On the Viennese Alpenbogen long-distance hiking trail, you experience ever-changing landscapes at your own pace. From rolling hills dotted with ruins and castles to panoramic alpine trails to Lower Austria’s most scenic peaks, the route has a lot to offer. Lower Austria is rarely associated with panoramic mountains and rustic huts. This adventure shows you how magnificent the mountain world in southern Lower Austria can be. On the way, you can stop off at beautiful vantage points equipped with benches and maps.
You hike a total of 300 kilometres (186 miles) in 19 stages in a wide arc from Katzelsdorf municipality to Bad Fischau. Starting at the foot of the Rosalia Mountains, south of Wiener Neustadt, you get the first taste of your hiking adventure ahead on the first stages. Ahead, you see the mighty peaks that you will climb along the Viennese Alpenbogen, like a panoramic picture. The path winds through small villages and quiet forests, leading over the gentle hills of the Bucklige Welt.
You pass the spa town of Bad Schönau and enter the Wechselgebirge hills which gradually become higher before turning into alpine mountains. Next, you head through the Schwaigenland, a landscape of picturesque alpine pastures along the Wechsel. Continue east until you reach the magnificent, historic UNESCO World Heritage Semmering Railway and its surrounding countryside, where you walk in the footsteps of emperors, artists and writers.
The Semmering represents the transition to the high alpine terrain. Accompanied by rugged rock faces and picturesque valleys, the route takes you to the Raxalpe and the Schneeberg, the two highest mountains in Lower Austria. At the Schneeberg, you surpass the 2,000 metre (6,561 feet) altitude mark and enjoy an incredible panorama. Next, you hike from the Schneeberg massif into the gentler Gutenstein Alps, which form the northern end of the Viennese Alps in Lower Austria. The last section runs through the forested Piestingtal valley to Bad Fischau.
The stages are designed to end in places with various overnight accommodation or directly at mountain huts. There is no accommodation available at the end of the eighth stage in Feistritzsattel. Here, you can hike on to Trattenbach or organise a pick-up in advance. You can easily reach the starting point in Katzelsdorf with the regional bus from Wiener Neustadt train station. You can catch a train from the end destination, Bad Fischau.
Along your adventure, you can hop on or off the train if you don’t want to hike the entire route in one go. For example, stage 9 ends in Semmering, where there are rail connections,. You can also reach Hochschneeberg (stage 14) by train. You can find more information at oebb.at.
The official starting point of the Vienna Alpine Arc is in Katzelsdorf, not far from the border between Lower Austria and Burgenland. At the information center of the Viennese Alps in Lower Austria you can find interesting facts. From the center with the castle, it initially goes over the wooden Leithabrücke and then you hike up to the first viewpoint of the long-distance hiking trail - here it is worthwhile to let your gaze wander over the mountains of Lower Austria.Past the fairytale Eichbüchl Castle, you dive into the forest. The path leads steadily uphill and after eight kilometers you reach the Wiesen-Lanzenkirchen observation tower on the Steinkogel. From above you can enjoy views of the Schneeberg and even the Vienna Sea, Lake Neusiedl.With new impressions in your luggage, you march on to the highest point of the first stage, the Heuberg, where the Rosalienkapelle awaits you. Here you can take some time to admire the ornate furnishings from the 17th century and the view. Wooded it goes down into the valley of the Ofenbach, whose course you follow for a while. Curved forest paths finally bring you to Bad Erlach an der Pitten, your first stage destination. You can find relaxation for your tired feet in the Linsberg Asia thermal baths.
The second stage of the Vienna Alpine Arc starts in Bad Erlach. The route leads past the famous Linsberg Asia thermal baths and with a view of Linsberg Castle you reach the banks of the Pitten. After you have crossed the town of Pitten, you climb up the Schlossberg, on which the mighty Pitten Castle still stands today. The castle is privately owned and unfortunately cannot be visited.Below the medieval complex, however, you can visit the baroque mountain church and behind it a rare cave church. With a wonderful view of the Schneeberg and past colorful miniature houses, you hike through the forest to the Grafenkreuz. After a short rest at the Grafenkreuz, you head out of the forest, where, thanks to the wide view, you can see why the Bucklige Welt is called what it is called.You will then pass the French Cross and wander through Leiding. Through forests and over fields you follow the route through the hilly landscape. With views of the Thernberg ruins, it goes comfortably downhill to Neustift and then you reach your today's destination, Thernberg. A cozy bed is already waiting for you in the Landgasthaus Thaler.
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Today you start at the Landgasthaus Thaler in Thernberg. More than 21 kilometers and a few meters in altitude await you on this stage, so grab your breakfast. Strengthened, it goes up to the Thernberg ruins, which are enchanted and overgrown in the forest. If you want to explore the remains of the castle, please be careful: the ruin is in danger of collapsing and is not secured.Then you walk south along the babbling Thernbach. The path leads steadily uphill and brings you up to the Kaltenberger Höhe, at 862 meters the highest point of the third stage. In the village of Kaltenberg you can stop off at the cozy Gasthof Maria Schnee (closed on Mondays and Tuesdays) and then continue to the Maria Schnee pilgrimage church. The two mighty towers of the house of God can be seen from afar and their sight will accompany you for a while.Pass the church, turn left and then march through a colorful patchwork carpet of forests and fields. In the village of Stickelberg you can marvel at another pilgrimage church. Behind the small church are the remains of the former Stickelberg Castle, which is privately owned. If you want, you can spend the night at the Gasthaus Zum Stickelberg or continue hiking to the official destination in Wiesmath.
On this stage, the Bucklige Welt shows you where it got its name from: From Wiesmath, or alternatively from Stickelberg, you hike in a steady up and down through the hilly landscape. Time and again, the open ridge offers wide views of the Vienna basin and the Schneeberg massif. Past ancient martyrs, it goes through the forest to Schwarzenberg.Following the path, you will reach the picturesque valley of the Spratzbach, where you can try your luck at trout fishing in the Spratzau ponds. There you can also enjoy the curious figures and structures of the "Spratzau water games". This is followed by a lively ascent up to Gleichenbach and immediately it goes back down into the valley, where the Rabnitz origin is at Blumau.The route of the Viennese Alpine Arc then runs through a varied cultural landscape. Via Lembach you finally reach Kirchschlag in the Bucklige Welt, your destination for today. There you can stay at the Hotel Post.
The 5th stage starts at the information board of the Viennese Alpine arc at the Kaiser Franz Joseph monument next to the Hotel Post in Kirchschlag. From there, the path zigzags up to the well-preserved Kirchschlag castle ruins, the first highlight of this stage. After enjoying the view of the Bucklige Welt from the fire tower, you continue uphill in the forest and pass a mighty sequoia tree.Then the path slowly flattens out and the trees thin out on the Sechterleiten hill. From there you hike down into the valley of the Ungerbach and cross it. If you are hungry, you can satisfy it at Gasthaus Grandits. It goes back up to the next hill, passing impressive square courtyards.You cross Maierhöfen and reach a panoramic resting place with a view into the distance. This is followed by the last section down to Bad Schönau with its well-known spa centers. To get to the center, either follow the main road past the fortified church or take a short detour to the romantic spa park.
After a night in Bad Schönau, you can walk through the beautiful spa gardens at the beginning of the sixth stage of the Viennese Alpine arc. The music pavilion, the pond and the Rosalia band are worth seeing stops along the way. Following the rushing Erlenbach, you enter the forest and walk steadily uphill. You will pass the Teufelsmühle, where you can take a short break at the picnic area.On the curved forest paths, you quickly gain a few meters in altitude and will soon be at the climax of the day: At the 896 meter high Hutwisch you can climb the lookout and will be rewarded with a gigantic panorama up on the platform. From the summit of the Hutwisch it goes a little downhill to a very special vantage point, the “roof of the world”. Small benches and tables in the shape of houses are available for a break on a wooden terrace.Then you can fortify yourself in one of the inns in the nearby Hochneukirchen, before continuing on to the edge of the forest to Hattmannsdorf. From the small village it is only a short distance to Gschaidt, where you spend the night at Gasthof Höller.
Starting from Gschaidt, the seventh stage first leads you up to the Blickplatz Luckerbauerriegel. The day starts promisingly and you can learn interesting things about the forest inhabitants on the forest adventure trail that follows. In a curve it goes back to Gschaidt and from there through the forest down into the valley of the Hochneukirchner Bach.The stream leads you to the Trettlermühle including the chapel and then you walk relaxed through a mosaic of forests, meadows and farms. The path becomes steadily steeper and brings you to the Steinkreis Waldbauer viewpoint. Between gnarled trees you can see the man-made stone circle, which invites you to rest and contemplate.At the same height, the route then runs through smaller settlements and past Ziegersberg Castle. After you have crossed the Autobahn (A2), it goes uphill again on the Hartberg. Its summit is in the middle of the forest and you can stroll relaxed through the fresh air on soft paths. In the climatic health resort of Mönichkirchen you have then reached your stage destination and can end the day in one of the inns.
On this stage you switch from the gentle hills of the Bucklige Welt to the panoramic mountains of the Alps. From the center in Mönichkirchen you go to the Salaerium water park and then you follow the mountain railway up to Mönichkirchner Schwaig. Past the two alpine inns, you hike to the “Wiener Alpenblick” viewpoint, a modern platform.You can treat yourself to some refreshment in the rustic Hallerhaus, which is located at 1,350 meters directly on the border between Lower Austria and Styria. The Steinerne Stiege takes you past the Stoa Alm to the Mönichkirchner Alpe and on to the summit of the Niederwechsel. Aside from the wonderful mountain panorama, you can also expect exciting rock formations.You leave the summit cross behind you and conquer the last few meters up to the Hochwechsel, at 1,743 meters the highest point of the day. You can stop off at the Wetterkoglerhaus and then visit the unique summit chapel. With changing views, the route continues to the rustic hut on the Kranichberger Schwaig, which is known for its delicious snack bars and farmer's donuts.The last section of this stage runs gently downhill through the forest to Feistritzsattel. You can find the next overnight accommodation in Trattenbach, which is about 45 minutes' walk away. Otherwise, you can ask your accommodation in advance whether they will pick you up at Feistritzsattel.
The official starting point of the ninth stage is the Feistritzsattel. From the parking lot it goes into the forest and there past the Königsbrünnlein. On flat paths, you continue to walk relaxed to the Fröschnitzsattel and then pass the Franklbauerhöhe. Always along the Styrian-Lower Austrian border you hike north. Via the Alpkogel you reach the summit cross of the Erzkogel. You can enter yourself in the summit book before continuing your way to the nearby Sonnwendstein.After nine kilometers you will be standing at the 1,511 meter high Sonnwendstein, on which there is also a small devotional chapel. The mountain is surrounded by a very special aura, because on the day of the summer solstice, religious celebrations and rituals still take place here. The view of the Schneeberg and the Rax Plateau is really unique.After the summit, you can fortify yourself in the Pollereshütte with a piece of apple strudel and then hike down to the valley with new strength. The piste connecting path, on which the skiers waggle down in winter, brings you to the rustic Enzianhütte. Surrounded by colorful flowers, you can relax on the sun terrace. You are welcome to sit a little longer, the stage destination at Semmering is only a few steps away.
After a night at lofty heights on Semmering, you walk towards the train station. The path runs above the tracks of the famous Semmering Railway, which has been bringing nature lovers to the mountains since 1854 and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You walk past the Wolfsbergkogel train station and the Kurhaus Semmering to get to the Doppelreiterkogel. There you can climb to the lookout tower and enjoy an incredible view of the Schneeberg and the viaducts of the Semmering Railway.Back on the ground you follow the path to the 20-schilling view, which once adorned the 20-schilling banknote. A short time later you can quench your hunger and thirst at the Hinterholz 9 refreshment station before you continue to the impressive viaduct in the Unteren Adlitzgraben. Again and again, wonderful views open up along the route. On a high-altitude path with great views, you pass the Ghega Museum and the Kalte Rinne viaduct. From the mighty structure you follow the serpentines of the Kalte-Rinne-Straße uphill and soon turn onto a rocky forest path.A massive rock wall with several caves like the Falkensteinloch opens up. After exploring the caves, the hiking trail takes you through the forest to the Luckerte Wand viewpoint: benches and a table invite you to take a rest on the rock pulpit. Afterwards you descend to the Hohlwang viewpoint, surrounded by vast forests. A few minutes later you will reach your destination in Prein an der Rax.
Today, hut hopping is on the plan, because this stage takes you along promising paths to cozy huts that pamper you with delicacies from front to back. From the center of Prein an der Rax, you initially walk along the main road next to the Preinerbach until you turn right towards Griesleitenhof. Arrived in the Upper Griesleitengraben, you follow the steep forest path uphill to the Waxriegelhaus. You can enjoy spectacular views of the mighty Preinerwand.In the modern wax bar you can take a break and try the in-house beer. Strengthened you cross the Siebenbrunnenwiese and then follow the Schlangenweg with a view of the Siebenbrunnenkessel. The path meanders up in sharp bends to the Karl-Ludwig-Haus, where a freshly baked strudel is waiting for you.The further route of the Vienna Alpine Arc leads from the Karl-Ludwig-Haus first downhill to the Törl and from here on towards the Habsburghaus on the western slope of the Predigtstuhl. Through mountain pines and with a fantastic panorama you hike to the 1,786 meter high Grieskogel, on whose summit the Habsburghaus is located. When the view is clear, you can enjoy a colorful sunset over the Schneealpe from the terrace of your stage destination.
The twelfth day continues with great views on the Viennese Alpine arc: After a hearty breakfast in the Habsburghaus, you set off towards Jahnkreuz. Between pine fields and impressive peaks you hike through the alpine landscape. You climb 200 meters downhill to the Neue Seehütte and can treat yourself to a second breakfast there.With a magnificent view, you then hike on the Kammweg to the summit cross on the Preinerwand, which is at an altitude of 1,783 meters. You can see the Schneeberg, the Sonnwendstein and the plain to Hungary. We continue on Kammweg, along the edge of the rocky plateau, to the historic Otto refuge, which was opened in 1893. Both a break in the Otto refuge and a detour to the beautiful alpine garden are worthwhile.Then you go in a long right curve to the visible Törl, a breakthrough in the rock, and there you start the descent on the Törlweg. The path leads you in many serpentines past the Lammelbründl to the Knappenhof. A short time later, the Parkhotel Hirschwang appears in front of you and you walk along the main street to the center of Reichenau, your stage destination. There you can admire the old castle, magnificent villas and the colorful spa park.
The 13th stage of the Viennese Alpine Arc brings you from the valley back up into the wonderful alpine world. After a night in fashionable Reichenau an der Rax, you walk from the spa park to the bank of the Schwarza and cross it. Past the old castle you follow the course of the Schwarza to the Hirschwang train station, the terminus of the Höllentalbahn. In Hirschwang you can take a detour to the small Henriettenkapelle.This is followed by a wonderful section on the 1st Vienna Water Pipeline Route, which was laid out in 1998 on the occasion of the 125th anniversary of the Vienna High Spring Water Pipeline. The Schwarza becomes narrower and narrower and the rock walls on both sides of the bank are getting higher. You will pass idyllic rest areas and after six kilometers change to the other bank of the turquoise Schwarza.The water pipeline route ends in Kaiserbrunn, where you can visit the associated museum (open on Saturday, Sunday and public holidays). After you have filled your drinking bottle with clear drinking water, you start with the ascent on the Miesleitensteig. Surefootedness is required for the inspection and some places are secured with steel cables.Fascinating views of the water heater and the Schneeberg open up again and again. Passing caves and rocks, you will do a good amount of altitude and finally reach the Vorderen Luxboden. Then your current destination, the Knofeleben Naturefriends House, which opened in 2012, will appear in front of you - you really deserve a decent meal and a soft bed.
You have often admired it in the last few days, today the time has finally come: You climb the Schneeberg, Lower Austria's highest peak. From the Naturfreundehaus Knofeleben, head north up the slope. You walk through sparse forests and when you arrive at Erlwiese, the path splits: Here you can decide whether you want to take the shorter - on your right - or the longer path over the worthwhile summit of the Krummbachstein.At the top you can look forward to a fantastic view and an artistic summit cross. Afterwards, the Schiblsteig takes you past the Alpenfreundehütte to the Krummbachsattel. After a good four kilometers you cross the Schneebergbahn and start the crisp ascent up to the beautiful Elisabethkirche. Emperor Franz Joseph had the building built for his Sisi and a look inside is worthwhile.Passing the mountain station and the Hochschneeberg mountain hut, the trail continues uphill. At 1,810 meters you finally reach the Damböckhaus, the perfect place for a well-deserved refreshment. With new strength in your calves, you then tackle the summit storm. At the monastery coat of arms you have made it - you are standing on the highest mountain in Lower Austria and enjoy a wonderful panorama in all directions from the 2,076 meter high summit.A few steps away, the fisherman's hut is the next stop for you. Then the descent begins over initially open terrain and later through alpine forest. With fantastic views you follow the thread path to the Edelweisshütte, your destination today.
After a restful night at the Edelweisshütte, the day starts with a fantastic view. You follow the gravel road with your back to the Schneeberg past the cozy Almreserlhaus and a short time later you reach the Leiten drought. There you can enjoy the mountain panorama again at 1,249 meters before going downhill.The Viennese alpine arc meanders in a zigzag down to the Mamauwiese. Cows graze peacefully on the wide, flower-filled alpine pasture and the Mamauwiese mountain inn invites you to stop for a break. Stroll across the lush green meadows of the Schoberalm in the direction of the Schoberkapelle, but your path turns right shortly before. Of course, you can still make a detour to the chapel.With a fantastic view of Schober and Öhler, you continue hiking. The flat path becomes steadily steeper and leads you below the massive Öhler rock walls to the Öhler Schutzhaus. You can end the day comfortably on the terrace of your stage destination and try the famous “Öhlerknödel”.
The 16th stage starts at the Öhler Schutzhaus and after a delicious breakfast in the hut you make your way towards the valley. Following the ridge path, after a short time you will reach the highest point of the Dürren Wand. A rock marks the summit and from there you have a great view of the Hohe Wand. Then you dive into the forest and hike to the Plattenstein.There is the rustic Gauermannhütte, which pampers you with delicious delicacies on weekends and holidays. After a detour to the summit cross, continue in a north-easterly direction past the Tabler cave and a few meters further down you can take a breather at a viewing bench. Let the wonderful landscape work on you for a moment.Then the Viennese Alpine arc runs gently downhill and brings you to Waidmannsfeld. If you need some refreshment, you can walk into the center and stop there. Otherwise you follow the Auweg up to Ochsenheide, where you change to Ochsenheidstraße. You cross the village of Neusiedl and finally reach your stage destination in Pernitz.
This stage of the Viennese Alpine arc takes you back to the wonderful mountain world of the Alps: You start in Pernitz and follow the route through the Raimundviertel into the forest. At the chapel you turn right and meet the Blättertalbach. The stream leads you past a sculpture garden to a clearing at Hof Seebauer.Back in the forest, the path begins to climb more and more, only to bring you back downhill to the Purbach valley shortly afterwards. There you reach Muggendorf and can look forward to a very special section - the path along the Myra Falls. You can quench your hunger or thirst in the Myra Stubn at the beginning of the gorge. Over footbridges and steps you follow the rushing cascades of the Myra Falls and enjoy the natural monument in its full splendor.At the upper end of the wild gorge you climb up to the left to the Haussteinwiese, from which you can look back at the Schneeberg. A few minutes' walk later you will reach the Karnerwirt, which invites you to take a break. Strengthened, you march on through the mountainous landscape, roam through shady forests and colorful meadows. At the Schneerosenhaus refuge you cross a street to arrive a short time later at your stage destination at the Waxeneckhaus. With a view of the Schneeberg and the Rax, you can end the day on the terrace.
After a night in the Waxeneckhaus, you head east. Surrounded by wooded slopes and fresh mountain air, you initially hike through sparse forest in an arc to Geierhöhe. Then the flat path begins to climb and leads you past the Robert Krenn Kreuz to the small Fozeben ski hut. Even if the hut is not managed, you can enjoy the sun on the benches on the terrace and eat your snack.Then it goes up to the summit of the Hohen Mandling, at 967 meters the highest point of this stage. A cross next to the rest area reminds of the Berndorfer Hütte that burned down in 2007. After enjoying the view from the Knödelwiese, you follow the Viennese Alpine arc further downhill. You come to the Kleiner Rosenkogel and again and again you come across small clearings and idyllic resting places.After a good 13 kilometers you step out of the forest and find yourself south of Alkersdorf. You can satisfy your hunger there in the Blutalm. A few meters from the town of Alkersdorf, you will reach the Vinzenzkapelle, a very different kind of chapel with a huge work of art as a facade. Then you continue through the forest until the first houses in Markt Piesting appear. You cross the Piesting River and have then reached your stage destination in the center of Markt Piesting.
The last stage of the Viennese Alpine arc is already approaching: From the center in Markt Piesting you climb the Schlossergassl to the Waldbad, which invites you to refresh yourself in the morning. Then you dive deep into the forest and hike past fragrant black pines up to the Red Cross, from where you can catch a magnificent view of the Hohe Wand.Then you follow the path to the east to hike down to the valley of the Marchgrabenbach. You cross the rushing stream on a wooden footbridge and see a four-seater bike mounted on a spruce tree - definitely worth a photo. After a short stop, you start the ascent up to the Andreasstein, where you can take a break on the Fiedlerwiese. From there you can make a detour to the hidden Finkenhaus cave.Afterwards you hike steadily downhill to the Kaiserstein at Blickplatz Blumberg, the last lookout point on the Viennese Alpine arc. Let your gaze wander over the landscape before you embark on the last section of your long-distance hiking adventure.The path leads you past the elephant playground and finally you are in the center of Bad Fischau - you have reached the destination of the Viennese Alpine arc and can be proud of yourself. In the nearby Fischau thermal baths you will find peace and relaxation before you start your journey home.