We will be traveling from Vienna and will spend one night in either Krems or Durnstein and then take the boat to Melk. Which of the towns would you recommend?
That's an easy one - Durnstein.
Durnstein has several nice pensions and a few very good hotels. It is a very small village with scenic views of the Danube, all pedestrian streets and loads of touristy shops.
Krems is a much larger town. It is pretty, but less quaint. Plus the boat dock in Krems in on the outskirts of town (the one in Durnstein is at the base of the village). The boat journey between Krems and Durnstein is also nothing special as the scenery really starts when you hit Durnstein.
Have you considered Spitz or Weissenkirchen as alternatives to Durnstein? Both equally lovely villages with similar charm minus the crowds and touristy shops.
Thank you for your quick reply. Would I be able to get the boat from either of those villages or would I have to return to Durnstein? We will not have a car.
There are two boat companies covering the Wachau - DDSG and Brandner.
Here are their web links:
You can see the DDSG stops at Durnstein and Spitz and Brander stops at Durnstein, Spitz and Weissenkirchen.
You should also note that the northern bank of the Danube from Krems to Melk is well served by bus - the WL1. This bus stops in every town and runs frequently.
Here is the schedule:
Renting bikes is also a lovely option with Nextbike.
Will you stay in Melk for the night, or continue onward?
Between Krems or Durnstein, the better boat access is a good reason to choose Durnstein, and it's therefore very popular. Rick uses Melk as his homebase; note that among the Melk hotels listed in the book, Gasthof zum Schwarzen Wirt is now closed.
Thank you for the boat information. I am actually considering Weissenkirchen after your advice. I would like less touristy. We do plan to stay the night in Melk and take the train the next day to Salzburg.
Personally, when I travel I try to avoid checking in and checking out of hotels as much as possible. It wastes a lot of time. Melk and Weissenkirchen are only 14 miles apart. You also don't want to lug your suitcases onto the boat, trust me.
My suggestion is to base yourself in Weissenkirchen (or another village - also look at Spitz) for two nights. I also suggest that you take the boat downriver, which would be Melk towards Weissenkirchen/Durnstein. The WL1 bus runs up and down that bank of the river very regularly from Krems to Melk (and vice-versa) stopping at all the villages along the way. So here is what I would do:
Travel from Vienna to Krems by train from Heiligenstadt (U4 subway end station)
Take WL1 bus to Weissenkirchen/Durnstein/etc.
Check in to hotel, explore village, rent some bikes, have a nice dinner (let me know if you want a suggestion)
Sleep in hotel
Full day in Wachau - take the WL1 bus to Melk, get on the boat, float down to Durnstein, explore, walk up to castle ruins, take bus or rent bike to Weissenkirchen.
Stay in Weissenkirchen/Durnstein for night
Travel to Salzburg.
Use www.oebb.at for fares and schedules. The Einfach Raus ticket is a really good option for getting to the Wachau.