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Austrian Wachau Towns--where to stay for 2 nights & how to tour (bike/boat)?

We have two nights to spend in the Wachau Valley area and towns this August before heading to Hallstatt, and wanted to get advice on what the best town to stay in is, and how to best do a full day tour of the towns/area? I've read about people doing day trips from Vienna to Melk, and then taking a boat down to Krems before heading back to Vienna. However since we have the time to stay in the area is there a day trip where you can take a boat to a few beautiful towns and then an easy bike back along the river?

We will have a full first day driving out of Vienna in the AM, and then a full second day in the Wachau valley. On the third day we will be driving to Hallstatt. Any "can't miss" things? All we know of so far is the Melk Abbey. Thanks so much!!

Posted by
1465 posts

Any "can't miss" things?

You should stroll through the medieval village of "Dürnstein" and walk up the hill to the summit of the fortress ruins. If you stand on the highest point possible you will have a wonderful view of the Wachau valley.

Posted by
1180 posts

Our first trip, we stayed in Melk (2008). Our second trip we stayed in Sptiz (2016). There is a boat that goes back and forth between Melk and Krems and it is possible to ride the boat to Krems and bike back. In 2008, we rode to Krems and went on the boat back. In 2016, we did not want to pay for the boat trip (you see the same scenery from your bike) . We stayed in Spitz, which is a partway down the route, and rode bikes both ways. It is a wonderful bike trip and I highly recommend it. You go through several small towns on the river (Including Durnstein) with shops, restaurants, and some wineries. If you decide to stay in Melk, I would recommend catching the boat to Krems and riding bikes back. We did the opposite and felt we had to "keep going" to make the last boat back. When we biked both ways in 2016, we were able to stop and enjoy sites for as long as we liked. In 2008, we rented our bikes at Hotel zur Post. In 2016, we rented our bikes at the TI in Spitz. While every town is a "tourist" town on this route, we found Spitz to be quieter than Melk. We stopped in Melk for lunch last year and found the large crowds trampled on some of the charm of the city. Spitz was beautiful, but no crowds.

Posted by
4645 posts

The Wachau is a place I've gone to many times, so happy to give my thoughts.

First, understand that the Wachau Valley is not very long, but there is a lot to see and do. I would definitely stay in a nice, homey BnB or farm/winery in Weißenkirchen or Spitz.

On your arrival day, after checking into your accommodation, I'd suggest visiting the Abbey to get that out of the way. If you have time (and as you have a car), I'd highly, highly recommend visiting Aggstein Castle which has the most amazing views and historical remnants. There is also a decent place to eat up there.

On your full day, I'd recommend renting bikes and ride between Spitz and Dürnstein. If you'd rather take the boat, both companies make stops in these towns as well as Weißenkirchen. In each of these villages, there are lovely restaurants and quaint churches. Dürnstein is the most heavily touristed, so I'd avoid lunch there, but be sure to have an apricot dumpling from the terrace at the Richard Lionhart hotel. You also must walk up to the castle ruin in Dürnstein for more amazing views.

I would add that there are many wineries in this area, so you could also try to squeeze in one of those for a fab dinner, especially as you have a car.

Posted by
3 posts

Awesome thanks all! Any boat company recommendations (or can we just buy tickets on site day of?)?

Also--any winery recommendations--Emily you mention having dinner at one and that sounds just fab.

Posted by
4645 posts

There are only two companies which run boats on the Wachau - DDSG and Brandner. Websites are here:

Here is a copy of some notes from an Austrian friend regarding wineries:

WEINGUT KNOLL----in Unterloiben, famous wines and an excellent Restaurant "Loibnerhof"
DOMÄNE WACHAU----Dürnstein: the only cooperative in the valley. Great selection of good wines.
WEINGUT SCHMIDL----just 200 meters down the road--Organic wines-good.
FX PICHLER----Dürnsein: the star of winemakers. Very modern and sterile-but good wines, pricey though.

next village is WEISSENKIRCHEN:
lots of great HEURIGEN there.
WEINGUT PRAGER: Famous Winery, great wines.

Next village Joching:

WEINGUT JOSEF JAMEK--the godfather of winemaking in the valley- good wines and good restaurant
WEINGUT HOLZAPFEL----courtyard with the Restaurant on a sunny day fantastic.

Next village Wösendorf:

RUDI PICHLER---a new star, very nice wines, expensive.

Next village Spitz:

WEINGUT HIRTZBERGER: the new Number One of winemakers.
WEINGUT LAGLER: Nice wines, great views, nice hotel.

These are just a few of the best from more than 500 wineries in the valley, but there is a winery on every corner.