By Claudia Merrill
Claudia Merrill explores her favourites of Austria’s green spaces, and why these places matter.
It‘s been exactly one month and three days since I‘ve moved to Vienna and to be honest, the lack of nature was initially hard. I‘m originally from Australia, where every city is bursting with greenery, and the ocean is never too far away. I just moved from Salzburg, Austria which is surrounded by beautiful city mountains just a short walk from the city centre, not to mention the gorgeous lakes and canals. So this was, of course, my first dilemma when moving to the capital — where am I going to find my green spaces?! Although I soon realised there‘s nothing to fear because Vienna actually does have its share of beautiful green spaces. So whether you have 20 minutes or a whole day to spare, there are plenty of options to get your green in.
Within the city walls
If you‘re wanting to stay within the metro area because of time constraints or sheer accessibility, then you won‘t have to go far. A couple of my favourite gardens beside the gorgeous Stadtgarten are the Augarten, the Belvedere gardens, the Liechtenstein Garden Palace and Prater.
The Augarten is reminiscent of the French-style with its manicured hedges and lawns — plus it has some cool history with the old WWII towers looming over the city strollers. The Belvedere gardens are known for their regal beauty, something that looks like it‘s been lifted straight from Versailles. Prater is an area you may have heard of for its carnival rides, which is true, but you can also find the most gorgeous alleyways of trees here. When I want to be around what feels like a forest without leaving the city, I go to Prater.
The last smaller garden that you absolutely must-see is the Liechtenstein Garden Palace. It‘s a lot more quaint than the Belvedere, but it‘s full of understated charm. There‘s enough space for a little stroll, a few trees to make you feel like you‘ve left the city behind, and a nice fountain for reading a book nearby. All of these options are great because you don‘t have to actually leave the city to find them. After work or on the weekend, you can simply escape into the wilds of the city, if only for a moment, and find your peace of mind once more.
Into the Wild
Saying that, sometimes you need to get out. You know, where you can‘t hear the sounds of cars or trams anymore. These times are particularly good for venturing about an hour out of the city to find what‘s called the Wienerwald, or the Vienna woods. The two I think are worth the visit are the Lainzer Tiergarten and Klosterneuberg. Lainzer Tiergarten is a lovely outdoor area, even with its own lake, and plenty of wild animals like deer. You can find it by taking the tram or train, and then getting the bus to take you the rest of the way to Lainzer Tor. Once inside, you can hear the soothing sound of birds chirping in the trees and the leaves rustling in the breeze. I also like just looking out onto the lake and observing the ducks. If you ever need a quiet space to clear your head, go here.
Klosterneuberg is better suited to adventurous types. If you want to go on a hike and get a stunning view of the city of Vienna, then this is for you. Take the train all the way out to Nussdorf and then you‘re a short walk from the start of the first trail. Walking along the ridge will give you an overlooking view of the whole city, while you‘re surrounded by lush wild grass and sweeping plains of trees. Some hikes take around 3 – 4 hours, and some you can do only part way and take an hour. I seriously love how being here transports you to another world — the ultimate in green-therapy.
It‘s important to remember to get back and connect with nature. Anytime I‘m feeling a little high-strung or sensitive, I know it‘s probably because I haven‘t been in touch with nature for a while. It‘s also a good time to enjoy introspection or even journal. Getting outside and, more importantly, outside of ourselves and our routine life, can give us perspective on the areas of our lives that need changing. Having plants decorate our rooms is great, but for connection to the bigger picture, we have to get back to nature.