The Danube river is one of the longest rivers in Europe, second longest to be exact after the Volta river. The traditional trade route on the Danube through Europe dates back thousands of years. The Danube starts in Central Europe and travels through Eastern Europe where it empties into the Black Sea.
As a UNESCO nature site, Wachau Valley offers active opportunities to explore the river, the castles, monasteries, ruins, small cafes, wine villages and exceptional scenery with active experiences;
Biking the Danube Cycle Path –
Possibly the most scenic biking trail in Europe, the Danube Cycle path begins in the Black Forest region of Donaueschingen, Germany and travels a total of 745 miles through Austria and Slovakia along the Danube all the way to Budapest in Hungary. It’s the 260 miles through the Austrian Lower Danube that offers the top scenery of the UNESCO landscape and world class wine region.
From the path as you travel from start to finish, you pass mountains rising out of the river with historical monuments and ruins atop them, forested slopes with the rooftops of old villages peaking through and a patchwork of vineyards that wind through the landscape. Riding from Melk you travel through the towns of Aggsbach, Oberansdorf, before crossing the Danube to pass through Spitz, Weissenkirchen and Durnstein and then reaching your final destination of Krems. Each leg offers historical architecture dating back to the Middle Ages, unique geographical formations, medieval estates and churches that will entice you to visit and inspire you to pedal on.
Whether traveling along the manicured bike path, or on the cobblestone streets of the villages there are many spots to stop to rest, grab a bite to eat or just enjoy the scenic beauty that surrounds you.
There are many options for bicycle tours; from fully guided cruisers to e-bikes or self guided with use of public bike rental systems that all allow you time to explore the regions as you reach them. Guided tours generally include visits to some of the local vineyards with cellar tours and wine tastings.
Kayaking the Danube –
A popular mode of transportation during the warmer summer months, kayakers set out to enjoy the scenic nature of the area while also cooling off with some time on the water, paddling for 25 miles between the cities of Melk and Krems through the postcard worthy Wachau Valley.
Seeing the sites of the ancient relics, riverside villages and stopping at some of the river beaches for a quick swim are usually rewarded with a stop at one of the local vineyards for a tour and tasting of local Gruner Veltliner and/or Riesling wines.
Offered in small group tours or as private excursions, an experienced guide will safely lead you along one of Europe’s busiest waterways on an intimate and yet rewarding river experience. With views of the river, from the river and the panoramic views above the river you will accomplish what most travelers do not get the opportunity to experience.
Hike the Wachau World Heritage trail –
Lastly, an active opportunity that the Lower Austria region offers is scenic trails through the Danube Valley. Connecting 15 separate municipalities of the Wachau Valley with historical paths that have been connected together to form 112 miles of opportunities to explore ruins, castles, fortresses, abbey’s, vineyards and apricot orchards that all make up this fantastic UNESCO World Heritage site.
The trail is broken up into legs that can be hiked individually or in larger segments. With use of the river ferry, even the novice hiker can navigate their way throughout the region.
Offering both remote trails and beautifully scenic views along the river, the landscape will both surprise and inspire you. Ranging from easy to medium in intensity, and from 4 ⅓ miles to 10 ½ mile segments. Some of the top hiking trails are the 6 ½ to 10 mile segments within the Wachau Valley.
Trail 01, Krems to Durnstein: the easy rated 7 ½ mile trail starts at the Gozzoburg Castle in the medieval city of Krems and travels through the nearby vineyards of Krems and Stein into the nature preserves before reaching the rock and forested area below the ruins of Durnstein Castle. Then up the final 20 min leg of the trail, offering not just a unique experience to explore the almost 900 year old castle associated with the legend of Richard the Lionhearted, but offering some of the most amazing views of the Wachau Valley and surrounding vineyards.
Trail 03, Weissenkirchen to Spitz: a medium rated 6 mile trail takes you through the largest area of vineyards in the Wachau Valley. These most notable terraced vineyards of the region lay high above the Danube river and provide beautiful views making this an exceptional experience. You will pass through woods and rocky landscapes before arriving into the wine village of Spitz where you can reap the rewards of your journey with a glass of local wine at one of the many village cafes, restaurants or taverns.
Not a very vast region but definitely one that is worth exploring. Did you know the best way to experience the Danube is by river cruise. Learn more about river cruising from our website and actively enjoy the Wachau Valley among central Europe’s best and most beautiful medieval cities.