Dürnstein is a small town of less than 1,000 people. It's located
in the scenic Wachau Valley of the Danube River between Krems and Melk.
The castle above the town (Burgruine Durnstein) is now in ruin. In
the 1100s the castle was used by Leopold V, Duke of Austria to hold King
Richard I of England for ransom on his return from the Crusades.
Legend says that King Richard, also known as Richard the Lionhearted,
wandered freely about the small town while he waited for his ransom to be
paid. The castle was destroyed in the 1600s by the Swedes. Dürnstein
is a traditional wine growing area. Tourism has had a
major impact on summer revenues, because the river cruise industry has
made it one of their regular stops on the Danube.
Durnstein's climate is similar to Vienna's. It is influenced by the
rolling hills north of the Alps and by the secluded vegetation of the
Danube along the Wachau Valley. June -
August has average highs of 75 F (24 C) and lows of 60 F (15C).
Precipitation is light and spread evenly throughout the year. Snow
falls from November to March and average lows are a few degrees below
freezing during the winter.
The Austrian Rail
System (OBB) offers many ticket options for rail transport to Dürnstein. In addition
to participating in Eurail passes, Austria also has an Einfach-Raus ticket
that offers single day rates for small groups, similar to the Bayern
Ticket in Germany. Vienna is about two hours away from Dürnstein by train. A
vehicle rented from the Vienna International Airport provides another
option to access the area. The highway and the train both run
through separate tunnels underneath the town. Dürnstein is a standard stop on Danube River
cruises and is in the middle section of the Wachau Valley. The DDSG
Danube Blue and Brandner
cruise the Wachau on a daily basis to Dürnstein from
either Krems or Melk.
Durnstein and the Wachau Valley of the Danube
Attractions in Dürnstein:
Things to see and do:
Visit the Durnstein Abbey (Stift Dürnstein) and listen to an organ concert.
The Abbey was established in 1400s and rebuilt in the 1700s.
Take a short stroll down the main pedestrian-only shopping lane. It only
takes a few minutes to walk the entire length of the town.
Climb up to the Burgruine Durnstein. This castle ruin is said
to be the location where Richard the Lionhearted was held for ransom.
The trail up is clearly marked.
Take a cruise from Dürnstein through the UNESCO Wachau Cultural
Landscape and visit Melk Abbey. It's easy to combine a visit to Melk
and Dürnstein on the same day. The DDSG
Danube Blue and Brandner
both cruise the Wachau on a daily basis. Take the riverboat one
direction and the train the other.
Travel by car downstream on the Danube to the first bridge.
Then cross and travel about 10 minutes uphill to Gottweig
Gottweig), overlooking Krems and the valley. This
Benedictine Monastery and World Heritage site may be a better option
than the Melk Abbey. It is a comparable experience but with
fewer tourists, since it is not accessible to the daily hordes of river
cruise passengers. It includes a museum, a restaurant and lovely
views of the Wachau Valley.