Where to Go in the Wachau Valley
The Wachau is a picturesque valley along the Danube between Krems and Melk, and was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its agricultural and architectural landscape. While it makes an easy day trip from Vienna, some will want to spend a little more time in the Wachau valley, enjoying not only charming towns like Krems and the famous abbey at Melk, but also cycling through the vineyards and sampling some of Austria’s best wines.
Abt-Berthold-Dietmayr-Straße 1, 3390 Melk, Austria
Towering high above the banks of the Danube in the Wachau Valley, the bright yellow Melk Abbey is one of Austria‘s most beautiful Baroque buildings. It’s been rebuilt several times since its 11th-century origins, with its present form dating to the early 18th century. Inside, the library is one of the most impressive features with roughly 100,000 volumes and a ceiling fresco by Paul Troger. There’s a beautiful church and several important paintings to be found, but the real treasure is the two Melk Crucifixes, one said to contain a piece of Christ’s cross.
Schloßstraße, 3492, Austria
Though the foundations go back hundreds of years prior, Grafenegg Castle as we know it today was constructed in the 19th century and is a fine example of historicism. The interior is open April through October. It’s particularly known for music events throughout the year and a Christmas market.
Schönbühel ‘s 12th castle stands boldly at the edge of the right bank of the Danube, on where it is believed a Roman fort once stood. Typically it’s viewed via a river cruise, which may be enough, but it’s picturesque location makes this castle and the tiny market town worth a stop if time permits.
Donauradweg, Ybbs an der Donau, Austria
The Wachau stretch of the Donauradweg, or Danube Cycling Path, is arguably one of the most beautiful cycling routes in Europe. From the river to the vineyards, to castles and market towns, the route offers a unique way to see this UNESCO Cultural Landscape.
The Wachau UNESCO World Heritage landscape is also one of Austria’s most important wine regions. Along this part of the Danube terraced vineyards produce fruity Rieslings and Grüne Veltliners, two of Austria‘s most popular white wines. Autumn is the perfect time to visit when the Hueriger wine taverns open up to serve fresh wines from the most recent harvest. Be sure to visit Nikolaihof winery in Mautern, said to be the oldest in Austria.
The Kamptal, or Kamp Valley, is one of eight wine regions in Lower Austria, which with around 27,000 hectares of vineyards grows more wine grapes than any other province. The town of Langenlois produces the most wine here, with an assortment heuriger wine taverns and wine specialty shops as well as internationally known producers. There’s even a wine resort and spa called the LOISIUM, which has proven to be a popular getaway for wine lovers.