What is a Wachau bike tour like? Is it easy and fun with a bit of culture sprinkled in? In fact, I did just that tour. After more than 23 visits to this 1,000-year-old wine region set alongside Europe’s second largest river I wanted to do what everyone does there: Cycling on a beautiful path, through boasting postcard villages, along medieval castles, apricot and apple orchards. tasting wines and eating ‘rabbit poo’.
To help you figure out whether that day trip from Vienna is for you I’m sharing my tour story here.
Wachau Bike Tour Highlights
Essentially, our tour threw a 24 km loop around the best bit of Wachau Valley, between Krems and Weissenkirchen. On that August day, several couples, a family, a girlie group of friends, and single travellers and I started out from Vienna.
Biking Through The Vineyards
Wachau bike tour. Almost all along Wachau, the Danube cycling path runs along the river, and cuts through villages, vineyards and orchards. The good thing about a Wachau bike tour was that you absorbed all these spaces more intensely. Right in between the vineyards, Esther, our tour guide, provided a first primer on local wine culture: how vintners produced their wines and what made those taste special.
Having chosen the one old bike in the back of the storage, my back side remembered a few kilometers. However, I was the only one, as my fellow members’ kept only happy memories of their bikes.
Wachau bike tour. Even if it starts at 11.00 am it’s perfectly legitimate to get tipsy during a wine tasting session. At local cooperative ‘Domäne Wachau’, we knocked back five glasses of different amazing white wines each. Clearly, not everyone just took a sip and threw the rest away… While we tasted, our guide filled us in about what matters in a Wachau local’s life: from growing wine, differentiating wine flavours, the wine harvest, bad weather to best white wine types. When I walked out, I saw the surroundings a little different though was fine after five minutes of fresh air.
Climbing Up To Richard Lionheart’s Prison
Wachau bike tour. At that point of the Wachau tour we chould choose between strolling around Dürnstein village, burying our toes in the sandy Danube shores or power hiking up to Dürnstein castle ruin, King Richard Lionheart‘s prison. I decided to climb up the ‘donkey trail’ to the castle, together with a few other crazy tour members, for a magnificent view of the Danube valley and for seeing a heap of history-laden withered stone. I made it up to the top, but even if I hadn’t, the view from the middle would have been well worth it.
Savouring Rabbit Poo and Apricot Schnaps
Wachau bike tour. When it comes to local delicacies, the natives go far beyond wine. The local produce shop we descended upon stocked every imaginable goodie made with apricots, which grow in the area in raw quantities: apricot liqueurs, schnaps, chutneys, jams, kernel oils, chocolates, and even soap.
During your visit we tasted two different types of apricot schnaps. Another delicacy of the shop: a chocolate perversity called ‘rabbit poo’ (raisins coated in chocolate) – better than it sounds!
Hanging Out At A Wine Estate
Wachau bike tour. Officially, Esther had planned our visit at family run wine estate Denk in Weissenkirchen to cultivate our acquired knowledge about local wines. That part of our Wachau tour was also to introduce us to the alcohol micro-industry of the Wachau valley.
Inofficially, the shady terrace overlooking Wachau valley generated that ‘feel good’ type of memories you get when you slow down at a place that is ‘right’. In fact, there are dozens of this kind of small wineries in the area, though not all open at the same time. However, experiencing a Heuriger is a definitely must if you want to grasp Wachau life.
Picking Mirabelle Plums
Wachau bike tour. A huge bush full of small mirabelle plums along the bike path back to Krems was the best fleeting experience of this tour.
Within seconds, ten of us jumped from their bikes and buried our hands deep into the foliage to pick a handful of those plums which are popular in the area: they were still very sour but had that lovely taste of an unexpected good surprise. I bet the remaining plums won’t survive the next school trip passing by.
Bathing In The River Danube
Wachau bike tour. Given it was a hot August day we stopped at the Southern shores of the Danube. When we plunged into the river after 22 km of cycling on a hot summer day the cool water almost fizzled! What mattered as much was that Esther chose an amazingly picturesque bathing spot. Actually, the only visitors to that place were a few locals and us.
While cooling down, we gazed at the second most photographed church tower in Austria just opposite: the Duernstein monastery – priceless!
Starting right from Vienna you will first take a train to Krems with your tour guide. Once in Wachau, you will take your bikes and use an easy path from and back to Krems. As for perseverance, the longest track we cycled in a row was 30 minutes through vineyards and market towns. Check more information and tour dates.
Note: I joined this tour by invitation from the tour operator. All opinions expressed are my own.
Other great wine tours: Wachau Valley Tour and Burgenland Wine Tour (insider tip)
find out more about Melk Abbey – UNESCO World Heritage on the Danube
explore my Vienna Danube Guide – Insider Tips on the Danube, Danube Canal and Danube Island
need help with planing your trip? go to Vienna Travel Planning – Trip Planning and Travel Consulting by Vienna Unwrapped