(Editor’s note: This is the second in a series on food-inspired travel destinations. You can see the first post on Parma, Italy here.)
Continuing the theme of food-inspired travel I am traveling to Linz, Austria, birthplace of the Linzer torte and Linzer cookie, to add some sweet treats to my virtual picnic basket. Linz is the third largest city in Austria, the capital of Upper Austria and is located 2.5 hours by car, or 1.5 hours by train, east of Vienna. Once known, in its darker history as the childhood home of Adolf Hitler, and as an industrial city, it is now a centre for art, culture and technology.
The Linzer torte, my reason for my virtual visit, was mentioned as early as 1653 and is believed to be the oldest cake recipe in the world, so it must be good. The base has a melt-in-your-mouth crust made from flour and ground nuts, usually almonds which is then filled with black currant preserve and topped with a lattice crust. The Linzer cookies are similar to the torte, and a popular holiday cookie recipe in the United States. One of the recommended stores to buy and eat a Linzer Torte is Jindrak.
What to see and do:
Although a modern, art-forward Old Town is still worth a visit with its pastel- colored buildings and picturesque squares offering unique stores, bars and restaurants.
• Hauplatz ~ the main square is one of Europe’s largest. It contains a 20-meter high column built to protect the city from fire, plague and war.
• Linzer Schloss and Museum ~ this is not your fairytale type castle, but a fortress built on the banks of the Danube. Today it houses the Upper Austrian Museum which has permanent exhibits covering the Neolithic times to the present day in Upper Austria.
• The Feichtinger-Haus ~ houses the famous glockenspiel, which changes the music selection according to the season.
• Mariendom ~ or the “new cathedral,” is Austria’s largest church and has some beautiful stained glass windows.
Landstraße is one of the more well-known shopping streets in Linz and Herrenstraße and Bischofstraße offer some quieter streets and some individual stores. The Linz Labyrinth Urban Guide can help you find those out-of-the-way places too.
What to buy in this food-inspired travel destination? Chocolate, of course. Zotter chocolates are renowned quality fair-trade chocolates and of course Mozartkugel, Austria’s ubiquitous marzipan chocolate balls are available everywhere. Linz is known for its porcelain and of course you can’t go wrong buying some locally grown and produced Grüner Veltliner wine that would definitely fit nicely into my picnic basket.
• Mural Harbor ~ this is the venue of one of the biggest graffiti galleries in Europe and a popular tourist attraction. About 300 street art pieces decorate the warehouses, rail yards and shipping containers in the area, and they continue to attract world famous street artists. To get the best experience you can take an organized tour to learn more about the artists and the art. Info can be found through the Linz tourist office.
• Lentos Art Museum ~ This is the modern art museum of Linz and its building facade is made entirely of glass. Inside you can see breathtaking art works from celebrated Austrian artists such as Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele to more contemporary American pop artists Keith Haring and Andy Warhol. The Donaupark, in which the museum is located, is a relaxing green area to enjoy, sitting as it does on the banks of the Danube and contains some steel sculpture to remind you of Linz’s past.
Hohenrausch ~ this is an exhibition trail, with work from local and international artists, that leads you through the OK Centre, through attics of an old convent and across the rooftops of Linz to a 60-meter high wooden viewing tower.
Linz has nine scenic posted hiking trails that will enable you to see the city and its surroundings from a different perspective.
Linz Botanical Garden ~ Linz has 4.2 hectares of gardens with more than 1,000 species of plants. There are – among others – a Japanese garden, rose garden, greenhouses and a unique collection of cacti. The garden hosts many events too.
Grottenbahn ~ this historic Disneyesque ride was built in 1906 and is popular with nostalgic Austrians. The little grotto train takes you into an imaginary world populated by dwarves, dragons all set in make-believe dioramas.
Pöstlingberg ~ the views from this small mountain/hill in Linz are well worth the ride on the tram, the Pöstlingbergbahn. It opened in 1898 and is one of the steepest “adhesion” railways in the world. During the summer you can ride in the “summer cars” if you are lucky enough to find a seat. At the top you can gaze over the city or visit the pilgrimage church.
Ars Electronica Centre ~ the Ars Electonica institute is based in the field of modern media art and here you can find the interactive Museum of The Future. From virtual reality experiences, robots tending a garden down to discovering exactly what happened in the world whilst you were in the museum, this centre offers a futuristic glimpse of our planet.
My tip: The Linz card will give you free entry to several museums, and travel on the buses and trams.
Linz is an under-appreciated food-inspired travel destination – obscured by Vienna and Salzburg – that offers some amazing experiences and some delicious torte for my picnic basket.
About the author:
Photographer/writer Jackie Harding was born in the United Kingdom. As a long-time expat, she lived in Boston for 12 years and in the Netherlands for the past 10 years.
Trained as a nurse in the U.K., she worked for nine years in the United States as a special education teacher’s assistant. Since moving to the Netherlands, she has discovered writing and photography.
Contributing to Dispatches since 2016, Jackie has written about her travels around Europe as well as about expat life and issues.
She also covered the Women’s March Amsterdam.
She’s married to British businessman Martin Harding and is the mother of two international adult children.