Situated a very convenient forty-five minutes from Vienna, the Neusiedler See is the largest lake in Austria and also forms part of the border with Hungary. Thanks to its low lying location (compared to the rest of mountainous Austria), the lake and its surrounding areas has warmer weather than Vienna and makes a fantastic day trip for visitors wanting to escape from the city.
From Vienna visitors should head to the Sudbanhof where there are frequent trains to Burgenland and the Neusiedler See. The length of the journey depends on where you go, but Neusiedl am See is roughly forty five minutes. This gives visitors easy access to the lake and the beautiful countryside of the region and its many vineyards.
Since this part of Austria is so flat it is very popular with cyclists, many of whom either circle the lake or set a gentler pace and do half of the circumference while taking advantage of one of the local ferries to bring them back to their starting point.
Personally, I prefer to forget about the bikes. Like Ratty in my favourite childhood book, I believe that there is nothing which is half as much fun as simply messing about in a boat. The Neusiedler See looks beautiful from the shore but it looks even more so from the middle. The gentle wind ripples the surface and glints of sunlight dance all around you. The lake is situated in a national park and so most of the boats that ply its surface are either electric or pedal powered. This means that you can relax while knowing that you are doing your bit for the environment.
Another reason for taking to the water is that the lake shore is dotted with restaurants and cafes. They can be reached by bike but it is easier with a boat. These restaurants combine the exquisite wines from the region with fresh fish from the lake or meat from surrounding farms. After sampling the wine it is best that visitors can relax on the boat on the way back rather than weaving back along the roads and holding up the cars.
Visitors to the Neusiedler See should be aware that because the area is so flat that what I mentioned above as a gentle wind can often be a very strong wind indeed. If you are coming out from Vienna then it is a good idea to check how windy it is, it will always be windier by the lake than in the city.
Although I have recommended this as a day trip from Vienna, the lake area and Burgenland generally is worth more time. Wine connoisseurs and cycling enthusiasts are especially likely to be pleased, although general visitors are sure to be charmed by the almost Mediterranean feel in the centre of Europe.
Top 3 hotels in Vienna, Austria
- Hotel Pakat Suites – double room from €99,00
- Suitehotel Wien Messe – double room from €69,00
- Hotel Roomz Vienna – double room from €69,00
Photo of Neusiedl am See lighthouse in Burgenland, Austria, by Martin Mastelak.