Summer tales from the Vienna Woods.

Imperial haunts, the birthplace of Beethoven's 9th Symphony, and exciting experiences await in the Vienna Woods. The perfect time to discover them.

The imperial and royal Vienna Woods invite you to a summer audience. The Emperor enjoyed lodging in the imperial region just outside Vienna. He even invited Ludwig van Beethoven to play for him. Several art-loving and cultured visitors passed through the gates of the numerous castles in the Vienna Woods in the Emperor’s time. That continues to this day. Relaxation seekers and nature lovers. Music fans and pleasure seekers.

Elaborate bathing and Beethoven-themed Sommerfrische.

Baden bei Wien is not just known as an imperial town. It is where members of high society liked to wind down, and spent many a pleasant hour on mild summer nights taking in the sounds of a concert. After all, for Emperor Franz Josef, art and culture were welcome guests. It’s still like that in Baden today. Especially this year, which marks the 250th anniversary of Beethoven's birth. In 1804, Ludwig van Beethoven swapped the heat of the city for a countryside health retreat. He was ultimately introduced to Emperor Franz Josef, the high nobility and other patrons during a rendezvous. The house at 11 Rathausgasse, which the composer used Sommerfrische for many years, is now known as the Beethovenhaus. It is a museum which is dedicated to the myths surrounding Ludwig Van Beethoven. The musical maestro used to perform in the Kaiserhaus Baden (Imperial House of Baden). Even today, top-class concerts are staged here, and special tours and events take place. There is even a circular hiking route named after Beethoven. It starts at the Baden Lido and leads past the Beethovenstein memorial, to beautiful views and romantic ruins.

As you wander through the town, you will not fail to notice the La Gacilly Photo Festival. It spans 7 kilometres, and covers the city with large-format images relating to the theme “Plenty of News from the East”. The nobility would have loved that. A town full of art stands out thanks to its uniqueness. The 2,000 photographs forming Europe's largest outdoor photography festival can be explored from 14 July to 26 October.

The Arnulf Rainer Museum is also worth a visit. The museum itself is lovely, and the story behind it is fascinating. It is based in the former “Frauenbad”, which was once the finest spa hose. Even the Emperor liked to visit it. The Frauenbad took its name from the Frauenkirche church (Church of Our Lady), which was demolished in 1811 to make way for it. A real Egyptian mummy, unearthed treasures from Roman times, and anecdotal artefacts from the spa and wine making sectors can all be found in the Rollett Museum, which is just as enchanting on the outside. The Niederösterreich CARD (Lower Austria Card) lets you see it all – and many more attractions – for free. Also on the list are the Römertherme (Roman thermal baths). The magnificent main building was designed by the master architects Siccardsburg and Van der Nüll, who also built the Vienna State Opera. It is definitely worth seeing!

Sparking spa waters in Vöslau, and delightful surroundings.

Baden and Bad Vöslau are connected by many hiking trails. An especially beautiful route is the 1st Vienna Water Pipeline Hiking Trail, which features both great views and top-class taverns. Bad Vöslau, just like Baden, is a perfect example of Sommerfrische. The presence of the rich and famous can be felt everywhere here. But the Bad Vöslau Thermal Spa is without doubt a prime example of what Sommerfrische were like back in the olden days. Here you can refresh yourself in style, in invigorating mineral water below historical cabins, which look like rows of opera boxes over the large bathing and lounging areas. In true Sommerfrische style, the popular readings and exhibitions will return in 2021. As well as water, wine naturally also plays a major role here. So head to Hawlik’s Schlemmereck und Gebietsvinothek (restaurant and wine shop), and send your taste buds on a tour!

You can also experience high altitudes on the Freigut Thallern circular route. It starts at the Klostergasthaus Thallern in Gumpoldskirchen, with an outstanding regional speciality wine shop which is an unparalleled treasure trove of delights! You can also taste Heaven on Earth in the Klostergasthof Heiligenkreuz restaurant. This indulgence can be continued historically in the Cistercian Heiligenkreuz Abbey or naturally in Sparbach Nature Park.

Where great love stories were written.

We will finish with another love story. This time, the setting is the gardens of Laxenburg Castle, which invite visitors to bring a picnic and enjoy a boat ride. Emperor Franz Josef and Empress Sisi spent their honeymoon there. It was also the birthplace of two of their children – Archduchess Gisela in 1856, and Archduke Rudolf a couple of years later. The latter and his wife, Princess Stéphanie of Belgium, ultimately spent their honeymoon there. Laxenburg Castle definitely radiates a lot of love – and flair. Not far from here, in the beautiful Helental, you can explore an architecturally breath-taking – yet very dark – part of royal history: the former imperial hunting lodge in Mayerling, where Archduke Rudolf and the 17-year-old Mary Vetsera died.

Life writes the most exciting stories. And in the Vienna Woods, you are never far away from them. If you are wondering where you can stay overnight – in addition to the numerous hotels and accommodation options on offer in Baden and Bad Vöslau – we have three very special recommendations for you: The invigorating Hotel Gabrium in Maria Enzersdorf, the sublime Refugium Hochstrass, and the picture-perfect Jagdschloss Schönau. These three institutions have inspired for centuries.