Austria Destinations

Retz and Hardegg – Idyll between national park and wine country

May 19, 2015

I realised that I’ve been neglecting the Austria section in my blog since my last post. That has to be changed because there’s dozens of interesting places right on the doorstep. I think for a big city, Vienna is blessed with lots of different, beautiful landscapes within a short distance reach. They vary from mountains to plains and from pristine forests to agricultural land. You get a pretty good mix of all of that in the northern part of Lower Austria, which is called the “Weinviertel” (“Wine quarter”) and “Waldviertel” (“Forest quarter”). I guess the names say it all, but here I’d like to introduce two places which lie very close to each other, yet are very different.


Retz is a cute, picturesque town surrounded by vinyards, so it’s no surprise that the whole town’s history is about wine. There’s also the country’s largest underground wine cellar and almost every house has its own, resulting into a total tunnel length of 20 km – according to the municipality that’s longer than their road network. Without doubt, it’s located in one of Austria’s most famous wine regions, therefore you’ll find plenty of “Heurigen” (wine taverns) serving high quality wine for very reasonable prices. And once you’re there you shouldn’t miss another popular attraction: The windmill is one of the two last remaining operable wind mills in Austria and the guides are happy to show you how it works. Retz is easily accessible by train or car from Vienna and ideal for a day trip, especially if you’re into wine.

The beautiful town square

Hotel Althof Retz The underground cellar hosts a special wine from 1955, which has been served during the Austrian Independence Treaty

The wind mill Vinyards around Retz The surroundings of Retz


Close to Retz and right by the Czech border lies Hardegg, which claims to be the “smallest town of Austria” (by its administrative status). Well, town is a slight exaggeration in that case – it’s more like a sleepy village, but the location between the Thaya River and a castle from the 12th century create a romantic setting. Furthermore, the whole area is part of the national park “Thayatal” with lots of hiking trails through the forests. Since the fall of the Iron Curtain, the little bridge between Austria and the Czech Republic has been reactivated, which makes it easy to explore both sides. For example, the “Hardegger Warte” on the Czech side offers a beautiful view over Hardegg and the river valley – personally it was my favourite place of that trip.

Enjoying a day out Sign of the national park Hardegg

River Thaya and the bridge The Czech borderHardegger Warte, viewpoint - I had it all by myself!Hardegg, again Hardegg Castle

Walking through the forest Spotted a green lizard, a very common reptile in the national park Hardegg Castle Back to the Austrian side


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  • Reply Paleica May 19, 2015 at 7:28 am

    sehr cool. also ich muss schon sagen, ich komm viel zu selten auf die idee, solche ausflüge zu machen. wahrscheinlich, weil mir der input fehlt. das grätzel da rund um hardegg gefällt mir richtig gut, das ist schon irgendwo vermerkt 🙂

    • Reply sileas May 19, 2015 at 4:40 pm

      Bei mir scheiterts weniger an den Ideen als an der Motivation 😛 Aber ich hab mir jetzt auch vorgenommen, das viel öfter zu machen. Wenn ich einmal draußen bin, gefällts mir dann doch ganz gut 😉

      • Reply Paleica May 19, 2015 at 4:44 pm

        dann gehts dir ja fast besser als mir 😉 aber wir haben uns jetzt auf seniorenstyle die NÖ-Card gekauft, da erleb ich vielleicht ein bisschen was außerhalb der stadt- und doch innerhalb der landesgrenzen 😉

        • Reply sileas May 19, 2015 at 4:59 pm

          Ha wäre doch gelacht wenn die Senioren aktiver sind als wir o__O Aber an die Karte hab ich schon gedacht 🙂

  • Reply Linda May 22, 2015 at 12:16 am

    Lovely pictures! Never been to Vienna..these photos make we want to visit! Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • Reply sileas May 22, 2015 at 11:46 am

      Thank you! I’m sure you’d love it 🙂

  • Reply 2015 – A travel year in review | sweet/escapes January 3, 2016 at 7:02 pm

    […] could be somewhere in Scotland, but no, I discovered that old castle in Hardegg at the Austrian-Czech […]

  • Reply Anita Lenz August 26, 2016 at 6:24 pm

    Ich freue mich und bin dankbar dort zu Hause sein zu dürfen.

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