The Wachau Valley is located in Austria. It is about an hour away from the capital city of Vienna. This makes the Wachau Valley a perfect place for a day trip or a weekend getaway from Vienna. The valley is located between the towns of Krem and Melk in Austria and the beautiful landscape is formed by the river Danube. The Wachau Valley is very European- in the sense the countryside reminds you of historic times with rivers, castles and churches that spring every now and then as you drive along the 25 mile road stretch.
The entire valley was listed as an UNESCO Heritage site in 2000. That gives you another reason to visit this gorgeous valley. The towns and landscapes of the Wachau Valley have survived the test of changing times, whilst keeping the natural evolution intact.
How to get to Wachau Valley?
There are many ways to get to the Wachau Valley.
- Easiest way is to arrive in Vienna (or Vienna International Airport, if flying from overseas). Once in Vienna, you can rent a car and drive to Wachau (about 1 hour).
- There are morning trains available from Vienna to Wachau and it costs about 15 Euros. Westbanhof is a train station connects Vienna to the countryside. This station has city trains as well as ‘rural’ trains which are called OBB trains.
- Traveling to Wachau is possible by local transit as well. It does take 2.50 hours and the journey is a combination of transit train and buses.
Options for Wachau Valley Tour
Once you have arrived in Wachau, you can explore the valley on bike, via cruise or by driving along.
- A cruise lasts about 3 hours+ (return trip) and you can explore both Krem and the Melk towns. There is an amazing combo ticket which includes the train fare, cruise and entrance to the Melk Abbey. More about it here
- You can also explore the valley on bikes and cover the beautiful riverside and the Abbey.
- We drove to the Wachau Valley. The drive was scenic and we got down at the Abbey and had pit-spots along the way, covering a few churches, vineyards and river-banks along the way.
Best Time to Visit
Early summer or autumn is the best time to explore the Wachau Valley and experience the beautiful greenery. We visited during early spring in March and depending on the forecast, some days could be gloomy and rainy!
Accommodations in Wachau Valley
For an overnight stay or longer, you can book your accommodation here in the valley. Hotel rooms range from $150 USD to $300 USD+ depending on the luxury level and the amenities it offers.
A visit to the Wachau Valley of Austria
We were staying in Vienna for a few days and we decided to visit the nearby Wachau Valley. We say, nearby because – 1 hour drive is not a LONG drive for us. The weather was overcast and was slightly raining that day. This made the valley even more beautiful and serene. We visited the Wachau Valley in the month of March and the tourist season had not picked up yet. This allowed us to take tons of pictures in the Melk Abbey and spend ample time there.
Drive Along The Valley
The Wachau Valley is beautiful because its lined with greenery on all sides of the road, with hills and castles in the far distance and the river flowing alongside your road. Isn’t that romantic already? Definitely consider pit-stops to take pictures or walk by some of the water banks or mini-ports to soak in the beautiful nature.
A visit to Vineyards
The Wachau produces one of the most popular white wines in the region. The Danube has an extremely diverse geological terrain and along with its waterway through terraces makes cultivation of vines on these inclines very unique and pictureque at the same time. Many of the region’s wineries date back to 17th and 18th century. The Wachau Valley region has about 124 vineyards and 650 growers cultivating on 3300+ acres of land.
Domane Wachau is a popular winery in the area. A small group Wine tour in the Wachau Valley costs about $145USD. Find out more here
The Melk Abbey is one of the biggest baroque abbeys in Europe. It is a Benedictine abbey located in the town of Melk adjoining the Wachau valley. The abbey is striking with its bright yellow color painted all over. The abbey is a living monastery and is inhabited by monks. This abbey was originally built to serve as a royal palace. There are remnants of the Austria ruling dynasties and their rulers that are housed inside the abbey. It is believed that Maria Theresa received 40 kg of gold and it is preserved in the abbey.
The entrance of the abbey is decorated with golden leaves and white marble statues. A visit of the monastery includes the Imperial Staircase, the Imperial Corridor, the abbey museum, the Marble Hall, the balcony, the library and the abbey church as well as the abbey park with its Baroque pavilion. You can capture amazing shots from the panoramic terrace and also visit special exhibitions held in the abbey. By walking through the lobby you will enter the Stiftskirche which was the church dedicated to St John, the Baptist. The ceilings are decorated with beautiful frescoes.
Built in the early 1700s as a royal palace, Melk Abbey was eventually gifted to Benedictine monks who turned the estate into a fortified abbey.
The entrance to the abbey costs 11 Euros. You can access the abbey with a guided tour that runs from 09:00 am to 05:00 pm local time. Check out their fees here
Aggstein Fortress Ruins
The Aggstein fortress was built in the early 12th century. It was built with an intention to monitor the traffic coming and going from the Danube river. The fortress was built on the top of a narrow ridge, but it offers breathtaking views of the entire Wachau Valley.
There are guided tours available at the fortress. The fortress has hidden stairways, courtyards and towers including a dungeon and a chapel which makes this place a great spot to explore the by-gone days.
If you have staying in Vienna for 4 days or more, consider traveling to the Wachau Valley for a day and experience the beautiful Austrian countryside, I bet you wont want to leave.
Have you explored the Wachau Valley of Austria? Share your experiences with us