The capital of Austria is known for grand architecture, cozy coffee houses and rich culture. But venture outside the city limits, and you will find a largely undiscovered region with equally as much to brag about.
The Lost Garden of Schönbrunn Palace
The opulent Schönbrunn Palace is one of the most important buildings in Austria and the former abode of the Habsburg royal family. A secret garden sits alongside and offers more intrigue than the rest of the estate.
Known as the "irrgarten," the mysterious green maze has surprises around every corner, including riddles and tasks such as the "chiming climbing pole" and the "bouncing boards" pathway. Scandalous encounters between courtiers and aristocratic ladies once occurred at the labyrinth’s center and almost caused its destruction in 1892.
Krems an der Donau
Located in the world-famous Wachau region, this 1,000-year-old city provides a gateway to the past. Walk among the distinctive pastel, red-roofed buildings and gaze up at monastery spires. Museums and monuments are around every corner so exploring by foot is a pleasurable and educational way to spend an entire day.
The settlement lies on the banks of the Danube, offering great views of the river. The area also has delicious wines that are locally grown and produced in the surrounding vineyards.
The gleaming golden monastery, perched formidably on a rock overlooking the ancient town, makes visitors feel as if the architects were a bit overenthusiastic about baroque architecture. But the ornate façade is only part of what lies behind the outer walls of this astonishing abbey.
Built in 1089, this former palace is home to many impressive decorations – ornate stained glass windows, multifaceted marble walls, and deeply detailed frescoes. Despite the finery, it also has a humbler side and still operates as an educational facility, as it has done since the 12th century. A whopping 80,000 books in its two-story library should keep the students busy.
This petite village in the state of Styria is nestled at the base of the beautiful eastern Alps and considered one of Austria’s foremost winter sports destinations.
A rare wooden statue depicting the Virgin Mary is housed in the grand Catholic basilica at a prominent town square. The attraction draws crowds so often that the site now is one of the most visited shrines in Europe. Though several myths surround the formation of the church, its beauty – and that of its surroundings – are entirely unquestionable.
Often associated with the great conquests of male kings and lords, this castle is unusual because it also was a well-known homestead for many influential and wealthy women throughout the ages.
The scenic castle was reconstructed over centuries by a series of royals and affluent families. Baroness Katharina Elisabeth von Wechsler took control of the land in the 17th century and helped create its distinctive look. It has since been in the ownership of the von Liechtenstein family after their purchase in 1822.
The attraction is open to the public and has a hotel on site that will make you feel like royalty.