On my quest to visit all nine of Austria’s Bundesländer, Burgenland, being the easternmost and therefore furthest from where I live, came last. Deciding where to go in Burgenland was not difficult: it is home to the Neusiedlersee (or Lake Neusiedl), which is both a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a national park, and from what I had heard, both a pleasant vacation spot and the only interesting place in Burgenland. So, on a short day trip from Vienna I went to Podersdorf, a village on the Neusiedlersee and one of the more popular beach towns on the lake.
First, a bit of history and interesting facts about Burgenland, which is the least populous of Austria’s Bundesländer. Like the other regions of Austria (and most other regions in Europe, I suppose), Burgenland was at one point part of the Roman Empire and has since then switched hands numerous times. It was even conquered by the Huns. However, Burgenland has the distinction of being the only part of Austria which has never been part of the Archduchy of Austria, the Holy Roman Empire, or the German Confederation, and was considered to be part of the Hungarian part of Austria-Hungary. After WWII Burgenland was in the Soviet-occupied zone. It also has a sizable Croatian population, as the population of Burgenland is about 284,900 people and between 29,000 and 45,000 of those people are Croats. This is because many Croats emigrated to and resettled in what is now Burgenland after the Ottoman war in 1532 that destroyed many towns in the Slavonia region of Croatia. Many people still speak Croatian and it is actually considered a distinct language called Burgenland Croatian, use of which was prohibited during the Nazi era. Also, most of the Croatian population wanted to stay part of Hungary when Austria-Hungary split.
Burgenland happens to be the wine country of Austria, which was apparent on the bus ride to Podersdorf. The countryside was full of vineyards and rolling hills, which was a pleasant sight for the ride there. Honestly, I think watching the countryside roll by while sitting on the bus was the most enjoyable part of my 3.5 hours in Burgenland. For a beach town, Podersdorf was…..strange. First of all the beach was fenced off and must require an entrance fee in the summer, though the gates were open when we were there. But basically it is not a free beach. Second of all, there wasn’t really even a beach. Where there wasn’t grass, there was just rocks. However, there were raised wooden boards to plop down on and sunbathe, and there was a camping ground and a lot of kite surfing going on. Behind the beach area, though, there wasn’t much going on in the village.
Perhaps there are better places to Visit on the Neusiedlersee, or in Burgenland in general, however overall, I’m glad I was able to check Burgenland off my list but don’t feel the need to return.