(Advertisement due to press trip) Dürnstein Abbey in the Wachau looks most beautiful from the Danube. You can see the blue tower of the collegiate church below the castle from afar, if you approach the place by ship. The town itself does not offer many sights, but those that are are worth a visit. They bear witness to the great past of the place. Dürnstein Abbey is next to it Monastery in Melk and the Abbey in Gottweig one of the three main sights of the Wachau. If you are not on one of the numerous river cruise ships, you can easily stay in one of the hotels in the city or nearby. Then a longer stay is worthwhile, because there is a lot to experience in the area. Wine, hiking and cycling or boating on the Danube are just a few of the options.
Book your Dürnstein Wachau Hotel here
- Im Winzerhof Stöger* is there free street parking available
- In a five star hotel Dürnstein Castle* you stay in a historic building in Dürnstein. Free parking spaces are available at the hotel.
- The four star hotel Richard the Lionheart* is right on the banks of the Danube. Here you sleep in a historical ambience. Free private parking is available at the hotel.
- We like to stay in one of the pleasure rooms in the Garden Hotel & Weingut Pfeffel just outside the town with its spa with a magnificent view of Dürnstein. The hotel's kitchen also offers enjoyment. Free private parking is included.
- Are you looking for more hotels? Then you will find one here Selection where you can compare prices*.
Sights in Dürnstein in the Wachau
The two main sights of Dürnstein in the Wachau are not far apart. While the abbey is located in the town center on the Danube, the castle towers above it, giving the town its dramatic past.
The story of Dürnstein in the Wachau: More than just Richard the Lionheart
The Dürnstein castle ruins, which tower high above the city, are probably the most famous historical landmark. It was built in the 12th century and has a turbulent past. The castle's most famous prisoner was the English King Richard the Lionheart. He was held here in 1192 on his way back from the Third Crusade. But the castle was not just a prison. It also served as a strategic point for controlling Danube traffic and as a residence for the Kuenringers, the sovereigns at the time.
But Dürnstein has even more historical layers to offer. The collegiate church, a baroque masterpiece, was built in the 18th century and is another highlight of the city. It stands on the foundations of an older church and shows how the place has changed over the centuries. The church is known for its blue and white facade, which shines particularly brightly in the sunlight.
In the Middle Ages, Dürnstein was an important trading center. The city benefited from its location on the Danube and became a center for the wine trade. The vineyards that cover the hills around Dürnstein are a legacy of this time and a testament to the long tradition of viticulture in the region.
The history of Dürnstein is also closely linked to the development of the Wachau as a cultural landscape. The region was recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 2000, and Dürnstein plays an important role in this recognition. The city is an example of the harmonious combination of nature and human settlement that has grown over the centuries.
Historical sites and attractions in Durnstein
Dürnstein is more than just a picturesque town in the Wachau. It is also a place that breathes history. From medieval castles to magnificent monasteries, the historic sites here are definitely a must-see for any history buff.
Dürnstein Abbey: A monastery with history
Start your tour in Dürnstein Abbey, one of the most famous monasteries in Austria. The baroque masterpiece dates from the 18th century and is now a museum. Here you can learn about the history of the monastery and the role it has played in the region.
The Augustinian Canons' Monastery on the Danube
In 1410, Otto von Maissau brought Augustinian canons from the line of Kuehnringer Augustinian canons from Bohemia to Dürnstein in the Wachau. They built the church, the cloister and the monastery. At the end of the 17th century, Provost Hieronymus Übelbacher had the monastery renovated in the Baroque style. Ubelbacher was a learned man. His portrait can be seen on a tour of the monastery. He had precise ideas about how his monastery should be redesigned. He worked together with Joseph Munggenast. The magnificent entrance portal and the inner courtyard were created by Jakob Prandtauer, and the church gate, the church interior and the substructure of the tower are the work of Matthias Steinl.
Since 1745 the collegiate church has also been the parish church of Dürnstein in the Wachau. The sculptor Johann Schmidt, the father of the famous Kremser Schmidt, who we met on the tour of the church, worked on the interior decoration of the church City of Krems met. He himself designed two side altars in Dürnstein Abbey. As early as 1788, however, Emperor Joseph II closed the monastery. Since then, the Herzogenburg Abbey has looked after the monastery buildings and the parish. One looks in vain for monastic life here today. Instead, there is a guided tour through the monastery building, where you get to know the history and the buildings better.
Opening times Stift Dürnstein Wachau
from April 1st to October 29th.
Monday to Saturday from 9.00 a.m. to 18.00 p.m.
Sunday and public holidays from 10.00 a.m. to 18.00 p.m
(last admission 17:30 p.m.)
A guided tour of Dürnstein Abbey in the Wachau takes place in German every day at 11.00 a.m. and 14.00 p.m. An audio guide in 5 Languages is available at any time.
Excursions in Dürnstein
Dürnstein Castle: In the footsteps of Richard the Lionheart
The second sight of Dürnstein is the castle that bears the same name. It is known as the place where Richard the Lionheart was captured on his way back to Jerusalem from his crusade. The story of how his brother seized power during this time should be familiar to many from the stories about Robin Hood. The Kuehnringers only released their noble prisoner for a large ransom. The whole Legend about Richard the Lionheart you can also read about it in this post. The climb up to the ruins is a bit arduous, but the view of the Danube and the surrounding vineyards is worth the effort.
Other historical places in Dürnstein
In addition to these two main attractions, there are other places in Durnstein that are worth visiting. For example the Church of St. Michael, a historical building with an impressive architecture. Or the Red Gate, a remnant of the medieval city wall, which is now the city's landmark.
Activities in Dürnstein in the Wachau
In Dürnstein there are a variety of activities that take you into nature or challenge you in sports. From hiking routes to cycling tours, the possibilities are definitely diverse.
Dürnstein Wachau hiking
pack yours walking boots in and explore the area. The Vogelbergsteig, for example, is a popular route. It leads you through forests and offers great views of the Danube. The Richard the Lionheart themed trail is also recommended. It tells the story of the English king who was once imprisoned here.
Cycling along the Danube
If you prefer to travel on two wheels, the Danube Cycle Path is a good choice. It runs right through Dürnstein and offers you the opportunity to discover the Wachau at your own pace. Bike rental stations are easy to find, so don't worry if you don't have your own bike with you.
Boat tours and canoe trips
The Danube also offers water activities. How about a boat trip? Or you can rent a canoe and paddle through the idyllic landscape yourself. Both options offer a different perspective of the Wachau and are ideal for hot summer days.
Other possible activities in Dürnstein
In addition to these main activities, there is more to do. For example, you can visit the ruins of Dürnstein. The ascent is a bit strenuous, but the view is worth it. If you like it quieter, there are also some bathing spots along the Danube. Here you can relax and enjoy nature.
Climb to the castle – our tip for hiking in Dürnstein Wachau
Only ruins remain of Dürnstein Castle in the Wachau. If you have some time and good shoes, then a climb to the castle is worthwhile. There are two paths leading up to Richard the Lionheart's former prison.
Dürnstein map with sights and parking spaces
The easy way to the Dürnstein castle ruins
This path begins in front of the city gate. Park your car at the parking lot in Oberloiben (see map). In front of the town gate, turn right and follow the signs to “Dürnstein castle ruins, easy variant”. There are always information boards along the way that tell about Richard the Lionheart's imprisonment. The path goes uphill, so you can take a few breather breaks at these stations. In total, it takes about 20 - 25 minutes to walk to the ruins.
The difficult donkey trail to the Dürnstein castle ruins
This path is rougher and leads over hill and dale. Sturdy shoes are essential here. The path branches off to the right immediately behind the Wiese distillery and leads steeply up the mountain. It takes about 20 minutes to walk up to the top.
From the ruins you have a magnificent view of Dürnstein and the surrounding area
The effort of the climb is worth it. Not only do you have a beautiful view of Dürnstein Abbey and the Danube, but you can also see as far as Göttweig Abbey on one side and as far as Weißenkirchen on the other side. My tip: Before the climb, buy a Wachauer Laberl at the Rudolf Schmidt bakery (address: Dürnstein 21). This Wachau type of bread was invented there. Then you can enjoy the view even more with a small snack.
Dürnstein in the Wachau off the beaten path:
Destinations and activities
However, Dürnstein has more to offer than just the famous castle ruins and the collegiate church of Dürnstein Abbey in the Wachau. If you're looking for alternative activities and sights for a longer stay, check out these tips.
Boat tours and canoe-Wachau
If you want to experience the Wachau from the water, boat tours are definitely an excellent choice. Kanu-Wachau in Dürnstein-Oberloiben offers you the opportunity to explore the Danube in a very special way.
Kuenringerbad Dürnstein in the Wachau
The Kuenringerbad is a welcome way to cool off on hot days. It is located directly on the Donaulände and offers swimming fun for the whole family.
This observation tower is also an insider tip for anyone who wants to see the Wachau from above. It is located near the Dürnstein forest huts and offers a fantastic view.
Richard the Lionheart theme trail
If you also want to learn more about the history of the region, this themed trail is a good choice. It guides you through the area and offers informative stations.
The Vogelbergsteig is also a must for hiking enthusiasts. It is one of the 20 most beautiful excursion destinations around Dürnstein and, in addition to the hike, also offers great viewing points.
Wachau Saffron Manufactory
A rather unusual destination is the Wachau Safran Manufactory. Here you can learn more about growing saffron and even buy some products. It is also an opportunity to learn more about the region's products.
Vineyards near Saint Michael
The Wachau is also known for its wine. A walk through the vineyards near Sankt Michael is not only relaxing, but also informative.
Ferry Dürnstein in the Wachau
A short ferry trip across the Danube can be a highlight, especially in the summer months. The ferry runs between April and October and offers a nice change.
After a hike, the Fesslhütte is the perfect place to end the day. The home-style cooking and friendly service are highly recommended.
You need that for a hike near Dürnstein in the Wachau
- Pack your backpack with our packing list for hikers. Then you are guaranteed to have everything you need on the go.
- Comfortable You need walking shoes for wide feetwhere you can walk well even on rough paths
- The backpack is definitely practical for everything you need on the go.
- The region offers beautiful photo opportunities. Therefore you should bring your Camera .
- Are you looking for other equipment for hikers?
- You can find hiking stages on the World Heritage Trail through the Wachau here
- On this Hiking map (.pdf) you will find the hiking trails around Dürnstein.
Local food and drinks in Dürnstein in the Wachau: A culinary foray
If you want to explore local cuisine, then you should keep an eye out for these specialties.
These apricots are particularly sweet and juicy. You can find them in many forms, from fresh fruits to jams as well as liqueurs.
The Wachau is one of the most famous wine regions in Austria. Grüner Veltliner and Riesling are particularly at home here. Many wineries offer tastings where you can try these varieties.
The proximity to the Danube also means that fish is often on the menu. Trout and walleye are local favorites. You can find them in restaurants along the river.
There are also a few cheese dairies in the Wachau that produce local varieties such as Wachau Pinot Noir. This cheese is a delight for anyone who likes rustic things.
The Wachau offers a wealth of fresh ingredients. Pumpkin dishes are very popular in autumn, while asparagus plays the main role in spring.
Schnapps and liqueurs
In addition to wine and beer, various schnapps and liqueurs from the region are available. Apricot schnapps is particularly popular.
Coffee and pastries
Finally, a piece of cake or another pastry should not be missing at the end. The coffee houses in Dürnstein offer a good selection.
Find your Dürnstein Wachau restaurant here
You can pamper your taste buds in these restaurants in Dürnstein in der Wachau:
Der "Loibnerhof“ is a family business that combines tradition and modern cuisine. Here you can enjoy regional specialties, prepared with fresh local ingredients. The Loibnerhof is known for its warm hospitality.
The "Heurigenrestaurant Weißenkirchner Hof“ offers an idyllic atmosphere. Here you can try typical Wachau dishes, accompanied by excellent local wines. The Weißenkirchner Hof is an insider tip for wine lovers.
The "Hotel Restaurant Richard Lionheart“impresses with its historical backdrop. It serves creative dishes that reinterpret regional cuisine. At Richard Löwenherz you will experience culinary highlights in a unique ambience.
Local events in Dürnstein in the Wachau
From wine festivals to music events, there's something for everyone.
Wine festivals: Cheers to the Wachau
The Wachau is known for its wine, and Dürnstein is no exception. Various wine festivals are held here every year, where you can taste the local varieties. There is often live music and regional specialties.
Music in the air: concerts and more
If you are a music lover, you should not miss the various music events in Dürnstein. From classical concerts in Dürnstein Abbey to jazz evenings in local bars, the choice is definitely large.
Cultural Events: More than just history
In addition to music and wine, Dürnstein also offers a range of cultural events. These include art exhibitions, theater performances and even film screenings. These events offer a good opportunity to get to know the local culture better.
Markets and fairs: shopping and feasting
What would a visit to Dürnstein be without a trip to the local markets? Whether weekly market or special theme markets like the Christmas market, you will find fresh products and handmade souvenirs here.
Do you like traveling to Dürnstein in the Wachau in a motorhome?
- Do you want to rent a motorhome? Then you will find information here and booking options. Or would you prefer to stay overnight roof tent on the car? In addition, the overnight stay in camping tents is possible.
- Check with ours packing list for camperswhether you have packed everything for your motorhome tour. Then you are ready for your mobile home tour in the Wachau.
- You want to know where to go with a motorhome stay in Europe can and are you looking for pitches and campsites? You can find information about this under this link.
- You can find campsites near Dürnstein here*. There you can after a day trip in a Dutch Oven or on the portable grill . You can also find Dutch oven accessories here.
– Why is an e-bike folding bike practical when camping?
Our personal experiences in Dürnstein in the Wachau
We have visited Dürnstein in the Wachau several times and gained experiences that we will remember. This place on the Danube is ideal for slow travelers and pleasure travelers like us. During our tour of Dürnstein Abbey in the Wachau, we discovered hidden corners alongside the well-known sights.
Every season in Dürnstein has its own charm. In spring the flowering apricot trees are impressive, but we have missed them so far. In summer, the cycle paths along the Danube are as attractive as the bathing areas. Autumn fascinates with its colorful forests and quiet atmosphere.
We were there several times Garden Hotel & Weingut Pfeffel to guest. Located just outside of Dürnstein, its rooms offer the ideal place to relax after our hikes and sightseeing. The spa area with its terrace is always a highlight. From there we have a beautiful view of Dürnstein and can end the day relaxing.
Questions and answers about Dürnstein in the Wachau
Who was imprisoned in Dürnstein in the Wachau?
The most famous prisoner in Dürnstein Castle was Richard the Lionheart. Duke Leopold V held him there until the English paid the ransom demanded.
How high is the Dürnstein?
The hill behind the town on which the castle stands is 209 meters high.
In which district is Dürnstein in the Wachau?
The town of Dürnstein is located in the Wachau in the Waldviertel region of Lower Austria.
Have you already been to Dürnstein?
Then report about your experiences in the comments. Maybe you discovered something new? Can you recommend anything in particular? Other travelers will appreciate your tips.
Travel organization and pPractical travel tips for Dürnstein in the Wachau:
Parking at the airport
Travel to Dürnstein in der Wachau by plane, public transport or car
Arrival by plane, bus or train* The nearest airport is Vienna Schwechat. From there you can travel, for example, by rental car or public transport. There are train stations in Krems and Melk.
The Wachaubahn also runs from April to October: Information about this
Accommodation in Dürnstein in the Wachau:
Wachau Travel Guide:
In high season it can be difficult to find parking. However, there are several parking spaces around the city, most of which are chargeable.
The best time to travel is from April to October. During these months you can enjoy most outdoor activities.
Opening hours in Dürnstein in der Wachau
Many attractions and shops have restricted opening hours in the low season. Find out beforehand to avoid disappointment.
Plan your activities in advance, especially if you want to take guided tours. These are often fully booked quickly.
Dürnstein is a tourist destination and prices can be slightly higher. A budget plan can be helpful.
If you want to take a souvenir with you, Wachau apricot products or local wines are always a good choice.
Do you also know:
- Wachau vacation on the Danube
- Experience the Wachau: A boat trip full of breathtaking views
- Experience the Wachau in autumn
- Enjoy Hotel Pfeffel in the Wachau
- Weinviertel Austria
- Learn to cook Austrian food
Source: own research on site as well as press trips with Kloösterreich. However, as always, our opinions remain our own.
Text: © Copyright Monika Fuchs and TravelWorldOnline
Photos: © Copyright Monika Fuchs and TravelWorldOnline