With only 23,000 inhabitants, Krems an der Donau is a small town in Lower Austria that punches well above its weight in terms of sight-seeing and attractions.
Located in the Wachau valley and resting on the banks of the Danube, Krems holds an important position in the region and is only 70km from Vienna.
This historic city has a rich history of wine production, and also boasts great charm and character with its old architecture and favourable seat on the Danube.
The town has great transport links by rail to neighbouring places and also can be reached from Vienna in only an hour.
Lets explore the best things to do in Krems:
1. Winzer Krems (Wine tour)
The lower region of Austria where Krems is nestled is a famous wine region and Krems has a history of fine wine production.
Winzer Krems is an established winery and produces some of the finest bottles in Austria since 1938. You can take a tour around the estate and learn about the wine making process and the history of Winzer Krems and even have a sample or two of their fine produce.
With grape varieties including Chardonnay, Neuberger, Yellow Muscatel and Pinot Blanc there will be something to suit everyone’s taste.
2. Aggstein Castle
This iconic castle that looms high on an outcrop overlooking the Danube has stood the test of time since the 1200’s and now remains as an excellent ruins.
Often said to be impregnable, the castle has never been recorded to have been stormed by force, only conquered by starvation or other devious means.
Owing to its high location and great vantage point, the castle really stands out against the backdrop of the lower Austrian countryside.
Inside the castle you can experience a medieval atmosphere with several permanent exhibitions and also a restaurant.
3. Schonbuhel Castle
Another fine castle in the Wachau region located just below the town of Melk, the Schonbuhel Castle lies in a similar position to Aggstein castle high above the Danube on a rock over 40m above the river.
Possible remains of a Roman fortress lie here before the castle was constructed and it has had some form of fortification since the 12th century.
You can take audio tours around this fascinating structure and also enjoy the wonderful flower displays in the castle grounds.
This unique museum is one of the only Caricature museums in Austria and is located right in the centre of Krems.
The exhibitions here are ever changing so you will always find something new and interesting to admire.
The display mainly features different types of cartoon drawings and caricatures from artist including Manfred Dreix and Gerhard Haderer and is really fascinating.
The light-hearted and fun atmosphere of the museum makes it a memorable place to visit.
While there are no descriptions in English, the exhibitions are easy to follow.
5. Gottweig Abbey
This Benedictine monastery is an impressive sight with its dominating twin towers and colourful exterior design.
Just south of Krems, the Abbey complex is quite expansive and includes the main abbey, a walled courtyard and some gardens.
The red topped towers of the abbey stand out and the whole complex holds an imposing position in the Wachau valley.
This stunning example of baroque design features a museum which showcases parts of the Abbey interior like the striking grand staircase, an apricot orchard, and also gives jaw-dropping views of the Wachau Valley from its terraces.
This Roman Catholic church is the oldest in Krems and was constructed around 1284, but official records show the church being consecrated in the 1500’s so the exact date is unknown.
The exterior of the church stands quite tall with a typical high reaching tiled roof that is similar in shape to that of St. Stephens in Vienna.
The bell tower has an ornate Romanesque dome and the huge copper bell housed inside weighs in at over 5000kg.
The interior features a Baroque design and has a highly decorated altar full of gold, and a beautiful organ that sits high above in one of the knaves.
This pretty church is a charming place to visit and ideally located for easy access.
For any motorbike enthusiast this museum will be like a goldmine.
Although located in the smaller village of Egelsee, the museum is still only a 10 minutes’ drive away and is certainly worth the effort.
For only 4 Euros admission fee, feast your eyes on over 170 different classic motorbikes including models from Bock & Hollender, Austria Alpha, Triumph, Harley Davidson and Indian.
The timeframe of the collection spans right from the early 1900’s through to the modern day and is a truly wonderful look at motor biking history.
8. Boat trip on the Danube to Melk
As the Danube is one of the most important rivers in Europe; it makes sense that you should enjoy a memorable boat trip on its waters during your stay in Krems.
The DDSG Company operate on this section of the river and provide boat trips from Krems to the enchanting town of Melk which is further west along the way.
The full route takes approximately 3 hours and there are options to stop off at some of the smaller town’s en-route.
On the way you can admire the splendid scenery and watch the world roll past.
9. Buy a local bottle of wine
As Krems boasts such a fine history of wine making, it stands to reason that there are many shops in the town centre where you can buy a souvenir bottle to either drink at your please in Krems, or take home for your family to partake in.
The Johann Strauss Winery has a great selection of varieties to purchase and sample, ringing the establishment beforehand is advised however to ensure they are open.
10. Krems old town/town walls
Much of Krems old town walls remain intact so walking around them and exploring the old town centre is a great way to see the town and experience the local culture.
Many shops and cafes are tucked away In the structure of some of the walls and many of the old buildings are now used as shopping areas.
Simply enjoy walking around the town and taking in its historic feel and pleasant atmosphere.
11. Glatt & Verkehrt Music Festival
The Glatt & Verkehrt Festival is a celebration of Latin American, African and Balkan Music all combined with a wondrous supply of fine wine made directly in the Wachau region and is usually held in July.
This lively festival promotes all things Krems and shows off the cities fabulous culinary delights, tasty wines and hosts many concerts and live shows throughout the month – The atmosphere is perfect and the musical styles are truly eclectic.
Housed in the stunning building of a former tobacco factory, the Kunsthalle is an exhibition centre in the middle of Krems near the river.
The main focus of the exhibitions in this hall has been 19th century conflicts and both classical and contemporary art.
Open since 1994 and containing a huge variety of displays over the years, the Kunsthalle draws in a large amount of visitors and is a definite must see in Krems.
13. Enjoy some excellent food at the Zum Kaiser
Traditional Austrian cuisine is something that should be sampled when in a town like Krems.
The country is known for such enjoyable dishes as Wiener schnitzel, Tafelspitz and Fledermaus as well as the Sachertorte pastry.
While Krems features a range of different restaurants and bars, catering for all kinds of cuisine, the Zum Kaiser is a highly regarded establishment and a first-class place to try some traditional food.
Set in a quiet location in Krems next to a small square, and featuring a cosy atmosphere with a limited amount of tables, the Zum Kaiser will provide you with a memorable dining experience.
14. Sample some Marillenschnaps (Apricot Brandy)
The Wachau region is not only famed for its high quality wine, but also as a producer of Marillenschnaps or Apricot Brandy.
The process turns apricots into liquor through fermentation and produces a brandy with approximately 40% alcohol content.
Many small orchards create this tantalizing drink and there are plenty of home-made varieties of Marillenschnaps available.
The Bailoni establishment in Krems is one such producer and has a great shop where you can buy different Apricot Brandy products including Jams, Syrups, Liquors and chocolate.
15. Visit the town of Melk
This inviting town which is situated further down the Danube from Krems has a wonderful charm and is easy to visit on a day trip or as part of a river cruise.
Enjoy walking through the streets of the town to admire the beautiful architecture or such sights as the old post office, house at the rock and the Rathausplatz.
Furthermore parts of the old town walls and round towers can be seen which add to the lure of Melk.