It’s looking like a stay-home summer for many of us but that doesn’t mean it has to be any less exciting. If you were planning on flying to the Bahamas, a stay-home summer might not be quite what you had in mind but you’ll find there are many places to go and things to see, without needing to cross the border. For those living in Vienna, you are in luck- we’ve compiled a list of destinations which are suitable for day-trips and are a maximum of three hours away, by car.
Once you get past being triggered by the unfortunate name choice (to be fair, how could they have known), you will find that this quaint town with a mere population of less than 800 people has more to offer than a selfie with it’s road sign. Located in Neunkirchen, Lower Austria, St.Corona am Wechsel often attracts visitors of all ages looking to experience it’s adventure park which features a bike trail (complete with obstacles), summer toboggan track and even the possibility to embark on a 2.5km guided tour which teaches you all about ants. Equipped with a car, the drive will take approximately 1.5 hours from Vienna’s city center.
Located in Lower Austria, approximately 1 hour away from Vienna by car, Nature park Hohe Wand (which translates to ‘high wall’) is a rocky plain in the Vienna Alps that has an elevation of up to 1,135m and features various highlights. Drawing in families, hikers, climbers and paragliders alike, this protected park is not only home to an array of wildlife but hosts various hiking trails with beautiful viewpoints such as the Skywalk. That isn’t even the best part. In addition to a petting zoo,
you can also take a guided tour with…pause for dramatic effect…an Alpaca or Llama! These have a rough duration of 90 Minutes and should be booked in advance.
Also located in Lower Austria, Schlosspark Laxenburg was previously a prominent summer retreat for the Habsburg Monarchs. Comprised of multiple castles, expansive gardens, a museum, restaurants and even a lake where you can rent paddleboats, it’s understandable why this destination is a tourist favourite. If you’re looking to avoid larger crowds, it’s best to visit during a weekday, if possible. You can get there by car from the city centre in 30 minutes or alternatively take the N200 bus from the U1 subway station Südtiroler Platz-Hauptbahnhof, which will take you about the same amount of time.
Just half an hour from the city by car, Seegrotte Hinterbrühl is located near Hinterbrühl and consists of a series of caves, large grotto and Europe’s largest underwater lake, which can be found 60 meters underground, below a former gypsum mine (Gypsum is a mineral which is often mined and present in plaster or chalk). In 1912, the mine was temporarily closed due to a flood, which caused millions of gallons of water to fill the caverns of what is now the lake. Due to the lack of a natural drainage system, 50.000 Litres of water need to be pumped out daily in order to maintain the lakes depth of 1.2 meters. Ever since the destination’s reopening, Seegrotte Hinterbrühl has remained popular and is particularly well visited in the summertime, especially amongst visitors looking to escape the heat in the city. Here’s also another fun fact. Did you know that the location was also featured in the 1993 Film: The Three Muskateers?
Originally considered Europe’s largest bird park (featuring a walk-through aviary of 25,000m3) when it opened it’s doors in 1982, Zoo Schmiding, which is located in a castle near Wels, Upper Austria is now home to the Siberian tiger, giraffes, Austria’s only Gorillas and a variety of other animals. It will take you just over 2 hours to reach by car. Alternatively you can take the train to “Krenglbach-Haiding and take a taxi from there – more information can be found on their website.
The Wachau valley is located right by the Danube river, linking the town of Melk to it’s south and Krems to it’s north. In the year 2000, it was officially recognized as a UNESCO world heritage site due to it’s architectural and agricultural features, as well as it’s landscape. Amongst visitors, the Wachau region is well known for it’s wine and apricots- which are used to produce THE BEST apricot dumplings in Austria – you’ll have to try them and be the judge for yourself. A river cruise that leaves from Vienna is typically a popular means to visit the region. However, the cruise takes a little over 5 hours, which can eat up quite a chunk of your time if you are planning to spend the day exploring the various highlights of the region, such as Melk Abbey. Additionally, river cruises are currently cancelled due to the Covid-19 situation. On the bright side, it will only take you an hour to drive from Vienna.
While this list is in no way comprehensive, it’s a great way to start planning your stay at home summer. By this time next year, you will pretty much be a qualified tour-guide for friends and family who come to visit.