When the weather is fine, Vienna's residents shun city parks in favor of the Wienerwald (Vienna Woods), a wide arc of forested countryside that surrounds northwest and southwest Vienna. If you love parks, you'll find some magnificent ones in Vienna. Within the city limits are more than 1,600 hectares (3,952 acres) of gardens and parks, and no fewer than 770 sports fields and playgrounds. You can, of course, visit the grounds of Schönbrunn Park and Belvedere Park when you tour those palaces. Below, we highlight Vienna's most popular parks.

Tales of the Vienna Woods

The Vienna Woods (Wienerwald in German) weren't something Johann Strauss, Jr., dreamed up to enliven his musical tales told in waltz time. The Wienerwald is a delightful hilly landscape of gentle paths and trees that borders Vienna on the southwest and northwest. If you stroll through this area, a weekend playground for the Viennese, you'll be following in the footsteps of Strauss and Schubert. Beethoven, when his hearing was failing, claimed that the chirping birds, the trees, and leafy vineyards of the Wienerwald made it easier for him to compose.

A round-trip through the woods takes about 3 1/2 hours by car, a distance of some 80km (48 miles). Even if you don't have a car, the woods can be visited relatively easily. Board tram no. 1 near the Staatsoper, going to Schottentor; here, switch to tram no. 38 (the same ticket is valid) going out to Grinzing, home of the famous heurigen (wine taverns). Here you can board bus no. 38A to go through the Wienerwald to Kahlenberg. The whole trip takes about 1 hour each way. You might rent a bicycle nearby to explore the woods.

Kahlenberg is located on a hill that is part of the northeasternmost spur of the Alps (483m/1,584 ft.). If the weather is clear, you can see all the way to Hungary and Slovakia. At the top of the hill is the small Church of St. Joseph, where King John Sobieski of Poland stopped to pray before leading his troops to the defense of Vienna against the Turks. For one of the best views overlooking Vienna, go to the right of the Kahlenberg restaurant. From the terrace here, you'll have a panoramic sweep, including the spires of St. Stephan's. You can also go directly to Kahlenberg from the city center in about 20 minutes by U-Bahn to Heiligenstadt; then take bus no. 38A.

A favorite pastime, especially in summer, involves fleeing the congested city and taking tram no. D to either Heiligenstadt (a 30-min. ride from Stephansplatz) or Nussdorf (a 45-min. ride from Stephansplatz). At either of these points you'll see a string of heurigen and a series of footpaths perfect for a relaxing stroll.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.