Vineyards and vistas
The terrace in front of the church on the Leopoldsberg hill (425 m) is a well-kept secret. On clear days, the spectacular views stretch far beyond the Austrian capital and as far as Bratislava, some 55 km away. Closer at hand, the Danube cuts through a sea of buildings in the basin below. Framed by the hills marking the fringes of the Vienna Woods, highlights include familiar landmarks such as St. Stephen’s Cathedral and Dominique Perrault’s DC Tower, the Giant Ferris Wheel and the Millennium Tower.
Like its neighbors, this “peak” can be reached aboard the 38A bus. A level, asphalt footpath leads through the woods to Kahlenberg, along the historic Höhenstrasse route – which still exudes 1930s charm to this day. Hikers and mountain bikers are a familiar sight in these parts, as some of the capital’s most attractive footpaths and biking trails intersect here. The nearby Elisabethwiese meadow is great for picnics, while the Josefinenhütte restaurant is a monument to rustic retro charm. From here it’s only a short hop to the treetop rope garden with hair-raising routes up to 20 meters above the ground.
A spritzer with a view
Just a few meters farther on is the popular Kahlenberg plateau (484 m): especially impressive at night, the panoramic views live long in the memory. A restaurant and café – and a hotel, for that matter – set the scene for a comfortable conclusion to any mission to Vienna’s best-loved viewpoint.
Wine is never far away. Past the overgrown headstones in the derelict Josefsfriedhof cemetery, the “Eiserne Hand” (Iron Hand) trail leads to a group of Heuriger wine taverns with the best views in town: Sirbu, Hirt am Kahlenberg, Mayer and Wieninger am Nussberg – all surrounded by vineyards. For those who don’t want to stop off for a white wine spritzer, the walk continues into winegrowing communities on the Danube – the eminently charming Kahlenbergerdorf and on to Nussdorf.
Cobenzl (492 m) has a lot in common with its neighbor Kahlenberg: arresting panoramas, ease of access by public transportation, and great food and drink make it a popular destination for visitors. There’s something for everyone here. Families head for the wild boar park, the forest playground or the children’s farm, while fans of the finer things in life make a beeline for the Cobenzl wine estate, one of the two restaurants, or the Oktogon café with its Celtic-inspired tree of life circle.
Some people take the bus up and walk back down to the picturesque village of Grinzing through the rambling vineyards, where ancient horse-chestnut trees, beautiful Biedermaier era villas and Vienna’s top wine taverns await – from A for Alter Bach-Hengl to Z for Zawodsky. Anyone willing to take on a slightly longer route can head from Cobenzl to Hermannskogel (542 m), the highest of the city’s landmark hills. Though the final climb might leave casual walkers out of breath, it’s worth the effort – fantastic views from the top of the Habsburgwarte tower (opened in 1889) and first-class Heuriger in the nearby winegrowing areas of Salmannsdorf, Sievering and Neustift are among the highlights.
Bisamberg (358 m) in the north of the city offers great views and good food and drink without the strenuous climbs. A walk up the beautiful old cobbled Stammersdorf Kellergasse lane – flanked by wine cellars on both sides – soon leads into the leafy vineyards. Growers such as Göbel and Weinhandwerk serve Gemischter Satz blended wines – outdoors, with fantastic views of Vienna and the surrounding area.
Text: Paul Daniel