Dürnstein Abbey
Dürnstein Abbey / iStock.com / Freeartist
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Monastery at Dürnstein Abbey
Monastery at Dürnstein Abbey / iStock.com / studali
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Traditional dolls
Traditional dolls / iStock.com / barbFoto
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Wachau World Heritage Trail
Wachau World Heritage Trail / iStock.com / Bruno_il_segretario
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Dürnstein, Austria
Port
Deal Expert / Travel Blogger

Small river boats glide up the Danube to this tiny 15th-century Austrian town, home to just 1,000 residents. The first sign you’ve arrived is the bright white and blue Stiftskirche, an imposing baroque-style church overlooking the river. Here is the center of the Wachau wine region, and the cobblestoned Hauptstrasse (the main street) is lined with bars and cafés to savor a crisp Riesling, the area specialty. It’s a welcome drink after a trek to the castle where King Richard the Lionheart was imprisoned in 1192. Most stops are a half-day, plenty of time to experience the town’s treasures.

What We Love

The View: After exploring the Stiftskirche, climb 500 feet up to the castle ruins. The sweeping vista is the best perch to gaze upon Dürnstein and the Danube.

Bike Tours: Walking excursions are popular (especially during the October harvest season). Ships tend to dock in the morning for early guided strolls. For a more adventurous excursion, take a riverside bike ride from Dürnstein to historic Melk (20 miles away), where you can meet up with the ship.

Best Known For

All Apricot Everything: The Wachau region is renowned for white wine and sweet apricots. The revered fruit is found in all forms from simple jams and delicate dumplings to brandy and schnapps.

Who It's Best For

Wine Lovers: Despite the city’s name — translated it means “dry castle” — white wines, especially Grüner Veltliner and Reisling, flow freely here and are highly regarded for their quality. Plan on bringing back a bottle or two.

Walkers: The town is small enough to throughly enjoy its splendor on a guided or solo walking tour. Wear sturdy shoes, cobblestoned streets lead to some narrow paths and loads of hills. The scenery is a bonanza for over-posting on Instagram. Note: The path leading to the castle is steep, and parts of it rocky.

Don't Say We Didn't Warn You

Seasonal Crowds: During the early summer and fall harvest season, Dürnstein morphs from a quiet town to a crowded mini-city. Hundreds of river cruise passengers and Vienna day-trippers change the whole vibe. Patience is key.

Low River Flow: The Danube has had bouts of low water, resulting in some cruise lines canceling sailings or converting to a bus tour. Consider travel insurance.

Chanize Thorpe
Deal Expert / Travel Blogger