Last Updated on July 25, 2021 by gregor
If you have been bitten by the wanderlust bug this summer and are looking for destinations that would be less of a hassle in terms if all pandemic-related measures or simply want a quick exit of out of Vienna, we have you covered. In our previous article we went over the top five weekend getaways within an hour of Vienna, which inspired us to consider those nearby locations that would not necessarily warrant a weekend visit, as a few hours or one day would be more than satisfactory. Or perhaps you have only one day off instead of the weekend at your disposal and intend to make the most of it.
Whatever your reason for wanting a day trip just outside of Vienna, we can assure you that there are numerous hidden gems and villages clustered along the capital that can be explored or enjoyed during a one-day trip. Whether you plan to travel alone, with friends or family, these destinations will have something for everyone to enjoy.
Without further ado, here are the Top 10 day trip destinations close to Vienna.
A small market town just 15 kilometers south from Vienna, Laxenburg is primarily known for its castles, which have been an important summer residence of the Habsburg monarchs. The Laxenburg Castle Park with its parklands, the Old Castle, the Blue Court and the romantic Franzensburg make up the most one of the most popular attractions on the outskirts of Vienna. The gardens are delightfully decorated, and in addition to the castles, there is a high number of fun houses, grottos, temples, water elements and a medieval tournament site. All this sprawling across 280 hectares, of which 25 hectares are taken up by the castle lake alone.
With a history going back to the 13th century, the grounds have been in use as a Habsburg summer hunting residence from 1306 to 1918, having witnessed the honeymoon of Emperor Franz Josef and Empress Sisi and the birth of their son, the Crown Prince Rudolf and later his daughter, Archduchess Elisabeth Marie. Naturally, the dreamy Franzensburg castle can be visited by those eager to see the romantic medieval-style castle in the middle of the grounds and get to learn more about the history of the place. It is accessible either by a stone bridge or by ferry during the main season running from 1 April to 1 November.
There are three main entrances, each of them with ample (and free!) parking space. For anyone fond of promenade, hiking, Nordic walking or jogging, there are 10 kilometers of pathways to choose from. Along these paths, you can always find a bench to sit on and enjoy the nature or just catch your breath. Children will undoubtedly find themselves entertained in the 6,000 m2 playground with equipment and areas designated for all ages. There are also a few gastronomic establishments if you will be in need of refreshments after all the walking! If you have enough of land, you can even rent boats and tour the castle lake – they have all: classic row and paddle boats, and sporty electric boats.
A cultural walk is organized (Laxenburger Kultur-Parcours), which takes you to around 50 stops, some outside the castle grounds, and offers excellent information about the town’s history and its landmarks, including the baroque Parish church, the Grüne Haus and the Kaiserbahnhof, a Biedermaier train station converted to a restaurant.
Buses departing every half hour or so from Vienna’s Central Station will take you in about 30 minutes to Laxenburg. Or you can take the train that departs the same station hourly, with the train ride taking about 20 minutes.
Baden bei Wien
A spa town only 26 kilometers south from Vienna and on the edge of the Vienna Woods, it has been famed since ancient times for its hot springs, which contain lime sulphate. As the town was reconstructed in the early 19th century, it is known for its well-preserved Biedermeier architecture.
Some of the main attractions include the Plague Column in the Main Square, the city hall, the theater building and the Grand Casino. Forget Legoland – in Baden, you can visit the Dolls and Toys Museum, or for history fans, the memorial Beethoven House or the Emperor Franz Josef Museum or the ruins of the Rauhenstein Castle. If none of these is of concern, visitors are welcome to take a stroll in the Kurpark Baden, where you can walk all the way up to the Karolinen Höhe, from where you can take amazing panoramic pictures. Hikers would also be delighted by available trails through the Vienna Woods.
Similar to the neighboring areas in Lower Austria and Burgenland, viticulture is thriving in the sunny slopes near Baden, with sorts like Rotgipfler and Zierfandler being at home here. The wines are characterized as having a fruity, full-bodies and strong aroma, and range from light wines to heavy and sweet ones. Numerous taverns and restaurants will serve local wines, but if you want to taste wines, the best place to go is the Badener Hauervinothek.
It is very easy to reach Baden by car, as well as by public transportation. You can either take a regional train from Wien Westbahnhof or the longer ride of the Wiener Lokal Bahnen, the white-blue tram leaving from in front of the State Opera.
Located near Leobendorf, just north outside of Vienna along the Danube, it is a popular destination for day trips outside of Vienna. The castle itself dates back to the 12th century, like most fortifications around Vienna and in Lower Austria, but subsequent partial destruction and disrepair led to a revamping in the 19th century in the romantic neo-Medieval style it can be seen in today. Presently, it can be visited through guided tours and visitors can enjoy a nice meal at the Castle Tavern or partake in the falconry show organized at the Adlerwarte on the estate.
The tour will take visitors through castle grounds, including the armory, which contains the largest private collection of armors and weapons in Austria, through the chapel with its beautifully detailed Gothic winged altar and ivory Christ, through the princely chambers, the knights’ quarters, the kitchen and the hunting chamber. Each space tells stories of the past through the collections and unique pieces present and it is a wonderful and informative experience. And naturally, the panoramic views from the castle are simply amazing.
The castle is easily accessible by car and there are parking spaces available, while by public transit it is accessible by rail, with the S3 from the Main Train Station to Leobendorf-Burg Kreuzenstein Station, about half an hour’s walk from the castle – with an uphill leg of the road.
Carnuntum Archeological Park
Carnuntum was an ancient Roman legionary fortress and former capital of the Roman Pannonia Superior province. On the present site, many of the original buildings have been preserved and the ancient streets recreated to provide an experience of ancient Roman life in a conquered province. During your visit, you can explore the rebuilt Roman City Quarter, the Military City’s Amphiteater and the Museum Carnuntium, where the most important treasures and vestiges are carefully preserved. The good part if you can take the whole family, as there are engaging and interactive programs organized for children, while adults can enjoy guided tours or savor the local wines and gastronomy.
As Carnuntum is 45 km away from Vienna, it is easy to reach by car and you can also enjoy the free parking, while those fond of rail travel, can take the S7 from Wien Landstrasse to Petronell-Carnuntum, with the journey taking about 50 minutes.
A neighboring town located on the other side of the Kahlenberg and Leopoldsberg, north of Vienna and on the Danube, it is a beautiful easy-to-reach destination, known for its Monastery. The town is also known for wine-growing and holds the distinction of being the place where the Zweigelt and Blauburger wine varieties were first bred.
While a walk through the town could easily while away a few pleasant hours, we recommend a visit to the Klosterneuburg Monastery and even taking one of the available tours. According to a legend, the Margrave of Austria, Leopold III founded the monastery on the spot where he found the veil of his bride, Agnes of Wailingen, which had been blown off by a gust of wind on their wedding day. The Margrave’s residence was located in the early 12th century close to the location of the present Monastery, the foundation of which was laid in 1114 and as of 1133, has been continuously settled by the Augustinian Canons. The foundations, including the castle tower, the original Gothic chapel and the tomb of St. Leopold can still be seen today, while other structures were added or rebuilt primarily in a Baroque style from the 17th century onwards. The Monastery hosts the famous Verdun Altar, made in 1181, with its three parts composed of 45 gilded copper plates in a style similar to Byzantine paragons. Should you see it as part of your tour, you will also learn how the beautiful colors were obtained and what an extraordinary technique had been used to create the beautiful altar. While for the time being the monastery might not be available due to pandemic-related restrictions, once reopened, you can take part in any of the tours, including the tour of the wine cellars, the treasure chamber and the museum.
If you would prefer to enjoy a more outdoorsy experience of Klosterneuburg, you can take a walk around the nearby Aupark or in the Augebiet, a natural park along the Danube and finish the day with a cooling visit to pools of the Happyland recreation center.
Naturally, you can easily drive or bike to Klosterneuburg. It is also accessible with the S40 or virtually any regional train departing from the Franz Josef Train Station. The sporty or those feeling more adventurous can hike through the Vienna Woods and descend to Klosterneuburg from one of the pathways on the Kahlenberg.
A wonderful summer destination, the Myra Waterfalls in Muggendorf are a series of water cascades with a total drop of above 70 meters. Carved in rock by the Myra stream, the falls are spectacular and serene – no wonder they were a perfect ambiance for the royal couple of Emperor Franz II and Maria Teresa of Sicily and Naples during a visit here over two centuries ago.
A delightful water carousel at the entrance informs the beautiful experience ahead, as past the turnstiles of the entrance, connected bridges and stairways will lead you higher along the mossy walls and under the refreshing shade of the forest, all the way to the reservoir up. Depending on the route, you choose to take, you can enjoy the views from atop the Hausstein, a rock wall which offers panoramic views of the mountains, or you can stroll about a clearing in the woods nearby, before making your way back down to the crystalline lake by the parking area. The walk up the Myra Waterfalls and back down would take a maximum of two hours and requires a decent level of physical fitness, as the climb uphill is quite taxing.
In terms of accessibility, the most comfortable option is the car. If you wish to travel by public transportation, keep in mind there will be some changes, as there is no rail station near the waterfalls, the nearest being in Pernitz, within 40 minutes walking distance. In this case you can shorten the trip by taking the local bus.
Bonus tip: When purchasing a ticket at the Myra Waterfall turnstiles, you will be asked if it should include the nearby Steinwandklamm, which would add a few kilometers of walking uphill from the reservoir Stauweiher, with the path starting across the road. We highly recommend to also visit this area but prepared for a long hike and very sore legs. It is worth it though, the Steinwandklamm is a karst gorge some 500 meters above sea level, offering visitors a spectacular and steep climb through the network of staircases and paths.
Hainburg an der Donau
A small quaint town, south of Vienna and along the Danube, close to the border with Slovakia and a stone throw away from Devin Castle on the other side. Steeped in medieval history, the town is known for its castle hill, where the ruins of the Heimenburg fortress tower above the land, affording views of the Donau Auen on one side and of Bratislava on the other side. The road up to the ruins is quite steep and the pathways narrow, so caution is advised and a good physical condition ideal – but the views are well worth it. The castle was built in the 11th century, but was destroyed during the Turkish siege of 1683, then as of the 18th century started to fall into disrepair.
Hainburg still boasts well-preserved building from the medieval period, including the Wiener Tor (Vienna Gate), which was built in the 13th century and is now the largest medieval gate still in operation in Europe, containing the city museum and thus accessible to visitors. Ruins of the other gates, such as the Ungarn Tor (Hungarian Gate) can also be visited and photographed. Nature lovers might wish to step outside the town and start climbing up the Braunsberg, a limestone massif with an altitude of 346 meters, which used to host in the antiquity a Celtic settlement, remnants of which are still visible to this day.
The town is easily accessible by car and rail, with regional trains and the S7 coming to and from Vienna.
Bonus tip: stop in the nearby Bad Altenburg, where you can visit the beautiful castle and enjoy a walk in the grounds of the Kurpark.
National Park Donau-Auen
One of the largest remaining floodplains on the Danube, the national park covers an area of 93 square kilometers, spanning a distance from the Vienna Lobau all the way to Hainburg an der Donau. A natural reserve with 700 species of higher plants and various species of mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians, the park is of interest to nature lovers, nature scientists, and families alike. Two main administrative points, Schloss Orth Nationalpark- Zentrum and the Nationalparkhaus Wien-Lobau, organize a host of activities, including children’s camps, family camping, guided day and nocturnal hikes, exploratory workshops of the flora and fauna. If you just prefer to head on off on your own or with friends, there are numerous marked trails. In Vienna alone, you can try to make it to the scenic spot called Gänsenhaufentraverse, while from nearby Schonau, you can hike all the way to the Orth an der Donau, from where you can take a ferry to cross the Danube into the Haslau section of the Donau Auen.
As the natural reserve can be entered by any private visitors without a tour, we remind our readers to respect the rules governing the park and to respect the natural habitat of all the species it hosts. Remember that this is flood land, which means high humidity, so wearing insect repellent is a must. For those interested in learning more about the reserve and its species, we recommend taking one of the available guided tours, which can be booked through the national park’s website.
One of the most beautiful and visited Renaissance castles in Austria, Rosenburg is located on a cliff overlooking the Kamp River valley, in the middle of the Naturpark Kamptal. Even though the castle dates back to the 12th century, the current structure dates back to the 16th century, when it was constructed with 13 towers. Subsequent expansions led to the addition of tournament grounds and arcades.
Presently, the castle is converted into a museum, where through the carefully curated exhibitions and selected pieces, you can learn about its history. Additionally, you can stroll through the beautifully landscaped grounds or enjoy the falconry experience, an ancient tradition of training and hunting with birds of prey, which is still continued to this day at Rosenburg.
If you are not so interested in the castle, you can make it a whole day’s family adventure in the nearby Rosenburg Kletterpark. Climbing rope and bridge constructions, making your way through hanging tunnels, an amazing panorama – one hectare of hanging fun at your disposal, with a wonderful view of the Kamp River Valley.
You can reach Rosenburg by car in about an hour and you can find free parking close to the castle. If you prefer public transit, bear in mind there are no direct trains or buses available, but you can take the train from Franz-Josefs-Bahnhof to Hadersdorf and a regional train or bus to Rosenburg, accounting for about two hours of travel time.
If you’re living in Vienna, chances are you have heard a few friends or co-workers mentioning this name. It is of course the famous designer outlet, which provides visitors with an amazing and premium shopping experience consisting of famous designer brands at unbelievable sale prices. You can take the shuttle bus from Vienna and see for yourself. We suggest you set yourself a spending ceiling before arriving.
Bonus tip: if you plan to explore the beautiful Lower Austria, experience its local culture and soaking up the well-preserved heritage and history in this region surrounding Vienna, we can only strongly recommend our readers to consider the Niederösterreich Card, a tourist pass, which for the reasonable one-time fee of 63 Euro for adults or 32 Euro for youth includes about 300 tourist attractions, destinations, and experiences, which can be visited within the span of a year (the year starts on 1 April 2021 and ends on 31 March 2022, so you can still take advantage). For those looking forward to weekend getaways this summer, the destinations listed here might inspire your itinerary and sense of wonder alike.
In addition, we would like to urge our readers to consider any-pandemic related measures and requirements (such as the “3G” rule) that may apply when visiting any of the sites mentioned in this article.
We hope our article has sparked your interest in the area around Vienna and that you will tick at least one of these destinations off your travel list for the summer. Let us know in the comments which one of these places you’ve been to and would recommend others to visit.
Photos Credits: Unsplash