During times like these when the Viennese heat seems unrelenting and inescapable, you might be daydreaming about dropping yourself into a tub of ice. But have you ever considered taking a different kind of bath? That’s right, you guessed it: I’m talking about forest bathing.
In case you haven’t heard of it, forest bathing (or Waldbaden in German) is the practice of immersing yourself in a forest. You gently walk through the trees with no real agenda other than just taking it all in. These days there is even some science to back up its relaxing effects on your mind and body.
In a city that has tons of city hiking trails (Stadtwanderwege), it’s easy to get caught up in the act of getting from A to B. While that’s also enjoyable, on a scorching hot day you’d inevitably end up drenched in sweat in a mere matter of minutes. So you might instead prefer a slower, less athletic pace. That’s where forest bathing comes in.
If you’re still not convinced, just remember: in a forest there are trees. And where there are trees, there is shade. Let’s take a look at some of the delightfully shady forest bathing spots around Vienna. Here are our picks for the top 5 places for forest bathing in Vienna.
You’ve probably heard of it — the Vienna Woods, better known as the Wienerwald, is the perfect spot for a nice, refreshing forest bath. You can walk around the woods for a while, calmly absorbing your natural surroundings. Once you get bored, you can enjoy some lunch or dinner here, head to one of the local museums, or do a different kind of bathing at the thermal baths. The Wienerwald is a pretty big place, so more specifically check out the hillsides of Kahlenberg, where forest bathers might stumble upon old castles, gorgeous views, and precious plants.
A visit to Semmering makes for the perfect day trip from Vienna, especially when you’re in search of greener (aka slightly less hot) pastures. There are tons of different activities to do here, including hiking, biking, and, of course, forest bathing! If you want to get up into the mountains with as little effort (and sweat) as possible, try taking the ski lift up, then just enjoy the Alpine beauty up above.
If you’re looking for something with more of an exotic jungle vibe, the Lobau is your place. Sometimes referred to as the “water forest” and situated in the Donau-Auen National Park, the Lobau is a great place to go if you want to get a more literal form of bathing. You can even swim in some of the water you see along the way! As a wetland, the Lobau is a unique ecosystem containing tons of different flora and fauna. Listening to the sounds of the water forest makes for the perfect forest bathing experience.
Forest Bathing in Graz
If you want to get super legit, you can do some “real” forest bathing in Graz. Although it’s not technically in Vienna, it could be worth the trip for the aspiring expert forest bather. Waldwelt offers workshops in forest bathing as well as some other relaxing and foresty activities.
Okay, this admittedly has nothing to do with forest bathing, but it’s imperative that you know about it. Sometimes all you can do to forget about the heat is to drink wine with your friends. What better way to do it than while enjoying the hillsides of the Viennese wine country?
Although it will (hopefully) have cooled off by the end of September, if you’re like me, then you’ll still be recovering from the misery of the current heat wave. That’s why you need to know about the Wiener Weinwandertag (in English it’s called the Vienna Wine Hiking Day, but it sounds cooler in German). You get to wander around the hills and vineyards of Vienna, stopping for wine as you go. This year it’s happening on September 29th and 30th, so mark it on your calendar — maybe I’ll see you there.