Travel 75 minutes by boat down the Danube to Bratislava and you not only enter another country (Slovakia), you find almost a parallel universe. Like its big neighbor, Vienna, up the river the city has a grand town hall, lovely squares lined with Baroque palaces, musical connections, statues aplenty, but where are the crowds? and the lines of tour buses? and how much was that beer?
Bratislava is the capital of Slovakia and a day trip here from Vienna is both easy and enjoyable. The city sits on both banks of the Danube, joined by a new and very modern bridge but it's the historic centre on the north bank that is the drawcard. It's all very compact and easy to walk around, though the climb up to the castle is pretty steep (your reward is the spendid views - the castle itself was derelict for many years and what you see now is virtually a complete reconstruction). The Kings of Hungary came here to be crowned in St Martin's Cathedral and Naploleon came here to the Primates Palace after his victory at the Battle of Austerlitz to sign the Peace Treaty that changed much of the face of Europe.
You'll be able to see most of the city's attractions (abeit briefly) in a day and still have time to sample some substantial Slovak fare for lunch - the food here is fairly pork- and potato-oriented, heavy but tasty though pizzas and pasta are also popular and readily available if you're looking for something lighter - and a glass or two of excellent Slovakian beer at one of the numerous cafes around the town.
There's lots of Kodak moments around Bratislava -
Copper domes and pretty churches abound - as well as the main Cathedral of St Martin, there are some notable churches built by the many Catholic monastic orders - the Franciscan Church is the city's oldest; the peach-coloured Trinitarian Church's main altar shows Christian slaves being freed from the Turk; Jesuits, Capuchins, Ursulines, they're all here. You could certainly fill your whole day visiting them.
The climb to the castle will take you a while, and you'll need to stop to get your breath once you get there. Formal gardens and wonderful views make the climb worthwhile. The little church halfway up the hill is used by Bratislava's Russian Orthodox community.
Back in town, the Mirror Hall of the Prelate's Palace is where Napoleon and the Austrian Emperor signed the Treaty of Pressburg (the old name for Bratislava) following Napoleon's sweeping victory at Austerlitz. This was where we met the face of the old regime of Soviet Slovakia - we'd been struck by the friendly openess we'd met everywhere up to this point, but the dragon on the desk here had definitely done her training at the Rosa Krebs School of Charm - our response was to take the photos we were sternly told were "od forbid".
The water, the miracle of the nature, the God's gift, that sense of the life, is for many people somewhat of course, but for many others, a luxury, and a rarity.
Water is the pure and clear strength.
It brings the nature to blooming, it refreshes and cleans, and it is life basis for people and animals.
The Viennese say that the water from Vienna, the best from whole Europe is.
It is, probably, true.
The water in Vienna is cold, fresh, and clear.
But not many people know, from where gets such a good water.
Through the first Viennese high source water pipe, flows from Rax and Snow Mountain, daily, over 200,000 cubic meters of water.
The source of the Viennese waters is the “Kaiserbrunnquelle Water Palace.”
The known water source in the “Höllental” is found, probably in the year 1728, from the Emperor Karl VI.
Because of the excellent quality, one brought the water to Vienna, to the caesarean table.
The emperor Franz Josef I. gave the source of the city Vienna, in the year 1865.
1869 to 1873 took place their setting and the construction of the first Viennese high source management.
Since this time, the source provides the capital Vienna with best drinking water.
Not far from Rax mountain station and not even far from Semmering, you can visit Kaiserbrunn, the water pipe museum.
This installation belongs to Viennese waterworks, but is one Part of the doing magic area of the Höllental, between Hirschwang and Kaiserbrunn.
The Hell Valley is one of the most beautiful valleys of the country.
It is a place for hike; it is a possibility, the first water pipe way Viennese, to enjoy.
Address: Wiener Wasserwerke, Betriebsleitung Hirschwang
2652 Hirschwang 67
Take a daytrip on the Semmering Railway which is listed as a UNESCO World heritage site since 1998.
It was constructed between 1848 and 1854 and was the first mountain railway on standard gauge in Europe. The 41 km trip from Gloggnitz to Murzzuschlag has a difference in height of 460 m and consists of 14 tunnels and 16 viaducts.
The route is frequently served by both Intercity trains and local trains. The Intercity trains leave from Vienna South Station and only stop in Murzzuschlag, whereas the local trains leave from Wiener Neustadt and stop at almost all stations.
A single ticket from Vienna to Murzzuschlag will set you back 17,80 Euro (2005). The Train Information Office provides detailed pocket timetables for the Semmering Railway.
I booked this excursion with my travel agent and using the same bus,that we used for the whole ten days tour on this trip to Austria and other places in Europe.
The excursion is called "Vienna's Forest" and takes you to some of best places to see around the beautiful forest located just outside of the city.
The first stop of that excursion it was this nice castle: Liechtenstein Castle,it was propierty of monarchs of this small monarchy in central Europe and was giving to Austrian Goverment as a gift.Right now is used by Austrian Boys Scouts to do here some conventions.
This is the second stop of Vienna's Forest excursion.This is the Holy Cross Monastery and we had the chance to go inside for more than one hour and exploring the whole monastery,(except the monk's rooms!).There are some interesting things to see inside and also lots of beautiful stainned glasses!.
Kuglmugl is the name of a small building close to Riesenrad / Giant Ferris Wheel in the Prater of Vienna. It is surrounded by a fence and barbed wires and by its constructor - the "artist" Edwin Lipburger-Kugelmugel - this place is considdered to be a seperate state. In 1971 he built this round house first in a village far away from Vienna and was invited in 1981by the mayor of Vienna to move it to Vienna. Afterwards he had plenty of problems with the burocracy in Vienna, because he started to print his own passports, stamps etc.
You may walk easily around that tiny "state" and take a look inside through the fence. The entrance to the state is mostly locked - see my pictures.
All around the "state-border-line" you may read everything about the "bad" behaviour of the authorities against that "poor artist"
In my opinion it is a funny relict of a time, when almost everything was possible to produce, and it was ART, as soon as it was made by an ARTist : a piece of butter thrown on a wall became the famous and precious "Fett-ecke" etc.etc.etc.....
Kugelmugel is next to the station of the Liliput-bahn in Prater !
One thing which I really like about Vienna is its close proximity to the Slovak capital Bratislava. Bratislava and Vienna are said to be the two closest capital cities in the world.
There is a frequent train and bus service between both cities which are only about 60 km apart.
The train trip takes about one hour and a return ticket is only 14 Euro (2006). Like Vienna, Bratislava is situated at the river Danube.
For more info about Bratislava please have a look at my Bratislava page.
Baden is another nice place to see very close to the capital,it is located just 15 miles south of Vienna.Is a small and nice town,and it is an important Spa and healthcare center in the country.In fact some of these spas were used by Austrian emperors.Right now is another nice and very touristy place to go around Vienna.
Picture taken at Baden's Main Square.
Whenever you have time and the weather is sunny, don't miss out on a romantic boat cruise along the Danube River to towns of Krems, Durnstein and Melk along the Wachau valley.
The Wachau is an Austrian valley and one of the most prominent tourist destinations of Lower Austria, located between the towns of Melk and Krems. It is 30 km in length. A well-known place and tourist magnet is Dürnstein, where King Richard the Lion-Heart of England was held captive for ransom by Duke Leopold V. Nowadays, there is a ruin castle up the Durnstein hills.
You can take the Blue Danube river cruise.
Melk is situated on the Wachau.
The Wachau is a stretch of the Danube Valley between Melk and Krems, in Lower Austria.
It is one of the most beautiful river landscapes in the world.
It preserves in an intact and visible form many traces - in terms of architecture, (monasteries, castles, ruins), urban design, (towns and villages), and agricultural use, principally for the cultivation of vines - of its evolution since prehistoric times.
You can reach Melk by car or by train, but I believe one of the most interesting ways of doing this is taking a "wachau river cruise"
"Take the train in the morning from Westbahnhof (Vienna) to Melk,visit the Melk Abbey, then board the ship in Melk at 13:50 for the journey to Krems and return to Vienna by train, arriving at Franz-Josefs-Bahnhof."
For timetables, kombitickets and more information:
Taking a boat from Vienna to Budapest is by far and away the best way of making the trip. The hydrofoil is quiet, smooth, uncrowded and has a top speed of 100 km/h.
The route on Danube offers you to see scenic cities, villages, old castles, and beautiful countryside from your seat.
You leave Vienna from the terminal DDSG Boat Pier, Handelskai 265. at the Mexican Platz, opposite the UNO-City. Latest check-in 15 minutes before departure. No seat reservations are available, passengers will take seats as boarding.
BOARDING POINT VIENNA / REICHSBRÜCKE: DDSG Schifffahrtszentrum, 1020 Wien, Handelskai 265 (U1, Vorgartenstraße).
Season generaly from April to October daily
Update for 2009: Season from 1st May to 27th September daily dep. 9am (282 km, 5 and 1/2 hours).
Tickets one-way: Adults € 89.00, Students € 79.00, Children (2-14 years old) € 44.50,
Tickets return: Adults € 109.00, Students € 99.00, Children (2-14 years old) € 54.50,
Children under 2 free.
The ancient city of Carnuntum is situated only 40 km east of Vienna.
"Carnuntum, the capital of the Roman province Upper Pannonia, extended over the present-day towns of Petronell-Carnuntum and Bad Deutsch-Altenburg . The impressive witnesses of the former civilian city and military camp can be seen today in the Archaeological Park Carnuntum. Austria's largest archaeological region lies within easy reach of Vienna and Bratislava and invites you to an exciting journey back in time to the Romans: unique historical relics, expert guided tours bringing history to life, authentic reconstructions, spectacular Roman festivals, archaeology at first hand..."
If you want to see more pictures, I'm building two separate travel pages:
Bad Deutsch-Altenburg Travel Page
Petronell Travel Page
Carnuntum Home Page
How to get there by car from Vienna:
A4 Ostautobahn -
exit Fischamend/Bratislava - B9 main road to Petronell-Carnuntum or Bad Deutsch-Altenburg (about 30-45 minutes).
How to get there by train:
S7 train line from Wien-S?dbahnhof to Petronell-Carnuntum or Bad Deutsch-Altenburg station.
Opening hours 2004:
Open Air Museum Petronell
20 March - 14 November daily 9 am - 5 pm
Amphitheatre Bad Deutsch-Altenburg
20 March - 14 November daily 9 am - 5 pm
Museum Carnuntinum Bad Deutsch-Altenburg
(Limited wheel-chair access, no dogs allowed)
20 March - 14 Nov.
Mon 12 am - 5 pm
Tues - Sun 10 am - 5 pm
15 Nov. - 12. Dez.
Sat & Sun 11 am - 5 pm
Heidentor, or Heathen's Gate.
Althoug its name, it was neither heathen nor a gate, at all....
It was proved to be a quadrifrons ( or tetrypylon, in Greek ) - a pillared building with four archways built between 354 and 361 AD as a triumphal monument for the Emperor Constantius II.
It stands eerily alone in the fields outside what was the Roman metropolis of Carnuntum. The remains are impressive, and this is the most famous Roman monument in Austria.