Wachau Valley from Vienna: A Day Trip Itinerary

Nestled between the towns of Melk and Krems, the Wachau Valley is a picturesque region known for its rich history, stunning landscapes, and world-class wines.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the valley is a beloved destination for both locals and tourists alike, offering a unique blend of natural beauty and cultural heritage.

The Wachau Valley is a testament to the region’s historical significance and the enduring allure of its natural landscapes.

From the terraced vineyards that produce some of Austria’s most celebrated wines to the medieval castles that dot the landscape, every aspect of the valley tells a story of its past and presents a vision of its future.

As a tourist destination, the Wachau Valley offers a wealth of experiences. Whether you’re a history buff, a wine connoisseur, or a nature lover, you’ll find something to captivate your interest.

The valley’s close proximity to Vienna makes it an ideal choice for a day trip, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in its charm without straying too far from the city.

In this article, we will provide a comprehensive guide for planning a day trip from Vienna to the Wachau Valley.

We’ll cover everything from the best time to visit, how to get there, what to pack, and, most importantly, a detailed itinerary to help you make the most of your trip.

Whether you’re planning a self-guided tour or considering a guided tour, this article will equip you with all the information you need to ensure a memorable trip to the Wachau Valley.

So, let’s embark on this journey together and explore what the Wachau Valley has to offer.

Planning the Trip

Best Time to Visit Wachau Valley

The Wachau Valley is a year-round destination, offering its unique charm each season. However, the most popular time to visit is from April to October when the weather is most pleasant, and the vineyards are lush and green.

The autumn harvest season, in particular, is a special time in the valley, with the grape harvest and wine festivals creating a festive atmosphere.

How to Get to Wachau Valley from Vienna

There are several ways to reach the Wachau Valley from Vienna:

  • By Train: The Austrian Federal Railways (ÖBB) operates regular trains from Vienna to Krems, one of the main towns in the Wachau Valley. The journey takes about an hour.
  • By Bus: Postbus operates a bus service from Vienna to Krems. The journey takes approximately 1.5 hours.
  • By Car: If you prefer to drive, the journey from Vienna to the Wachau Valley takes about an hour via the A22 motorway and B3 road.

What to Pack for a Day Trip to Wachau Valley

Packing for a day trip to the Wachau Valley depends largely on the season. However, some essentials include:

  • Comfortable walking shoes for exploring the towns and vineyards
  • A hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen to protect against the sun
  • A reusable water bottle to stay hydrated
  • A camera to capture the beautiful landscapes
  • If you plan to visit during the cooler months, don’t forget to pack warm clothing.

Booking a Guided Tour vs. Self-Guided Tour

Choosing between a guided and self-guided tours depends on your preferences. A guided tour offers the convenience of pre-arranged transportation and itinerary, and the knowledge of a local guide.

It’s a great option if you prefer a hassle-free experience and want to learn more about the region’s history and culture.

On the other hand, a self-guided tour offers more flexibility. You can set your own pace, spend as much time as you want at each site, and explore off-the-beaten-path locations. It’s a great option if you prefer to have more control over your itinerary.

Tips for a Successful Day Trip

Here are some tips to ensure a successful day trip to the Wachau Valley:

  • Start early to make the most of your day.
  • Check the opening hours of attractions as some may vary by season.
  • If you plan to do a wine tasting, make sure to book in advance.
  • Respect the environment and follow the marked paths when exploring the vineyards.
  • Lastly, don’t forget to enjoy the local cuisine and try the region’s famous wines.

The Itinerary

Embarking on a day trip to the Wachau Valley from Vienna is an adventure filled with historical sites, stunning landscapes, and delightful culinary experiences. Here’s a detailed itinerary to guide you through your journey.

Morning Activities

Melk Abbey (9:00 AM – 11:00 AM)

Start your day with a visit to the Melk Abbey, a magnificent Benedictine Abbey overlooking the town of Melk.

Explore the Abbey’s museum, marble hall, and library, which houses an extensive collection of medieval manuscripts. Don’t forget to enjoy the panoramic views of the Wachau Valley from the Abbey’s terrace.

Dürnstein (11:30 AM – 1:00 PM)

Next, head to the charming town of Dürnstein. Take a leisurely stroll through the town’s cobblestone streets, visit the blue-towered Dürnstein Abbey, and explore the ruins of the Dürnstein Castle, where Richard the Lionheart was once imprisoned.

Afternoon Activities

Lunch and Wine Tasting (1:30 PM – 3:00 PM)

Enjoy a traditional Austrian lunch at one of the local restaurants in Dürnstein. After lunch, visit one of the many vineyards in the area for a wine tasting session.

The Wachau Valley is renowned for its white wines, particularly Grüner Veltliner and Riesling.

Cruise on the Danube (3:30 PM – 5:00 PM)

After lunch, take a scenic cruise on the Danube River. The cruise offers stunning views of the Wachau Valley’s vineyards, orchards, and castles. Some cruises also offer onboard wine tasting sessions.

Evening Activities

Krems (5:30 PM – 7:00 PM)

End your day with a visit to Krems, another charming town in the Wachau Valley. Explore the town’s historic center, visit the Göttweig Abbey, and enjoy a leisurely dinner at one of the local restaurants.

Return to Vienna (7:30 PM)

After a fulfilling day exploring the Wachau Valley, return to Vienna. The memories of the picturesque landscapes, historical sites, and delightful wines of the Wachau Valley will surely linger long after your trip.

Please note that the times mentioned in the itinerary are approximate and may vary depending on the season, opening hours of attractions, and your pace. It’s always a good idea to check the latest information and plan your day accordingly.

Other Useful Information

Local Cuisine to Try in Wachau Valley

The Wachau Valley is not only famous for its wines but also for its delicious local cuisine. Here are some dishes you should try:

  • Marillenknödel: This is a sweet dumpling filled with apricots, a fruit that the Wachau Valley is famous for. The dumplings are often served with a dusting of powdered sugar and a dollop of whipped cream.
  • Tafelspitz: A traditional Austrian dish, Tafelspitz is boiled beef in broth served with a mix of minced apples and horseradish. It’s a hearty dish perfect for a lunchtime meal.
  • Wachauer Laberl: This is a type of bread roll that is a specialty of the region. It’s often served with meals and is perfect for soaking up the delicious sauces of Austrian dishes.
  • Wine: Of course, no meal in the Wachau Valley would be complete without a glass of local wine. The region is particularly known for its white wines, such as Grüner Veltliner and Riesling.

Souvenirs to Buy from Wachau Valley

When it comes to souvenirs, the Wachau Valley offers a variety of options:

  • Wine: A bottle of local wine makes a perfect souvenir. Many vineyards offer beautifully packaged bottles that are perfect for gifting.
  • Apricot Products: The Wachau Valley is famous for its apricots, and you’ll find a variety of apricot products, from jams and jellies to liqueurs and cosmetics.
  • Handicrafts: Local shops sell a variety of handicrafts, from handmade jewelry to ceramics and artwork. These make for unique souvenirs that support local artisans.


Q: What is the Wachau Valley?

The Wachau Valley is a picturesque river valley located in Lower Austria, along the Danube River. It is known for its stunning scenery, historic towns, and excellent wine.

Q: Can I visit the Wachau Valley on a day trip from Vienna?

Yes, it is possible to visit the Wachau Valley on a day trip from Vienna. There are many guided tours and transportation options available for visitors.

Q: What is the best way to travel from Vienna to the Wachau Valley?

The best way to travel from Vienna to the Wachau Valley is by car or train. There are also river cruises and guided tours available.

Q: What are some things to do in the Wachau Valley?

Some popular activities in the Wachau Valley include visiting Melk Abbey, exploring the historic towns of Krems and Durnstein, wine tasting, and taking a boat ride along the Danube River.

Q: Is Melk Abbey worth visiting?

Yes, Melk Abbey is one of the highlights of a visit to the Wachau Valley. It is a stunning example of baroque architecture and features beautiful gardens and artwork.

Q: How long does a day trip to the Wachau Valley from Vienna take?

A typical day trip to the Wachau Valley from Vienna takes around 8-10 hours, depending on the tour or transportation option chosen.

Q: Is it necessary to book a guided tour to visit the Wachau Valley?

No, it is not necessary to book a guided tour to visit the Wachau Valley. Visitors can also explore the area on their own by renting a car or taking public transportation.

Q: Can I take a river cruise in the Wachau Valley?

Yes, there are several river cruise options available for visitors to the Wachau Valley. These cruises offer stunning views of the river valley and the opportunity to learn about the area’s history.

Q: Can I visit the Wachau Valley and still make it back to Vienna in the same day?

Yes, it is possible to visit the Wachau Valley and still make it back to Vienna in the same day. There are many transportation options available that allow visitors to customize their itinerary.

Q: How far is Wachau Valley from Vienna?

The Wachau Valley is approximately 80 kilometers west of Vienna. It takes about an hour to reach by car or train.

Q: Is a day trip enough to explore Wachau Valley?

While you can see the main highlights of the Wachau Valley in a day, there’s plenty more to explore if you have more time. If possible, consider spending a night in the region to fully experience its charm.

Q: Do I need to book wine tastings in advance?

It’s a good idea to book wine tastings in advance, especially during the peak tourist season. However, many vineyards also welcome walk-in visitors.