vienna heurigen express vineyards

On The Vine | Going off the Rails with the Heurigen Express

Rest your weary feet and take Vienna’s Heurigen Express to some of the city’s most charming Buschenschänke

Having lived in Vienna for seven years, you’d think I’d seen it all. Little did I know there is a world of fruit covered greenery ripening just beyond my daily beat. As summer comes to a close, the tour buses veer north to the Kahlenberg to sample this year’s fresh selection of wines. Along with them, a shuttle service – the Vienna Heurigen Express – takes locals from Buschen to Buschen (the twigs hanging outside Heurigen, or wine taverns, signifying that fresh wine is in), gets two birds with one stone: It keeps people from drinking and driving, and sheds light on some lesser-known Heurigen in Grinzing.

Stepping off the D tram at Nussdorf, it’s hard to miss the Heurigen Express: Its bright red “locomotive” trails a long caboose that seats around 20 people. And if that’s still too inconspicuous, Wiener Lieder are booming from its speakers. The miniature train has two routes, one making the round trip from Nussdorf over Kahlenberg to Grinzing, then back; the second route covers Strebersdorf and Stammersdorf.

Much to our disgruntlement, there were no in-train refreshments. We innocently thought the whole idea behind the Heurigen Express was to sample the wares as we discover them. Still sober, we sat back and admired the grand villas and sprawling vineyards lining the route up to Kahlenberg.

Going off Track

Rising up above north Vienna and the Danube, the Kahlenberg is a haven for locals craving a short break from the city where the tramways still go. After a very bumpy ride, we reached the summit and took a break to stretch our legs. We dressed in sturdy sneakers in case we wanted to veer off track – and good thing we did, because we ditched the Heurigen Express and hiked the rest of the route instead. While the Express winds through the vineyards at a very relaxed pace, we felt the Kahlenberg deserved to be explored on foot at our own leisure. With the Wienerwald at our backs and vineyards in front, the skyline of Vienna unfolded before us in the late summer sun.

After working up an appetite, we stopped at the popular Heuriger Mayer am Nussberg, and indulged ourselves with a well-earned respite in their scenic garden overlooking the city. One delicious Brettljause (a meat and cheese plate), cake and Liptauer bread later, we plotted the rest of our journey: Our thirst for a Gemischter Satz was still unsated.

The Heurigen Express passed us a couple of times, but we had reached our final destination: Buschenschank Worseg, a small hidden gem amid the vineyards of Grinzing where we enjoyed Weißer Spritzer and Most (grape juice); we didn’t realize it was time to go until we almost missed the last train back. As we ambled down the slopes back to Nussdorf, we appreciated the convenience of the Heurigen Express, but were still glad we had gone off on our own: It doesn’t matter how you get there, as long as you do.

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