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Arrival in Melk
Less than an hour from Vienna by train, Melk deserves to be explored in detail on your first day. Melk’s impressive Benedictine Abbey on a rock above the Danube is one of Austria’s most frequently-visited tourist attractions. The magnificent Baroque complex with its famous library, church and school is the gateway to the Wachau Valley. You can also take a three-hour warm up walk along the Panorama Trail by following the yellow trail markers from the main square.
Overnight in Melk
Melk – Aggsbach Dorf (17 km / 11 miles)
After breakfast you will set out on the Wachau World Heritage Trail, first by climbing from the town square to the abbey. After crossing a stream you will soon come to the village of Pielachberg. From there you will follow a field trail to the Jonaskreutz overlook to enjoy a magnificent view of the Danube River, and the Jauerling Nature Park on the other bank. Coming down to the riverside you will reach the village of Schönbühel with a picturesque castle perched on a rock over the Danube. From Schönbühel you will start a mild climb through shady forest to the highest point of today’s walk, Höhenwarther Höhe (475 m), with a grand view of the surrounding countryside. You will then continue on the trail through the Hohenwarthberg Hills down to the Danube at Aggsbach Dorf village, your destination for today.
Overnight in Aggsbach Dorf
Aggsbach Dorf – Spitz (16 km / 10 miles)
Today you will start your hike out of Aggsbach Dorf with a mild ascent through the Herenwald Forest to the imposing castle ruin of Aggstein that towers over a narrow bluff. You will be rewarded with a fantastic view and refreshments in the castle’s tavern. Then you will continue on a forest trail to Maria Langegg monastery and pilgrimage place. Back in the forest you will come to a turnoff where you can take a little detour and climb the Hoher Stein rock. The view from this spot is one of the most beautiful in the entire Wachau region. Come back to the main trail and descend through a beech forest to the river bank, where you catch a ferry to the wine village of Spitz on the other side of Danube.
Overnight in Spitz
Spitz – Willendorf – Jauerling – Spitz (15 km / 9 miles)
Today you will make a circuit following the trails in the Jauerling Nature Park. First you will take a train from Spitz to Willendorf where a prehistoric figurine, the so-called “Venus” of Willendorf, was found by archaeologists in 1908. Visit the archaeological museum to learn about this world-famous, oldest image of a human. From the museum you will start a 4 km ascent up to the Jauerling Nature Park plateau, where you pick up the World Heritage Trail again and reach the highest peak of the Lower Austria region, Jauerling (960 m), the “Roof of the Danube“. After savoring the sweeping view from the terrace you will switch to the Jauerling Trail to descend through beautiful forested countryside back to Spitz.
Overnight in Spitz
Spitz – Weissenkirchen (11 km / 7 miles)
Take it easy today with a walk through the most beautiful vineyards adorning the landscape between Spitz and Weissenkirchen, two villages known for their many wineries producing the best Rieslings in the Wachau Valley. You may want to devote part of your day to culinary research: tasting wine or the excellent local apricot brandy, and dining in one of the many restaurants offering local specialties. The hike starts above Spitz at the ancient gate, a remnant of the medieval town fortification. The trail goes through vineyards, meadows, forests, and past romantic rock formations offering beautiful long-distance views. You may lengthen your day’s hike by dropping down to the riverside to visit St. Michael’s church, one of the oldest in Austria, or the pretty wine village of Wösendorf.
Overnight in Weissenkirchen
Weissenkirchen – Durnstein (17 km / 11 miles)
Leave Weissenkirchen on a narrow foot trail and climb among the ancient vineyards to the Panoramaweg Trail high above the Danube. You will walk past the most famous vineyards, such as Ried Achleiten (the best site for Grüner Veltliner and Riesling wine varieties), and the centuries-old stone terraces on steep hillsides rising from the Danube. Above the town of Dürnstein you will reach the most famous castle ruin in Austria, where English King Richard the Lionheart was held for ransom in the 12th century. A steep descent will lead you to this famous town on the Danube. Visible from a distance is the blue and white tower of the Church of Augustinian Canons, one of the many historic buildings that create the incomparable romantic urban ensemble in the town‘s historic center. You will need some time to roam and explore the little winding streets, cafés, and shops of this extraordinary place.
Overnight in Durnstein
Durnstein – Krems (12.5 km / 8 miles)
This morning you will leave Durnstein for Krems passing through the ancient Krems Gate, and soon immerse yourself in a forested, rocky landscape, through the nature reserve of Höhereck with protected grasslands hosting rare wild orchids. The trail leads along vineyards growing on stone terraces and offering beautiful views of the Danube. Once you reach the Pfaffenberg hillside you will soon find yourself in the idyllic vineyards just before the castle ruin of Stein. You will walk along the wine cellar street with many wine-tasting opportunities before you get to a beautiful viewpoint at the Frauenbergkirche church. The formerly independent town of Stein is now the outskirts of Krems. The World Heritage Trail then leads back into the wine country past the Krems University campus, and finally ends in the historic downtown of the city.
Overnight in Krems
Krems is a dynamic city of lively cultural and university life, and its old town contains many architectural treasures. You can enjoy the city or, if you are in for more walking you can take a train and cross the Danube once more to the spectacular Göttweig Benedictine Abbey that marks the beginning of the Wachau World Heritage Site. After your visit there you will walk back to Krems for about 10 km on an easy downhill trail.
In the late afternoon take a train to Vienna.