If you visit Vienna for a longer time, and you want to admire the country side of Austria and the nature, I totally recommend you to visit Wachau Valley, a stretch of the Danube River, located between Krems and Melk. You will find this amazing area just 50 kilometers away from Vienna. Surrounded by mountains and by vineyards, the region will impress you with castles, monasteries, villages, and especially the medieval look. You need only a weekend to enjoy all the beauty here, but make sure you include in your plans a wine tasting, a mountain hike, and of course a visit to Melk!
We visited Wachau Valley in early spring, in a sunny Saturday morning. We started our trip there with a nice hike, which gave us the best view over the small village and the Danube River. The hike took us around five ours, and it was well market and not too hard. We were able to do it without professional equipment. The best part? At the top of the mountain we found a really nice hut, where we enjoyed a frittantensuppe – traditional Austrian pancakes soup, noddles – meat balls, and of course a white wine spritz.
On the way back down, we admired the panorama of Wachau Valley from a tall old tower, which was free to enter. It gave us the best views of the Danube and the valley, allowing us to take incredible pictures. We could even see another pick, with a man on the top – pretty impressive.
Visiting the fortress in Krems is a must, and for us was in hand, as we had to climb down the mountain exactly to the fortress path. We spent another hour at the fortress, exploring it and enjoying the view. The fortress is quite busy, but again, the entrance is free, and you can learn a bit of history of Austria.
Once we were back in Krems, we started to explore the small streets of the village. You will be surprised about how popular can be a small village like Krems, but actually a lot of Viennese people and tourists come here to relax, to enjoy the wine, and the apricot (or Marillen – in German) products, including jam, liquor, nectar, sweet, cosmetics, and many more.
Getting lost on the streets of Krems and tasting the delicious Marillen liquor is almost a must, but I recommend you to try one of the traditional Austrian restaurants called Heuriger, where you can enjoy a delicious dinner and drink a fresh glass of white wine!
While in Krems, make sure you also visit their church, where we managed to admire also a paintings exhibit, and to learn more about the culture of the Wachau Valley. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to go to Melk and to see the abbey, but we heard only good things about it, and if you have time, you should definitely see it. It is said the abbey is huge and impressive, and it has a great library and an interesting museum. I promised to myself I will go there and see it as soon as possible.
But our great trip to the Wachau Valley didn’t end here, because we took a boat to the train station to St. Polten, in order to take the train back to Vienna. The trip boat was amazing and it was a great way to end our day, but I’ve heard you can also take a boat between Krems and Melk, and this is for sure a good way to see the both towns.
As extra tips for you, I would recommend to try the bike tours, to visit the towns during the apricot harvest, and to spend the evening in a winery, where you can try several delicious Austrian wines from the valley. If you have time, you could also visit the Grafenegg Castle, one of the jewelry of the 19th century. Just allow the valley to surprise you. Prost!