Into the Woods: the Wienerwald

If you really want to get into the great outdoors, scamper across to the Wienerwald. The Austrian capital's rural escape vault, this 45km swath of forested hills, fringing the capital from the northwest to the southeast, was immortalised in 'Tales from the Vienna Woods,' the concert waltz by Johann Strauss Junior in 1868.

These woods are made for walking and the city council website (www.wien.gv.at/umwelt/wald/freizeit/wandern/wege) details nine walks, a couple of which take you into the forest. You'll need about three hours to complete the 7.2km trail No 4, which threads up to the Jubiläumswarte. Rising above the Wienerwald’s green canopy, this lookout tower offers sweeping views from the uppermost platform that take in most of Vienna and reach as far as the 2076m hump of Schneeberg. The climb to the top is exhilarating. Grab some picnic supplies, jump on tram 49 to Bahnhofstrasse, and walk in the direction of the tram to Rosentalgasse, then follow the signs. From the Jubiläumswarte, the trail is mainly through suburbs, so it's nicer to return the way you came.

A slightly longer alternative is trail No 1, an 11km loop, which starts in Nussdorf (take tram D from the Ring) and climbs Kahlenberg (484m), a vine-streaked hill commanding fine city views. On your return to Nussdorf you can undo all that exercise by imbibing at a Heuriger (wine tavern). You can spare yourself the leg work by taking the Nussdorf-Kahlenberg 38A bus in one or both directions.

Another way of exploring the Wienerwald on your own is on one of the 46 marked mountain-bike trails. These are signposted and graded according to difficulty. The website www.wienerwald.info lists and maps the routes.