The town of Dürnstein, in Lower Austria, is known for its vineyards and the (ruined) castle where Richard the Lionheart was kept prisoner after he was captured in 1192, on his way back from the Holy Land after the Third Crusade.
More than 800 years later, Dürnstein is one of the best day-trips from Vienna. You can reach this charming village easily with public transport in just 1.5 hours, most of it by a direct train. Take your time, hike up to the castle ruins and make sure to drink a glass of local wine at some point! ????
Best option for solo travelers: VOR One-Way Ticket*
Best option for groups of 2-5 persons: Einfach-Raus-Ticket
* If already in possession of a time-based ticket for Vienna; otherwise, even alone, the Einfach-Raus-Ticket turns out cheaper.
There are hourly connections between Vienna and Krems an der Donau, the closest you’ll reach with direct rail services to Dürnstein. The route starts at the Franz-Josefs-Bahnhof — which is not really well connected — but you can also catch it on Spittelau (U4/U6) or Heiligenstadt (U4).
If you are traveling alone and already have a time-based ticket for Vienna, make sure to add this as a discount on the check-out at ÖBB. In this case, the VOR One-Way Ticket costs €16.60 each way, valid for an uninterrupted journey on the selected section and route. [Purchase online] by filling out the origin “Wien” and destination “Krems/Donau Bahnhof” on the screen below:
However, if you don’t have any previous ticket, each one-way ticket would cost €19, making the Einfach-Raus-Ticket a more economical option even for a solo traveler, and it’s valid for any number of trips on the regional trains on the selected day. Prices start at €35 for 2 persons, with an additional €4 for each extra passenger, up to a limit of 5.
If you would like to bring a bicycle with you onboard, you can purchase the Einfach-Raus-Radticket. Prices start at €44 for 2 persons, also increasing progressively by €4 for each extra passenger, up to a limit of 5.
ARRIVING in Krems an der Donau
As soon as you leave the station, turn to your left and you will see the local buses parked. You’ll catch the WL1 at platform C. The bus departure is synchronized with the train arrival and there’s a 4-minute interval between them. If you miss it, you’ll have to find private transportation or wait for another hour.
Due to Covid-protocols, you cannot purchase the ticket from the driver anymore. The good news is that you can easily buy it on the ÖBB platforms, even if the bus is operated by a local company. I highly suggest using the app [iOS/Android], especially if you don’t know what time you’ll wish to ride back to Krems.
It’s a 17-minute journey from Krems/Donau Bahnhof to the 9th stop, Dürnstein/Wachau Parkplatz P2.
ARRIVING in Dürnstein
The bus will leave you 240m from Kremser Tor, the gate to the historical center. Don’t try to cross the busy road, there’s an underground passageway.
EXPLORING THE TOWN
Exploring Dürnstein is easily done on foot since the historical center and even the docks for day-cruises are all within easy walking distance.
Find on the map below the most relevant points of interest and follow the pins for further information.
HIKING UP TO THE DÜRNSTEIN CASTLE RUINS
Beyond the idyllic setting in the middle of sprawling vineyards, the main point of interest here is the Dürnstein Castle Ruins. It is located 320m above ground, with scenic views over the town and Danube river.
We chose to have a picnic in Dürnstein and save ourselves for dinner at the Höfbrauhaus in Krems. But I did research and next time I visit, I will definitely go to Alter Klosterkeller, for the yummy-looking Austrian classic dishes and picturesque location.
I highly recommend that you walk at least part of the way back to Krems. As well as walking through the vineyards, you also have a beautiful view of Göttweig Abbey, which I will try to visit soon 🙂 You can catch the bus at the Unterloiben Rothenhof stop, just pay attention to the schedule, since it runs hourly.
If you’ve never been, I hope this post has inspired you to plan a day-trip to picture-perfect Dürnstein. If you’ve already been, how did you find it? What was your favorite part? Any other tips?
Comment below and let me know!