How to Wine and Ride in the Wachau Valley, Austria

The UNESCO cultural landscape Wachau Valley pronounced ‘Vah-how’ not ‘Watch-choo’ is the largest producer of local white wines in Austria. The area produces predominantly Rieslings which profiles apple, peach, and pear but is delightfully crisp and the younger features are slightly effervescent. Rieslings are an exception to my ‘no white wine’ rule. Pour me a glass of red – I’ll be your friend forever. The Wachau valley extends for approximately thirty kilometers framing the Danube River. There is a mix of historic properties and present construction that stick out fantastically from the terraced hillsides.

Okay. Picture this. A guided day of biking fourteen miles from winery to winery, schnitzel and immersing with the locals. Fellow wanderlusters, I’m sure I previewed heaven and I approve of what I saw.

Montanna and I were at it again. Our journey would take us from the Krems train station to the tiny village of Joching. Instead of horses we went with bikes and substituted deafening heights for flat, even ground. There is a running joke about how I try to kill my friends with extreme adventures… I don’t know what they are talking about 😉

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Our first stop was in the historic town of Dürnstein which is the popular tourist spot of the Wachau Valley. Don’t let that scare you off. The town remains quiet and even in the height of the tourist season there were few and far between. Our wine came from a local family winery made in the heart of Dürnstein . What I adored about Dürnstein was the ruined castle at on the hill and the blue Augustinian  abbey along the Danube both with historic tales.

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The grapes just outside the town are used in local production of Rieslings and Sauvignon Blanc. They were slightly bitter to taste but, they were young grapes!

The castle once jailed Richard the Lionheart of England during the third crusade. He was released upon request by the pope. The hike is fairly strenuous as you gain elevation quickly. The bright side is that you can make it up the hill in about ten to fifteen minutes. The top reveals an incredible, panoramic view of the Wachau Valley.

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The next top spot of Dürnstein is the Augustinian Abbey constructed in the 15th century. Our guide told us that the church was painted blue in the 18th century simply because the Pope said “don’t paint the church blue”. The Austrian’s replied “we do what we want!” and painted it blue anyway. The guide also mentioned that this was a legend. Truth or not, take a moment to appreciate the rebel culture.

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The last stop before heading back to Krems was in Joching which is a tiny village with more family owned wineries. What is amazing about villages like this are the community pubs that rotate according to their wine supply. The pub we sampled from was up in the hills and overlooked the Danube. It was a welcome reward after a tough cycling session.

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The wine was fabulous. The towns were quaint. In the end, my legs (among other body parts) were terribly sore. Want to a perfect day trip out of Vienna? Make sure you visit the Wachau Valley. I only covered only half of the incredible region, but, the towns visited were truly a step back into time. You could take a guide or rent your own bikes. The valley is easy to navigate and almost impossible loose your way. I would have loved to take two or three days to immerse into the villages, but, time was of the essence.

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Want to do a self tour? Rent a bike and hop on a train from Vienna Wien Franz-Josefs-Bahnhof to Krems an der Donau starting at 11 Euros.

Your Cobweb Clearer, Kate

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30 thoughts on “How to Wine and Ride in the Wachau Valley, Austria

  1. Austria is so pretty isn’t it? I like some reislings, but I have to admit I find them a bit ‘floral’ sometimes. And as for cycling – make mine electric – especially where there are hills and mountains! Lovely pics though!!!

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  2. I love everything about this bike tour, except maybe getting to the end of the day and feeling every part of your body ache. How cool is that blue church? High fives to them painting it blue because heck, ‘we do what we want!’ Guessing that there are no drink and drive rules tho? In Australia, you can be breath tested if you are operating any vehicle, horse included. 🙂

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  3. I’ve heard such wonderful things about Wachau Valley, I went wine tasting in Porto earlier this year for the first time and loved it so my aim to go wine tasting in every country I’m in…for research purposes of course 😉 I’ve not been to Austria yet so I’d love to give this a go, the weather looks glorious which must of made the day even better!

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  4. This is quite possibly the most charming wine valley I have ever seen! We are going to Austria around Christmas time and I hope the wine valley is open around then! Probably no biking, but that is probably better with all the wine we will be having…

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  5. I love wine and so a vineyard tour is my kind of tour. This sounds like a gorgeous experience. The vineyard is spectacular in itself, plus the opportunity to buy Austrian wines is a chance I would definitely grab!

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  6. I love learning about wine regions I haven’t hear of before. My husband and I frequently travel for wine and were just getting around to some 9f the smaller European regions now that we live in London. I’ll have to work on pronouncing this one before we go.

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  7. I would love to organize a wine trip to the Wachau Valley – I’m a big fan of fruity Rieslings, so it sounds like the perfect region to organize for some tastings. I love that there are historic properties mixed in throughout the wine trail – that authentic experience can’t be beaten! I love history, so wineries with ruined castles and 15th century abbey’s sound ace – Dürnstein is now on the list.

    I love that you focused on family owned wineries – I’m obsessed with Vienna, so Wachau Valley will make for a fab day trip. Thanks!

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    1. Vienna is a great place to be obsessed with! There is one wine I tried that had elderflower as one of the flavor profiles. It was incredible!

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  8. Ooohhh.. sounds like fun adventure… Wachau Valley looks really charming. Seeing it just like the way you did sounds rewarding enough even without the wine! 😉

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  9. I’m a bit of the opposite.. i LOVE a good white wine, and maybe a few select reds haha. All of these places here look beautiful! I’m not too sure how I’d be biking 14 miles.. (more of a hiker than a biker lol!) but it sounds like its needed to work off all the schnitzel and wine, yum!

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  10. I love taking bike rides through new places! I don’t drink wine, but vineyards are just so beautiful! I would LOVE to visit and ride amongst the grapes…of course tasting them along the way! Well, after 14 miles I might have be flown back to the rental place haha!

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  11. I am a big fan of white wines and biking so this sounds like the perfect adventure! I still haven’t been to Austria so I will have to pencil in the Wachau Valley for when I do go!

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  12. I love that greenery of the countryside. The air must be so fresh. I’ve only ever been to Vienna and the buildings in the town definitely remind me of Vienna. I never really pegged Austria for a wine country. Plus I like the name of the winery!

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  13. I love visiting Austria (and drinking Austrian wine), but I haven’t been to the Wachau Valley. Thank you for clarifying the pronunciation! Biking from winery to winery sounds like an ideal experience – and one that I hope to enjoy very soon!

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  14. This is a very interesting article which points to something which I have never done in my life but very much want to. Have done chocolate tour, cheese tour, cookies tour etc. but never did a wine tour. Now your article is pushing me to go for one such tour very soon :). I have heard a lot about beauty of Austria and wanted to visit there some time. Now I got one more reason to got there – Wachau Valley

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  15. It does sound like a rather tough hike but it seems worth it. I had no idea Richard the Lionheart was jailed here! Every trip with wine is a nice treat too. We are coming to the area next year so may try a similar hike

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  16. I have fond memories of cruising through the Wachau Valley in autumn. It looks like cycling is a fabulous way to enjoy the scenery and culture too.

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  17. We did a cycling tour in Vienna and our guide told us all about this region! We loved cycling in the city so much that we were disappointed that we couldn’t extend our visit and explore some more. I love red and white equally so this would be perfect for me to do some taste testing.

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  18. I never knew about this region but I’m glad you wrote about it. While I’m not a big fan of Rieslings, it still seems like an experience worth having. I think it would make an excellent, low-key, Romantic getaway. The bit about Richard the Lionheart is rather fascinating as well!

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  19. You completely had me at ‘riesling’. I reckon riesling is one of those wines which developed an awful reputation during the 80’s and 90’s from sickly sweet, unbalanced rubbish. At least, that was the case in Australia. Don’t think I’ve had Austrian rieslings, but have definitely drank plenty of Germanic rieslings and they were the bomb. I also reckon that biking around a wine region is awesome fun. A little bit of a boozie ride is loads of fun especially when you’re charging past castles and ancient abbeys like you guys were. So good!

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  20. I’ve never done any wine tasting activity outside of Napa Valley. This might be a great place for me to start. It seems fun and I actually like Rieslings so it would be perfect for me. Thanks for sharing!

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