Idyllic Bad Waltersdorf is surrounded by the picturesque landscapes of eastern Styria. Besides the thermal spa, the village also offers easy scenic hikes among vineyards and fruit orchards.
I arrived in Bad Waltersdorf on a sunny and warm day in late June. Even though it was too hot for a hike at 32 °C (90 °F), the local tourist office suggested a route which partly took me through small forests. And I did not regret taking up the tip, as the so-called Roman Vineyard Path (“Römerweinweg”) took me through a lovely landscape, offering panorama views and idyllic hamlets.
Hiking through hamlets and fruit orchards
Hiking alternately on paved roads, gravel roads and woodland trails, the 8,5 km (5.3 mi) route took me up on the gentle hills east of Bad Waltersdorf. As I left the village behind and ambled through the residential areas, I passed the Heiltherme Spa & Hotel. Very tempted to join the people poolside, I managed to put that behind me and enjoyed the lovely views of the valley instead as I ascended the hill. The well-marked Roman Vineyard Path also comes with information boards. Sadly, however, only in German. Nonetheless, hiking through the hamlets and fruit orchards on Wagerberg, you also can catch great views eastwards. Here and there you can take a break on the benches beside the street. Don’t worry, they are placed here for hikers and locals alike.
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Vineyards and farm shops
I didn’t stop at the Buschenschanks (restaurants at vineyards) but instead checked out some products sold directly at the farms. In several places along the route, roadside signs offer homemade liquors, grape juice, pumpkin seed oil, and of course different types of wine. If you buy directly from the producers or farm shops, you get just as good quality and avoid mass-produced products. Moreover, the prices are usually very fair as well. The last kilometre takes you downhill through a small forest again, before you enter Bad Waltersdorf from the opposite side.
About 2,5 hours later I was back in the village, just in time for lunch. The region around Bad Waltersdorf is known for its culinary excellence. There are a few options for good traditional Austrian cuisine in the centre of the village, or you stop at some of the vineyards that serve food along the way. Nonetheless, around lunchtime, most villages in Austria are peaceful and quiet, as shops close and most workers also go for lunch. Hence, securing a nice table in the shade with an overview of the village centre, offered a nice break after the hike. A renowned restaurant, the Safenhof, is found in the lovely historic building right by the creek, in addition to a few more close to the church in the centre of Bad Waltersdorf.
A most beautiful village in Europe
After lunch, it was time to have a closer look at Bad Waltersdorf. The creek Safen runs through the middle of the village, which was inhabited already in Roman times. In 2003 Bad Waltersdorf was awarded the gold plaque as the “Most beautiful village in Europe” by Entente Florale. Most of the historic buildings you find around the church are from the 16th and 17th centuries, such as the rectory from 1774. Furthermore, behind the church, there is a small but interesting museum with remains from the Roman era. It’s free to enter and you can easily see it in 15 minutes.
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