Top Travel Days of 2022, Biking the Wachau Wine Region of Austria

Every day on our Backroads Danube River Cruise this September could have easily made it on this list, from biking high atop a ridge in Germany’s rural Bavaria region to riding from capital city to capital city, Vienna to Bratislava. But Day Four on the itinerary certainly stands out. It started with a short 13-mile warm up along the river on bike trails. Then it was off to see the impressive Melk Abbey perched on a hill atop the small town, looking more like a palace with its large courtyards, countless rooms, and vast book collection in the library.

The 23-mile afternoon ride was arguably the best of the trip, along the Danube in the heart of the Wachau wine region of Austria. Leaving Melk, terraces started to rise along the river, soon joined by the stone ramparts of forgotten castles. The ridges only got higher and soon small towns dotted the shoreline with their ubiquitous steeples piercing the clouds above. It was hard to bike because you wanted to stop repeatedly to take another photo better than the last.

It started to drizzle when taking a short ferry across the river. Soon we were biking straight through the vineyards, looking at the vines overflowing with fat grapes. We arrived in the small Medieval town of Durnstein, where we relaxed outdoors overlooking the vineyards at Alter Kloster Keller. We wisely chose to grab a bottle of their local Gruner Veltliner and an oversized charcuterie plate packed with local pates, sausages, hams, and cheeses. Perhaps we lingered a bit too long because when we got back on our bikes, the clouds were ominous and it started to pour. Five miles later, we arrived back at the boat drenched, only to find our fearless trip leader, Malcolm, hosting a party under a tent in a torrential downpour for all of us wet bikers. We drank shots of schnaps and glasses of Riesling while listening to a soundtrack that featured, “It’s Raining Men.” Memorable!