As the hot summer days have arrived, we all try to get a break from the steaming city. Wouldn’t it be nice to just escape to the seaside for a day? Unfortunately, Austria is a landlocked country. But Lake Neusiedl, called the “Adriatic Sea of the Viennese” by the locals, and its beaches are just an half-hour-drive from Austria’s capital.
I personally really like the beach in Podersdorf with its cute lighthouse. Locals also love the beach in Neusiedl and the Seebad in Breitenbrunn, about 20 minutes from Neusiedl.
Sailing, Kitesurfing and Windsurfing
Because of its location in the Pannonian lowland, Lake Neusiedl benefits from strong winds. Hence, it is a popular spot for sailing, kite- and windsurfing. In early summer, thousands of surfing and sailing enthusiasts flock to Podersdorf for the worldcup and other major competitions.
Eat and Drink
The Haus im See is located on the East side of the lake, in the small Hungarian town of Fertorakos. The restaurant and hotel rooms are hosted in a thatched roof house typical of the villages around the lake. The owners are the founders of the internationally renowned restaurant Taubenkobel in Schuetzen.
The best way to experience this place is to come by sailing boat and have an afternoon snack or dinner on the beautiful terrace overlooking the lake. Alternatively, you can come by car via Sopron and stay the night in the cute rooms. (Fertorákos, 9400, Bajnok u. 67)
Mole West is popular amongst the Viennese crowd. I have to say that the location is beautiful and you may overlook the chaotic service if you want to enjoy a sunset drink. However, I think the food is a bit overpriced. (Seegelaende 9, Neusiedl am See)
Another beautiful lake side restaurant is Zur Blauen Gans in Weiden. (Seepark Weiden)
Local Food with a Modern Twist
Nyikospark is one of my favourites in the region. The food is a modern take on local dishes. Try the paprika-fish-soup (paprizierte Fischsuppe) and the dishes with fish from Lake Neusiedl. The Creme-Schnitten (slices with vanilla cream) are to die for. (Untere Hauptstraße 59, Neusiedl)
Wirtshaus im Hofgassl is perfect for a romantic date. It is situated in a traditional house with a narrow “Gassl”, a kind of path leading to the garden. You can choose between classic dishes or local food with a creative twist. All dishes use local ingredients. I recommend booking a table in the romantic garden. (Rathausplatz 10, Rust)
A “Heuriger” is a small eatery by a wine producer where you can taste the wine and enjoy local snacks. Gut Oggau, also associated with the famous Taubenkobel restaurant, takes this local “Heurigen”-concept to the next level. (Hauptstraße 31)
Gut Purbach on the Eastern side of the lake is a must for adventurous foodies. The chef Max Stiegl was not only the youngest chef to be awarded a Michelin star, but is also someone we call “Ein Original” (an original, ie. a very special person in the most positive sense). His approach is to use every part of the animals – from intentines, to stomach and trunk. Stiegl served Antony Bourdain anus during his Austria visit in 2011. For all those who are less adventurous, there are other options on the menu as well. Try to get a table in the beautiful courtyard. (Hauptgasse 64, Purbach)
If you spend a day at the beach in Podersdorf, stop by Sandburg for some delicious frozen yoghurt. (Seestraße 91, Podersdorf am See)
In case you spend the day on the East side, Eissalon Statzinger is a must for ice cream. My favourite sorts are Himbeer-Joghurt (raspberry-yoghurt) and poppy seed. (Oggauerstraße 11, Rust)
Exploring and Wine Tasting in Rust and Moerbisch
The two towns of Rust and Moerbisch are perfect if you want to go for a walk and enjoy the beautiful houses and scenery. Rust is famous for the storks builidng their nests on the roofs of local houses. The Fischerkirche in Rust is a church dating back to the 12th century. Its interior is home to the most important and richest frescos of the Burgenland region.
End the day with a nice glass of wine in one of the many “Heurigen” – eateries by wine producers where you can try their wine and have a bite. Alternatively, you can also do a wine tasting at one of the many wine producers, e.g. Weingut Mad in Oggau (I recommend sending them an email in advance).
Visit the National Park
The National Park Neusiedler See Seewinkel is famous for its natural environment and domestic animals. You can watch rare birds, Hungarian longhorns (grey cattle), water buffalos, white donkeys and Mangalitza-pigs in their natural habitat.
Rent a bike
Because the area is flat, biking is a really convenient way of getting around. There is a cycle path around the lake. I recommend renting a bike in Rust or Moerbisch and go from there.
Shop at the Designer Outlet Parndorf
Are you sick of lying in the sun? On your way back to Vienna you can stop at the outlet for some bargain shopping. I was debating whether I should add the outlet here or not. I am personally not a big fan of it as it is very crowded with tour groups coming to shop for designer clothing. However, I know that a lot of you might be bargain hunters and I thought it might be worth mentioning it and let you make the decision yourselves. 🙂
Another great activity to explore the region is to do a cherry tour with Kirschengenussquelle in Breitenbrunn. For more information, check out my interview with the founder and owner Andrea Strohmayer.
How to Get to Lake Neusiedl
You can go to Lake Neusiedl by car, taking the highway A4 from Vienna to arrive in the North and West of the lake (Neusiedl, Breitenbrunn, Podersdorf and the outlet in Parndorf). If you want to go to the Eastern side (Purbach, Rust, Moerbisch, Oggau and Fertorakos, take the A3).
You can also take the train to Parndorf and Neusiedl if you know that you will stay in one of the towns. For getting around, however, I think the car is most convenient.
Note on Planning Your Day
Because of the size of the lake, I recommend to spend your day either on the East or the West side of the lake to avoid spending a lot of time in the car.
If you want to take a break from the car, you can also take the ferry across the lake from Rust to Illmitz and back.
If you plan to cross the border to Hungary, do not forget to bring your ID with you (passport or other official form of identification; a drivers license is not enough).
Pro tip: bring some mosquito repellent. Unfortunately, the lake is famous for the mosquito swarms during summer nights.
Special thanks to Charlotte and Christine Jagenbrein for sharing some of their pictures with me!
All information as of the date of publishing. We cannot accept responsibility for the correctness or completeness of the data, or for ensuring that it is up to date.