by Elisabeth Clemmons, Alumni Scholarship Recipient and MA student in the Department of Public Policy
Austria, being a landlocked country, is generally not associated with water. Aside from several enclaves here and there, swimming opportunities are not many. Save for the Old Danube, swimming in the river is generally discouraged. I was even told that I should avoid eating sushi here because it’s a landlocked country. Anything water-related and you might be met with some incredulity from the locals. (Luckily, I’m not a fish fan.)
However, a lesser known “secret” among non-Austrians is this place called Myrafälle (“Myra Falls”). This is an hour’s drive away from Vienna. If you miss the roar of waterfalls, want another kind of hike, and/or generally wish to see that there is an “aqueous” side of Austria, it’s a great place to go with friends for an afternoon.
I went there last spring before I was a student at CEU. It was sunny and spring had just begun to crack open its leaves. We went there by car, but I would certainly recommend taking the train to Muggendorf and then catching line 332, which will drive you directly there in around 5 minutes, if you’re feeling more leisurely and want to be more eco-friendly.
While they are by no means as large as some of the world-famous impressive ones, they are a sight on their own to see. From the bottom of the falls, you climb up stairs that wind back and forth over brooks and larger chutes of water. There are also over 26 bridges through which you can zigzag your way across the falls. As you might be able to imagine, it’s a bit slippery at times. There are several levels to these waterfalls – the total height is 125m. According to the official website, every day, around 5 million liters fall down the rock steps.
Also of interest are the “themed stations” where you can learn about the history – how there was an old hydroelectric power station here from the 1800s, the “Hausstein,” a climbing paradise, and the various flora and fauna that inhabit the area. There is a separate educational trail in the area that exhibits the 50 different species of flora that grow in Muggendorf, including protected flowers such as the snow rose (Schneerose).
Tickets to Myrafälle are around 5 euros for one adult. There are also group prices. Proceeds go to conservation efforts for these beautiful waterfalls.