What to Do in Vienna on a Sunny Day?
Bunny is not in favour of spending hot summer days in the city, but sometimes you have no choice. If you ever find yourself stuck in Vienna on a hot sunny day, fear not, things could be much worse for you.
There are plenty of nice things to do in Vienna, and in areas neighboring the Austrian capital, in summertime. Read about some of Bunny’s favourite activities below.
Go Sofa Boat Sailing on the Old Danube
Everybody loves sailing, right? What about “sailing” on a comfortable, electric and ecological, sofa boat in the middle of the Old Danube river? This is basically what Meine Insel offers in Vienna.
The Old Danube, Alte Donau, in Vienna is a former branch of the Danube river. It is the Viennese’ favourite playground on summer days, offering calm waters, lovely grass patches, small beaches, outdoor pools and plenty of cafes and restaurants.
It is also the perfect tranquil environment for a little sofa boat sailing on a sunny summer day. Bunny loves the sofa boats!
You don’t need any special skills for the sailing. If you ever played computer games in the 1980s, the sofa boat is ridiculously easy to navigate. There is a joystick that lets you decide the speed and direction of the floating sofa while whizzing down the river.
Bunny liked lazing on the sofa and driving the boat with her right foot only, while sipping a cold beer. That’s right, they even let you drink and drive!
From the comfort of your sofa, you can admire the scenery floating by: the city’s few skyscrapers, modern bridges, quaint holiday homes alongside the Old Danube and various beaches and beach bars along the way.
If you fancy a dip in the water during the ride, you can simply jump off or use the ladder behind the sofa. Bunny loved descending into the water and then hanging on to the ladder while Mr. Bunny sped the sofa forward. It was kinda like water-skiing, only without the skies. Wunderbar!
You can reserve your sofa boat online. Payment is made by cash or card once you reach the sofa boat pier by the Old Danube. The closest metro station is U1 Kaisermühlen VIC.
The classic sofa boat comfortably holds 3-4 people and is priced at 45 euros per hour. Two hours of sailing is fun enough, Bunny says. Take sunscreen as there is not much shade on the sofa despite the convertible style roof.
Restaurant Zum Schinakl is located just outside the sofa boat pier. You can stock up with drinks for your sailing trip there. Meine Insel will provide ice with your boat, but the price was a bit ridiculous.
Nothing prevents you from stocking up on drinks and food and bringing them onboard, in a backpack for example. Just don’t be too obvious about it.
Rent a Citybike For the Day
Bunny is a great fan of Citybike Wien! It is such an easy and cheap way to get around the city in the summertime. Actually, the bikes are available year round, but Bunny uses them only when the weather is warm. Cycling in the cold is suitable only for people who are slightly mad - or Finns.
Vienna can sometimes seem almost deserted on a hot summer day when everyone retreats to nature. This is the ideal time to cycle around the city, Bunny says. The roads are quiet and angry old ladies will not yell after you if you happen to cross on a red light.
There are, in fact, lots of bike lanes in Vienna and cycling is made quite easy in the city. Compared to many other cities, the traffic is never crazy as the Austrians like to follow the rules. And Bunny is happy about that - at least when she is on her Citybike.
Citybike Wien has more than 120 bike stations around the city and the first hour of riding is always free. If you have limited time in the city and want to do some sightseeing, Citybike is one of the best ways to get around fast and effortlessly - not to mention inexpensively.
To use Citybikes, you will first have to register. This can be done either at one of the bike stations or online, using a credit card or an Austrian-issued bank card. One euro will be deducted from your account upon registration. After that, the first hour of use each ride is always free of charge. Afterwards, reasonable hourly fees will apply.
If you want to ride for free, keep changing your bikes during the day. If you return the bike within the first hour and wait 15 minutes until renting a new bike, you can ride totally free as long as you want…
Laze by an Outdoor Pool
What is better on a hot summer day than lazing by the pool and reading a good book? Not much, Bunny thinks. Luckily, Vienna has a good selection of nice outdoor pools to choose from.
Bunny likes the one in the Schönbrunn garden. It is a big space, with expansive lawns and two beautiful stainless steel pools, one an Olympic-sized pool and the other one a smaller leisure pool, with a separate section for children.
Sun loungers are free to grab and there are spacious changing facilities, showers (you will have to pay 50 cents for a hot one), and a cafeteria with typical Austrian food. For some extra dough, you can also use the indoor fitness and wellness area or have treatments in the spa.
Bunny appreciates the cleanliness, space and relative quiet of the Schönbrunn pool. It has very good opening times and is surrounded by the beautiful Schönbrunn gardens, if you fancy relaxing in a shaded spot either before or after your bathing time.
Some other pools you may want to try include Krapfenwaldlbad, which has an excellent view, or the Therme Wien complex.
The entrance fee to the Schönbrunn pool depends on the time of day and length of your visit. Visit their website for further details.
The nearest metro stop is U4 Schönbrunn. The pool is a bit of a hike up from the metro station, but this will only make your first dip in the pool even sweeter.
Go for a Picnic
Picnic is always a good idea, Bunny says.
Her favourite picnic spots in town are at Schönbrunn and the Belvedere gardens. Both have plenty of places to spread out, but no proper picnic areas as such. Picnicking on the lawns is technically forbidden, but people picnic anyway, no matter how verboten it is. Bunny is guilty of the same thing.
If you’d rather have your picnic somewhere where it is officially sanctioned, try Burggarten in the city centre or head to the banks of the Old Danube.
Bunny also likes picnicking on the Gänsehäufel island which is one of Vienna’s oldest recreation areas by the Danube, its popularity dating back to the 19th century. There is a small entrance fee to the island which offers extensive services, such as restaurants, shops, outdoor pool, sports facilities and more.
Just remember this: where you decide to picnic, take all your bloody rubbish with you, including cigarette butts if you’re stupid enough to smoke. Bunny thinks there is nothing dumber than littering.
Luckily, the art of picnicking is rather easy. Pick a scenic spot, grab a blanket, buy some food, make sure you have the means to keep the beer cold and don’t forget a good book. Voila, you’re sorted.
Bunny's Book Tip
Hike in the Vineyards
Vienna is one of the few capitals in the world to have a significant wine growing area within its city limits. The dominant grapes are white, and production has been in full swing since Roman times.
Once a year, usually towards the end of September, Vienna Wine Hiking Day (rather a weekend) lets hikers wander through private vineyards that are normally inaccessible during the rest of the year. There are 2-3 official hiking paths to choose from and wine tastings will be offered practically every fifty metres. Prepare for slow going. Pacing is necessary when sampling so many wines and vineyards.
Outside of Wine Hiking Day, nothing stops you from wandering among the vineyards on your own, as long as you keep off private property. The greenbelt around Vienna includes a number of scenic locations with some marvellous vineyards. Good places to start would include Grinzing, Stammersdorf, Nussberg, Neustift and Kahlenberg, with its breathtaking view of the Danube river and the Vienna’s skyline.
And wherever there are vineyards, you are also certain to find Heurige, traditional Austrian wine taverns. So how about going for a walk through the vineyards, followed by a glass (or two) of cool white wine enjoyed in a picturesque Heurige with a view? Yes please, Bunny says! All you need is a silly green feathered hat and you couldn’t be more Austrian.
Check out hiking routes around Vienna, as maintained by Vienna's Forestry Office. All can be reached by public transportation and are well-marked. No special hiking gear is required either.
Spend the Day in a Luxury Day Spa
If you are not the hiking type, but rather want to escape the sun and the heat, despair not. Bunny has a solution for everyone.
You can always go and spend the day in one of the lovely day spas in Vienna. They are likely to be almost deserted on a hot sunny day and you get the superb facilities all to yourself. Swimming in the cool waters of beautiful indoor pools and enjoying the luxurious tranquility whilst escaping the city heat is a combination Bunny cannot resist.
She has two particular favourites among the many luxurious day spas in Vienna:
Both have sumptuous facilities, superb swimming pools and friendly service. Plus, they are not as expensive as you might think.
You can feel like a film star strutting around an exclusive spa in your bathrobe, with no-one else in sight. Wear sunglasses to complete the glamorous picture, Bunny says.
A day pass to the Spa at Ritz Carlton costs 40 euros per person (50 euros during the weekend), whereas Arany Spa will set you back 45 euros. Both give you access to the pool, saunas and steam rooms as well as relaxation areas (gym is included only in Ritz Carlton). Fluffy bathrobes, slippers and some healthy snacks seal the deal.
Want to Go Further Afield?
If you are ready to venture a bit further and leave the city, there are a couple of excellent options near Vienna. You can go on a little cycling trip along the Danube river in the Wachau region or hike on a mountain plateau in Rax - and still get back to Vienna for your dinner.
Go Cycling in the Wachau Region
The Wachau stretch of the Danube river valley between the towns of Krems and Melk is listed as a UNESCO world heritage site for its exceptional beauty. A number of picturesque towns and vineyards line the river and make an excellent playground for cyclists, whether enthusiasts or pure leisure peddlers.
Krems is a great place to start cycling. There is a wide bike lane you can follow along the river and pretty towns will start to appear in quick succession. Bunny’s first recommended stop is Dürnstein, one of Bunny’s favourites, with its small-town charm, castle ruins and excellent restaurants. The main pedestrian street can be overly busy with tourists, but no matter.
Further down the river, Weisenkirchen and Spitz follow, before Melk, some 40 kilometres later, if you make it that far. Melk is known for its 11th century Melk Abbey and well worth a visit in its own right, even if your cycling doesn’t get you that far this time.
Krems is an 1h 10 minute direct train trip from Vienna. Nextbike has a bike station just outside the railway station in Krems and bikes are easy to rent. No maps are needed as the cycling lane simply follows the Danube river.
Escape to the Mountains
That’s right! Vienna itself has only minor hills, but you are never too far from the mountains in Austria. The Alps would be a bit of a stretch for a day trip from Vienna but luckily there are some lofty peaks much closer to the capital. Semmering, Rax and Schneeberg mountains are all an easy day trip away from Vienna.
Bunny thinks Raxalpe is the most scenic mountain range close to Vienna. The plateau around the 2,000m high Raxalpe is simply perfect for hiking on a hot summer day.
Plus, you do not have to drag yourself all the way up the plateau, as you can take the Rax Ropeway, the first aerial ropeway in Austria. This helps you to save energy for hiking in the gorgeous and relatively flat mountain plateau instead. There are a number of different trails to choose from. There are also some mountain huts where you can buy drinks and ice-cream to fuel your hike. Hikers need lots of extra energy, Bunny says.
Hiking in Rax, breathing the fresh and cool mountain air, can make you feel a thousand miles from the city, even though you’re just around the corner really.
If you have a car (Bunny doesn’t), Rax mountains are an easy 1,5-hour drive from Vienna. For the carless, there is always the railway. The train from Vienna to Payerbach/Reichenau takes about 1h 20 minutes. From the train station, there is public transportation directly to the valley station of the Rax ropeway.
There is no reason to panic if you are stuck in the city of Vienna on a hot summer day. Make the most of it!
Vienna may lack in gorgeous beaches. but it is blessed with pretty much everything else. It was not chosen as the world’s most livable city for nothing, Bunny says.