A friend once asked us: What’s in Krems, Austria? Here are some of the things we discovered and enjoyed during our Danube River Cruise a couple of years ago.
What’s in Krems, Austria – Our Discovery
Not knowing much about Krems in the past, we had a minimal idea of how we will spend our stop there as part of the Romantic Danube River Cruise we took with Viking Tours. To prepare for that, we reviewed the information provided to us by Viking and did our separate research. We share in this post what we uncovered in the process.
Krems an der Donau
This city of around 24,000 inhabitants in Lower Austria’s federal state sits approximately 70 kilometers from Vienna and ranks the fifth largest. The existence of its own statute qualifies it as both a municipality and a district.
The fame of this city on the banks of the river Danube centers on the cobblestone streets of its Old Town (Altstadt), which have remained virtually unchanged since the 18th century. The Old Town consists of two sections, the Lower Old Town serving as an attractive pedestrian zone, and the upper Old Town up a steep hill housing the Renaissance Rathaus and one of the oldest parish churches in this part of Austria.
Besides its beautiful historic center, Krems also boasts several art institutions, numerous wine taverns, tasting rooms, and traditional Austrian restaurants. These surely make Krems a city worth visiting.
This 900-years old working Benedictine abbey lies on a hilltop overlooking the Wachau Valley around 9.1 kilometers from Krems. Benedictine monks live, work, and worship in this Baroque architecture masterpiece. The abbey owns many of the vineyards in the valley.
When you visit the abbey, a short film about monastic life and what it takes to run a monastery today welcomes you. The abbey’s museum, which chronicles its 900-year history as a center of religious life and its role as a monastic retreat, has a staircase with a spectacular ceiling fresco. It also showcases the abbey’s collection of splendid artworks. You will also find the abbey’s store/gift shop very convenient and rich with various products, including those from the renowned Wachau Valley apricots.
When you are heading upstream, Krems marks the beginning of the Wachau section of the Danube.
Wachau Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, represents a scenic stretch of the Danube Valley between Melk and Krems, a captivating landscape of high visual quality.
The Wachau Valley demonstrates how architecture (monasteries, castles, ruins), urban design (towns and villages), and agricultural use evolved since prehistoric times.
We got to see and enjoy the Wachau Valley from our riverboat as it cruised through this portion of the Danube River. However, you can also ride on an electric bike (e-bike) and follow the flat bicycle trails along the Danube and enjoy the breathtaking landscape of vine-clad hillsides and green meadows. An e-bike lets you choose between pedaling or have a comfortable ride by getting assistance from a small motor.
The Danube Cycle Path, a revolutionary international bicycle trail, begins in Passau, Germany, and follows the river’s course to the Danube Delta in Romania. The route through Austria is considered one of Europe’s top cycling experiences for its sweeping vistas.
Other Places to Explore in the Area
If you have more time to stay longer in the area, you can venture out to nearby cities in the region. Below are some places you can consider:
Dürnstein is a small town of just over 900 people best known for its grape growing, historic character, and a castle that imprisoned English King Richard the Lionheart. The town’s history stretches back to at least 1019.
Once the Habsburgs (one of the principal sovereign dynasties of Europe during the 15th to the 20th century) acquired the medieval Kuenring dynasty’s seat in 1356, the town served as an ideal location in the Middle Ages. The rocky, steep riverbanks protected against floods and allowed for fortification. Today, the Wachau Valley’s most romantic place sets itself as a popular destination for tourists exploring the area.
The extraordinary charm of the Austrian town of Melk along the River Danube of Vienna serves as an inviting proposition for any visitor either on a day trip from Vienna or as part of a Danube River Cruise.
Its fame centers on the 11th-century Melk Abbey, a vast monastery built high above the town and gold statuary on its domed Abbey Church. You can also view the Marmorsaal, a baroque hall with a ceiling fresco and red marble walls.
A stroll through the town’s streets provides you the opportunity to admire the beautiful architecture or sights such as the old post office, a house at the rock, and the Rathausplatz. Old town walls and their round towers allure all visitors of Melk.
Vienna, Austria’s capital, lies in the country’s east on the Danube River. The city’s history dates back to the first post-Christian century when the Romans established the military camp Vindobona. The abundance of Baroque buildings characterizes today’s cityscape.
Austria’s capital city offers residents and visitors a unique blend of imperial traditions and stunning modern architecture. Its famous residents included Mozart, Beethoven, and Sigmund Freud.
Besides its Imperial palaces and sights, Vienna’s fame also encompasses its cultural events, coffee houses, cozy wine taverns, and the unique Viennese charm. After Krems, our river cruise stops at Vienna, and we will cover that will a separate post.
Other things to know about Krems
How to get to Krems
If you are coming in by plane, Vienna International Airport, located approximately 80km away, is nearest to Krems. It also connects Vienna to all major cities in Europe and around the world.
You have four ways to get from Vienna to Krems an der Donau – by train, rideshare, taxi, or car. If you prefer to drive through the beautiful countryside, you can rent a car. Check this useful resource if you prefer to go to Krems via rental car.
When best to visit Krems
Krems location and relatively temperate weather make the city a perfect tourist destination the whole year-round.
- Summer: Comfortable high temperature makes it the busiest season for tourism in Krems an der Donau. So be prepared for a higher than the usual cost for lodging and other accommodations. Also, you will encounter the most precipitation.
- Winter: Warm weather travelers will find weather during this time of the year will be too cold. As such, tourism will be at its slowest.
- Spring and Autumn: Spring is the slowest for tourism, making it a good time for those looking for deals. Meanwhile, next to summer, autumn makes this season the second busiest in tourism, bringing hotel prices slightly up.
As we have shared in previous posts, we prefer to time our European vacations during shoulder months with less crowd and beautiful weather to enjoy the sights. As such, October has become a favorite month, and our Danube Cruise timing served us well.
Where to stay in Krems
Our riverboat provided our accommodation – one of the benefits of being on a cruise. We did not have to book one.
If you visit Krems, not through a river cruise, your accommodations options include hotels, apartments, bed & breakfast, hostels, or other budget accommodation facilities. You can book your accommodation online through any of the reliable online booking platforms available.
Most of the Danube river cruises stop at Krems. If you are part of such a cruise or are visiting separately, you will indeed find many things to see and do and make your stop worthwhile.
You can explore the city’s beautiful center, its various historical attractions and art institutions, numerous wine taverns, and traditional Austrian restaurants. You can also go for an excursion to the Göttweig Abbey or the Wachau Valley, on your own or in a group. If you have more time, you can also head out to other interesting Austrian towns or cities nearby.
So start planning for your visit to Krems or other parts of Austria. Check out the available resources below.
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