It is late summer in Vienna, the weekend has finally landed and it’s a sunny Saturday morning – a time to sleep in a bit but still fit in some kind of leisure activity. At this point it’s still not clear what. I arrange to meet my friend Teresa near Schottenring. To start with, as one does in Vienna, we go and grab a coffee while we talk over the options: we’re after something down tempo as we just want to relax. But we want to be outside as fall is just around the corner. Ah, yes, wherever we’re going has to be reachable by public transportation. We go through all the options: museum, market, shopping and so on just don’t cut it for us today. And then it suddenly comes to us – we see the 31 tram go past, look at each other and say in unison: “Let’s go hiking!”. At this point most people will be thinking: what, hiking? But you need all sorts of equipment! And what does that have to do with trams anyway? Besides, it is already noon. There’s not enough time to go on a hike! Not so. In Vienna there is.
The Journey is the Destination
Luckily, going for a hike in Vienna does not require anything much in the way of equipment or planning. Even so, selecting a suitable route in advance and putting on some comfortable shoes definitely won’t hurt. In our case: sneakers, and we’re good to go. We’ve already settled on the hiking trail, too. The number 31 tram – which inspired the idea in the first place – will take us from Schottenring to Stammersdorf in the 21st district and Stadtwanderweg (City Hiking Trail) number 5. It takes us 36 minutes to get there.
In all, there are 12 hiking trails in and around Vienna with an average length of ten kilometers. There are 14 routes to choose from, each with its own highlights. They cut through urban yet rural terrain, through the Vienna Woods, the vineyards and up the landmark hills that frame the city’s outskirts. It has to be said that while a welcome side effect, the exercise is not the main reason why the Viennese hit the trails. Well, not in our case, anyway! We want to enjoy the route. Have a bit of a walk, a nice chat and stop off at a Heuriger wine tavern – life doesn’t get much nicer than this. For purely pragmatic reasons, we plumped for Stadtwanderweg number 5. And we’ve reached our destination – the announcement on the tram confirms: “Stammersdorf. Last stop. Please leave the tram. Goodbye.”
The Calm Before the Sturm
And there we are in no time at all: the city behind us, we’re out in the countryside. We can feel the village-like vibe of Stammersdorf immediately. But we are still in Vienna, in the district of Floridsdorf. The Stadtwanderweg signposts help us to stay on the right track, leading us through the bucolic streets out into the vineyards. Stammersdorfer Kellergasse and Krottenhofgasse are the oldest cellar lanes in Vienna and a real inside tip – even the Viennese aren’t necessarily familiar with the Heuriger wine taverns and the hiking trail out here. There’s a lot to see in the surrounding area. Anyone looking to take it all in should definitely schedule more than the recommended three to four hours. Today, the glorious weather has brought everyone out in droves, meaning that lots of people cross our path: families with children, senior citizens in groups out Nordic walking, and young people, too. We meander along the route at a moderate pace, enjoying the gently rolling hills and the views of the whole city.
Every now and again, Vienna’s skyline emerges from between the vineyards: Vienna International Centre and the Danube Tower, the DC Tower, the gasometers, as well as Friedensreich Hundertwasser’s waste incineration plant at Spittelau are all clearly visible at various points. As we walk past, we see a stamping station on the little square outside Gasthaus Magdalenenhof where walkers can pick up irrefutable proof that they have completed the route from start to finish. Stamp cards can be printed out at home. Very analog, but still pretty cool. We decide that we are going to get ourselves a stamp card in time for our next outing.
Our tummies now rumbling, we look forward to a culinary pitstop. In September and October there is one specialty that we definitely won’t be missing out on: Sturm! A lightly fermented alcoholic drink made from red or white grapes, the precursor to wine. Add a charcuterie platter and it’s the perfect walk in Vienna.
Drinking Sturm goes with the fall wine and hiking season like soda in a white wine spritzer. Still there are a few things to bear in mind:
- Never clink glasses!
- Don’t say “Prost” (cheers) but “Mahlzeit” (bon appetit) instead.
- Do not drink too much at once!
Before dusk sets in, we head back. We have a one to two-hour walk ahead of us and Mother Nature has a treat in store: the bats are starting to stir and flit past over our heads. We had been hoping to see some ground squirrels too, but it takes a bit of luck to spot these shy creatures, which are related to groundhogs. And with fall approaching, they are probably getting ready to hibernate. Time flies by, and we are soon back at the terminus of the number 31, ready for the journey back to the first district. Over the Danube by tram and homeward bound. In Vienna there’s enough time for everything.
Text: Karoline Gasienica-Bryjak
Stadtwanderweg 5 – Bisamberg, Terminus of the number 31 tram
Stammersdorf, 1210 Vienna