World Heritage Travel in Winter: From Wachau to Salzburg

“What is this up there?”, Ana asks me and points to a beautiful jutty right inside the old town of Krems. “Yes, ah, … that right?!” Once again, it hits me: What is it with us travellers that we are always keen and motivated to discover something new, foreign, remote (see my trip to Ushuaia in Patagonia or me missing New Zealand!) and yet, we do not know (to appreciate) what is in front of our doorstep. To be honest with you, I have never even “seen” that particular jutty Ana has spotted here in Krems. Personally, I put it down to the colourful Benetton store situated right underneath it. 😀

So here I am, met with the “challenge” of entertaining my dear friends from Spain who have  come to experience a very Austrian Christmas & New Year. Being the unofficial travel guide, I of course know where to take them (Göttweig & Melk Abbeys, the Wachau valley as well as Vienna & Salzburg are eligible “evergreens” on any short holiday in this area) – but more details are certainly contained in Ana’s travel guide about Austria – especially in Spanish.

Mit diesen lustigen & vor allem temperamentvollen Südländern verbringe ich meine Weihnacht & Neujahr 2013/2014. I like ;)

I am fortunate enough to spend my Christmas & New Year with this happy folk from Southern Spain. It is wonderful to get to see one’s own “doorstep” through the eyes of admiring visitors.


Gleich zu Beginn führt uns der Weg quasi gegenüber meiner Wohnung in Krems: Blick auf das imposante Stift Göttweig am Tor zur Wachau Welterbelandschaft.

Right at the beginning, we explore something I almost get to see each day from the windows of my apartment in Krems: The mighty Abbey of Göttweig towering on a hill across the Danube river.


Vorteil eines ruhigen Morgenspaziergang: Bank & Aussicht gehören Dir ganz allein!

The advantage of an early morning stroll: View & peace have entirely been reserved for you.


Dürnstein & Melk Abbey count among the most famous travel destinations in the whole of Austria. Almost one and a half million visitors (!) per year travel to these two single spots alone, situated right inside the Wachau World Heritage cultural landscape.

As a resident being used to the mass tourism that befalls the wine town of Dürnstein in the Wachau during the season from April to October, I enjoy an unusual moment of peace & quiet when walking through the old town at this time of year. On the other hand side, the large volume of (international) visitors) makes for guided tours at Melk Abbey being offered in Spanish each and every day. “We have a Spanish travel group here from Vienna each day”, is what the friendly lady at the counter tells us and smiles. “You are more than welcome to join!”

Done then – visiting Melk Abbey in Spanish is a first-timer even for me, and so I really enjoy the visit alongside my travel companions. “Vámonos entonces, muchachos!”

Vor dem Stiftsbesuch noch eine Runde chillen: Spanier auf der Suche nach Sonnenschein in Niederösterreich.

Spaniards looking for sunshine in Lower Austria.


Unterwegs entdecken wir so manch heitere Details, wie dieses Hydrantenmännchen in Dürnstein mit Blick auf die Donau.

On the road, we discover many a fascinating detail about the local surroundings, such as this “fella” in Dürnstein.


Dürnstein ist ein sehr berühmter Weinort, jawohl!

Dürnstein is a very famous wine town, and wine meets us everywhere we go – even here upon entering the city through its medieval gates. Sadly enough, though, all bottles are empty … Too  bad!


Das Stift Melk beeindruckt uns auch (oder gerade) im Winter mit seiner ganzen Pracht.

Melk Abbey continues to enthral us even – or especially – during winter.


Im Garten des Stiftes finden während der Saison regelmäßig Führungen statt.

The abbey park is home to a number of different guided tours during the spring, summer and autumn seasons.


Modernes Detail der antiken Barockfassade des Stiftes beim Überqueren des Innenhofes.

Modern detail in the Baroque facade of the historical abbey.


Einer der prachtvollsten Säle des Stiftes ist sicherlich der Kaisersaal, welcher einzig für den Besuch des österreichischen Kaiser derart ausgebaut und geschmückt wurde.

One of the most magnificent rooms of the entire visit to Melk Abbey is the Imperial Hall that has only been decorated to accommodate one (!) single visit of the Austrian Emperor at the time. We still continue to enjoy it today … the Spaniards are amazed!


Im Licht der untergehenden Sonne genießen wir den Abgang ...

Sun sets and sends its very own magical light our way …


… über eine der 10 schönsten Treppen Österreichs: In der Tat beeindrucken mich Farben & Formen des Stiegenhauses von der Bibliothek des Stiftes in die Stiftskirche sehr.

… and down into the abbey church via one of “Austria’s top ten staircases”: Indeed the display of painted colours and details make it worthwhile of such an award.


Abschließend besuchen wir selbstverständlich einen typischen Wachauer Heurigen, hier bei der Familie Höfinger in Spitz (sehr zu empfehlen!): Diese Art "österreichischer Tapas-Bar" muss einfach ein jeder Besucher der Weinregionen hier erlebt und genossen haben!

Finally, we of course had to visit a typical “Heuriger”: This kind of local Tapas bar cannot be missed on any visit to the Austrian wine regions. Here, we stop at the Heuriger of the Höfinger family in Spitz an der Donau – really worth the visit for the quality of food we’ve enjoyed!


Besides visiting the World Heritage city Salzburg, I really recommend you to take a walk across its Kapuzinerberg hill. Magic vistas & pure nature are what you get!

I have already been fortunate enough to enjoy the beauty of Salzburg many times over, such as during the Austrian Travel Bloggers Meet-up, my trip to a string puppet theatre and the Hohensalzburg Fortress as well as during our creative beer making workshop. This time, however, instead of leading my visitors the usual way towards old town & fortress, Ana’s travel guide decided otherwise. I will never forget the beauty of this sunny winter walk across Kapuzinerberg hill in Salzburg !! Pure nature, quiet forest landscapes and views all over town and across the Alpine upland is what you get from here. Such moments of peace make it easy to forget the hustle & bustle of an otherwise very busy Austrian town, marked by the likes of delighted Asian visitors carrying enormous photo cameras. What a sight! It is beautiful, here, really – I do suggest you come and see it for yourself!

Blick Richtung Alpen vom Kapuzinerberg in Salzburg: Einfach wunderschön ist es "hier oben".!

View towards the Alps from Kapuzinerberg hill in Salzburg:  The little climb is definitely worth the effort!


Auch die Festung Hohensalzburg hat man von hier aus fest "im Griff".

Look how wonderful the Hohensalzburg fortress comes across from up here.


Die Spanier erleben auf selbiger am liebsten Abenteuer und - Schlittenfahrten. Muss am ringsum ausgeschenkten Glühwein liegen!

At the very fortress, the Spaniards flock to the sleighs on display there, having just too much fun … Must be the Glühwein hot Austrian wine available in the vicinity!


Die Stadt Salzburg liegt uns von hier aus zauberhaft zu Füßen.

The city of Salzburg lies majestically at our feet in the pale light of winter dawn. Even during the cold season, it is worth coming up to and walking around the fortress: The exhibition is interesting, and after all hot drinks & sweet chestnuts are served everywhere.

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