With rolling vineyards of grapes and apricots, plus a collection of more than 5,000 historic monuments, it's no wonder that the Wachau Valley is a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of Austria's most popular tourist attractions. The Danube River carves a picturesque path through the valley's towns of Melk and Krems, uniting a harmonious blend of wineries, Gothic churches, and medieval castles.
The Wachau Valley (Danube Valley) is most commonly visited on a day-trip from Vienna. Wine tasting is regularly at the top of Wachau Valley tours' itineraries, as is Melk Abbey, an 11th-century Benedictine monastery adorned with bright frescoes. The valley is also a popular place for a bike tour thanks to its flat paths and stunning scenery.
Full-day tours typically combine visits to the castle ruins of Burgruine Durnstein, the village of Spitz, and the medieval town of Krems with a Danube River cruise. Energetic sightseers can also add Salzburg — the birthplace of Mozart and setting for 'The Sound of Music' to their schedule on an excursion that covers the Salzkammergut Valley and Salzburg's Mirabell Palace and Gardens. Lower Austria's close proximity to Bratislava and Budapest, the respective capitals of Slovakia and Hungary, make the region an ideal launchpad for exploring more of Europe.
How to Get to the Wachau Valley
- History buffs and wine lovers are spoiled for choice of things to do in Wachau Valley.
- The region can be explored by car, coach bus, or bike.
- Most tours include hotel pickup and dropoff in Vienna.
From Wien Westbahnhof in central Vienna, catch the REX train to Melk Bahnof (a one-hour journey) or to Krems, which requires changing trains at St. Polten. If visiting from Salzburg, you should also change trains at St. Polten for the REX line destined for Melk. Although catching the train to Melk is a breeze (especially from Vienna), it's best to explore the valley with a tour guide as part of a sightseeing or biking tour. With more than 5,000 historic landmarks, it's tough to see the best independently.
When to Get There
The spring months of March to May are undoubtedly the best time to visit the Wachau Valley, when wine and food festivals such as the Wachau Gourmet Festival and Wachau Weinfr¸hling take place. In late March and early April, the area's landscapes are awash with the pastel-pink blossoms of apricot trees.