Before I moved to Austria I actually never considered this country as my off winter destination. I associated Austria with mountains, skiing and winter trips only. And what a mistake that was! Of course, winter season will always remain Austria’s busiest tourism period, but those who venture there in summer can recap a very different set of rewards. This country is not only a mountain destination and has so much to offer during warmer seasons. There are many beautiful places where you can fully enjoy a laid back weekend in Austria.
1. Wachau Valley for wine and bike lovers
Do you like bike trips and outdoor activities? Do you like wine? Or maybe you love exploring cozy little towns? For any of these reasons a trip to Wachau Valley will be a great idea for a weekend in Austria. This beautiful Valley is a 30-kilometers (18-miles) stretch alongside the Danube River, between towns of Melk and Krems. It’s literally squeezed between cliffs and hills, therefore the natural beauty of this UNESCO heritage is simply unique. It has an idyllic scenery with steep terraced vineyards and historical villages. All completed with scenic castles and churches.
You can easily reach Wachau Valley from Vienna with just one hour train ride and than rent a bike in one of many bike rentals in Krems. For a full Wachau guide with best bike routes and top vineyards read Wachau Valley Bike and Wine Tour.
2. Relax and take it easy by the Neusiedler Lake
Austria’s lake scene is still underrated but so much worth exploring. Neusiedler Lake is among Austria’s favourite lakes with a well developed infrastructure around. Swimming, biking or renting a boat are just few activities for your weekend agenda. What I also love is that you can plan a Neusiedler Lake as a bike trip from Vienna. The whole way is mainly flat and you can make this route partially by train. Also, last few kilometers can be optionally done with a ferry which is also a fun way of exploring the area.
Bike paths around Neusiedler Lake are beyond beautiful as you bike through vineyards and scenic countryside. You can admire the surrounding, make picnic on the way or plan a stop in one of the vineyards you will be passing by. Around the Neusiedler Lake you can rent a water house or book a room in a local guesthouse. For a full guide and detailed bike route read Neusiedlersee Trip by Bike.
3. You can make it from Vienna to Bratislava by bike
I love biking but I am definitely not a professional, or even experienced, biker. So trust me, this almost 70 km long bike route is doable without any special skills. The route is perfectly prepared for cyclists, easy to bike, flat and mostly separated from the car traffic. On the way between Vienna and Bratislava you will find few pleasant places where you can have some drinks or delicious lunch.
The whole Vienna – Bratislava escapade can be easily done as a one day trip. My biking time, excluding the three refreshment stops, was four hours. Once you reach Bratislava you can stay there over night or come back to Vienna by train on the same day. The train connections between Vienna and Bratislava are pretty frequent and the route takes only one hour. For a full itinerary with detailed bike route read the full guide From Vienna To Bratislava By Bike.
4. Enjoy a cozy weekend in Hallstatt
Scenic Hallstatt is one of the gems of Austria that it’s becoming more and more popular as a travel destination. There is less than one thousand people leaving in town, so after the main touristic hours when all the crowds are already gone, you can experience how peaceful and calm this UNESCO heritage is. Its 16th-century Alpine houses hide little cafes, shops and restaurants where you can enjoy typical Austrian cuisine. It’s perfect for a short, weekend stay, but if you decide to stay there longer you won’t be bored either as there are plenty of activities you can enjoy in the area. Famous 5 Fingers viewing platform, salt minor, hiking routes or boat tours through Hallstatt Lake, are just few of them to name.
This cozy little town is located just 1,5 hour drive from Salzburg and 3,5 hours from Vienna where you can find two closest airports. For a complete guide to this idyllic town with coziest accommodation tips and best restaurants recommendations read Hallstatt For A Weekend Guide.
5. Visit Admont Abbey – the most beautiful library in the world
Admont Abbey was one of the places I truly wanted to visit for a long time. If you can recall the dancing scene from “Beauty and the Beast” movie, this place is just like out from this fairytale. It was founded in 1074 and is now the oldest remaining monastery in Styria, Austria and the largest monastic library in the world. The famous library hall was designed by the architect Joseph Hueber and saying it’s spectacular, is not enough to give this architectural gem a justice.
The main hall is 70 meters long, 14 meters wide and 13 meters high. The ceiling decorated with frescoes is showing the stages of human knowledge and the colors are so vibrant that it’s hard to take your eyes off it. Can you imagine that this spectacular library contains c. 70,000 volumes? The library is also a barrier-free and you can visit and explore it without a guide as well. It’s definitely a must see place in Austria. For more details read The Most Beautiful Library In The World – Admont Abbey.