When I first strolled under the lush canopies of the Vienna Woods, described in the pages of Elfriede Jelinek’s The Piano Teacher, I never imagined I would one day be living there.
But now, 15 years later, here I am, taking daily walks around Pötzleinsdorf, a charming hamlet on the residential edge of the Wienerwald in the 18th district, waiting impatiently for spring to unfurl the millions of leaves that make up her impressive canopy.
First mentioned in 1112, Pötzleinsdorf was a quiet village of winemakers before merging with the city in 1892. It has since become an up-scale suburb, popular with diplomats. The village’s name stems from the middle ages, when a local knight trained a bear as a “watchdog” (Petz is old German for bear).
The narrow streets are dominated by Schloß Pötzleinsdorf, an 18th century palace and park transformed into a society hotspot by banker Johann Heinrich Geymüller, before he went bankrupt in the 1820s.
The 41 tram ends at the gates of the tranquil Schlosspark, an English-style landscape garden designed in the early 19th century, which can easily hold your attention for an entire day.Perfect for families with small children, the park boasts its own small animal enclosure, complete with grumpy goats grazing grassy mounds, a zip line, a mini clay soccer pitch and a rather splendid wooden playground.
Trails, ponds, azaleas and two famed sequoias grace the state-maintained park grounds. Shady chestnuts line the walkways, along with plaques commemorating the centennial of International Woman’s Day, famous women and Vienna’s pioneering role in the struggle. The restored palace currently houses a Steiner School; along with marble statues salvaged from the Ringtheater (burned down in 1881), they remind you that this was once an opulent residence.
You can grab a quick snack at the park’s “buffet” or head for any of a number of excellent options in the immediate neighborhood. Of particular note, Petit Dej specializes in decadent French pastries, quiche and foamy cappuccinos. It’s easy to get lost in a novel in this WiFi-free café, sipping espresso on their shaded patio, but it’s best to reserve a table for weekend brunches, particularly during the winter when seating is limited to indoors.
Around the corner, the charming Pötzleinsdorf Heuriger serves hearty fare. Snug and quiet, this local wine tavern offers a satisfying menu of traditional Austrian meals that can be paired with selections from their extensive wine list.
Continuing up the hill, explore the baroque detail of the gorgeous Ägydiuskirche. Still an active place of worship, this Roman Catholic church dates back to 1529 and has survived fires, Turkish sieges and various renovations.
Across the road, the Geymüllerschlössel is a permanent annex of the MAK, Vienna’s Museum of Applied and Contemporary Art. Originally connected to the Schloßpark, it was built as a “summer house” for Geymüller’s brother, and now houses an extensive collection of Biedermeier decorative art.
From here, you can end your day with a stroll through the Vienna Woods, accessible through the park’s northwestern exit points. Most of the trails are manageable for all ages, and in early spring, you can forage for the aromatic Bärlauch (wild garlic) that covers the forest like a vibrant green blanket. Joggers traverse the most accessible trails in the early mornings, but if you venture farther afield you may spot one of the many deer or wild boars that make these woods their home.
A discovery at the edge of this forest is the Wirtshaus Steirerstöckl. Looking like a fairy tale and serving delectable pork dishes, it makes an effort to showcase vineyards from across Austria. Well known among the expats that make up a large percentage of Pötzleinsdorf’s residents, this restaurant is the perfect pit stop during an afternoon in the woods.
I invite you to spend a day or two strolling around Pötzleinsdorf, a happy marriage between rural peace and urban sophistication, just a tram ride away from Schottentor.
Points of Interest near Pötzleinsdorfer Schloßpark