For the seventh year, the Austrian capital has been at the top of the list prepared by the international Mercer agency for quality of life.

More than half of the metropolitan surfaces are covered in green—280 imperial gardens adorn the cityscape and, in spring, over 400 species of roses blossom in Volksgarten alone. The recreational areas like Prater, Vienna Woods, lakes and the Danube Canal are perfect for long walks, day trips, picnics and bicycle tours. Green architecture aside, the city will also enthuse with numerous organic restaurants and urban design stores.

Schönbrunn Palace, Belvedere Garden or Augarten, where the Baroque intertwines with natural beauty in all its magnificence, where losing one's way in a labyrinth a thousand times is charming, will forever leave an impression on visitors, as will the botanical garden of Maria Theresa, with its collection of over 12,000 indigenous and tropical plants from six different continents. The garden, a green oasis in the center of Vienna, is also as an urban habitat for domestic animals (featuring 130 different bee species). The entrance is free of charge.

Nature meets architecture
Vienna is well-known for the Danube River, a leisurely oasis featuring a 21 kilometer-long island, perfect for recreation. Over 500 electric boats and kayaks await travelers from all over the world, to have a pick-me-up at one of many restaurants on the water, after a long day on the beach. Shopping enthusiasts spending money in Stilwerk, next to the Danube Canal, can't believe the view over a green wall in the inner courtyard, designed by the architect Jean Nouvel.

A 600 square meter free-standing steel construction carries 20,000 different plants that change colors throughout the year. This vertical urban garden, Mur végétal, is a work of a famous French botanist, Patrick Planc. If you thought nature and architecture have never been this complementary, take a look at the green residential complex called Hundertwasser Village, containing a well-known house designed by the architect, Friedensreich Hundertwasser, where asymmetry of colorful and green buildings connect into a well-balanced play of light and colors.

Did you know that, as of 1905, the Vienna Green Belt has increased threefold to 19,000 hectares that encircle the city almost completely?

Lively wine scene
The city will quench not only your thirst for architecture, but also for wine. With an impressive 700 hectares of vineyards, 80% of which are white wine vines, Vienna is the only European capital that produces enough wine to be worthy of mention. Despite the fact that viticulture here has a long tradition, young winemakers are no longer sticking to wine cellar sales as the only source of their income. If they do, the cellars are modern and architecturally demanding.

"Young people like to experiment with more exotic types of grapes, play with different combinations of vines, and so the future of winemaking in Vienna doesn't concern me," says Angelo Terlizzi from Wein & Co, which is located on a famous street, Mariahilfer Straße, where tasting events often star ecological and organic wines. "The most crucial thing in ecological farming is to conscientiously fertilize vineyards, to give them a natural boost toward healthy and fertile soil, while abiding by the natural cycle. But regardless of the certificate the wine of your choice may have, whether it's bio, organic, ecological, or of some other persuasion, the most important thing is that you like the taste of it," explains Terlizzi. You can set out on a wine trail by either an electric or conventional bicycle and, if you suddenly find yourself on the city streets, you may want to check www.tanke-wienenergie.at, for the nearest charging station, or even begin an exploratory adventure in the city on a segway, of which Vienna has no shortage.

The city boasts a rich selection of boutique city hotels, as well as urban design hotels that will convince with their innovation. Like Schani Wien Hotel, opened in April 2015, with a mobile check-in and check-out and access to your room via your mobile phone.

If you're looking for a green and healthy place for your holiday or even home, then nature-friendly Vienna, with its love for people, should top the list.

Nov. 10, 2016 Living photo: Wien.info

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