The hiking trail along the Lainsitz river is a brand new long-distance hike in the upper Waldviertel district of Lower Austria. Come to think of a hiking trip there, you might, like me, be tempted to think of pretty forest-clad hills, some nice huts & one or two good places to stay.
However, the Waldviertel has far more to offer than just that.
“Where we are, is up”: What the Waldviertel actually proclaims translates into a direct focus on the quality of its regional restaurants, accommodation & craftspeople.
I have to say that I was actually and truly pleasantly surprised during my trip up here. Together with my friends, I have come to explore the northern-most border region of Austria, next to the Czech Republic in all its variety and heart-felt hospitality. Or would you have guessed that while hiking, you can actually stop to make your own sheet of paper that will last for another 400 years?! That the city of Weitra has its own beer trail, reflecting its more than 800 years of brewing tradition? And that the local narrow-gauge railway Waldviertelbahn offers a beautiful alternative to some sections of the long-distance hike along the Lainsitz?
My travel tipp for all hikers in Waldviertel: A beer stop in the brewing town of Weitra!
The small town of Weitra, despite only counting some 2.000 inhabitants, truly merits the name “town” owing to its cultural importance and historical significance. It was here that some of the first breweries in Austria opened, granted with the so-called “bill of rights to brew beer” for more than 800 years past! Weitra thus being the oldest beer town of Austria, you must make sure to stop and taste the delicious variety of beer offered here.
The art of paper-making & glass-blowing: Visiting active tradesmen & craftspeople is what Waldviertel is all about. We have visited two of them and learned how to make our own, 400-year-durable paper!
What would you write on a sheet of paper that is to be discovered in 400 years’ time? A love letter? A shopping list? Perhaps a drawing, a beautiful watercolour painting … ?
Come to think of it, I haven’t fully decided what I should do with my hand-made, individually stamped sheet of paper. Visiting the paper-making mill of the Mörzinger family in Bad Großpertholz – the last one of its kind in Austria! – however is a visit I can recommend. Check this out.
But there is more to come in terms of stunning crafts variety here in the hiking destination of the Upper Waldviertel. Along the trail, we also find a cluster of glass-blowing huts, such as Kurt Zalto in Neu-Nagelberg whose focus on fine (wine) glasses has helped him earn a reputation well across the borders. We visit his facility and get to peek “over the shoulder” of the glass-blowing artists – not easy nearing the furnaces of well over 1.000 °C!
One of my highlights among the “culinary-creative travel tips” in the Upper Waldviertel district is a visit to Doris Schreiber’s Waldschenke restaurant by the forest in Kurzschwarza.
The Waldviertel has always been marked by cool weather climates whose influences had to be defied by all people living, working and farming here. When visiting Doris Schreiber’s Waldschenke restaurant though, the notion of early day hardship is overcome by the scent of flowers and the aromas of her herbal garden: She welcomes us to her “guests at the herbal garden hotel”, harvesting them for our midday lunch. Doris is full of creative ideas and has founded the “Waldviertel Wein Weiba“, a group of women meeting regularly to discuss (and drink!) fine wines as well as engage in charity organizations. Her “Waldschenke” has been awarded many times for the quality of its cuisine and merits a closer look. I would certainly come back any time, and recommend you to do so, too!
After all of these “culinary-creative travel tips” in the hiking destination of the upper Waldviertel, I will tell you more about the virtues of the new long-distance hiking trail along the Lainsitz river in my next article. Being a true local of the Lower Waldviertel district myself (Krems by the river Danube still counting as part of the Southern Waldviertel), I can of course make some more recommendations already: “Powerful Places to connect with nature“, an “Exploration of the Waldviertel Treasure Chest & its famous ‘Geniesserzimmer’” as well as my recent visit to the Creative Summer Academy in Motten. The Waldviertel truly merits your visit, and make sure you take enough time with you to enjoy its cultural & natural beauty.
Disclaimer: We have been invited by Waldviertel Tourismus in order to travel in the hiking destination of the Upper Waldviertel district. All opinions are my own.