My hotel was only a few blocks from Rathaus (city hall), one of the few venerable buildings that made it through WWII bombing. There was an open-air film festival in progress at the park adjacent to the building where a film of an opera was playing the night I got dinner there. (Live opera is strictly a winter thing.) They set up a large screen against the building and stadium seating facing it. Behind the grand stands sprawled a food court with perhaps a couple dozen gourmet purveyors. Serious fine art lovers sat up front and stiffly watched the film. At their backs was the roar of people milling about the food court, looking for their friends, eating, drinking and smoking up a storm.
Schonbrunn Palace Gardens
Schonbrunn is simply the most excellent garden I have ever experienced. The size alone is adequate to impress, but the smartly designed flower bed, the variety of spaces, the range of displays, the creature comforts, the pristine upkeep, the monuments, statues and fountains are all impressive.
Schonbrunn Palace Gardens
There are both large expanses and more intimate spaces.
Schonbrunn Palmenhaus
There are focal points within the whole: fountains, buildings, monuments, architectural follies, a dovecote and a Japanese garden. There are also areas you have to pay extra admission to enter – the crown prince garden, the zoo, the labyrinth, the desert building and the tropical building.
Schonbrunn Palace Gardens
The miles of tree-lined walkways are simply unforgettable.
Augarten Flaktürme
The Nazis built three sets of concrete towers within the urban area of Vienna. They had duel purposes - anti aircraft batteries and air raid shelters. These monsters have proved to be too expensive to demolish or convert to other uses, although plans have been in the works for years to cover them up with apartments. One was recently turned into an aquarium of sorts. Another was fitted for use as an urban rock climbing wall boasting 25 different routes to the top. This particular tower is the only one with enough space around it to have tempted demolition. The soviets only managed to fracture the very top, which is now banded to keep it from flaking on soccer players and picnickers below.
Stadpark is close to the business district, main shopping street, hotels and restaurants. There are several restaurants fitted into its southern boundary. A main feature of the layout is a large, curvaceous duck pond. A paved walkway and strings of park benches surround it. Statues of composers are spaced along the walkway. The dazzling gold statue of Strauss draws a constant crowd of camera clickers. Besides tourists, you are likely to see businessmen on lunch break, grandmothers pushing baby carriages, joggers, picnickers and a few indigents.
Stadpark, Danube Woman Fountain
Volksgarten Fountain, Volksgarten
Volksgarten is a smallish park just off the main drag. Despite the traffic noise, its high hedge boundary and secluded entrances create a feeling of intimacy and tranquility. There are walkways between many rectangular plots of roses. This beautiful fountain bounded by irises lies at the center.

Vienna, Austria, 7/26-28/2012
A few years ago I spent just a couple fall nights in Vienna while on a Danube river cruise. Looking down a parkway that stretched to infinity, I made a mental note to self: “Come back here! Come back and see this beautiful city in the summer!”

I wasn’t disappointed. I made a mission of checking out all the parks and gardens. I rented a bike and drove miles along the river. I spent a day at Schonbrunn Palace. I got around to all the downtown parks. I rode the tram. I left wanting to stay a lot longer.