Austria

How to Visit Wachau Valley from Vienna, Austria

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Wachau Valley in Austria, the stunning, UNESCO-listed area not too far from the capital, is one of the best day trips from Vienna. With beautiful landscapes and numerous impressive historical sites, this is also a gratifying place to visit that I’m sure you will enjoy tremendously.

This region has been on my bucket list for years, and when I finally visited Wachau Valley from Vienna, I was not disappointed. Even if my main reason for going there was the jaw-dropping Melk Abbey, I enjoyed every moment of my day trip from Vienna to Wachau Valley.

wachau valley from vienna

I can’t recommend visiting Wachau Valley enough. I compiled this guide to help you plan your trip to Wachau Valley from Vienna. Even if I were there on a tour (and I can definitely recommend this option), there are other ways to visit Wachau Valley, and I covered them all here.

wachau valley from vienna

Where is Wachau Valley

Wachau Valley, the picturesque area along the magnificent Danube River, stretches for around 36 km between the towns of Melk and Krems an der Donau. Vienna, the capital of Austria, is located some 90 km east of the Wachau Valley, making the place one of the best day trips from Vienna.

wachau valley from vienna

Why visit Wachau Valley

Even if the country is known mainly for its majestic mountains, I think that Wachau Valley is one of the most picturesque and interesting places to visit in Austria. The landscape is simply stunning, with hills rolling all the way to the Danube, numerous vineyards and apricot orchards dotting the area, charming little towns along the river, and some fantastic historical sites (mostly monasteries and castles).

The area is not very large, only some 36km along the Danube, it is packed with attractions. In 2000, “Wachau Cultural Landscape” was included in the prestigious UNESCO World Heritage List.

wachau valley from vienna

wachau valley from vienna

wachau valley from vienna

How to get to Wachau Valley from Vienna

Depending on how much time you have for visiting Wachau Valley, there are different ways to get here from Vienna and explore the area. The best way would be to drive to the Wachau Valley – this way, you can explore the area freely. You can rent a car for your trip here.

If you want to use public transport, train is the best option. Direct trains from Vienna (Wien Franz-Josefs-Bahnhof) to Krems depart every hour throughout the day, arriving at the first stop on the Wachau Valley a bit over an hour later. You can also take the train from Vienna to Melk, on the other side of the Wachau Valley. Like with trains to Krems, there are direct departures (from Wien Westbahnhof station) every hour throughout the day, arriving at Melk an hour later.

The price for a one-way ticket from Vienna to Krems or Melk (or from those towns back to Vienna) is around €20. You can check the connections and buy the tickets here.

wachau valley from vienna

Wachau Valley tour from Vienna

If you are short on time and would like an easy trip, you can go on the Wachau Valley tour from Vienna. This is what I did, and I had a really good day exploring the area. It was a good value for money, and I could see all the highlights of the Wachau Valley hassle-free. This is the tour I took.

The tour departs from central Vienna (next to the Opera) at 9 in the morning. After a bit over one hour drive, it’s time for the first stop of the day – Dürnstein – where you will have a short guided tour and some free time to explore the town on your own.

wachau valley from vienna

wachau valley from vienna

wachau valley from vienna

From there, you will continue to Spitz, where you will board a boat for the sightseeing cruise on the Danube all the way to Melk. You will spend around one and a half hours on board, admiring beautiful views all around. This is a stunning area, so the time passes by quickly.

wachau valley from vienna

wachau valley from vienna

wachau valley from vienna

wachau valley from vienna

Once you arrive in Melk, you will have free time again (a bit over an hour) to explore the town yourself or stop somewhere for lunch. You can also visit the gardens surrounding the Melk monastery; the ticket is included in the tour.

wachau valley from vienna

wachau valley from vienna

wachau valley from vienna

wachau valley from vienna

The last activity of the day is the guided tour of the Melk monastery, where you can learn more about this historical site, admire some stunning interiors, and see where the inspiration for Umberto Eco’s “The Name of the Rose” came from. From Melk, you will return to Vienna, arriving around 6 p.m.

wachau valley from vienna

wachau valley from vienna

wachau valley from vienna

wachau valley from vienna

Click here to book the tour I took from Vienna to Wachau Valley.

There are also other tours to Wachau Valley you might want to consider:

How to get around Wachau Valley

If you decide to go for the Wachau Valley tour, you don’t need to worry about getting around the area. But if you explore the Wachau Valley independently, there are a few ways to get between the attractions.

If you have a car, driving from one place to another is easy. Other options include the train between the towns (it runs along the Danube, on the side of the river where Krems, Dürnstein, and Spitz are located) or the boat (departures are less frequent, in the low season only once a day, but the views are so much better).

You can also rent a bike and cycle along the Danube – there are good cycling paths all the way along the Wachau Valley.

wachau valley from vienna

What to see in Wachau Valley

Besides the beautiful landscape, there are some interesting places to visit in Wachau Valley where you should stop during your trip. Here are the highlights of the area:

  • Krems – dating back to the 10th century, this is a lovely old town worth wandering around. There are numerous museums, cultural sites, and historical places, some of them originally from medieval times.
  • Göttweig – across the Danube River from Krems, you can stop here in the massive Benedictine Abbey founded in the 11th century.
  • Dürnstein – this is probably the most beautiful and interesting place along the Wachau Valley (and the most visited one). The picturesque town was first mentioned in the late 12th century when the English king Richard the Lionheart was held captive here. Today, you can wander around the winding lanes in the Old Town, visit the beautiful Baroque monastery with its distinctive blue tower, or climb to the 12th-century castle to admire breathtaking views over the Wachau Valley.
  • Weißenkirchen in der Wachau with the impressive Gothic fortified church from the 14th century
  • Spitz – the main wine-producing place in the region, with picturesque views of the town and surrounding area and the ruins of the 12th-century castle.
  • Aggstein Castle – impressive ruins of the castle from the early 12th century, located high above the Danube River, with some breathtaking views over the Wachau Valley.
  • Schönbühel Castle – with its picturesque location right on the Danube, this 12th-century castle can impress with its magnificent structure. Unfortunately, this is a private property, so visiting the castle is impossible.
  • Melk – the highlight of the Wachau Valley with its amazing abbey and charming Old Town below. Melk was first mentioned in the 9th century, and the Benedictine Abbey was founded here in 1089. This is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Austria, and the abbey’s interior can make your jaw drop with all the stunning details and paintings. The place was actually the inspiration for Umberto Eco’s “The Name of the Rose.” For me, Melk Abbey was the main reason I wanted to visit Wachau Valley; it definitely didn’t disappoint.

wachau valley from vienna

wachau valley from vienna

wachau valley from vienna

wachau valley from vienna

wachau valley from vienna

Final thoughts on visiting Wachau Valley

Wachau Valley might be relatively small but packed with various attractions that are so easy to enjoy. If you are short on time, like me, the tour to Wachau Valley is the best option. You can book it here.

But if you have more time to spend in the area, I recommend doing so so you can enjoy all the Wachau Valley attractions and the lazy vibe of the place to the fullest. No matter how you decide to visit Wachau Valley from Vienna, you are in for a treat, as this region is such a gem!

wachau valley from vienna

Travel Resources

You can find the best accommodation options at Booking. They have many discounts and excellent customer service. Click here to look for the place to stay in Austria

Never travel without travel insurance, you never know what might happen and better safe than sorry. You can check the insurance policy for Austria here.

I recommend joining organized tours to get to know the place better and to visit more places during your trip. You can find a great selection of tours at Get Your Guide – click here.

Make sure to have the offline map always installed on your phone, they can save you so many troubles. I always use the free app Maps.Me.


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wachau valley from vienna


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