In Lower Austria, all roads don't lead to Rome but to Mariazell. The Via Sacra is Austria’s oldest pilgrimage route, connecting the town of Brunn am Gebirge to Mariazell, Austria’s most important pilgrimage site. In 1975, the Long-distance Hikers’ Organisation of the Alpine Club created the Wiener Wallfarherweg 06 (Vienna Pilgrims' Way 06) as an alternative to this well-known and popular route. The two pilgrimage routes share some stretches and finish in the same place.
Leisurely walking is becoming more and more popular, and for good reason: to escape the stresses of everyday life, to lose sense of time, and to do something good for your body and soul. The Wiener Wallfahrerweg leads you on a 120-kilometre (74 mile) adventure in five stages through untouched forests and meadows to Mariazell. On this long-distance hiking trail, you encounter lots of nature as well as cultural highlights such as monasteries, castles and chapels.
The hike begins from the town of Perchtoldsdorf on the border between Lower Austria and Vienna. On the first day, you hike through the magnificent Föhrenberge Nature Park to the Cistercian monastery of Heiligenkreuz and on to Mayerling village. The second stage takes you to the Arnstein mountain with its magnificent views, to Klein-Mariazell Abbey and finally to the town of Kaumberg.
After a restful night's sleep, you pass the Araburg and climb the Kieneck where you reach alpine heights of more than 1,000 metres (3,280 feet) for the first time. Either spend the night in the Enzianhütte mountain hut or continue hiking to the official destination of the day, Rohr am Gebirge. You can look forward to wonderfully quiet forest passages on the fourth stage, which ends in Sankt Aegyd. The final section of the Way takes you over the Gscheid saddle and past the deep blue Hubertussee lake to the impressive Mariazell Basilica.
The pilgrims' path requires a certain amount of stamina, but alpine experience is not necessary. The paths and trails are all easy to follow and not exposed. If you wish, you can divide the route into more than five stages so that you have more time for breaks and to enjoy the landscape. You spend the nights in guesthouses or holiday accommodation located in smaller stage towns. I recommend booking accommodation in advance.
You can reach the starting point at the market square in Perchtoldsdorf from Vienna with the S-Bahn train or bus. From other parts of Austria, you can travel to Perchtoldsdorf by train and then take the regional bus to the market square. Just outside Mariazell, the destination of the Wiener Wallfahrerweg, there’s a train station. You can return to Vienna via Sankt Pölten, for example.
On the second day of the Vienna Pilgrimage Trail, almost 26 kilometers of steady ups and downs await you. From Mayerling it goes over the Schwechat River to the southwest. You hike at the foot of the Kritschenkogel through Untermeierhof and on to Maria Raisenmarkt.In the forest you climb up to the first highlight: At the 561 meter high Arnstein you can not only marvel at the remains of a castle and a bizarre rock needle, but also enjoy a fantastic view over Lower Austria. The route takes you through forest and meadow areas to the baroque pilgrimage church Hafnerberg - be sure to take a look, because the opulent and colorful interior is really impressive.Then you march over beautiful high-altitude trails and through small stream valleys to the again active Klein-Mariazell Abbey. Next to the beautiful basilica is the Kirchenwirt, which will give you new strength. It's back into the forest and through the hilly landscape.
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The third stage is 26 kilometers long and waits for you with a few meters of altitude uphill and downhill. If you want, you can split up the route and spend a night in the Enzianhütte. In the morning you leave Kaumberg via the mountain settlement. The Viennese pilgrimage route takes you to the picturesque ruins of the Araburg, from whose castle tower you can enjoy a wonderful foresight.In the forest you then pass the peaks of the Kölchberg and the Veiglkogel. After a relaxed section at a constant altitude, the path begins to climb steeply after seven and a half kilometers and you climb the 1,065 meter high Reingupf. Still surrounded by vast forests, you continue to hike to the rustic Enzianhütte on the Kieneck. When your calves have had enough, you can stay here for the night.