Getting Oriented

The northeastern part of Austria has quite a diverse geography, with the practically untouched Vienna Woods to the southwest of the capital and the Weinviertel (Wine District) stretching northeast to the border. Along with hearty food, the region produces some remarkable wines, many of which inexplicably never travel beyond the borders. The diverse area has wooded hills as well as one of Europe's largest lakes. The lifeblood of the region is the Danube, which originates in Germany's Black Forest and empties into the Black Sea. The Romans used to say, "Whoever controls the Danube controls all Europe." That may no longer be true, but the scenery is still something to behold.

Vienna Woods. Taking a trip to the spa town of Baden means following the Vienna Woods’ southern trail past ancient monasteries, fertile plains, and bucolic vineyards. Unlike other major metropolitan areas, Vienna has yet to suffer from suburban sprawl, so the countryside is right outside its door.

The Weinviertel. North of Vienna, the rolling hills, vineyards, and pleasant rural vistas invite visitors to experience a slow-moving, almost dreamy kind of lifestyle, different from the Austria of cliché; this is the region that was for years the least developed, least modern part of the country.

Neusiedl Lake Area. The natural preserve at this lake is where storks come in the thousands to feed. Music lovers will want to make the pilgrimage to Eisenstadt, where the great composer Joseph Haydn (1732–1809) was in the employ of Prince Esterházy.

Along the Danube River. Dürnstein, Krems, and many other small medieval towns offer a peaceful respite to the wandering traveler. Wine taverns abound, and good home cooking in quaint restaurants is a perfect way to end the day. Travel through picturesque vineyards and orchards to the mighty Melk Abbey. Pass by ruins of old castles, or stop and hike through the woods for a closer look at the remnants. The views across the Danube will reward you for your toil.

Linz. Austria's third-largest city basks in amazing cutting-edge design. You can experience exciting insights into the latest technology at one of its incredible museums.

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