Burgenland Sightseeing & Travel Guide
The Burgenland is Austria′s most Eastern province and joined the Republic only in 1921. Before that, the Burgenland was under Hungarian administration and called "Western Hungary" or "Vierburgenland" (meaning "four castle land").
The name refers to the four administrative districts Pressburg, Wieselburg, Ödenburg and Eisenburg, which in turn had their "Burg" names from the high number of defence buildings that were erected against Magyar and Turkish threats. Three of the four name-giving castles are now actually part of Hungary, but nevertheless there are several others left to see in the Burgenland itself.
The Burgenland promotes an alliance of castles and fortresses (including one in Styria) as the "Schlösserstraße" or "Road of Castles". It spans from Burg Bernstein, Burg Lockenhaus, Burg Schlaining, Schloss Burgau and Burg Güssing straight over the boarder into Styria and the Riegersburg. Since the Burgenland is anything but alpine, the "Road of Castles" is suitable for a cycling vacation.
Video on wine from the Burgenland - with very nice general impressions from Austria's "Hungarian" edge.
Even flatter than the South is the North of the province. It resembles the Hungarian plains rather than anything else you might find in Austria. It certainly doesn′t look like Sound-of-Music-Land, but I have always liked it a lot. The area around the shallow Lake Neusiedler See is beautiful and unique, so I wrote a Seewinkel Sightseeing Guide.
The massive lake is at most two metres deep and slightly salty (about one third of the marine salinity). Once every couple of decades, it falls dry and salt crystals reveal what a special ecosystem this is. It is also a centre for a variety of water sports, especially Podersdorf.
Top-10: Best Attractions of the Burgenland
1.) Seewinkel & Lake Neusiedlersee
2.) Eisenstadt: Esterhazy Palace, Jewish district, Haydn
3.) Rust, St. Margarethen mine & Mörbisch
4.) "Road of Castles", combined with cycling in vineyards
5.) Güssing: Town & Castle
6.) Wiesen Jazz Festival - & other festivals
7.) Burg Forchtenstein Castle
8.) Burg Schlaining Castle
9.) Burg Lockenhaus Castle
10.) Thermal Spas & Hot Springs of the Burgenland
Wildlife, Nature & Wine in the Burgenland
As a biology undergraduate, I used to go there for bird watching. This is done best in the Nationalpark Neusiedler See, where you will also find a visitor centre and English speaking guides. If you manage to be in the park around the 1st of May (Labour Day), you can observe the courtship of the Great Bustard, a spectacular performance of the biggest flying bird in Europe. In June, the only European species of bee-eaters nests nearby in Lower Austria.
Kingfishers, storks, herons and a variety of birds of prey (including the Seeadler eagle, the guy from Austria′s coat of arm), a total of up to 300 different species of birds over the course of a year will keep you and your binocular busy. If you put your eyes to the ground, you might discover some of the local amphibians, the cute Ziesel (guinea pig-like rodents that were made into goulash in traditional cuisine) or Austria′s only tarantula population.
The ancient town of Rust was a "Freistadt" for a long part of its history, meaning that it was effectively an own principality directly under the Emperor with no King, Duke or Count in between. The burghers bought their freedom with heavy taxes, funded by the rich vineyards that still shape the landscape in this area. It is also known for storks that nest on the chimneys of the town.
Burgenland Small Towns & Tours
The town St. Margarethen has a quarry that is in use since Roman times. Today, it is also used as a sculpture park: Artists use the local stone to create sculptures that remain where they were made. Touring the Burgenland will also mean that you will stop by some vineyards. You might also want to go to a thermal spa, either in Stegersbach, Bad Tatzmannsdorf, Bad Sauerbrunn, Lutzmannsdorf or in one of the nearby Styrian spas. Significant towns south of Eisenstadt include Jennerdorf, Oberwart, Oberpullendorf or Mattersburg.
The nice side of living in formally volcanic areas. The town Mörbisch is also well-known for its summer festival, mostly performing operettas by Franz Lehar and Johann Strauss Jr. Needless to say, it′s mostly popular with people over 60. More musical heritage can be explored at Franz Liszt's birthplace in Raiding or at the surprisingly hip festival site in Wiesen.
Some classic sightseeing can also be done in the Burgenland's capital of
Eisenstadt and the town of Bernstein.
For further towns and villages, see my list
of communities in the Burgenland. Note also my article on
festivals and events in the
Burgenland and my advice on the
"Burgenland with Children".
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