesuits until the 1770s, the area was later confiscated by the state and used as an exercise ground for the Vienna garrison. After World War II, an artificial hillock was created from the rubble of bombed houses, and today it’s a popular place for tobogganing in winter, and sunbathing with a view in summer.
A 52-hectare public park in Leopoldstadt, the Augarten comprises Vienna’s oldest Baroque gardens, with an elegant landscaped garden and shady promenades of chestnut, lime, ash, and maple trees. The space houses a variety of organizations, including the Vienna Boys’ Choir, a porcelain factory, the Augarten Contemporary art gallery, as well as a children’s pool and sports fields.
Am Himmel is German for “in heaven,”—a fitting description for this magical mesa sitting high above the city in a northwest corner. Accessible by public transportion, the leafy meadow is home to the Lebensbaumkreis, a tree circle conceived to reflect the bond between humans and nature, created as a place of meditation. You’ll also find the bright white, mid-19th century Sisi Chapel in the park.
The winegrowing area directly surrounding the Vienna consists of more than 700 hectares of vineyards, run by more than 300 wineries. Most of the wine produced here is white—including Rieslings, Weissburgunders, and Grüner Veltliners—but an increasing number of enologists are now producing reds.
Bikepark Semmering offers beginners and expert riders nearly 10 kilometers of off-road bicycle trails. Trees provide plenty of shade as you pedal up the hills; the park is open from the start of May until the end of October.
Artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser’s KunstHaus is on many visitors’ must-see lists. Enter from the front, though, and you’ll miss out on the cafe hidden in the garden; in summer it’s a green oasis, made more magical by the eccentricity of the surrounding architecture.