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Wachau Valley travel in mid-October 2015

We will be visiting the Wachau Valley with another "oldish couple" (We range in age from late 50s to early 70s.) in mid-October this year.

I just read a RS guidebook update that says (as November 2014), "There is no longer regular train service along the north side of the river; Krems is only served by a special “nostalgia” train, which does not go to Melk."

We had counted on using the train and then bikes to tour around the area. How will this change impact us? Is there still service on the other side of the river? We will need to return to Vienna for our flight back to the states.

Also, we will likely spend 3 nights in the area. From reading other posts, it seems like Durnstein, Spitz, or weissenkirchen are the most convenient for folks biking around. Do you have any nice, but reasonably-priced B&B or small motel recommendations? Thanks in advance for your help!

Posted by
527 posts

You can take the train from Vienna to Melk and from there bike to Krems. There are also buses for the area. Spitz, Weissenkirchen, and Durnstein are all great to overnight at. In Durnstein we stayed at Stockingerhof:
http://www.stockingerhof.at/english/
You can catch the train back to Vienna in Krems.
Emily might post some other suggestions for you as well.

Posted by
4684 posts

I think the book is confused. There is definitely still a full rail service from Vienna to Krems. Beyond Krems there is a narrow-gauge train line that goes as far as Emmersdorf, but only runs on summer weekends. That's probably what the guide is thinking of.

There is a train from Vienna to Melk, but it doesn't run along the south bank of the river, it takes a more direct but less scenic route.

If you're too tired biking, there are bus routes between Krems and Melk on both sides of the river, and you can get a day pass for ten euros that gives unlimited travel on both.

Posted by
11 posts

Thanks so much for your input! Just to clarify, we would be traveling with luggage from Vienna to whichever town we stay in. And then, we would be biking and hiking around from our B&B or small hotel. Thanks to both of you. Your comments about the train and buses are very helpful.

Posted by
527 posts

Enjoy the wine in this area, the local schnapps is good too. There might be Sturm still available too.

Posted by
16883 posts

That online update does sound confusing; maybe it makes more sense if you have an old book handy. The current book shows the primary train (Vienna-Melk and Melk-St. Polten-Krems) and boat routes on the map on p. 215. How to Look Up Train Schedules and Routes Online gives you the DB train schedule link and tips for using it.

Posted by
10344 posts

October is a transition month in Northern Europe, weather-wise. Layers of clothing, for biking. Would be of interest if I were biking and in 70's (can't imagine it). We never seem to see on this site any after-trip reports saying: Am 70, cycled northern Europe in October, it was great.

I don't know, just saying, possibly considering a rental car would make for a more enjoyable savoring of the experience.

Posted by
4698 posts

Chicken Lover - I visit the Wachau routinely and think you are making a great decision to stay in the area for 3 days. October will be a nice time, not too cold, not too hot (hopefully). You will likely have missed the grape harvest but you might be lucky and find some sturm still around.

For your trip you will rely on buses, not trains. The WL1 and WL2 bus are all you need to know. The WL1 bus runs from Krems to Melk on the north side of the river; WL2 runs on the southside, also from Krems to Melk. Bikes are not allowed on these busses typically. There is a special WL1A Radtramper, which runs until Oct. 26 and is specifically for bicyclists. There are several ferries along the way where you can cross by small boat.

Here is the link to the WL1 schedule:
http://www.donau.com/fileadmin/user_upload/Bilder_und_PDFs/Informieren_und_service/Anreise/Fahrplan-WL1.pdf

WL1A (radtramper):
http://www.zuklinbus.at/Fahrplaene%20PDF/waldviertel/wl1a.pdf

WL2:
http://www.donau.com/fileadmin/user_upload/Bilder_und_PDFs/Informieren_und_service/Anreise/Fahrplan-WL2.pdf

I am glad to see that you are asking about the south side of the river. Most visitors, especially those coming for the day, focus on Duernstein. While it is a lovely village, it is becoming increasingly full of tacky tourist shops. That said, you must have lunch on the terrace of the Richard Lionheart Hotel and you must hike to the castle ruins above the village where Richard Lionheart was imprisoned. I actually like to stay in Duernstein at the Gasthaus Stoger.

Weissenkirchen is known for excellent wineries and good restaurants. There is a ferry at Weissenkirchen that will take you and your bikes to the village of St. Lorenz. From there it is a lovely walk/ride to the next village, Rossatz. An smooth, uncrowded trail runs along the river (far from the road) through vineyards where you can have excellent views across to Duernstein. Nice picnics spots.

You should also investigate the Aggstein castle ruins, visit a winery or two (WEINGUT JOSEF JAMEK, WEINGUT PRAGER, WEINGUT HOLZAPFEL, WEINGUT KNOLL).

To get back to the train question, there is a special tourist train which operates between Melk and Krems, but it only runs for a part of the year, only on the weekends and holidays and only runs 3 times/day. Bus is way better.

Posted by
11 posts

Emily, your info is invaluable! Thank you soooo much. You and all your fellow contributors are just the best. Thanks to you all for sharing your insights. I am sitting down with a friend today to map things out, so your timing is perfect!