Lauraine Jacobs

Food & Wine Writer

1 July 2017


“High on hill was a lonely goat herd, yodeleee, yodelayee….” You haven’t experienced Austria until you have passed by acres of green hills and pine trees surrounding intricately built wooden houses with terraces fringed with flower boxes blazing with colour.

It would have been easy to take the train from Vienna to Salzburg, but everything would have flashed by and some of the most picturesque places would have been obliterated by the dark tunnels that carve paths under the mountains. So we drove. Two of the areas we passed were breathtakingly beautiful.

Leaving Vienna we headed north in Lower Austria and drove through the Wachau region. From Krems to the west you drive through Durnstein, Wessenkirche, Spitz and other pretty towns along the banks of the Danube. This is a wine region, where the lovely floral gruner veltliner and Riesling grapes flourish, clinging to steep terraced hillsides that drop dramatically to the river. It is a UNESCO Heritage area. Plenty of wineries offer tastings and food.

We stayed the first night in Emmersdorf an der Donau, a charming village that you don’t even notice from the road. From here we could cross the Danube river to explore the stunning Melk Abbey, and eat typical stodgy food in any number of cafés. The best food was actually in the Stiftsrestaurant within the Abbey.

Next day we decided to quickly cover the miles across the countryside so we could enjoy the lake region in the Salzkammergut and Upper Austria, and after an hour or two we left the fast lanes of the motorway at Gmunden. We were now passing along spectacular roads where every turn presents an even more amazing view of sparkling lakes and spectacular mountains. We were headed for Hallstatt, another UNESCO protected site. We loved it, despite being one of the most touristy towns in the world (see pic above.)

Hallstatt Heritage Hotel was excellent and my trout for dinner there was probably the best meal I had in the entire week. And you can take the funicular for magnificent views and a trip down into the salt mines.

Next day to Salzburg, but not before we meandered through tiny villages and meadows, with more wonderful views. If you get to Salzburg, a great town for exploring on foot as the old area is devoid of cars apart from the taxi that drops you at your hotel, pop in to the Goldgasse Hotel in the ancient street of the same name. The food is delicious and a nice take traditional fare.

The Salzburg Museum is a must do, and the Castle, along with narrow lanes filled with laughter and music. This is Mozart town. His birthplace is a golden house in the centre of town, there are Mozart shops everywhere, but best of all is Schloss Mirabell across the river where every day there are Mozart concerts.

Our biggest regret was not allowing enough time to visit Hangar, near the airport, with a private collection of cars and a stunning restaurant, all owned by the owner of Red Bull! And then again there will always be the Sound of Music Experience, for another time perhaps.

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