As I write, Burgenland is still an insider tip for travellers. For us Viennese, the historic Land of Castles represents a Southern escape: Thanks to lots of sunshine, vineyards, a rolling landscape, spas and vast Neusiedlerseee we use Austria’s warmest region for culture and wellness. Most of us don’t ponder about the region’s ancient Celtic wine culture when we roam local wine cellars sipping Blaufränkisch, especially not at one of the top innovative vintners. However, we love to exploit Burgenland’s history when exploring its 59 fortresses and castles.
If you play with the thought of a countryside trip to Burgenland, consider it’s just a 40 min drive / 50 min train ride from Vienna. You can build it into your itinerary when going to Bratislava and Budapest. Here are places I have been to and can’t wait to see again.
Lake Neusiedl is the second largest steppe in Europe. We love to do boat cruises, sail and surf there. Sometimes we tour the shores by bike and hang out at traditional wineries. Some Burgenland vintners offer wine tastings of their red and white wines. Families like the wildlife nature reserve of Seewinkel, and weekenders relax at Hotel and Spa Therme St. Martin. Historic lakeside villages such as Rust have that Hungarian touch that is typical for Burgenland. (The Hungarian border runs right through Neusiedlersee’s Southern tip.) Find out more about Neusiedlersee and what to do there.
There are a few private wine tours to Burgenland. If you think of blending wine tasting with a fun and informative experience you will probably end up at the Höplers in Winden, close to Neusiedlersee. That part of Neusiedlersee grows amazing red, white and dessert wines due to its location between the lake and Leithaberg Hills. At the family’s estate Christof and Louise will take you on a sensory wine tour through their Wine Rooms. You will taste several of their award-winning red and white wines. The village of Winden itself boasts Austria’s oldest wine press. Winden and neighbouring Breitenbrunn are well known for their old half underground wine cellars. Read the story about my wine tour at Christof and Louise’s wine rooms, and more fun things to do in the area.
Burgenland is probably the most exciting Austrian region to taste wines. The new generation of vintners are the shooting stars among Austrian wine producers, and compete well at international level. I like the fact that you can visit charming traditional wine estates alongside really innovative places: The 17th and 18th century vintner houses of Heiligenbrunn, for example, are still covered with straw and clay. One of the most innovative wineries in the area is Szigeti. Their quality sparkling wines each come with a distinct taste of certain local grape varieties. Burgenland is still an insider tip among wine travellers so most organised day trips from Vienna are private wine tasting tours. (Get in touch if you need help.)
Esterhazy is Burgenland’s show palace. For centuries, the Esterhazy Princes ran a regional powerhouse, influencing politics, art and music in the former Habsburg Empire.
Their ancestral seat in Burgenland breathes aristocratic countryside life but is far from provincial: Esterhazy Palace was built by the most popular baroque artists. The elegant rooms are laid back, compared to Habsburg pomp. For decades, they were the home to a Liechtenstein, a Bavarian and an English princess, along with their Esterhazy husbands. The most original items are the ornated ceramic stoves. The other main highlight are the frescoes of the Haydn Great Hall.
Esterhazy Palace also hosts regular Haydn concerts and a permanent exhibition about Austrian composer Joseph Haydn. Wine travellers should roam the vast underworld of Austria’s largest Wine Museum. It is packed with historic wine presses and barrels, and provides you with insight into local wine making and grape varieties.
Location: Esterhazyplatz 1, A-7000 Eisenstadt; the palace is right next to the centre of Burgenland’s capital.
Opening Times: Fridays to Sundays and public holidays 10.00 am to 5.00 pm;
Burg Forchtenstein is a brilliantly preserved Burgenland castle from the Middle Ages. The 14th century fortress once belonged to the Esterhazy dynasty. Its baroque treasury is the only of its kind in Europe preserved in its original location. Expect proper ancestral halls with life-size portraits, 500-year-old cannons, rare silver furniture, and art objects from ivory and bone. A tour guides’ favourite is to tell the legend of cruel damsel Rosalia. The castle is a 20 min drive from the South West of Neusiedlersee, a great excuse to explore Burgenland’s Rosalia Mountains.
Designer Outlet Parndorf
I don’t usually get excited at shopping malls. I didn’t event want to stop at Parndorf Designer Outlet on our way back from Neusiedlersee to Vienna. Eventually I remembered that I needed a pair of jeans, headed there and came back with three fabulous items for a bargain. You’ll find every great brand under Burgenland’s sun, from Armani, Bally, Gucci and Calvin Klein to Ralph Lauren and Louis Vuitton.
Culinary Burgenland Tour
Feel like uncorking culinary Burgenland? This full day private tour lines up a program that pulls together a few regional gems. Between Neusiedlersee and the Hungarian border, you will roam through the wine cellar of the area’s best sparkling winery. There, the Szigeti brothers turn top grapes from all over Burgenland into a distinctively fruity sparkling wine. You will taste a few varieties and learn to saber a bottle. After that Pannonian ‘new style kitchen’ will be served at Burgenland’s gastronomic jewel ‘Das Fritz’ right on the shore of lake Neusiedl. Expect refined local cuisine with lots of fish and fresh local produce. After lunch the guide and driver will take you to another local winery for more wine tasting. Find out more.
Burgenland Tour: Private Wine And Sightseeing Tour
This is a great tour if you are on your way from Vienna to Budapest or vice versa. You will do wine tasting at two wineries in Austria and Hungary. Neusiedlersee’s most popular historic village Rust is on the itinerary, as well as a visit to Esterhazy Palace in Burgenland’s capital Eisenstadt. I like the Hungarian town of Sopron on the way. It mixes Austrian and Hungarian architecture and way of life and is a good shopping spot. Find out more about the tour.
How To Get To Burgenland
Regular trains from Vienna’s Central Station (Hauptbahnhof) take you to Eisenstadt, Burgenland’s capital, as well as busses to the village of Rust (though at 1.40 min they take quite long). If you look for private transfer and an exciting roundtrip to Burgenland, let me know.
Check all the places recommended above on this map. Click on it to view enlarged version.
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go to Wachau Tour Review – Wine Tasting and Biking Along the Danube
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go to Mini Danube Cruise – from Vienna to Bratislava
go to Vienna Woods – Tour Ideas by A Native
go to Melk Abbey – UNESCO World Heritage on the Danube
go to Vienna Travel Planning – Trip Planning and Travel Consulting by Vienna Unwrapped