Dürnstein is a small town in the Wachau in Austria, on the river Danube. Together with the neighbouring villages of Oberloiben and Unterloiben it is one of the main wine-producing centres of the region, and attracts nearly 1.7 million visitors annually.
Dürnstein derives its name from the ruined castle overlooking the town. The earliest historic records of the settlement date to the late 12th century, when Richard I of England was imprisoned in the castle by Leopold V, Duke of Austria, following the Third Crusade. Today the town is known primarily for its wine production and, along with the Wachau, as a popular tourist destination.
Dürnstein is just a few kilometres west of Krems and can be reached on the B3 regional highway, which follows the Danube River on its northern bank.
The NÖVOG Wachaubahn narrow-gauge railway line passes through 1 Dürnstein-Oberloiben Bahnhof on its way from Krems to Emmersdorf. It operates only on weekends and public holidays from April to October and daily in July, August and September. See the Wachaubahn website to look up train information online.
- 2 DDSG Blue Danube Schiffahrt GmbH (below the monastery), ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Operates several times daily; timetables and fares (listed at the bottom of the page) can be found here. Tickets can be purchased at any of the docking points, in Vienna, or online [dead link]. Bicycles (€2) and dogs (free) permitted on board.
- 3 Brandner, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Operates twice daily, also making a stop in Weißenkirchen. Timetables and fares can bee seen here. Tickets can be purchased online. Bicycles (€2) and dogs (free, muzzle and leash required) permitted on board.
- MS Stadt Wien, Donaulände 27 (Tulln), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Sundays. On Sundays from June through September the smaller company operates between Tulln and Dürnstein. Timetables can be found here.
VOR bus route WL1 operates roughly hourly between Krems and Melk via Dürnstein, with stops at each end of the road tunnel beneath the village. See the VOR website for timetables. A Wachau Ticket is available on buses for €10 (€5 for children) and offers unlimited travel on buses in the region for one day.
The best way to get around Dürnstein proper is undoubtedly by foot. To go to the neighbouring villages of Ober- or Unterloiben though you may want to have a pair of wheels.
Only residents with a special permit may park on the street in the centre of Dürnstein; visitors may park in private areas (for hotels and pensions) or at four car parks outside the centre: 2 P1, 3 P2, 4 P3, and 5 P6. Paid parking is required from 08:00-19:00: €1.50 (1 hr), €3 (2 hr), €4 (entire day).
- Nextbike, ☏ (hotline). After registration (online or by mobile), pick up a bicycle at any Nextbike location, and drop it off at the same or any other Nextbike spot. A map of pickup and drop-off points can be found here (click 'Wachau' for Dürnstein); a brochure for the Wachau region is available for download. €1/hr, €10/day.
- 1 Burgruine Dürnstein (Dürnstein Castle Ruins) (access by footpath only). All hours. Built in the 12th century, the castle is best known for being the prison of King Richard the Lionhearted of England from December 1192 to March 1193, after he was captured by Austrian Duke Leopold V while returning from the Third Crusade. In 1635, toward the end of the Thirty Years' War, the Swedes captured the castle and later destroyed the outer gate. After serving as a refuge during the Austro-Turkish War a couple decades later, it was abandoned and fell into disrepair. In the late 17th century the castle was purchased by an Austrian noble family, which still owns it. Free.
- 2 [dead link] Stift Dürnstein (Dürnstein Monastery), Dürnstein 1, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Apr-Oct: M-F 09:00-18:00, Su and holidays 10:00-18:00; last admission at 17:30; Nov-Mar: guided visits on Su only in groups of 20 or more. The former monastery was founded in 1410, and forcibly closed in 1788 by order of Emperor Joseph II. It is today managed by a consortium of several Augustine monastic orders, and its distinctive blue and white bell tower is considered to be an icon of the Wachau region. Independent visitors can access the courtyard, church, and main terrace. Guided tours (in German, English, and French) also allow access to the crypt and the cloister; tours take place every Sunday at 12:00 or at other times if booked in advance, and last about an hour. Without guide: €3.50 (adults), €2.60 (students), €1.50 (children 6-14); with guide: €6 (adults), €3.50 (students), €3 (children 6-14).
- 3 Kunigundenkirche (St. Kunigunde Church). The former parish church is the oldest church in Dürnstein and dates from 1200. In 1783 most of the church was rebuilt, but the original tower and sacristy remain.
- 1 Kuenringerbad, Donaulände 36 (Oberloiben), ☏ . Daily 09:00-19:00 (in good weather). The outdoor natural swimming pool is fully maintained with biological means only and no chemicals. There is a children's section and an adult section, as well as a lawn for relaxing and sporting facilities. Full day: €4.50 (adults), €4 (concessions), €2.50 (children); half day (after 12:00): €3.50 (adults), €3 (concessions), €2 (children); loungers €2; parking free.
- 1 Bäckerei & Konfiserie Schmidl, Dürnstein 21, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Apr-Oct: M-Sa 07:00-18:00, Su and holidays 08:00-18:00; Nov-Mar: M-F 07:00-11:00, Sa 07:00-12:00. Operating since 1780, in 1905 this was the birthplace of the Wachauer Laberl, a wheat and rye sourdough roll which is commonly served in Heurigen. The well-known establishment has a small café serving various pastries and coffee, and also sells its own version of the local Marillenmarmelade (apricot jam).
- 2 Alter Klosterkeller, Anzuggasse 237, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Apr-Oct: M-F 15:00-, Sa Su and holidays 12:00-. Located in the former monastic cellar, with a nice garden overlooking both vineyards the Danube, the restaurant serves local dishes with local wine only (no beer). Reservations can be made online.
- 3 Weinschenke Altes Presshaus, Dürnstein 10, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Su 10:00-22:00, Tu-Sa 11:30-23:00. Located in an early 18th-century house close to the centre of town, this is a good place not only to sample the local wine but also regional cuisine, in a rustic atmosphere. Many dishes have creative twists on traditional specialties as well as more modern creations, all made from locally-sourced ingredients. Seating is available indoors as well as in a pleasant shaded courtyard.
- 4 Restaurant Loibnerhof, Unterloiben 7 (Unterloiben), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. W-Su 11:30-24:00, kitchen 11:30-21:00; open holidays. The family-run vineyard is especially known for Riesling and Grüner Veltliner, and has a well-known restaurant specialising in Wachauer cuisine. In the summer guests can dine outdoors in a large apple orchard. Reservations can be made online.
Dürnstein has an abundance of accommodation available. Along with a number of holiday apartments and smaller pensions, there are also four hotels. The city maintains a helpful online directory, which also allows reservations.
- 1 Camping Rossatz, Rossatzbach 21 (across the river in Rossatz), ☏ . Has 60 spaces for tents and caravans, located next to a swimming spot with excellent views of Dürnstein. Pets permitted.
- 2 Pension Altes Rathaus, Dürnstein 26 (at the back of the courtyard of the Altes Rathaus), ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Located in a 15th-century house behind the old city hall. This hotel has five simple but comfortable rooms, all with TVs and private terraces, as well as holiday apartments. There is also a lovely garden for guests. €29-36 (double), includes breakfast.
- 3 Hotel Richard Löwenherz (Hotel Richard Lionheart), Dürnstein 8, ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. Check-in: 15:00-19:00, check-out: 07:00-11:00. The hotel offers 39 rooms, suites and apartments. Nonsmoking rooms available, pets permitted, free Wi-fi and outdoor pool. A gourmet restaurant, awarded one toque by Gault Millau, is located onsite. €122+.
- 4 Hotel Schloss Dürnstein, Dürnstein 2, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 15:00-24:00, check-out: 05:00-11:00. The former castle now houses a five-star hotel, open April through October. Facilities include indoor and outdoor pools, fitness centre, free bicycles, as well as an onsite restaurant and gift shop. Pets permitted, free Wi-Fi throughout, free parking. From €143 single, €188 double; rates include breakfast.