The picturesque hilltop village of Pöllauberg is one of my favorite places in Styria and I have made day trips to the region ever since I was little. Many people come here for the scenic hike from Pöllau to Pöllauberg, which covers a difference in altitude of 300 meters and takes a little over two hours round-trip. I have done this hike in the past and can recommend it to anyone. You can choose from different trails and get some amazing panoramic views on your way up.
This time, I went to Pöllauberg for Sunday lunch with my family. We did not have time for hiking, but explored some of the sights of the region.
Parish and Pilgrimage Church of Mary of Pöllauberg
This landmark, located in Pöllauberg on 752 meters above sea level, can be seen from almost everywhere in the Pöllau region. Originally built in the 14th century in Gothic style and rebuilt after a fire in 1674 with Baroque elements, the Parish and Pilgrimage Church of Mary is one of Styria’s most magnificent churches. Nowadays, it is a popular venue for weddings and attracts a large number of pilgrims.
This is one of my favorite churches in Austria and you will understand why when you step inside. The Baroque altar and organ, both from around 1700, are the finest and most notable features inside the church.
The mountain panorama from Pöllauberg is quite interesting on clear days with good visibility, when distant mountains appear on the horizon. Thanks to the unobstructed view to the south-east, it is possible to see mountains in neighboring Slovenia and even Croatia (Ivanščica, 128 km away, and a few others), as well as the hills of Western Hungary.
The best place to admire the panorama is on the southern side, behind the church. I liked the fact that the most obvious peaks are signposted at the lookout.
Lunch was the reason why we came to Pöllauberg on this Sunday. Berggasthof König is, hands down, one of my favorite restaurants. I like to have lunch here on sunny spring or fall days, when it is warm enough but not too hot to sit in the outdoor dining area. I have been coming to this restaurant for special occasions, not because I cannot afford the food (prices are actually quite reasonable), but simply because it is so good!
Call me boring, but I always go for the Wiener Schnitzel here. I tend to be a creature of habit when it comes to food, but I am sure other dishes are just as tasty. Expect traditional meaty dishes and seasonal delicacies, including game goulash (yum!!).
The village of Pöllau, located on the foot of Pöllauberg, is also worth visiting. Pöllau Castle and the Abbey Church dominate the town center. The castle used to be an Augustinian canon monastery. Nowadays, it is used for festive occasions and hosts a museum. Called by some the “Styrian St. Peter’s Basilica”, the Abbey Church is a fine example of Styrian High Baroque style. It was erected between 1701 and 1712.
Pöllau was first mentioned in 1163. The town’s name originates from the Slavic word “polje”, meaning “field” or “plain”, which suggests that Slavic tribes lived in the area at that time. Over the centuries, the canon monastery and trade dominated the market town. Nowadays, Pöllau has 6000 inhabitants and has kept its traditional character.
Coffee and cake
In Pöllau, we stopped at one of the local confectioneries for coffee and cake, or should I say, a wide selection of local desserts. Once again, I realized that small towns in the countryside tend to offer much more cozy, traditional and inviting confectioneries than major Austrian cities. If I compare not just the quality of food and beverages, but also the attitude of the staff in urban and rural parts of Austria, rural businesses win the battle.
On the way back home, I pulled over at Schielleiten Castle, located around 20 kilometers south of Pöllau. Just before sunset, I took a short walk around the 18th century castle, erected by the Imperial Counts Wurmbrand-Stuppach. The estate changed owners multiple times during the 20th century. Today, it was turned into a cultural center and three-star hotel. Schielleiten Castle is a popular venue for weddings.
Nearby, there are other attractions, including Herberstein Zoo and Lake Stubenberg, but my trip had come to an end as darkness descended on the fields of rural East Styria.
How to get there
The most convenient way of getting to Pöllauberg is by car. From Graz, I recommend taking A2 motorway to Gleisdorf-West exit and state road B54 towards Hartberg. In the village of Kaindorf bei Hartberg, turn left at the roundabout and follow signs towards Pöllau. When you enter Pöllau, turn right at the big roundabout and follow signs towards Pöllauberg. The drive will take you a little over one hour and you will get to see some scenic views of the hills in the region. From Vienna or anywhere north, it will be more convenient to exit A2 motorway at Hartberg and follow B54 through Hartberg. Beyond the city limits, turn right at the roundabout towards Pöllau and you will soon reach the same local road described above to get to Pöllauberg.
For public transportation, check out the route planner of the Styrian integrated public transportation system Verbund Linie at BusBahnBim. There are frequent busses from Graz to Hartberg, but you will then have to change to another local bus which might not be running that often.
All views expressed in this blog post reflect my own personal opinion. This personal blog is designed to share information about my hometown as well as my travels around the globe. I am not associated with any of the service providers mentioned in this article and did not receive any compensation for writing this blog post.