Spotlight on Krems and Stein, Austria

Posted by Hannah Zweifler on Sep 18, 2013 4:30:07 AM

A short day trip from Vienna, two historic towns that, in time and place, take visitors far, far away

Just an hour train ride from Vienna, 64km west along the Danube River in the Wachau Valley, are the neighboring historic towns of Krems and Stein (in German: Krems und Stein an der Donau). These charming towns, famous for their impeccably maintained baroque architecture, though a short and easy trip from Vienna, whisk visitors away into an Austrian countryside setting that is, in short, fairytale-like.

The best way to enjoy Krems and Stein is simply to walk through the towns’ narrow and twisting cobblestoned streets while admiring the colorful and often ornate baroque homes lining them, which earned the towns their designation as UNESCO World Heritage sites in 2000. Though incorporated over a thousand years ago, Krems and Stein offer a mix of the old world and the new: pop into some of the old churches along your way, or enjoy the modern cafés and shops lining Krems’s main street.

For those eager to dine on traditional Austrian fare, these towns offer several options. Among them is Schwarze Kuchl in Krems, a quaint, country-style kitchen that makes traditional dishes on stoves right in the front of the restaurant. The schnitzel is top-notch. Because the area surrounding Krems and Stein is also a well-known wine region, tasting some of the locally made wines at one of Krems or Stein’s wine bars (known as Heurigen) or wineries is a must.

Perched immediately on the banks of the Danube, Krems and Stein offer wonderful views of the breathtaking scenery for which the Wachau Valley is famous. Some of the best views can be enjoyed from the pedestrian walkway on Krems’s bridge over the Danube. Boat cruises and bike rentals (trails line the river) offer alternative ways to enjoy the rolling, green landscape.

Art lovers will not be disappointed, either. Krems’s Art Mile (Kunstmeile Krems), which extends from Krems’s historic center to Stein’s, includes a variety of museums, exhibition spaces and performance venues, including the Weinstadt Museum, a former medieval cloister which now offers exhibits on local archeology, winemaking and the municipal art collection, the Kunsthalle, which offers a variety of modern and contemporary art exhibitions, and the Caricature Museum.

Together, Krems and Stein offer a worthwhile and picturesque reprieve from urban Vienna. While the towns will charm art and architecture lovers alike (and anyone with a penchant for quaint), Krems and Stein also serve as a convenient gateway to the region’s vineyards with its abundance of outdoor recreation. These quiet gems are not to be overlooked.

View from over the Danube

Photographs by Hannah Zweifler

Topics: Travel, Editorial, featured, Krems, Austria, Stein

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