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Why Austria's Wachau Valley is a must see

Updated: May 30

About the Author: Stefanie Lambert - I have spent years traveling around Europe and now I want to share my first hand knowledge and expertise to help others fall in love with it as well.

Wachau Valley in Austria

Nestled along the Danube River in Austria, west of Vienna stretching between Melk and Krems, this UNESCO World Heritage site is a must-see destination for travelers seeking a blend of picturesque landscapes, historical richness, and unforgettable cultural experiences. Gorgeous churches, quaint towns,  beautiful vineyards, and historic castles are all part of this incredible region. It is best experienced slowly but you can get a good taste of this region in a day if needed. 

Apricot Orchards and Vineyards

Wachau valley

One of the most captivating features of the Wachau Valley (pronounced Vokow) is its mesmerizing landscape. Rolling hills, terraced vineyards, and charming apricot orchards add to its allure. The valley spans approximately 33 kilometers offering visitors a visual feast . The meticulously maintained vineyards are not just  beautiful; they are also the source of some of Austria's finest wines. The Wachau Valley is renowned for its production of Grüner Veltliner and Riesling, two grape varieties that thrive in the region's unique climate and soil conditions. Apricots are also big here so make sure you try some of the delicious desserts made with these local crops.

Wachau valley vineyards

Architectural Beauty and Charming Villages

Durnstein, Wachau valley, Austria

Steeped in history, the Wachau Valley boasts a collection of well-preserved medieval towns that transport visitors to another era. Dürnstein, with its cobblestone streets, iconic blue tower and colorful facades, is particularly enchanting. The town is not only a visual delight but also has a rich history, famously hosting the imprisonment of Richard the Lionheart in the Kuenringer Castle. It is a steep climb up to the castle but well worth it for the views of both the vineyards and the town below. 

Durnstein, Wachau valley, Austria

Melk, Wachau valley, Austria

Melk, another jewel in the Wachau crown, is home to the magnificent Melk Abbey. Perched atop a hill overlooking the river and towering over the town below, the abbey is a masterpiece of Baroque architecture. Still lived in by Benedictine monks, its opulent interior, including the library with its countless ancient manuscripts, and impressive chapel is nothing short of stunning. The chapel is in my top five favorite churches in Europe (I am a sucker for Baroque). The town below is quaint and picturesque. After you tour the abbey, take a leisurely lunch and stroll the characteristic town. 

Melk, Wachau valley, Austria

Emmersdorf an der Donau is also worth a visit. Known as the gateway to the valley it has breathtaking views of both the valley and Melk Abbey. Visit the castle and wander the cute streets for a lovely afternoon. 

Best ways to explore the area

By boat - Exploring the Wachau Valley by boat is an experience that leaves an indelible mark on every traveler. The Danube River, cutting through the heart of the valley, offers a unique perspective of the surrounding landscapes and historic sites. Whether it's a leisurely cruise or an adventurous kayak journey, the river unveils the Wachau's beauty in a way that cannot be fully appreciated from the land. Enjoy unique views of the riverside towns, terraced vineyards and the castles that dot the landscape.

Wachau valley, Austria

By bicycle - Cycling is a wonderful way to discover the Wachau Valley. The distances between towns are reasonable and there are well maintained bike paths throughout. Cycling allows you to soak up all the beauty around you and affords you flexibility to explore at your leisure. Try some e-bikes for a more leisurely ride. They provide all the enjoyment of a bike ride without all physical strain. Both traditional bikes and e-bikes are available for rent throughout the valley. You can rent for part of the day or even rent for multiple days.

Hiking - If you have time, hiking is a fabulous way to see the Wachau Valley. Whether you are looking for a long hike or a short walk it is only ever just a few steps from the charming towns into nature. The Wachau world heritage trail is a 180km route that passes through 13 towns and villages, past 20 castles, ruins and fortresses as well as 3 monasteries.  This high altitude trail has 14 legs providing opportunities for unparalleled views. 

Wachau valley, Austria

Whether you're a history buff, a wine connoisseur, or simply a nature lover, the Wachau Valley is a must-see destination that you will not soon forget. 

Ready to travel to Austria’s Wachau Valley? Contact us at and let us plan the perfect itinerary tailored just for you.


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