The baroque Augustinian abbey Stift Herzogenburg is a highlight of Lower Austria. Admission is with a guided tour (in English at 9.30am and 11am Tuesday, Thursday and Friday), which includes the Stiftskirche (monastery church) and a late-Gothic collection of paintings by the Danube school of artists.

Herzogenburg lies on the main train line between Krems (€5.70, 27 minutes) and St Pölten (€5.70, 15 minutes); at least a dozen trains pass through the town’s train station (which is 10 minutes’ walk from the abbey) daily.

Don't Miss: Landhausviertel

The Landhausviertel (State Parliament Quarter), to the southeast of the historical core of St Pölten, is a contemporary conflux of state buildings and cultural institutions strung out in a statement-making jumble of glass and steel alongside the river. To get your bearings, first head to the Klangturm from the top of which (reached by lift) there are 360-degree views not just of the neighbourhood but of almost all of St Pölten. There's a small gallery at the base of the tower and an information centre. A few steps from the tower stands the Landesmuseum, housing an engaging collection on the history, art and environment of the region.

The new-millenium feel of the quarter is reflected in the program of the nearby FestSpielHaus, which attracts an impressive list of musicians, orchestras, theatre companies and dance ensembles from Austria and beyond.