Wachau boat trip: Grand Wachau Cruise
© DDSG Blue Danube Schiffahrt/Woeckinger

Wachau Boat Trip – The 4 Most Dazzling Danube Rides

In romantic, historic, and fun terms a Wachau boat trip through this quaint Danube valley is hard to beat. When I first took my Portuguese husband to the Wachau Valley he loved the boat trip most, floating on the wide Danube while being exposed to almost two hours of blissful vineyard, village and river gazing.

Wachau Boat Trip – Which To Choose?

Wachau boat trip: Danube ship close to DurnsteinWachau boat trip. Since I researched the Austrian Danube for a student project, I know the stretch between Vienna and Passau well. Just for fun and family I have done several Danube boat rides in the past few years.
Clearly, Wachau Valley cruises between Melk and Krems are the most picturesque. What is more, you can do such a cruise easily during a day trip from Vienna. Below are my two favourites. Choose the first trip if you love wine and prefer a small group tour. Go for the second trip if you want to visit Melk Abbey.

Traditional Small Boat Ride With Wine Tasting

Wachau boat trip in a ZilleWachau boat trip. Why not start with the quirkiest and most spectacular boat ride? While it is the total opposite to a grand cruise, the experience in a small Danube ‘Zille’ is AS grand. For likely hundreds of years, these flat wooden boats floated up and down Austria’s and Germany’s Danube and across some Austrian lakes. They were mostly used for cargo and to transport people. In fact, you can also see some locals in their Zillen at the Old Danube in Vienna.
What is so great about that boat ride is that you connect more closely to the Danube itself in a boat for maximum 12 people (and I don’t mean you’ll plunge into the river). During the 2.5 to 3 hour ride between Spitz and Dürnstein you will get a few excellent local wines to taste. 

Wachau and Melk Abbey With Boat Ride

Wachau boat trip: Danube passenger shipWachau boat trip. This is a highly rated experience for culture travellers. If you always wanted to see UNESCO World Heritage site of Melk Abbey, this is your tour. The abbey and its stunning library are baroque jewels and their location towering over the Danube makes them even more attractive.

Between mid April to end of October you will also be able to take a little Danube cruise from the village of Spitz to Melk. I had taken this same one hour boat ride when showing Wachau Valley to my husband, and we loved it. Learn more about the Wachau and Melk Abbey with Boat Ride tour.

Day Trip To Wachau Valley With Boat Ride And Winetasting

Wachau boat trip: Durnstein villageWachau boat trip.  This one day trip to Wachau valley covers a great bit of top wine tasting. It also includes a boat ride from Spitz to Melk between mid April and end of September. 

It’s like I would take you on a tour to Wachau Valley in an 8-seater Mercedes van. The driver guide tells you stories about the little villages and castles, their history and culture. You visit the best local wineries and learn and taste their wine. When I joined the tour, I loved our visit to a 450-year old wine press, and the first wine tasting at the local cooperative.

You will see the ruins of Dürnstein castle, where medieval crusader King Richard Lionheart was once imprisoned. You will also get past the many historic villages there. Many are dating from the renaissance or even the Middle Ages. If you had grown up in Austria, you would know them from those romantic Austrian comedies from the 1940s and 1950s!

I particularly like this tour because it also takes you off the beaten track and has no more than eight participants. Read more about Wachau Valley wine tasting trip with boat ride.

Grand Wachau Day Cruise

Wachau boat trip: ship at DuernsteinWachau boat trip. Do you seriously want to put your feet up while a lush scenery of hills, castles, villages, vineyards and apricot trees drifts past? Like a film roll, this five-hour Wachau cruise presents the most exciting stretch between Krems and Melk. While the other day trips just cover 80 min between Spitz and Melk (one way, upstream time) this cruise more than triples the fun.

Since the ship offers good regional food there is no need for a restaurant search. Unlike the more rigid day trips from Vienna, you can also choose between various departure and return times from Krems and Melk. Find out more about the Grand Wachau Day Cruise.

My Tip: If you would like to visit Melk Abbey, take the first ship from Krems at 10.15 am and the last ship from Melk departing at 4.25 pm (between 27th April and 6th October). This will give you a generous three hours to see the abbey and surroundings.

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