Autumnal Hiking in the Wachau

BEAUTIFUL WALKS IN A UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE REGION.

It wasn’t merely the golden October colours, the pleasant walking temperatures or the newly harvested wine that lured me to come walking in the Autumnal Wachau. It was mainly the newly signposted route along the World Heritage Trail here! Some of the best signposted footpaths on both sides of the Danube were simply waiting to be explored. Every variant of the walk, every panoramic viewpoint, every summit and every view view tower was needing to be discovered, checked and hiked to. That meant that I wasn’t leisurely walking one stage at a time but was trekking from dawn til dusk and upstream as well as downstream. The sheer diversity in this region meant that I never got tired. Sometimes I was going along panoramic paths through vineyards via cosy forest tracks and other times up steep ascents where at the top great views were awaiting me… I could even climb some small peaks here.

Christina Keltenich
Christina Keltenich
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Unforgettable Walks in the Golden Autumn.

Along the route there are a large variety of castles and ruins, numerous monasteries and pilgrimage sites as well as medieval towns and Roman settlements. This meant that the walks were rich in culture! I had many entertaining journeys on nostalgic cable ferries that work with the current and use no electricity as well as rides on wooden boats upon which I crossed the blue river many times. My departure on the large Danube boat really made this trip unforgettable. This UNESCO region with its blue river is particularly wonderful in Autumn. This is when the Summer is over and the large groups of tourists are gone. But whilst these things no longer remain, what does remain is great - the charming colours of the vineyards and the forests, pleasantly mild temperatures and paths seemingly to oneself...

Culinary treats made out of regional produce.

The orchards are full of produce right now: apples, pears, plums and of course grapes… vitamins in all directions ready to be picked. In the Autumn, gourmets feel very welcome here! Apricots may no longer be able to be picked from the trees and you will no longer see fresh ones. However, all sorts of delicious products are made out of this small yellow fruit. Jam, liquor and fruit juice are the classics. But there are also lots of desserts such as pancakes, dumplings, strudel, cakes and compotes that are all sweetened with apricots from the Wachau. In Autumn you can get very hearty game dishes here and of course also the very traditional ‘Tafelspitz’, which is boiled veal or beef in broth, served with a mix of minced apples and horseradish. A little glass of wine on the side and all in all a marvellous evening.

Tip: Visit a Wine Tavern

It is well worth stopping off at a local wine tavern owned by one of the wineries. At the winegrowers’ snack stations they serve their own wine. What you can only get in Autumn though is the so called ‘storm’. This is young, sweet wine that is fresh from the first grapes of the year. You can get this unfiltered and slightly alcoholic drink directly from the vineyards, from a wine tavern, or in the field. Make sure you take some change with you: often you go past self-service stalls where there is apricot jam, wine, ‘storm’, juice, apples… the Autumn really does bring the harvest of the fruit and the wine. Whilst elsewhere in the Alps the first onset of winter can cause difficulties for planned walks, this isn’t the case in the Wachau as the climate remains suitable for walking for much longer. Even when it is windy or raining I still enjoy these walks… and those who move don’t freeze! Once you then arrive at your accommodation, it always feels really cosy and the feeling is amazing after being outside all day. All that is then left is to go and really enjoy your dinner.

The Wachau is a great place for a walking holiday all year round.

Lots of tourists travel to the Wachau to just eat the food, explore the culture, drink wine and and for the flourishing of the apricots…. But Wachau has even more to offer than this for walkers! Walk the route that so many only know from their car: from Krems to Melk. By doing so you will always follow the lovely blue Danube river whilst exploring the beauty of this UNESCO region! The World Heritage Trail Wachau is truly charming. You just need to decide whether you want to go when the apricot trees are in full blossom, when the apricots are being harvested in the Summer or maybe when the wine is being harvested in Autumn....

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