Highlights of this hike include the historic castle ruins of Dürnstein, the Fesslhütte mountain hut, the Kanzel viewpoint, and the partially secured Vogelbergsteig trail.
For a longer hiking excursion, you can combine the Vogelbergsteig with the Dürnstein to Krems Vineyard Walk.
Vogelbergsteig Trail in Dürnstein
- Trailhead: Dürnstein, Wachau, Lower Austria
- Paid Parking: P2 Car Park | Google Maps
- Distance: 6.7 km circuit
- Time Needed: 2:45 hours
- Elevation Gain/Loss: 424 meters
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Minimum Elevation: 203 meters
- Maximum Elevation: 563 meters
- Route: Dürnstein Altstadt – Burgruine Dürnstein – Starhembergwarte – Fesslhütte – Kanzel – Vogelbergsteig – Dürnstein Altstadt
- When to Hike: This trail is open all year round, except when there’s snow, or ice.
- Where to Stay in Dürnstein: Bioweingut Schmidl (midrange), Hotel Schloss Dürnstein (luxury), or Hotel Richard Löwenherz (luxury)
- Where to Stay in Krems: Gästehaus auf der Kunstmeile (budget), Hotel Unter Den Linden (midrange), Klinglhuber Suites (midrange-luxury)
- Recommended Trail Map: WK 0071 Wachau 1:50 000 (Freytag + Berndt)
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Vogelbergsteig Hiking Map
How to Get to Dürnstein
Dürnstein is a historic village on the Danube River. It’s located along the Donau Bundesstrasse between Krems an der Donau and Weißenkirchen in der Wachau.
The best place to park in Dürnstein is the paid P2 car park, just outside the old town.
Dürnstein P2 Car Park
Location | Google Maps
Fee | 6 EUR / day
Payment | Cards, cash, or the EasyPark app
Vienna to Krems by Train
Take a direct REX Train from Wien Franz Josefs Bahnhof, Wien Spittelau or Wien Heiligenstadt to Krems. It takes around one hour to reach Krems. The ride costs about 20 EUR (one way).
Krems to Dürnstein by Bus
When you arrive in Krems, take bus 715 to Dürnstein.
The bus station is just outside the train station.When you exit the train station, turn left and head to the bus station. Take bus 715 to Dürnstein/Wachau Parkplatz P2 (17 Minutes) in the direction of Melk Bahnhof. The bus ride costs 2.50 EUR per person. You can buy your ticket from the bus driver.
Vogelbergsteig Trail Description
Dürnstein P2 Car Park / Bus Stop to Dürnstein Castle Ruins (25 minutes)
Walk through the underpass to the old town of Dürnstein.
Shortly after the Kremser Tor gate, turn right to Burgruine Dürnstein, signed 20 minutes.
The Eselsteig (Donkey Trail) steadily ascends. Along the way, there are delightful views of the Danube and Dürnstein Abbey.
A series of steps bring you to the base of the Dürnstein castle ruins.
The castle was built in the mid 12th century. It’s a famous landmark, because King Richard the Lionheart was held prisoner here in 1192, after being captured on his way home from the Third Crusade.
Dürnstein Castle Ruins to Fesslhütte (40-50 minutes)
The path to Fesslhütte bypasses the castle ruins.
When the trail to the castle ruins branches off to the right, continue straight. Soon you’ll walk through a stone arch. Just beyond the arch, there’s a trail sign to Fesslhütte nailed to a tree.
Follow the green-white painted waymarks.
The trail leads through a mixed forest to a viewpoint overlooking the Danube and castle.
Continue ascending, passing some rock walls and rock towers.
At the next junction, you can either take the direct route to Fesslhütte (the left trail), or the indirect route via Starhembergwarte (the right trail).
We opted for the right path, following the green painted waymarks to Fesslhütte (signed 30 minutes). This path ascends to the Starhembergwarte lookout tower and then descends quickly to the Fesslhütte.
The Fesslhütte (524 meters) is open from mid-April until the end of October, Wednesdays through Sundays as well as holidays.
We had a great meal here.
Fesslhütte to Dürnsteiner Kanzel (15 minutes)
Follow various signs to Dürnsteiner Kanzel and Vogelbergsteig, marked with red-painted waymarks.
At the Vogelbergsteig/Kanzel junction, take the right path and detour to “Kanzel.”
Soon the trail divides. Take either one. The right path leads over Vogelberg and the left path skirts Vogelberg.
After the paths merge, the trail descends the wide ridge to the cliff edge.
The Kanzel viewpoint (521 meters) is a rock plateau with broad views of a Danube River bend, the Dunkelsteiner Wald (Dark Stone Forest), and the villages of Rossatz and Weissenkirchen.
Dürnsteiner Kanzel – Vogelbergsteig – Dürnstein (1 hour)
Return to the start of the Vogelbergsteig.
Follow the serpentines down the sparse forest, following the red painted waymarks and arrows.
The trail continues along the treeless flank of the Vogelberg. As you hike beneath the rock towers, the trail narrows and is secured with fixed cables.
Drop into the forest. Along the way, there are a few viewpoint detours.
A series of serpentines bring you down to the graben/valley floor.
When you reach level ground, turn right to Dürnstein.
Walk through a residential area and turn left to the old town. The quiet road leads past Hotel Schloss Dürnstein and into the Altstadt.
Follow the main road back to the Kremser Tor and return to the bus stop/car park.
Where to Stay
Midrange | Bioweingut Schmidl is a family-run, organic winery with a small guesthouse (3 spacious rooms), located just outside the historic town center of Dürnstein. They offer a bicycle rental service, breakfast (included), and wine tasting (upon request).
Luxury | Hotel Schloss Dürnstein is housed in a historic castle built in 1630, overlooking the Danube. This classic hotel features grand interiors, an excellent on-site restaurant, and a wellness area (two swimming pools and two saunas). Though this is a fine hotel overall, it does need some updates (e.g. bathrooms, air-conditioning). Breakfast is included. Book a room with a view of the Danube.
Luxury | Hotel Richard Löwenherz is a charming old-world hotel which commands a romantic view of the Danube. Stay here for the fairy tale setting, garden outdoor pool (not heated), and gourmet restaurant and terrace.
Krems an der Donau
Budget | Gästehaus auf der Kunstmeile is a guesthouse located on the Kunstmeile (Art Mile) in the old town of Stein, which is part of Krems, though 1.5 km from the city center. Cyclists love staying here.
Midrange | Hotel Unter Den Linden is a 5 minute-walk to the Steiner Gate and the Krems pedestrian zone. This lovely hotel offers modern and airy rooms with parquet floors and a delicious breakfast buffet.
Midrange-Luxury | Klinglhuber Suites is a top-rated, dog-friendly (12 EUR/day) accommodation in Krems, featuring spacious rooms with air-conditioning, Nespresso machines, mini-bars, and a seating area. Breakfast is included. Guests also have access to an outdoor pool.
Luxury | Boutique Gästehaus Guestel is a stylish holiday home in Krems with three bedrooms.
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Austria Trip Planning Essentials
When to Visit Austria
Summer and early Fall are our favorite seasons in Austria.
Getting around Austria
Austria has an excellent public transit system. We’ve used it extensively to travel throughout the country. We highly recommend using transit if you’re visiting cities (Vienna, Salzburg, Innsbruck, Graz, etc…), and/or doing hut-to-hut hikes.
Some areas like Mayrhofen, Schladming and Lech am Arlberg have wonderful seasonal transit systems in place (e.g. summer hiking buses). However, if you’re not visiting during the high season, bus frequencies are significantly reduced and it’s far easier to get around with your own vehicle.
If you’re planning on visiting multiple destinations across Austria, we recommend renting a car.
Use these road trip itineraries for trip planning inspiration:
- 2 Week Austria Road Trip – starting in Vienna
- 1 Week Austria Road Trip – starting in Salzburg or Munich
- 10-Day Bavarian Alps & Tyrolean Alps Road Trip – starting in Munich
We recommend using the Discovercars.com car rental reservation platform to search for and book car rentals. This easy-to-use booking platform compares car rental deals from 500+ trusted providers, so that you can choose the best option for your trip.
If you’re driving into Austria from a neighboring country, don’t forget to purchase a vignette at/near the border.
Hiking in Austria
Where to Hike in Austria
Read Austrian Alps Hiking Destinations for an overview of where to hike in Austria, with tips on specific trails and where to stay. Also check out Best Day Hikes in Austria and these region-specific hiking guides:
- Salzburg Hiking Guide
- Filzmoos, Salzburg Hiking Guide
- Schladming, Styria Hiking Guide
- Lech am Arlberg, Vorarlberg Hiking Guide
- Vorarlberg Hiking Guide
- Vienna Mountains Hiking Guide
Hut to Hut Hiking in Austria
Austria is a premier hut-to-hut and long-distance hiking destination. The quality of the mountain huts are superb. We particularly love the high-alpine trails, which are called Höhenwege in German. We’ve summarized our favorite multi-day hikes in Trekking Austria. If you’re new to hut hiking, read this in-depth guide to Hut to Hut Hiking in Austria.
- Day Pack: Osprey Tempest 30 Women’s Backpack / Osprey Talon 33 Men’s Backpack
- Grade B/C high-cut hiking boots: Meindl Schuhe Island Lady (Kati’s Boots), Women’s Hanwag Tatra II GTX (Sabrina’s Boots), Men’s Hanwag Tatra II GTX (men’s equivalent)
- CAT 4 Sunglasses: Julbo Shield Mountain Sunglasses
- Hiking Poles: Black Diamond Trail Trekking Poles
- Backpack Camera Clip: Peak Design Camera Clip
What to See & Do in Austria
- Visit a gorge like the Liechtenstein Gorge in Salzburg.
- Bathe in the thermal pools of an Austrian Therme like Aqua Dome in Tirol
- Stay in a thermal spa hotel like Rogner Bad Blumau (designed by Friedensreich Hundertwasser) in Styria, EurothermenResort Bad Ischl in Upper Austria, or the Aqua Dome Hotel in Tirol.
- Hike to a mountain lake like Lake Tappenkarsee in Salzburg or Lake Drachensee in Tirol.
- Go Wine Tasting in South Styria.
- Marvel at the culture, music, and architecture of Vienna.
- Eat heartwarming mountain food in an Almhütte at Grosser Ahornboden in Tirol or Ursprungalm in Styria.
- Drive the Grossglockner High Alpine Road in Hohe Tauern National Park.