Where the Alps begin

Even before I moved to Vienna, I was really excited that I will have an opportunity to see the Alps. Some people looked at me with pity. They said ‘Come on, Ewa! Don’t be silly, there are no mountains in Vienna and alpine resorts are more than 400 km away!’. Yes, it is true that Vienna is at least 5 hours drive from Innsbruck, but on the other hand, it does not mean that there are no Alps in this area!

The Schneeberg Mountain, the Alps in Lower Austria

The Schneeberg Mountain with its 2,076-metre high is the highest mountain of Lower Austria

The Northern Limestone Alps (Nördliche Kalkalpen) already extend from the Vienna Woods (Wienerwald). Thanks to the proximity to the mountains there is a high-quality water in the city. Nobody (but the tourists) buys bottled water in Vienna because there is no reason to do it. Fresh spring water is supplied from the alpine sources via a 120 km long pipeline, the beginning of which is located in Schneeberg mountain.

The road to Puchberg am Schneeberg in Lower Austria

The road to Puchberg am Schneeberg, a small town in the Lower Austrian Alps

The Schneeberg (Snow Mountain), which is 2076 m high, is located only 65 km as the crow flies from Vienna. On the slopes of the mountain lies a small town Puchberg am Schneeberg. It is very easy to get here from Vienna and the route mostly covers the section of the highway, so in less than an hour we are in the mountains quite similar to the Polish Tatras.

Puchberg Am Schneeberg, Lower Austria

Puchberg am Schneeberg, a small town at the foot of the Lower Austrian Alps

Fortunately, only the mountains look similar. The town of Puchberg am Schneeberg it’s the opposite of crowded and cluttered by ads Zakopane. Here you can find some peace, soothing silence and… a lot of snow!

Winter in Puchberg am Schneeberg, Lower Austria

Cars covered with snow in the town of Puchberg am Schneeberg, Lower Austria

Parking fees, billboards advertising the bank loans, market stands with Chinese souvenirs and fast food bars are the things you definitely will not find here. Thank God!

Moser Moden shop, Puchberg am Schneeberg

On the Epiphany, all the stores were closed, so we could only look at the storefronts

It was the 6th of January, The Epiphany. All the shops were closed and the streets were totally empty. Well, almost…

A cat in Puchberg am Schneeberg, Lower Austria

A cat who walked with us around the town of Puchberg am Schneeberg, Lower Austria

I think that the best way of exploring new places is just chosen the way that you like most and walk ahead without any specific plan. So we did!

The Schneeberg Mountain, Puchberg am Schneeberg, Lower Austria

A view of the snowy peak of the Schneeberg Mountain from the town of Puchberg am Schneeberg

Puchberg am Schneeberg, Lower Austrian Alps

To discover the unknown, we decided to simply go ahead

The snow in Puchberg am Schneeberg, Lower Austria

While there was no snow in Vienna, it was winter in Puchberg am Schneeberg

Winter in the Northern Calcareous Alps, Austria

It was freezing, but the beautiful weather encouraged us to walk

A mountain trail to Hengsthütte and Schneeberg, Lower Austria

When we walked away from the town’s buildings, the snowy street turned into a forest path

The forest in Lower Austrian Alps

The snow-covered forest was very quiet

A mountain trail to the Schneeberg, the Alps in Lower Austria

A beautiful weather and white snow made this place a real winter paradise

The snow in Lower Austrian Alps

Ice crystals gleamed in the snow drifts like tiny diamonds

The panorama of the Northern Calcareous Alps from a mountain trail to the Schneeberg Mountain

When we left the forest we saw a beautiful panorama of the Northern Calcareous Alps

After more than an hour hiking up the hill, we reached a wooden hut. Hengsthütte is located on a height of 1012 m. There is a Schneeberg Railway (Schneebergbahn) stop, but it did not work that day and the tracks were covered by snow.

Hengsthütte, Schneeberg, Lower Austria

Hengsthütte, a wooden mountain hut at the Schneeberg trail

Hengsthütte, a mountain hut in Lower Austria

The benches in front of Hengsthütte were covered with a thick layer of snow

There are wooden sleds at the beginning of the trail, which we can take and go uphill to the hut and then toboggan. There is no charge for that, sleds just stand in the snow and everyone can take it and go to the Hengsthütte.

Sled, Hengsthütte, a trail to the Schneeberg Mountain

From Hengsthütte you can go down on foot or… sled

Hengsthütte, Schneeberg

Charming decorations in the windows of the hut Hengsthütte

In Hengsthütte you can taste traditional Austrian dishes. We have ordered Kaspressknödelsuppe and Bratwurstsuppe. Kaspressknödelsuppe is a clear soup with cheese dumpling. Bratwurstsuppe is a special soup for Christmas with sausage and potatoes, which is very similar to traditional Polish soup ‘żurek’. I tasted also Himbeer-Gsprudla, which is lightly sparkling raspberry juice, and drank delicious coffee.


Christmas in Hengsthütte, Schneeberg

Christmas decorations in Hengsthütte, Lower Austrian Alps

Hengsthütte, Schneeberg, Lower Austria

At Hengsthütte, we warmed up a little because it was very cold outside

A cup of coffee in Hengsthütte, Schneeberg, Austria

After winter walk it was nice to have a cup of hot coffee

Hengsthütte, a wooden hut at the mountain trail to Schneeberg, Lower Austria

It was freezing outside, so it was not easy to leave a warm and cozy hut

Hengsthütte, a wooden Alpine hut at the trail to Schneeberg, Lower Austria

The last look at Hengsthütte and we have to go down to the town

The dusk in the Lower Austrian Alps

In the meantime, it began to dusk

Hengsthütte, Schneeberg, Austria

Hengsthütte, a mountain hut where you can eat something and warm up going to the Schneeberg Mountain

It’s a pity that we had to go back but it began to dusk. It’s hard to believe that less than an hour’s drive from Vienna is so quiet and peaceful place that you can even hear the snow melting in the sun. While there was almost no snow in Vienna, in Puchberg am Schneeberg we could burry up to the waist. I wish I could visit this beautiful place once again!


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