Vienna is packed with imperial history, excellent museums and great places to eat. But how about when you want to escape the city? Barbara Cação, of Vienna Unwrapped, has some suggestions.
Wine Tour at Klosterneuburg
900 years old, Klosterneuburg Monastery is Austria’s oldest wine estate. You can tour their vast maze of vaulted wine cellars, learn about centuries of local wine making, and visit the monastery’s modern production facilities. Ask for the extensive old wine archive packed with rare wines. German language tours take place daily at 2.30pm. English tours are conducted on request.
Address: Stiftsplatz 1, 3400 Klosterneuburg
Classical Music at Grafenegg
While Vienna’s top orchestras take a summer break, why not visit the ultra-romantic 19th century castle of Grafenegg. From mid June to early September, tunes by Debussy, Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, Strauss, Vivaldi and others will echo through the castle and down the lush green hills of the Wachau Valley. The orchestras, such as the Niederösterreichisches Tonkünstlerorchester, are all well respected. Tickets for the Midsummer Night’s Gala (19th June) and for the Grafenegg Festival are selling fast.
A Night In The Chequer Tree
Brand-Laaben in the Vienna Woods is home to the ancient and now quite rare chequer tree (Elsbeerbaum in German). Between May and September you can spend a night in one of the trees, gently swaying in a safe portaledge. Beforehand, join a guided hiking tour, learn about the local culture of the chequer tree and taste some regional chequer fruit produce.
Dates: 29th and 30th May, 3rd and 4th July, 25th and 26th September.
Address: Iring Süss, 3053 Brand-Laaben 101. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
A Baroque Day Out at Schloss Hof
If you can’t get enough of the likes of majestic sites such as Vienna’s Schönbrunn Palace, why not spend a day at the equally splendid baroque Hof Castle. It once belonged to Prince Eugene of Savoy, and was designed by Lucas von Hildebrandt, who also built Prince Eugene’s winter residence, the Schwarzenberg Palace, St Peter’s Church and other Viennese gems. The beautifully restored state rooms include original furniture. The vast baroque garden is bursting with flowers at this time of year, and children will love the Meierhof manor farm with its animals and orchards. A shuttle bus leaves from the Hilton hotel at Wien Mitte.
Address: 2294 Schlosshof 1
Apricot Harvest in the Wachau
Tracing the origins of your favourite breakfast jam can be fun. Local apricot growers from the Wachau Valley celebrate their produce from the first blossom to the fruit. Start hiking along the 4.5km apricot trail (Wachauer Marillenweg) from Weinhof Aureiter in Krems-Angern. Pick your own apricots at harvest time (forecast this year around mid-July) at Obsthof Reisinger in Spitz an der Donau, and celebrate the harvest at Spitzer Marillenkirtag (17th to 19th July). True nostalgics travel there by steam train from Wien Praterstern.
Picnic Concert at Esterházy Palace
Burgenland’s Esterházy Palace in Eisenstadt has long been an insider tip for fans of classical music. On two weekends in July and August pack your picnic hamper for an open air concert on the meadow in front of the palace. On the menu will be music from Beethoven, Schumann, Strauss, Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, Britten and von Webern. Take the opportunity to see the palace and join the Joseph Haydn trail.
Dates: 11th and 12th July (Music from Woods and Meadows); 15th and 16th August (Sounds of Seas and Meadows)
Address: Schloss Esterházy, 7000 Eisenstadt
Draisine tour in the Weinviertel
Travel along train tracks through yellow rape fields, reeds and acacia forests on warm summer weekends. The Weinviertel draisine tour explores 13 km of disused train rails from Ernstbrunn to Aspern an der Zaya. The start of the tour is a moderate workout, before the rails start leading gently downhill. Each draisine has two bike seats and two middle seats for accompanying people. Great for family weekends out. (Also open during August on Thursdays and Fridays.)