Vienna Day Trips

Vienna Day Trips - Vienna, Austria

Vienna's imperial grandeur casts a spell. From the city's rich café culture to inner-city St. Stephen's cathedral, Vienna's scale and majesty appear to belong to a different world. The city's antiquated grace romances many visitors. Yet even in this most restful of big cities, daytrips provide welcome variation. We've focused on three spots in easy proximity to Vienna: the spa town of Baden; the provincial capital of Eisenstadt; and the lakeside village of Rust.

Vienna's Spa Town: Baden bei Wien

Highlights: cute spa town; lovely gardens; great wine-tasting
Duration: five to eight hours
Exertion level: low to moderate
Accessible by: local train

Baden bei Wien (also referred to simply as Baden) is an important spa destination located 24km (about 15 miles) southwest of Vienna. Baden has long been a center for therapeutic spa retreats, and is similar in this regard to Bad Aibling, one of our Munich daytrip destinations, and Karlovy Vary, one of our Prague daytrip destinations. Baden's deep historical significance as a spa town rivals that of Karlovy Vary.

What makes Baden stand out is its range of attractions. There's a gorgeous garden, sure (an obligatory spa town feature if there ever was one!) but there's also great wine-tasting on offer, good hiking opportunities in the nearby Vienna Woods, and even a casino for those who enjoy being fleeced. Visitors interested in taking a "cure" here should know that Baden's sulfuric waters and the general cure facilities are both top-notch. As you might expect, you'll pay a pretty penny to gain access to them.

Baden can be reached by a special "Lokalzug," or local train, that looks more or less like regular streetcars. The most convenient central location to pick up the Baden Lokalzug is in front of the Wien Oper. Journeys take just over an hour. Trains run every fifteen minutes from just before 6 a.m. until 8 p.m. or so, then every thirty minutes until finishing service at midnight. Check out the Wiener Lokalbahnen information site. A one-way adult fare between Vienna and Baden runs between €6.20 and €9.10 depending on class.

The official Baden city site is full of information pertaining to tourism and the local economy.

Quirky Burgenland: Eisenstadt

Highlights: home of Haydn; historical site; impressive castle
Duration: six to nine hours
Exertion level: low to moderate
Accessible by: train

Burgenland, Austria's easternmost province, is a quirky place that merits at least a day's exploration. Unlike the Alpine version of Austria popularized by The Sound of Music among other films, Burgenland is basically flat. The province is quiet, with the smallest population of any of Austria's provinces. Eisenstadt, located 50km (about 30 miles) southeast of Vienna, is the provincial capital. Eisenstadt may be sleepy, but its also a fascinating place with a culturally significant history.

The biggest tourist attraction in Eisenstadt is Schloss Esterházy, the past and current home of the Hungarian Esterházy family, one of the Habsburg Empire's most important dynastic families. The site dates back to the 13th century as a property, though today's Baroque castle was built by the Esterházys in the 17th century.

Eisenstadt was also home to Joseph Haydn, a very important Classical period composer. Haydn grew up in Rohrau, a tiny town on the Burgenland-Lower Austria border. He later came to spend time in Eisenstadt as the employee of the Esterházys, who also served as his patrons. Today, Haydn House, the former residence of Haydn, is dedicated to celebrating the composer's life.

The official Eisenstadt tourism site is well organized. The Schloss Esterházy Management site contains information on Schloss Esterházy as well as the Haydn House. The two sites can be visited on a combination ticket for a discount.

Also check out the official Burgenland tourism site.

A one-way adult train journey between Vienna and Eisenstadt costs about €14. The journey takes between 70 and 90 minutes each way.

Lake Retreat: Rust

Highlights: beautiful lake; lovely Old Town; wine-tasting
Duration: eight to ten hours
Exertion level: low to moderate
Accessible by: bus, train

The Neusiedlersee is a popular Viennese lake destination, about 45km (around 28 miles) southeast of Vienna. The Austrian-Hungarian border bisects the lake. Rust, one of the Neusiedlersee's most interesting lakeside towns, sits along the southwestern bit of the lake's Austrian territory, just north of the Hungarian border.

With a population of about 1700, Rust is a tiny, picturesque village on the shore of the lake. It is a great place to relax, with a very cute little old town. Rust is also a big wine destination, and as such is a great place to enjoy Austria's distinctive Heurigen wine. Rust is such a wine spot, in fact, that the Austrian Wine Academy (site in German) is located in the village. Wine-tasting opportunities abound.

Beyond the cute Old Town and wine-tasting, the lake's waters off the shores of Rust are good for swimming during the warmer months. Rust also attracts huge numbers of the Neusiedler See's legendary storks. The storks nest on Rust's rooftops.

The best way to get to Rust is to take Bus 566 from Vienna's Südtiroler Platz. The journey takes about an hour and forty-five minutes. It's also possible to take the train to Eisenstadt and then connect by bus from there.

The municipal Rust site is interesting though exclusively in German. Also of interest is the Neusiedlersee tourism site (in English). Also check out the official Burgenland tourism site.

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