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Austro-Hungarian Border: Sopron (Hungary) & the Burgenland / Lake Neusiedl Regions (Austria)

Esterháza Palace in Fertőd, Hungary tour

Sopron, Hungary’s westernmost wine region, sits just across the border from Austria’s Burgenland region (on a map, Sopron looks like a little peninsula jutting into Burgenland). The two regions share similar histories—Sopron was the capital of Burgenland during the Austro-Hungarian Empire—and its Austrian connection is still strong. The two regions also share similar grape varietals and winemaking traditions. Both are especially known for their reds, so it makes perfect sense to visit them together. Dramatic reed-covered Lake Fertő (called the Neusiedlersee in Austria) straddles the Austrian/Hungarian border, and the landscape surrounding it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The warm and humid hillsides around the lake are the region’s most prized vineyards. The charming center of Sopron holds Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque buildings, but the most stunning architecture is the fabulous Habsburg-era palaces scattered throughout the region.

In Sopron and Burgenland we offer private Wine Day Tours, which are customized to suit your interests.

The region can also be visited on our Budapest to Vienna: Wine & Castles Along The Austro-Hungarian Border tour (either private or small-group), which is a one-way transfer created for those who are traveling to both cities..

• Kékfrankos/blaufrankish is the king in this area, and you will taste plenty of them. You will also taste some fine zweigelt, cabernet franc, and zöldveltelini (better known as grüner veltliner in Austria). The wines of Sopron and Burgenland are elegant and subtle, and we recommend visiting wineries on both sides of the border so you can taste the differences (and similarities).
• Lake Fertő / Lake Neusiedl is the second largest steppe lake in Central Europe. During the spring and summer storks flock here and are welcomed by the residents. We can make time to visit the lake, or explore some of its surrounding villages.
• Rust is one of the most prominent villages in Burgenland. You could pass an hour or an afternoon strolling its streets and popping into wineries or shops. When the storks make their annual spring arrival to Rust, updated counts of the number of pairs, babies, and singles are scrawled on chalkboards.
• Sopron is the largest town in the wine region of the same name. If you look closely, you’ll find architecture reflecting many different periods of the town’s history. After the breakup of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Sopron decided its own fate and the town’s residents voted to remain a part of Hungary rather than join Austria. For this reason it is known as “The Most Loyal Town.”
• The monument to the Pan-European Picnic sits on the site of the peaceful demonstration held on the Austrian-Hungarian border in August 1989, which played a major role in bringing on the fall of the Iron Curtain and the reunification of Germany. This is where the border was first opened. A section of original barbed wire and a few lookout towers are still there, and placards tell the story of the events surrounding the Picnic.
• Eisenstadt, one of the region’s largest cities, was the seat of the Hungarian Esterházy noble family. Schloss Esterházy, their magnificent palace, still dominates the town. The composer Joseph Haydn lived there for a time, and is buried in the town’s Bergkirche. Eisenstadt had a significant Jewish community and the Jewish Museum, old Jewish Quarter, and Jewish cemetery can be visited.
• This region is dotted with beautiful castles and aristocratic homes, in fact, the name Burgenland means “land of the castles.” Some of the most stunning are the two Eszterházy family castles. One is on the Hungarian side, in Fertőd, which was the most important 18th-century palace of Hungary and was modeled after Versailles. The other is on the Austrian side in Eisenstadt. There are Medieval hill fortresses in Neusiedel am See and Forchenstein, a Baroque castle in Halbturn, and several more along the route towards Vienna.
• Sopron’s signature dish called, poncichter stew, is a hearty stew of chicken, pork, beans, and potatoes. While visiting both regions you will find that their cuisines share many similarities.

Sopron is about 210 kilometers west of Budapest (about a 2.5 hour drive), and the Burgenland region is a short drive north of Sopron.

Year-round. The region is especially delightful during stork season. Storks migrate there in the spring and stay until early autumn, returning to the same nests year after year.

View Sopron in a larger map

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