Golf Travel expert Mary McDowall heads to central Europe for a mini-break taking in four golf courses along the River Danube

In my world, travel is enhanced by taking the golf clubs along and combining a trip to somewhere new with a round at a local course. So a short break in central Europe, checking out the golf and landscapes along the River Danube, seemed an intriguing opportunity.

River Danube

The Danube is Europe’s second longest river. It flows south east for 1,770 miles, passing through an amazing 10 countries on its journey from the Black Forest in Southern Germany through to the Black Sea via the Danube Delta in Romania and Ukraine.

It flows through some beautiful scenery and superb cities in Central Europe, and this trip took us through Austria, Hungary and Slovakia

The Wachau Valley

We picked up our hire car from Vienna Airport.  Bizarrely I had forgotten my driving licence which meant that the Hubbie would have to do all the driving.  You could say this was deliberate, but it backfired when I realised I was consigned to Google Maps and all the navigating.

We headed west along the Danube into the beautiful Wachau Valley.  The scenery was glorious; hillsides dotted with vineyards and pretty villages.  After 90 minutes we arrived at our first course, Golf Club Linz, St FlorianSet in the grounds of the beautiful Tillysburg Castle, this is a lush parkland course, with trees lining immaculate fairways in the gently rolling uplands of the lower Alps.  There’s a real feel-good factor playing here - the air is wonderfully clear, and the views spectacular – really it was a joy to play.

We spent the night in the beautiful town of Melk which sits right on the Danube.  Tired from a long day, the large portion of beef goulash with dumplings we had for dinner was particularly welcome!


Our next course was located just south of Vienna – in fact close enough that you could reach it in 30 mins from the city centre.  However, Colony Club Gutenhof is a beautiful parkland 36-hole course lying in a peaceful forest setting.  It was long, but relatively flat and in wonderful condition.  For once I played to my handicap and beat the Hubbie – consistency triumphed over length.  It also has the best shop for women’s clothes I have seen in a long time – apparently they have over 700 women members there!


From here we headed into Hungary.  We decided to stay the night in Gyor, Hungary’s fifth largest city. It’s not somewhere ever mentioned in travel guides, but it is on the Danube and it suited our journey. What a lovely surprise it was. Its charming and peaceful Old Town was a lovely place to stroll around in the early evening sunshine before we settled on a delicious supper of chicken paprikash (a chicken stew with a healthy dash of sweet paprika and sour cream).

Hungary’s top rated golf course, Pannonia Golf & Country Club was our next port of call.  Only 30 minutes from Budapest and set in beautiful countryside, Pannonia really is a proper golf test.  Long, with many raised approaches, and greens with tricky undulations – I could see why I got so many shots here.  Despite a wet spring similar to ours, it was in immaculate condition and I stayed straight, unlike Hubbie, and again won the day.


From Pannonia we headed back north west, following the Danube to Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia.  We were ready for a break from golf, so had a day off and a look around this lovely city.

Bratislava is a great size for a mooch. Big enough to contain plenty of grand and ornate buildings, but small enough that you can cover most of it in a day.  We spent an enjoyable day strolling around it in the sun, and then had dinner on the banks of the Danube.  I opted for the schnitzel and Hubbie for the zander fish (perch) – he’d been looking forward to trying it throughout the trip, and despite my misgivings, he wasn’t disappointed.

Our final port of call on the trip was Penati Golf Resort, approximately one hour north of Bratislava. We really didn’t know what to expect as we drove deep into the Slovakian countryside, but what a wonderful surprise this course was.  And it’s no surprise the club has quickly become one of Europe’s top-rated resorts. 

There are two 18-hole courses here: the Nicklaus Design Legend Course and the Heritage Course. Lying in the stunning pine forests of the Little Carpathians region on land punctuated with white sand dunes, this nature-friendly resort integrates perfectly with the surrounding natural environment.  Each hole was different and linked with beautiful towering pine trees – it was like playing the Slovakian equivalent of Woburn!

We ended our quick trip here and headed back to Vienna Airport which took just over an hour.  It has been such an interesting and enjoyable few days. It reminded me why golf is such a fantastic hobby as it often draws you to places you would never normally think of going to.  4 lovely courses and 3 great stopovers done, and ticked!

For more information specifically on Central Europe you can contact Mary here.

About the Author - Mary McDowall

Mary McDowall

I have worked in the golf travel industry for over 20 years, previously Tour Leading golf holidays for Solos Holidays and then as a Product Manager responsible for putting the golf trips together. I have been lucky enough to travel extensively across the fairways of Europe & beyond.

I am a member of Mill Hill Golf Club in England, and Borth & Ynyslas Golf Club in Wales, currently playing off 13.1 but dreaming of returning to single figures one day!

Mary McDowall - LinkedIn

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