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LIVING IN AUSTRIA

Six of the best things to do in spring in Vienna

Austria's capital is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, but even more once it comes alive after the long winter months

Cherry blossoms seen against a blue sky in spring in the Austrian capital of Vienna. Photo by Matias Tapia on Unsplash
Cherry blossoms seen against a blue sky in spring in the Austrian capital of Vienna. Photo by Matias Tapia on Unsplash

Spring in Vienna will start on March 20th, and even though the weather can vary tremendously (with April famously being a “stubborn” month), Austrians look forward to the sun and milder temperatures after months of short and cold winter days.

The city springs back to life, with more people on the streets, occupying park benches, the outdoor seating areas of bars and restaurants being fully used again and ice cream shops reopening. 

The city blooms with colour again, be it on the cherry blossom trees, the tiny Frühblüher, or the carefully planted tulips. There is much to do (and much to make up for after winter hibernation) over spring. 

READ MORE: What are the best things to do in spring in Austria?

Here are some of the best things to do in spring in Vienna.

Enjoy the flowers

Vienna goes all-in when it comes to its flora in springtime. There are many places where you can enjoy the sight of dozens of magnolia and cherry trees and planted roses and tulips. 

Schönbrunn Palace gardens are certainly among the best places to visit during spring. The well-cared-for imperial gardens carry all sorts of colours and shapes. The magnolia trees and blooming ivy are some of the main attractions. 

All city parks are good choices for those looking for that Instagrammable pic. The Stadtpark has beautiful cherry blossoms that look stunning with the park’s elegant settings. The Augarten also has plenty of beautiful trees, as well as lovely spots for picnics.

During spring, a trendy place is the Setagayapark, where cherry blossoms and magnolia trees bloom over Japanese-style ponds. Unfortunately, the site is not so big, and it can get very crowded during weekends.

Another popular setting for those who like to see the blooming trees – and take that Instagram pic – is the Sigmund-Freud-Park, where a pink magnolia tree makes the perfect frame for the gothic Votivkirche.

Is springtime Vienna's most beautiful season? Image: Amanda Previdelli

Flowers blooming in the Austrian springtime. Image: Amanda Previdelli

It’s hard not to find beautiful spots. Still, other areas with the much sought-after blooming trees include, but are not limited to, Burggarten, Türkenschanzpark, Karlsplatz, the streets of the 13th district, and in all honesty, perhaps the small park just around the corner of your apartment.

In the 4.5 kilometres Prater-Hauptallee, you can see thousands of blooming chestnut trees – and drop by Vienna’s Prater amusement park for a ride or two. Another famous street filled with blooms is Hainburger Weg, where cherry trees from each side of the pedestrian path touch and hide the skies.

And the prominent flower garden Hirschstetten in the 22nd district is open again for spring, with more than 69,000 spring flowers, a new 3,000 sq metre green area (with seating options) and 15 Japanese cherry trees. 

READ MORE: Spring weather arrives in Austria for the weekend

Ice cream shops and outdoor areas

You know spring has arrived when you start seeing long lines outside of ice cream shops in Vienna. 

Don’t try to fight it; just go for it. Buy a take away ice cream cone or sit down in one of the beautiful parlours for ice cream-shaped like pasta (yes, that’s a thing), and try some delicious vegan options out there too.

And speaking of sitting down… Austria’s outdoor sitting and eating areas, including the famous Schanigärten, are back too. While winter brought Austrian life to indoor places, the summer sun (even on colder days) invites residents outside for a meal, or a Spritzer. 

Try all the wine!

Spring is also the time when some of Austria’s major wine festivals take place. From April to June, the new wines are celebrated. In addition, people can visit wine cellars, participate in hikes through Vienna’s wine regions, and enjoy the season in one of the great Heurigers surrounding the capital.

Though the traditional Weinwandertag, the official hiking day(s), only takes place in September, the paths and beautiful hiking trails are open and blooming in spring.

READ MORE: How to buy wine in an Austrian supermarket

Vienna City Marathon

The city’s annual marathon takes place in late April, and hundreds of people, from professionals to occasional joggers, participate.

If the winter months have left you in less than fit, there’s also the possibility of running half a marathon.

On Saturday (this year, April 23rd), there is also a 10k and a mile run (2k), as well as children’s and inclusion runs. 

READ MORE: Travel: What are Austria’s current entry and Covid rules?

Is springtime Vienna's most beautiful season? Image: Amanda Previdelli

Is springtime Vienna’s most beautiful season? Image: Amanda Previdelli

Donaukanal and and Donauinsel

Spring is also the perfect time – not too crowded, not too hot – to enjoy walks and picnics all over the city, but especially on the Donaukanal, enjoying the sun, seeing all the graffiti, and taking pics by the river. 

The bars are open, and there are plenty of options around. You can ride along with a bike or go for a run with your dog, or you can walk further and spend a day in the Donauinsel, where blooms are also easy to find. 

Don’t be surprised if you see naked people around town. Of course, there are specific places for the freikorper kultur, but that won’t stop some of its main supporters. Sunbathing in parks and by the river – with or without tops – is also a very Austrian activity as temperatures rise. 

Easter markets

They are back! After two pandemic years, finally Easter markets are set to reopen (with 2G rules) in Vienna.

The markets traditionally open at the end of March and welcome the spring season with colourful eggs, arts and crafts, typical food and beverage, and many activities for children. 

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: What are Austria’s current Covid rules?

Useful vocabulary

Frühling – Spring

Frühblüher – early bloomer

Frühlingsgefühle – the feeling of happiness with the upcoming spring

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WEATHER

Wild weather in Austria: How to protect yourself during summer storms

With violent storms becoming increasingly common in Austria, here’s how to protect yourself (and your home) this summer.

Wild weather in Austria: How to protect yourself during summer storms

Storms are a regular occurrence in Austria during the summer months, but the strength and frequency seems to be increasing.

Overnight on Tuesday, June 28th, both the Pöllinger and the Treffner rivers in Carinthia burst their banks causing widespread flooding, mudslides and damage across the region.

Reports on Wednesday morning said the villages of Treffen am Ossiacher See and Arriach (Villach-Land district) were still metres under water and several people had been rescued from the deluge.

READ ALSO: Who to call and what to say in an emergency in Austria

According to ORF, emergency services were still struggling to reach some areas and there were unconfirmed reports of missing people.

A Tweet from Unwetter-Freaks said: “Bad pictures from #Arriach in #Kärnten , which was hit by several storm cells last night. According to ORF, the place is currently cut off from the outside world and cannot be reached by the emergency services.”

Earlier this week, rural areas in Upper Austria were also hit by storms (overnight, June 27th) bringing torrential rain and hail the size of golf balls, which caused extensive damage to crops and grassland in the key agricultural state.

READ ALSO: 23 essential articles to help you navigate life in Austria

The Klaus reservoir had to be drained of 200 cubic metres of water to avoid flooding and trees were brought down across the province by wind gusts – some up to 91 km/h.

The Kronen Zeitung reports the storm caused damage to around 16,000 hectares of agriculture land, with insurers estimating the cost to be up to €6.5 million.

One Tweet showed the size of the hail on Monday night and read: “In the night we had ‘light’ hail.”

Storms then hit the region again on Tuesday night leading to a lightning strike on a hay barn in the Mühlviertel and the flooding of an underground car park in Linz.

With the summer season far from over and the possibility of more wild weather in the coming months, here’s how to stay safe during storms in Austria.

FOR MEMBERS: When and where to avoid driving in Austria this summer

Check the weather report

It might sound obvious, but checking the weather forecast should be at the top of the list of summer storm preparations.

Unlike in the past, weather reports are now typically reliable, and apps like Bergfex and Accuweather are well-known for providing detailed forecasts and weather warnings.

However, long-range forecasts can change quickly, so if you’re planning a camping or hiking trip, be sure to check the weather between 24 and 48 hours before to avoid being caught out.

Additionally, the Österreichischen Unwetterzentrale (Austrian Severe Weather Centre) has regular updates about storms and weather forecasts for Austria and users can sign up for email and SMS notifications.

Stay indoors

According to the organisation, Die Helfer Wiens (The Helpers of Vienna) one of the biggest risks during a storm is being hit by a fallen tree or flying debris.

For this reason, they advise people (and pets) to stay indoors during a storm and close all windows and doors. 

If staying in a tent or campervan, it’s also a good idea to seek shelter in a building (if possible) until the storm has passed.

However, if you are outside during lightning, the Austrian Red Cross says the best approach is to crouch down into a ball to reduce the amount of contact you have with the floor.

READ MORE: How to keep your apartment cool in Austria this summer amid rising energy prices

Stay away from the cellar

Cellars and underground car parks can quickly become flooded during heavy rain – as seen in recent storms in Upper Austria and Carinthia, and last year during violent storms across Austria.

Flash flooding can happen quickly (the clue is in the name), so stay away from cellars and underground spaces during a storm and call the emergency services if you suspect a flood in your home.

Remove plants and furniture from balconies

Having plants and flowers on a balcony is a lovely way to brighten up an outside space, but they risk being damaged during a storm.

To safeguard your pots and lovingly-planted flora, move them inside – especially during a thunderstorm with strong wind gusts and lightning.

The same applies to any outdoor furniture that could be damaged by wind or hail, like cushions, decorative objects and sun umbrellas.

Park cars under shelter

Hail is one of the leading causes of dents to bodywork on cars and damage to windscreens, both of which can be costly to repair.

If hail is forecast during a storm, park a car in a garage or under shelter, if possible. 

If strong wind is expected, then avoid parking a car under trees as debris, or even the tree itself, could end up landing on the vehicle.

FOR MEMBERS: EXPLAINED: How Austria banned everyone from the forest for 123 years

Don’t go into the forest

Whether walking or driving, the best advice is to stay from the forest or areas with lots of trees during a storm.

While sheltering under a tree can protect from rain or hail, lightning or strong wind can bring down trees. This makes the forest a dangerous place to be in a storm.

But if you do find yourself in the unfortunate position of being in a forest when a thunderstorm hits, stay away from low branches and tree trunks and crouch down low. Place any walking sticks or metal poles away from you and stay away from metal fences.

Avoid risky activities

Certain outdoor activities are especially hazardous if there’s a lightning storm. 

Any activity in an open area or that puts you into contact with water or metal is strongly advised against. So that means fishing, swimming, boating, cycling and golfing are out until the storm is over. 

Keep torches and candles ready

Power cuts are common during storms, so keep a stock of candles and torches ready in case you end up without electricity for several hours.

It’s also a good idea to have a portable USB charger to make sure your phone doesn’t run out of battery during an emergency.

Who to call in an emergency

These are the numbers to call if you need help from the Austrian emergency services during a storm.

122 – fire service (Feuerwehr).

133 – police (Polizei).

144 – ambulance (Krankenwagen or Rettungswagen).

120 – ÖAMTC emergency breakdown service.

123 – ARBÖ emergency breakdown service.

140 – mountain rescue.

Finally, 112 is the single European emergency number, whose operators will direct you to the relevant services. This number can even be called on a locked mobile phone without needing the pin.

Find out more with The Local’s guide on who to call and what to say in an emergency.

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