The day begins early. Stupidly early. Let’s call it stupid o’clock. At Stupid o’clock, everything is kind of quiet. Vienna is just waking up. For that matter, so am I. This also holds true for the driver of the U4 U-Bahn. The Train to Klosterneuburg goes every 30 minutes, and as I get off the train, I can see the S40 pull away from Heiligenstadt station. If the U-Bahn had arrived just 30 seconds sooner, I’d have made it. Bugger it, let’s grab a coffee. I need a coffee. It’s stupid o’clock after all. I sit drinking my coffee outside the station, opposite Karl Marx Hof. Karl Marx Hof is known for being the worlds longest apartment building, stretching a full kilometre and then some. It’ll appear again in a later wander. Today I’m heading just a few minutes north, to the town of Klosterneuburg. As its name somewhat suggests, Klosterneuburg is home to a large cathedral. Its also home to some great little Vineyards and offers great views out over the Danube and Vienna. I’m looking forward to getting there.
Coffee done, the next S40 train arrives and I head off. The journey time is just 9 minutes from Heiligenstadt, though from Wien Franz Josef it’ll be more like 15 minutes. Either way, it’s a short hop from the city. In no time at all, I’m leaving the platform for the town.
First impressions are good. The town looks pretty. The Cathedral towers above it all. It’s imposing. The town is kinda split into two pieces. The main shopping area is down around the station, whilst the town square and Rathaus is up on the hills, with the Cathedral. So it’s up we go.
From the station, I pass several cute cafe’s and restaurants, and a few hotels as well. Considering its proximity to Wien, the town isn’t pretentious. Once I start up the hill. The Cathedral looms to my left. To my right, I pass a few cobbled streets. I put a pin in them for later. The hill turns to the left and a bridge appears around the corner. It’s obviously old, and there’s something rather pretty about it. Climbing the steps, I come far to face with a statue of St. Johan. The Cathedral is very close, so I’m not surprised. The parking sign next to him kinda ruins my shot though.
Still more to see yet though. The other side of the bridge is the Rathaus and the Rathauspark in the centre. The whole park is filled with food stalls, seats, a few bars. There’s an open-air cinema running in the evenings. Right now everything is quiet, until my stomach rumbles. I left home this morning before breakfast, so a bite to eat seems like a good idea. I find a little place right next to Rathauspark. It’s a warm morning so I take breakfast outdoors on a deck. If you ever wonder why I moved to Austria, its for moments like this. The staff are friendly and breakfast is good. wiping the crumbs away, I pick up my camera and get back to it.
The Cathedral is but a few meters away and as I walk through the gates, the world outside walls fade away. The cathedral is huge. It includes lots of other buildings and a large set of gardens. Years ago it was a fully working Seminary, and it may still be today. Tourism is the Cathedrals main purpose these days. On the site are two museums, a restaurant and a separate cafe. The cathedral itself is still in use, and as I’m wandering around, there’s a church service in progress. I glance into the cavernous interior and all I can say is wow. It’s simply stunning. Sadly I’m not allowed to take photos. I’m not terribly comfortable in churches anyway, but I can sure appreciate the aesthetics.
Moving on from the entry, I wander into the inner workings of the grounds and find some gorgeous gardens and places. I’m not a hundred per cent sure this is a public area, but no one seems bothered by my presence. The small garden I find is a little special, and it conjures up images of the elderly priest tending the garden, talking to the sparrows who visit. It’s all a very chocolate box.
As I head back towards the inner courtyard the bells begin to peel. The sound is something to behold. The bells stop but my ears keep ringing for a little while.
From the cathedral grounds, I head back into the town and follow a random road here an there. Soon I start to find the road pointing up. Like a fool, I figure it’ll level out. It does not. Along the way, I stop at the local Friedhof or Cemetery. It offers a lovely view of the dearly departed of the Cathedral. I take two minutes to appreciate it myself and have a break.
I carry on up the hill, now out of stubbornness. I keep telling myself that the views will be worth it. After ten minutes of ‘Worth it’ talk. I need another break and I come across a little enclosure with a few benches and some shade. This is a great place to stop and the heat of the mid-morning sun stays outside the canopy of trees. Sitting with me is yet another Jesus on a cross. I thank him for the shade and drink from my backpack. A cold bag and ice packs are essential for wandering and my drink is icy cold, despite the heat. The level of quiet here is great, and after 15 minutes, I feel like a new woman.
The hill really is levelling out now. The road itself comes to an end and I find myself on a dirt track, high above Klosterneuburg. And the views are stunning. It was worth the climb.
The track twists around and rejoins a steep hill where the well to do of Klosterneuburg live. It’s all downhill from here and as I pass a few €1,000,000 homes, I’m thankful I don’t live here in winter. The hill is steep and it takes me a good ten minutes to make it down. Legs like jelly, I head for the lower part of town.
The road ahead offers me a few options, one of which involves going back uphill. That can go forth and multiply for the moment. Besides, a road along a small stream calls to me, so I follow the stream. The surroundings are unbelievably pretty. The buildings are mostly Altbau or old buildings, but as I get closer to town, more modern apartment blocks appear. They don’t look too out of place though.
The stream continues until I find myself back at those nice little cobbled streets. I turn onto a little winding street that leads me onto the main high street. along the way, I pass a cute little Gasthaus. Pin put in it for later, I find myself in need of a drink and a snack. I need a cafe. I walk through the high street, looking at a few places, but most seem a bit meh. Near the station though, I find just what I’m looking for, the Eisvogel Cafe. I order a Radler and a slice of Sacher torte and relax. The Eisvogel is a nice local place to be. It’s quiet but friendly, and reasonably priced. I particularly liked the little Red Bull aircraft they had in a display case.
After a nice restful snack stop, I head back out and plan to finish off the walk somewhere nice. Back up the hill, I go and all too soon I find a cute little park away from the Rathaus to relax and finish up at.
Klosterneuburg is a great place to come and visit. The Stift or Cathedral is a fantastic sight and if you can afford to, you should take look at the museum or enjoy one of the tours. Away from the Cathedral, the town is a great place to come and enjoy a coffee, snack or something more. At just €1.70 from Vienna, why would you not visit?
Reaching Klosterneuburg is simple. The S40 train operates from Wien Franz Josef station and calls all along the line to Klosterneuburg. As usual, I caught the train from Heiligestadt station, reaching it with the U4 U-Bahn line. You can also use the U6 and catch the S40 from Spittelau station as well. Journey time is very short, just 15 mins.
If you’d like to know more about Kloserneuburg or the Catherdral, check out the links below.