The Wachau is in Lower Austria on the river banks of the Danube river. The area is approximately 30 kilometers long.
The Wachau is very famous for its vineyards and the beautiful scenery. The climate is a bit milder than in the other parts of Lower Austria, because of the pannonian climate influence. This is why there are lots of vineyards, apricot trees and even almond trees.
Tourism is very popular in the Wachau and a trip by boat on the Danube River is an experience you won't forget.
The winemakers of this region offer their homemade wine at the so-called Heurigen, which are wine-taverns where cold food and local wine is offered. To indicate that their Heurigen is open, the wine-makers put a small wheel made of straw in front of their house.
Wachau is a source of Austria's most prized dry Rieslings and Grüner Veltliners, some of the best from the steep stony slopes next to the Danube on which the vines are planted. The temperature variation in the valley between day and cold nights has a significant role to play in the process of ripening of the grapes. The heat retained in the water and the stoney slopes with thin soil cover facilitates this process of growing fine variety of grapes, which results in the sophisticated wines produced in the valley. Since rainfall is not adequate for the growth of wines on thin soils, irrigation is an essential requirement to give water supply to the wine yards.
- Melk to Krems Wachau Valley bike ride. Pedaling along the most beautiful stretch of the Danube downstream 40 km with the slope in your favor (about 3 hours). Check with the Melk Tourist Office for the best route. The north bank bike trail is paved all the way, winds through picturesque villages, and runs near the river. The south bank bike trail merges with the actual road about half the time, but it has better river views.
- Melk to Krems Danube River boat cruise. The downstream Melk to Krems cruise (~1.6 hr) is faster than the upstream Krems to Melk cruise (~3.3 hr). In the summer many tourist boats operate at the Wachau. The biggest and most visible boat companies are DDSG and Brandner[dead link]. Both charge the same (€18 one-way, €23 round-trip), allow stopovers, and take bikes for free, but they are not necessarily the cheapest. MS Stadt Wien[dead link] is a popular alternative among locals (weekends only). You can return to Melk on the Postbus line WL1 or WL2. In Krems, walk out the main gate of the ferry dock by the gift shop and you will come to a roundabout. Just beyond that is a second roundabout. Cross through that, and on your left look for the bus stop (the sign has a green "H" on a yellow disk). The bus runs every hour or so and has Melk on its destination sign. The fare is less than €3.
- Melk to Krems bus services. VOR operate two bus services along the length of the Wachau, the hourly WL1 along the more popular north bank of the river and the less frequent WL2 along the south bank. The Wachauticket day pass costs €10 for adults or €5 for children and allows you to stop off along the valley.
In the Wachau there are three medieval castle ruins that you can visit. Because they are on the tops of hills or cliffs they allow an amazing view of the Wachau valley.
- Dürnstein Castle[dead link] was built in the 12th century, the castle is best known for being the prison of King Richard the Lionhearted of England from December 1192 to March 1193, after he was captured by Austrian Duke Leopold V while returning from the Third Crusade. In 1635, toward the end of the Thirty Years' War, the Swedes captured the castle and later destroyed the outer gate. After serving as a refuge during the Austro-Turkish War a couple of decades later, it was abandoned and fell into disrepair.
- Hinterhaus Castle Ruins[dead link] are on a rocky ridge of the Jauerling, the highest mountain in the Wachau. The castle was established in the 12th century, and conquered by the Knights of Spitz, who modified and extended it in the 13th and 14th centuries.
- Aggstein Castle is the remains of a castle from the 12th century. It is on a rocky outcrop at a height of approx. 300 m above the right bank of the Danube. At the time of the Kuenrings, the castle was besieged and destroyed at least twice.