Belvedere Palace Gardens
You’ll certainly visit Belvedere Castle while in Vienna, as it houses the National Museum, with a big collection of Gustav Klimt’s paintings (including “The Kiss” … a much larger canvas than people can imagine). The grounds of Belvedere are now a park, with French gardens between the upper and lower buildings.
Here is a place you can wander to stretch your legs when you first get off the train at the south station, if you’re just getting into town. Or take a while to rest after you’ve toured the museum’s three floors of paintings, tapestries and sculptures. The beauty of Belvedere is its space and color. The French garden has numerous plantings throughout the year, bringing different floral colors depending on the season. The grand and whimsical designs, the shrubbery and grasses, are restful on the eyes after walking through art galleries.
At the front end of the palace, just inside the main gates (a mere two blocks from the south railway station), you find the Alpengarten im Belvedere. Established in 1803 by the Habsburg Archduke Johann, this is Europe’s oldest alpine garden. The garden, a sanctuary for plants, birds, and people, has more than 4,000 plants, including an Asian bonsai collection.
As Belvedere Gardens is nearby the city center, you’ll appreciate the quiet you find here. This is a good place for couples to stroll in the morning, after lunch, or in the early evening. Twenty minutes with a book or newspaper (or studying your Vienna guidebook) is just enough to recharge your batteries. While you walk through the park and gardens, take note of the garden statues, which, among their numbers, you’ll find the Eight Muses and the Sphinxes are delightful pieces.
The palace is open Tuesday – Sunday, 10am -6pm, with the gardens opening earlier for strollers.