The 25 mile stretch of the scenic valley that runs along the Danube River between the Austrian towns of Melk and Krems is so spectacular that it’s been designated a UNESCO World Heritage and Nature site.
It’s conveniently close to Vienna, and a variety of tour options are available from multiple towns that explore the area’s historic sites, wineries, and unrivaled natural splendor.
The region is dotted with quaint old-world villages, galleries, castles, and charming cafes, and there is an abundance of outdoor recreation options for sports and activity-minded visitors as well.
Below are 10 of the best tours of the Wachau Valley.
1. Wachau and Danube Valleys Combo Tour from Vienna
Featuring impressive castles, idyllic pastoral settings, mountains, and meandering rivers, there’s really no more romantic setting than Austria’s Wachau Valley.
This Wachau and Danube Valley’s tour begins and ends in Vienna and is the perfect excursion for those exploring the area for the first time.
Tours include portions by bus and boat, as well as interesting and educational narration from a knowledgeable local guide.
Guests will appreciate the panoramic views of the nearby mountains, sprawling wineries, and fascinating humanmade structures like Dürnstein Castle.
Due to river and weather conditions, boat trips are only offered in the summer.
Tours last about 8 ½ hours.
2. Wachau Valley River Cruise with 3-Course Meal from Krems
Previous guests who’ve participated in this five-hour cruise of the Wachau Valley from Krems tend to agree that it was one of the most memorable experiences of their trip to Lower Austria.
There’s just something extra special about enjoying a three-course meal aboard an elegant vessel on the ancient Danube River.
Depending on the weather, guests can see the sites from the boat’s outdoor deck, but if it’s windy, cool, or rainy, there’s ample seating inside that offers unobstructed views.
Sights include castles, wineries, and some of the most beautiful natural scenery you’re ever likely to see.
There’s also a fully-stocked bar when it’s time for a Viennese-style coffee or an adult beverage.
3. Wachau Valley Winery Tour by Bike
It’s not every day that titles like ‘World’s Best Historic Destination’ are bestowed, but in 2008, the Wachau Valley was recognized as just that.
Though boat and bus tours are popular and worth experiencing, for those with boundless energy, there’s really no better way to take in the valley’s magnificence than by bicycle.
Tours generally include limited portions of strenuous terrain, but most are doable for those of moderate physical fitness.
At 9 ½ hours, it’s a long day, but you’ll also have time to stop and gaze upon castles, wineries, and the river, and even take a brief swim if the spirit moves you.
4. Wachau Valley Day Tour with Wine Tasting
Visiting the Wachau Valley without enjoying its amazing wines is akin to sitting through the last game of the World Series without having a hot dog and a beer.
This full-day tour includes transportation by Mercedes van to a number of local wineries, where guests will have the opportunity to learn about grape growing, the production process, and sample a variety of tasty wines.
Between the end of April and the beginning of October, there’s also a river cruise portion of the tour, but if you visit during the winter, it’ll be substituted for a trip to historic Melk Abbey.
It’s a nine-hour whirlwind tour that’s a must for wine aficionados.
5. Full-Day Wachau Valley Small Group E-Bike Tour from Vienna
E-bikes are great modes of transportation for eager and energetic tour guests because they allow riders to burn calories, but provide extra oomph when the terrain gets hilly.
During the spring and summer, the Wachau Valley is typically awash in sunshine, wildflowers, and seemingly endless expanses of awe-inspiring scenery.
You’ll cycle through the country’s most well-known wine region, stop at local wineries, and take time to relax and sip the fruits of the vintner’s labor.
Tours begin and end in Vienna, making them great day-trip options for those looking to distance themselves from the capital city’s hustle and bustle.
Tours include transportation, guide, bike, and helmet.
6. 5-Hour Wachau River Cruise from Melk
The river tour season in the Wachau Valley usually lasts from March until October or November. For those with who aren’t prone to sudden outbursts of seasickness, there’s really no better way to experience the valley and Danube River.
In the spring, the valley is a pleasant mix of green forests, budding apricot trees, and gently flowing water reflecting the sun’s rays.
It’s truly a sight to behold, which is probably why it’s consistently ranked one of the world’s most amazing destinations.
Tour ships have plenty of in and outdoor seating, with bars and restaurants offering a variety of onboard food options.
River tours are also stroller and wheelchair accessible, making them great family activities.
7. Wine Tasting on Traditional Wooden Boats
Whether through clothes and music or hairstyles and cocktails, the retro movement is sweeping the world.
Apparently, old stuff can still be trendy and cutting edge.
Hence, traditional wooden boats that once plied their trades along the Danube’s serene waters are once again big hits—only this time, with tourists.
These small-group, guided boat tours are just the ticket for those who prefer more intimate experiences.
Though they only last between two and three hours, they allow guests to see the narrow valleys, forested mountains, and rugged cliffs for which the area is most well-known, all while sipping wonderful grape-based liquid intoxicants.
Most travelers can participate, but not those who use wheelchairs.
8. Wachau Valley Wine Tour by Kayak
Like craft breweries, vinyl albums, and fondue, kayaks have burst back onto the scene lately, and there’s really no more exhilarating and calorie-burning way to take in the wonders of the Wachau Valley.
This value-packed kayak and wine tour is a private small group activity, so repeatedly bumping into hordes of tourists with fanny packs and elastic waistband khakis won’t be an issue.
Instead, paddlers will enjoy panoramic views of the historic river, postcard-like villages, and terraced vineyards perched on regal mountains.
Guides are experienced kayakers and knowledgeable wine enthusiasts focused on safety and making each trip a truly memorable experience.
9. Self-Guided Bike Tour of the Danube and Wachau Valley
For those with more than a week to dedicate to making memories that’ll probably last a lifetime, there may be no more unique way to get your fill of the Wachau Valley than this self-guided bicycle tour.
The tour is spread over eight days and seven nights and allows fit cyclists to see things up-close-and-personally – and at their own pace, too.
Though transportation between the tour’s stop-off points is up to you and your strong legs, there’s lots included along the way, like lodging at 3 and 4-star hotels, some meals, and bikes, helmets, and GPS navigation.
There’s really too much information to convey here, but plan on getting more than your fair share of historic castles, sprawling vineyards, and quaint villages that look like they’ve leaped from the pages of a fairytale.
Click the link below for specifics.
10. Zillenfahrt Wine Tour through the Wachau Valley
There’s no such thing as a bad way to see the Wachau Valley.
Whether by tour boat, kayak, e-bike, or air-conditioned van, it’s really a wonder to behold.
This wine and sightseeing combo excursion is never quite the same twice, because the operators customize it regularly to ensure that guests are taken only to areas that are particularly alluring at the time of their visit.
That means the best views and sampling wines from a select few wineries that are producing seasonal products at the height of their tastiness.
Tours can accommodate up to a dozen people, and begin and end in the town of Spitz on the Danube.