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Cruising through the Wachau Valley on a Danube River Cruise

Thinking about taking a Danube River Cruise? We recently went with Gate 1 Travel. Cruising through the Wachau Valley is one of the highlights of a Danube River Cruise. Here’s what you’ll see in the Wachau Valley:Wachau Valley - Danube River Cruise

On the third day of our Danube River Cruise, we woke up in the Bavarian village of Durnstein, one of the prettiest villages on the Danube River.

We spent the morning exploring this fairytale town, then spent the afternoon cruising through the scenic Wachau Valley. We had incredible views of vineyards, castles, hilltop ruins, and also monasteries. This was one of my favorite days on the cruise! Keep reading below for photos of everything we saw.

Wachau Valley - Danube River Cruise

Durnstein

This is the picturesque village of Durnstein, one of my favorite villages we visited on our Danube River Cruise.

Read More: Taking A Danube River Cruise With Gate 1 Travel

Wachau Valley - Danube River Cruise

This tiny Austrian village has less than 1,000 residents.

Wachau Valley - Danube River Cruise

This is the small ferry to get to the other side of the river.

Wachau Valley - Danube River Cruise

Durnstein is in the heart of Austria’s wine country, so we saw garden vineyards all over the village!

Wachau Valley - Danube River Cruise

Medieval cobblestone streets lead the way into the tiny village.

Wachau Valley - Danube River Cruise

This blue church in Durnstein was built between 1721-1725.

Wachau Valley - Danube River CruisePhoto via Stephanie

I loved exploring this beautiful village on our Danube River Cruise!

Read More: Nuremburg Germany — A Bavarian Village in Germany

Wachau Valley - Danube River Cruise

Dürnstein Castle

At the top of the hill are the ruins of the 12th century Dürnstein Castle. After exploring the village, we went to see the ruins.

Wachau Valley - Danube River Cruise

Richard the Lionheart was imprisoned here in 1193.

Wachau Valley - Danube River Cruise

There’s a well-traveled path to the top of the ruins with stunning views all across the valley.

Wachau Valley - Danube River Cruise

It’s about a 20 minute walk, and it’s pretty steep, but there are several places to stop and take a break on the way up. I totally did not wear the right kind of shoes (just ballet flats) but I was totally fine taking this walk. If it’s a nice, clear day, it’s totally worth it for the views alone!

Wachau Valley - Danube River Cruise

One last look at Dürnstein Castle overlooking the village before we continued our Danube River Cruise in the Wachau Valley.

Read More: Regensburg Germany — An Ancient Medieval City

Wachau Valley - Danube River Cruise

Wachau Valley

We spent a beautiful morning hiking and exploring Dürnstein, and after that we took a sunny afternoon cruise through the scenic Wachau Valley.

Wachau Valley - Danube River Cruise

Wachau Valley is one of the most picturesque regions in all of Austria. We had incredible views of vineyards, castles, churches, and hilltop ruins the entire way.

Wachau Valley - Danube River Cruise

Our Gate 1 Travel cruise director was extremely knowledgeable about the region, and told us all about the castles, legends, and sites we were seeing as we sunbathed on the sun deck.

Wachau Valley - Danube River Cruise

Fairytale Bavarian villages lined the shores of the Danube River.

Wachau Valley - Danube River CruisePhoto via Stephanie

St. Michael’s Church

This is St. Michael’s Church in Spitz, Austria. Inside the church is an altar made of human bones!

Wachau Valley - Danube River Cruise

Views of the Wachau Valley on our Danube River Cruise:

Wachau Valley - Danube River Cruise

Wachau Valley - Danube River Cruise

Wachau Valley - Danube River Cruise

Vineyard Views in Austria on our Danube River Cruise

Wachau Valley - Danube River Cruise

Hinterhaus Castle

Wachau Valley - Danube River CruisePhoto via Stephanie

I could not get over how gorgeous the weather was. Just look at those clouds!!

Wachau Valley - Danube River Cruise

What is the difference between a castle and a palace?

Our guide also taught us the difference between a castle and a palace. Castles were built solely for protection of the city, and were cold, damp, and not very pleasant to live in. Palaces on the other hand were built solely for the comfort of the royal family, and were plush and extravagant.

Wachau Valley - Danube River Cruise

Wachau Valley - Danube River Cruise

This fortress high on a hill has one of the best preserved medieval kitchens in Austria.

Wachau Valley - Danube River Cruise

Schloss Schönbühel

Wachau Valley - Danube River Cruise

This is just a glimpse of what all you’ll see on a Danube River Cruise through the Wachau Valley! For more information on a Danube River cruise, see our posts below!


See more posts from our Gate 1 Travel cruise!


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23 Responses
  1. Margit Monk

    How beautiful!  You even got a great photo of the house I was born in, just below the Ruine Hinterhaus!  Of course, they are not Bavarian villages; however, Spitz and Dürnstein have roots in Bavaria.  Spitz in particular belonged to the abbey Niederalteich in Bavaria. The coat of arms of the town has the blue and white diamond pattern of Bavaria on it.

  2. Christina

    Stunning shots, you are so lucky to get such amazing weather! Would love to do this cruise. I also wondered, what’s the average age of the passengers?

  3. Andi

    Everything looks like a total fairy tale, the colors of the houses and shops are adorable. Did you get to taste any of the wine from the region?

  4. CakeSpy

    OH MY GAWD. This looks stunning and fairy tale-esque. I can’t be jealous though, because you’re just so sweet. Is this where the CANDY is from? :-)

  5. Carrie @Frugal Foodie Mama

    Oh wow… what a beautiful place! And all the history that is steeped in those hillsides! I hope to travel to Europe with my family one day. It is definitely a dream of our’s! :) And Austria looks beautiful. Also, I did not know about the difference between a castle and a palace either! And I am a former history teacher, lol. ;)

  6. Karen @ On the Banks of Salt Creek

    Gosh I miss Austria! I spent my junior year in college there. Lived in Salzburg and traveled all over. I’ve always wanted to take my husband there…..although now that we own a farm and have animals I don’t think we will ever be able to go. Unless we find a “farm sitter”. Is there such a thing?

  7. LyndaS

    I soooo want to go there. I have been to Germany and Austria in the past, but did not spend near enough time. I think that next time I should take a river cruise. I like the idea of being able to visit multiple sites/locations and not have to unpack more than once.

  8. @Travelpanties

    These photos are so gorgeous they actually look like they’re not real! Never been to Austria but now I really need to get there! And bring my big camera!!

  9. Ashley | Spoonful of Flavor

    Wow, Amanda! I can’t get over what an amazing trip you took. These pictures of Austria are stunning. I can only imagine what it must be like to live there, so pretty!

  10. leslie

    OMG…almost looks fake. It’s amazing how OLD(in a good way) everything is. I sure do wish my husband would fly so I could experience these kind of historic destinations.

  11. Peter

    Great photos of Duernstein on the Danube in the Wachau Valley! Really gives you the flavor of the beautiful villages in Austria. Just wanted to correct the introductory text which states “in the Bavarian village of Duernstein.”, which would put Duernstein in Germany. Bavaria is a state in Germany and Duernstein is in Austria.

  12. Tessa / Bramble & Thorn

    Such a gorgeous location! It looks like something out of a fairytale, I’d love to go there next time I’m in Europe!

  13. Jennifer

    I am totally sitting here looking up Durstein on my maps to see how far it is from my house in Italy. I’ve never heard of this little village before, but it looks gorgeous and I want to go!

  14. Angie | Big Bear's Wife

    1,000 residents? oh wow!! Oh and I totally thought that a Palace and a Castle equaled the same thing! I had no idea that one was different from the other!

  15. Paula

    This summer is our fifteenth anniversary – wouldn’t this trip be perfect?! Austria looks so romantic and I love the idea of a river cruise.

  16. Jennifer @ Show Me the Yummy

    That little village is adorable! What was your favorite stop on the cruise? I’m sure you’ve send this 100000 times, but what cruise is this? Looks absolutely incredible :)

    1. Laura

      Was wonderful what cruise it was as well. Read a lot about those Viking River Cruises but then again, people say bad things about them on line. Oh well. I think this blog is becoming the new Rick Steves for me, he’s like, meh man!!

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Meet Kevin & Amanda

Kevin and Amanda

We love to travel and to eat! Here we share our favorite quick and easy recipes, plus travel tips and guides for our favorite places around the world. Meet our Boston Terriers. Take a tour of our house. If you have any questions about what camera I use or how I edit my photos, check out my photography tutorials.

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