Wachau is this famous 30 km section of the river Danube between Melk and Krems, ranking with the most beautiful river valleys worldwide. Wachau is renowned for its wines of highest quality as well as for its unique cultivated landscape. The Danube and the famous stone terraces are the characteristics of the scenery. The important cultural monuments Stift (religious foundation) Melk and Stift Göttweig are the focal points of the World Cultural Heritage region Wachau. The National Geographic Traveler Magazine elected Wachau the “Best Historic Place” in 2009.
History in Wachau reaches far into the past. The region was populated very early – as is proven by the statue of the “Venus from Willendorf”, 25,000 years old. The Romans brought viniculture to Wachau and even today archaeological finds can be discovered from that period. From the 11 th to the 13 th century, the knight dynasty Kuenringer has resided in Wachau. They built the well-known fortresses Aggstein and Dürnstein, where the English king Richard Lion-Heart has been held prisoner in 1192.
Lower Austria is the largest of Austria’s 9 federal states. The state is divided in four “quarters”, of which famous Wachau belongs to the Waldviertel, the “quarter of woods”, the county north of the Danube. Lower Austria offers the ideal holiday for every requirement.
Weissenkirchen on the Danube
Weissenkirchen on the Danube is a popular holiday place in the heart of Wachau. The town is an ideal starting point for cultural, culinary and sportive activities in Wachau. With an area of about 500 hectares planted with vines, Weissenkirchen is the largest wine-growing community in Wachau. Weissenkirchen is situated at the Danube Biking Trail, and the countless hiking trails through the vineyards invite to make long walks and excursions.
Dürnstein is famous mainly for its ruin and the religious foundation. The blue tower of the baroque collegiate church is a prominent landmark of Dürnstein and Wachau. The romantic old town of Dürnstein and wine-tasting at the wine-growers’ cooperative of the domain Wachau are special highlights. Tourists from all over the world are fascinated by Dürnstein in Wachau.
Spitz on the Danube
Spitz on the Danube is a romantic wine-growers’ place in Wachau. The Tausendeimerberg (“thousand buckets mountain”) with its wine terraces is situated in the middle of Spitz. It is said that 1000 buckets of wine can be harvested here in a good year. Spitz is also famous for its festivities. The “annual apricots day” takes place every July, and this special fruit of Wachau is the focus of all activities. Also, the midsummer celebrations are a special attraction.
This impressive collegiate building of the Benedictines, Stift Melk, stands majestically on a rock above the Danube and is one of Austria’s most frequently visited tourist attractions. The magnificent baroque building has been erected by Jakob Prandtauer from 1702 to 1736 and is the “entrance” to Wachau. Melk is a must for every visitor of Wachau.
The city Krems is situated at the eastern border of Wachau. Stift Göttweig, situated opposite Krems on a hill, clearly marks the beginning of the region Wachau. In Krems, especially the old town with its numerous lovely renovated buildings is definitely worth a visit. The pleasure boats start their excursion through Wachau in Krems. The “art mile” in the district Stein shows high-calibre exhibitions.
Holiday in Wachau
A holiday in Wachau is the ideal one for gourmets, wine enthusiasts, bikers and hikers as well as for guests interested in culture. He who wants to get to know the original Wachau should choose a small, romantic wine-growers’ place. The ideal choice is Weissenkirchen in the heart of Wachau. From here, Dürnstein, Krems, Spitz, Stift Melk and Stift Göttweig are just a few minutes away by car, and Vienna can be reached in an hour.
Culture is an important theme in the region Wachau. The palette, beginning with the famous Stift Melk and Stift Göttweig, comprises numerous cultural events, museums and exhibitions. Theatre enthusiasts are just in the right place in Weissenkirchen with its Wachau-festival. The castle Grafenegg near Krems offers concerts and many events.
Wachau and the Danube
Wachau and the river Danube form a unified whole. The World Culture Heritage region is situated directly on the banks of the Danube, and this important trade route has brought prosperity to Wachau since the early days. Today, the Danube is still essential for the region. Apart from the Danube cruise liners which stop over here, there are the regional excursion boats, an important offer for tourists in Wachau. In summer, the Danube invites swimmers to take its challenge.
Shipping on the Danube
Shipping on the river Danube has a long-standing tradition in Wachau. The shipping museum in Spitz shows details in its exhibition. He who stays in Wachau for his holiday must not miss a boat trip from Krems to Melk. Many guests who stopped over in Wachau during a Danube cruise were so fascinated that they decided to return and spend their holiday in Wachau.
Danube Bike Trail
The Danube bike trail is one of Europe’s best-known and most popular bike trails. It leads from the city of Passau to the city of Vienna along the Danube and is about 200 km long. An especially beautiful section of the Danube bike trail is Wachau with its lovely scenery and romantic villages like Weissenkirchen or Spitz on the Danube.
Wine-growing and fruit-growing
The mild climate and the fertile soil are important conditions for wine-growing and fruit-growing in Wachau. In addition to the famous wines from Wachau, the apricot from Wachau is of greatest importance. About 100,000 apricot trees grow in Wachau, and the blossom time in spring is an unbelievable sight, a true highlight.
Wachau wines and Wachau vintners
Wachau has an excellent international reputation for its wines, and the Wachau vintners’ wines are among the best at every competition worldwide. When staying in Wachau for a holiday, a visit at a wine-grower’s is a must. Here one can get interesting information on viniculture and taste the delicious wines.
This is a calendar showing the opening periods of the “Heurigen”, the wine-growers’ wine taverns in Wachau. Every vintner may offer his own wines as well as local (often home-made) culinary treats in his Heurigen (rustic wine tavern) several weeks per year.
Apricots from Wachau
The Wachau apricots are even protected by the EU, and they have a special quality certificate. The blossom time and the harvest are important and cheerful highlights in Wachau. Many products are made from the apricots: brandy, liqueurs, soap, cakes and many more. You must taste the delicious apricot jam!
Mariandl from Wachau
This is a verse of the famous song “Mariandl” (diminutive of Mary) from the Mariandl-movies that were shot in the mid 19 th in Wachau and very popular here. Many other films were made in Wachau at that time, which brought the region a certain degree of fame worldwide.
ARGE 100% Wachau
The ARGE 100% Wachau is an innovative cooperation of tourism enterprises in Weissenkirchen which was founded in 2009. The offers range from the cosy pension up to the 4star hotel-restaurant. The members have dedicated themselves wholeheartedly to the theme Wachau and offer their guests everything that can be imagined for a holiday in Wachau – thus 100% Wachau.