On behalf of my family’s interest in the Niederösterreich Card, welcome to my How-to series where I show you places to go, things to see, food to eat, and coffee to drink using the NÖ card.
Just over an hour away from Vienna lies a sleepy village that sits beneath a 1,000 year old castle.
A quick history lesson: Schloss Schallaburg is a castle that dates back to the 11th century and was given a major facelift in the 16th century to make it, specifically, a castle of the Renaissance. Though the structure took an unfortunate economic beating during both World War 1 and World War 2, parts of it such as the terra-cotta courtyard remain in tact.
For the grownups
For wanderers and explorers, there are a number of hiking trails in the surrounding area.
The castle’s Renaissance Garden is a must-see. All plants and flowers are products of the Renaissance, thus flaunting a unique variety of color and style. There are plenty of benches, shaded and non, for anyone looking for a time to relax, sunbathe, chat, or snack.
The castle itself is open for only a limited amount of guide-free exploration. Though there are guided castle tours available (check online ahead of time for availability), guests can wander through certain areas, such as the moat, crypt, and event hall.
For Danube enthusiasts, Schloss Schallaburg is currently offering an exhibition, The Danube, in which guests can learn about the river’s history, wildlife, and tourism.
Pssst: Our family participated in exactly two minutes of the tour. It was not going to be an exciting time for the three and five year old.
Lastly, grownups can treat themselves to a delicious meal at the castle’s restaurant, located in the middle of the preserved terra-cotta courtyard.
For the kids
Because I drag my family to garden after garden whenever possible, my kids have grown to somewhat appreciate all the “pretty things”. That or they’ve simply learned to put up with me. Probably the latter. Anyway, they genuinely enjoyed the Renaissance Garden. There’s plenty of room for kids to run around, sit down, or pose for awkward family selfies.
Just above the castle gardens, is a spot for archery. Unfortunately, we didn’t see anyone participating in this activity as it is only offered on Saturdays and we went on a Monday. So if archery is a must on your kid’s to-do list, make sure you head over on a Saturday.
The real highlight is the Dragon Playground, located in what once was the castle moat. The playground is in the shape of a dragon, and from even a parent’s perspective, it is very cool. Our three year old had no problem getting up and about, and our five year old was entertained by plenty of the more challenging parts of the structure.
Will and I sat there for ages while the kids got their wiggles out. I even attempted the parallel ropes to show my kids that I still no how to play. However, it took me seven years to make it to the other side, so… whatever remaining confidence they had left in me was lost.
All in all, a great place to go for all ages. We recommend you add it to your hopefully growing list of things to see in Austria.