Vienna Alps- Wiener Alpen

P1040128The Piesting valley  belongs to the Vienna Alps in the South of Vienna and starts in Woellersdorf ending in Rohr im Gebirge. It is famous for its romantic Biedermeier Bicycle Trail along the river Piesting, suitable for families. Bicycles may be rented at Restaurant Piestingerhof in Piesting. The most beautiful part is between Markt Piesting and Gutenstein. Anyone looking for a sporting challenge, can complete his voyage to Rohr im Gebirge.

P1030922This valley is also my sister’s home where we stayed this summer to take care of five cuddly cats while my sister was on vacation. This gave us the chance to check out this region with our Lower Austria Card (LAC).  To reach Piesting by train you have to change in Wiener Neustadt and take the train to Gutenstein. The regional attractions are the Schneeberg Railway  and the Hohe Wand Nature Park, both among Lower Austria’s top 47 destinations.

The Piesting Waldbad (LAC 274) is a very cool and shady bath which we consulted regularly during the last heat wave. It’s a 12 min. walk from the train station in Markt Piesting passing the excellent ice-cream parlour Fjoli. It has a slide and is surrounded by a forest. Another cooling public bath is the Fischauer Thermalbad (LAC 264). It’s a natural bath with imperial charm .

We started off the first day with a challenging hike on Trail 231 from the restaurant Zitherwirt in Dreistetten to the Hohe Wand Nature Park (2 – 4 hours walk). After 45 min. through the woods we reached the cave Einhornhoehle, which can be visited only on Sundays. Sporty people may use the ladders above the cave and then the Dobrilsteig. With children better continue on route 231. You will first reach the Herrgottschnitzerhaus with a marvellous view and then the Kohlroeserlhaus  with excellent food. Here is the entrance to the rock path.  Another interesting part of trail 231 is the Pecherlehrpfad in Hernstein,  a nature trail explaining the resin production, which was widespread in this region.

In Gutenstein we visited the Waldbauernmuseum (LAC 268). Our guide Lisa gave us insight about the various crafts of the forest farmers, such as charcoal burner,  vat binder, basket weaver or carpenter. English guided tours must be pre ordered.  They offer a special program for kids every first Sunday in a month. There is also a smaller museum dedicated to Ferdinand Raimund, a famous Austrian dramatist who is buried in Gutenstein. He was like many poets and painters in the Biedermeier period fascinated of the scenic beauty of the Piesting valley. We saw his play The barometer makerat the Gutenstein Festival and enjoyed the picturesque setting.

P1040057Wiener Neustadt
If the guiding hand of our LAC-booklet and bad weather hadn’t pointed us towards Wiener Neustadt, we wouldn’t have visited the Industrieviertelmuseum (LAC 287) and  the Stadtmuseum (LAC 288), and wouldn’t know that a Habsburg emperor, Friedrich III, lived here in a huge castle in the middle ages. As we didn’t find any ruins we went shopping in the cosy pedestrian zone and at Sorelle Ramonda, a design warehouse in Woellersdorf, instead.

P1040112Myra Waterfalls
On our third and hottest day of exploring, we decided to visit the cooling Myra waterfalls. Unfortunately we did not consider the many tourists arriving by buses on Sundays. All these people, sometimes without proper shoes wanted to climb that walkways and ladders between the waterfalls. Nevertheless, the view of the Hausstein did not disappoint us nor did the water playground disappoint the children.

P1040059Forchtenstein Castle (LAC 320)
After having explored the attractions of the Piesting valley by train or bicycle, we decided to visit some other places, not too far away, like the Forchtenstein castle and reptile zoo in neighbouring Burgenland. With the LAC you can visit the portrait gallery and the hunting exhibition. Actually, this castle is a paradise for children on weekends in July. They can meet Forfel, the mouse, and pass the knight exam.

P1040092 Celtic Village Schwarzenbach (LAC 284)
We came by bus and didn’t know that it’s on the top of a mountain. After running up the hill so not to miss the bus back, the Celtic outdoor museum did not disappoint us: Celtic houses, a Celtic festival site, an observation tower and even a goat hotel. But only every first Sunday in a month and at the Celtic Festivals in June and August the village comes to life.

Moenichkirchen was an instant winner – and not just for the cable car (LAC 276) and the mountain carts, but also for the swing trail. Only an hour from Vienna at an altitude of 1200 m it was about 10 degrees Celsius cooler during the heat wave in Vienna. On top of the mountain there was a relaxing swing trail for families and the mountain carts made a lot of fun.

What the LAC did achieve was to launch us down interesting destinations and into regions we might not otherwise have explored.