Are you planning a trip to Vienna and looking for a unique day trip outside the city? Look no further than the Wachau Valley, a beautiful and scenic region along the Danube River. With its charming towns, historic castles, and world-renowned vineyards, it is a must-visit destination for any traveller to Austria. Below, we’ll explore why the Wachau Valley should be on your travel list, suggest how to visit and provide tips for making the most of your visit.
Introduction to the Wachau Valley
The Wachau Valley is a UNESCO World Heritage site located about an hour’s drive from Vienna. The region stretches for 36 kilometres along the Danube River, between the towns of Melk and Krems. The valley is known for its stunning landscapes, including rolling hills, terraced vineyards, and medieval towns. The Wachau is also famous for its wine production, particularly Grüner Veltliner and Riesling, which are grown on the steep slopes overlooking the river.
Why visit the Wachau Valley from Vienna?
Vienna is a beautiful city with plenty to see and do, but the Wachau Valley offers a completely different experience. The valley is a perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of the city, with its peaceful countryside and quaint towns. The region is also steeped in history, with castles and monasteries dating back to the Middle Ages. And of course, the wine! The Wachau Valley is one of the most important wine regions in Austria, and wine tasting is a must-do activity for any visitor.
Best ways to get to Wachau Valley from Vienna
The easiest way to get to the Wachau Valley from Vienna is by car. You can rent a car in Vienna or take a taxi. Another option is to take the train from Vienna to Krems, the largest town in the area. Trains run regularly from Vienna’s main train station, and the journey takes between one and two hours. From Krems, you can explore the valley on foot, by bike, or by boat.
Finally, another option is to go on a Wachau Valley tour (see options further down) which will include transport to and from the valley, as well as other highlights and attractions.
Wachau Valley tours – what to expect
If you prefer to take a guided tour, there are many options available. Wachau Valley tours may include transportation from Vienna, a visit to a local winery, and a boat ride along the Danube River. Some tours also include a visit to the Melk Abbey, a stunning Benedictine monastery perched on a hill overlooking the river. Most tours are full-day trips, so be prepared for a long day of sightseeing.
A few that you might find include:
Wachau coach and boat tour – Perfect for the summer
This is a popular way to experience the Wachau Valley and it’s also a great activity to do in Vienna in the summer. Tours normally involve a coach journey from Vienna to the valley, where you’ll then get to enjoy a scenic boat cruise along the river from Krems to Melk. From there you will then disembark and can explore the abbey.
Wachau bike tour – A unique way to experience the valley
Another popular way to explore the Wachau Valley is by bike. You can either take a tour directly from Vienna or rent a bike once in the valley. The terrain is relatively flat, making it an easy ride even for beginners. The bike path runs along the river and offers panoramic views of the vineyards and towns. Stop along the way for a picnic or wine tasting at a local winery. This type of tour would be ideal for those looking for some Wachau Valley wine tasting.
Here are some tour options that you may like:
Top attractions in the Wachau Valley
There are many attractions to see in the Wachau Valley, but here are a few highlights:
- Dürnstein: A picturesque town that is known for its blue-and-white church tower and castle ruins. Legend has it that Richard the Lionheart was imprisoned in the castle in the 12th century.
- Melk Abbey: A beautiful baroque monastery that overlooks the Danube River. The abbey was founded in the 11th century and is part of the Wachau Cultural Landscape UNESCO World Heritage site.
- Vineyards: The Wachau Valley is home to some of the best vineyards in Austria. Take a tour of a local winery and sample some of the region’s famous wines.
- Danube River: Take a boat ride along the Danube River and enjoy the stunning scenery of the valley from the water.
Places to eat and drink
The Wachau Valley is known for its excellent food and wine. Here are a few places to try:
- Heuriger: A traditional Austrian wine tavern where you can sample local wines and snacks.
- Gasthaus Prankl: A cosy restaurant in Dürnstein serving traditional Austrian cuisine.
- Weingut Jamek: A family-run winery in Joching offering tastings and tours.
Where to stay in the Wachau Valley
If you want to spend more than a day in the Wachau Valley, there are plenty of accommodation options available. From charming guesthouses to luxury hotels, there’s something for every budget. Here are a few recommendations:
- Hotel Schloss Dürnstein: A historic hotel located in a castle overlooking the Danube River.
- Gästehaus Heller: A family-run guesthouse in the town of Weißenkirchen.
- Steigenberger Hotel and Spa Krems: A modern hotel with a spa and wellness center in the town of Krems.
Tips for visiting the Wachau Valley
- Visit in the summer months when the weather is warm and sunny.
- Wear comfortable shoes for walking or biking.
- Book a tour in advance to avoid disappointment.
- Bring a camera to capture the stunning scenery.
- Bring a day bag along with suncream, water and snacks.
The Wachau Valley is a hidden gem in Austria and a must-visit destination for any traveller to Vienna. With its stunning landscapes, charming towns, and world-renowned vineyards, the valley offers a unique and unforgettable experience. Whether you choose to explore on foot, by bike, or by boat, the Wachau Valley is sure to leave a lasting impression.
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