The Danube flows through Lower Austria for 286 kilometres – probably the great river’s most scenically beautiful, culturally diverse and culinarily productive stretch. On its route from Lower Austria in the west to the Slovakian border it passes the sites of ancient cultures, such as the Nibelungengau and UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site of Wachau, slips between Wagram’s gentle hills and the broad plains of the Tulln Basin, before becoming a ravishing ensemble of untouched nature, cultural antiquities and Baroque joie de vivre in Römerland Carnuntum–Marchfeld, just after the outskirts of Vienna.
The scenery along the Danube is splendidly varied – sometimes unspoiled, as it is in the Donau-Auen National Park, sometimes artfully tamed, as it is in the monastery and palace gardens, or show gardens such as Garten Tulln. Wine lovers head for a different kind of garden – the Danube’s vineyards are home to some of the world’s best wines. A top-class gastronomic culture has developed around the high-quality wines grown between the Wachau and Carnuntum. The choice of delicious destinations ranges from cosy wine taverns in cellar-lined streets, via stylish country house hotels, to exquisite award-winning restaurants.
Whoever has been in charge in Austria has left their mark on the banks of the Danube: its course is dotted with remains of Roman towns and fortresses (the prime example being the Roman town of Carnuntum), medieval castles, Baroque monasteries and palaces. The river is still a traffic artery, for tourism purposes too – a boat journey, primarily through the Wachau, is a compulsory part of any trip to Lower Austria. Nowadays people also enjoy travelling along the Danube by bike, on the Danube Cycle Path, one of Central Europe’s most popular cycle paths.
Our foray along the Danube starts in Maria Taferl, a place of pilgrimage, and continues through the Wachau, stopping off in Kamptal and continuing via Wagram, to Tulln. Our journey of discovery will include a little travel by bike and boat.
10.10 Depart Rüfikopfbahn valley station
Arrive at Hotel Schachner, Maria Taferl late afternoon.
Upon arrival it is possible to walk to the pilgrimage church, enjoy the view over the Danube or simply relax in the wellness area.
19.30 Dinner in the hotel
08.30 Depart Maria Taferl for Melk
09.00 Guided tour of Melk Abbey
The magnificent Baroque edifice, measuring 320 m long, was constructed in the 18th century according to designs by Jakob Prandtauer. The Marble Hall and the Abbey Library, which is adorned with superb intarsia, contains around 100,000 volumes and is one of the country’s most splendid. It contains sublime ceiling frescoes by Paul Troger. The Abbey church, the epitome of high Baroque style, has an impressive barrel-vaulted ceiling and 64-metre high drum dome. The tower contains Lower Austria’s biggest bell, which is rung on religious high days and holidays.
10.00 Bike ride along the Danube Cycle Path from Melk to Spitz
Some 260 kilometres of Europe’s longest path follow the Danube through Lower Austria, from Ybbs/Persenbeug in the west to Hainburg on the border with Slovakia. The flat cycle path is counted as one of Europe’s most beautiful, with good reason, as it constantly follows the Danube and EuroVelo 6 through the World Cultural Landscape of the Wachau valley, where a visit to a “heuriger” wine tavern is almost compulsory. A ride along the Danube Cycle Path usually takes longer than planned, not because of the miles covered, but because of everything that goes with them. You are likely to encounter numerous knights’ tales, view points and museums, tasty cuisine from award-winning restaurants and homely taverns, and romantic spots where it’s impossible not to linger awhile.
12.15 Lunch in a typical tavern in Spitz
14.40 Boat ride from Spitz to Krems
One of the nicest experiences is a pleasant boat ride through the unique Wachau valley, past medieval castles, picturesque villages, mighty monastery enclosures and vineyards. One of the places we pass on the way to Krems is Dürnstein, with the unmistakeable blue church tower.
15.30 Arrive in Krems, continue to Langenlois
16.15 Guided tour of the LOISIUM Wine Experience
Architecture designed by internationally renowned architect Steven Holl and a contemporary lifestyle ambiance in Langenlois’ beautiful vineyards. The LOISIUM Wine Centre and Winery have become the centre of wine and culture in Lower Austria. In the maze of passages, some of which are 900 years old, 18 artistic, playful stations explain how grapes are turned into wine and create a journey for all the senses.
17.30 Check in to the LOISIUM Wine & Spa Resort
Relax in the wellness area
19.30 Dinner in the hotel or at a traditional Heuriger wine tavern.
9.00 Depart for Grafenegg
9.30 Guided tour of Grafenegg Castle
A historic castle next to a futuristic open-air stage in a landscaped park, a 19th century riding school and a modern concert hall – that’s Grafenegg. In summer it is the annual venue for a high-quality music festival under the artistic direction of internationally famous pianist Rudolf Buchbinder.
10.30 Continue to Tulln
11.30 Guided tour of Garten Tulln
Enjoy nature in all its glory at GARTEN TULLN, Europe’s only organic show gardens, with 60 themed gardens. Let your spirits soar in the farm garden, the rose garden or the healing water garden.
In the tree-top walk, from a height of 30 metres there is a breathtaking view of the countryside by the Danube and the gardens.
14.00 Itinerary ends and onward travel to Vienna Airport.