AN AUSTRIAN WINE COUNTRY ROAD TRIP
The alpine jewel of Austria is often overlooked by traveling wine connoisseurs, who book their trip planning to visit the river valleys of Burgundy, in France. But if you’re looking for one of the most scenic drives and the opportunity to experience Austrian wine country by car, then this charming itinerary from Auto Europe will reward you with some of the world’s finest wine, dining, and panoramic alpine views.
We highly recommend this driving tour of the best wineries in Austria. We suggest adding an additional driver to your rental car and switching off between designated drivers so that everyone in your party can have a chance to taste Austrian wine. On this route, you’ll enjoy stops in Vienna, Krems, Styria, Graz, and Burgenland. On this Austria wine country itinerary, you will encounter idyllic, terraced vineyards in the Wachau valley, and sun-drenched Pannonian plains tracing the banks of the iconic Danube.
ARRIVE IN VIENNA & EXPLORE AUSTRIA’S JEWEL
After you arrive in Vienna, pick up your rental car at the VIE airport terminal and make your way to your hotel to check-in. We’ve allowed for either one or two days exploring Vienna and the surrounding countryside, which is filled with some amazing Austrian wineries and wine tours. You can choose to extend your trip a day or two if you’d like to spend more time exploring the city of Vienna and recovering from your flight, or you can hit the road immediately. It’s up to you!
Vienna is Austria’s wine capital, and it has the unique status of being the only world capital with significant wine production taking place within its city limits. The culinary and cultural renaissance happening in Vienna is exciting to wine lovers and foodies, which is why we’ve built time into our Austria wine country itinerary to allow you to linger in and explore this dynamic city.
A few stops we recommend while exploring Vienna are a walking tour of Naschmarkt (an international outdoor market which has drawn crowds for nearly 500 years!), an evening taking in a show at the world-renowned Vienna State Opera and a morning stroll through the MuseumsQuartier for your daily dose of Vienna’s unique culture and climate.
Some of our favorite wineries in Vienna are Weingut am Reisenberg (offering fantastic views of Vienna from its hilltop location), Buschenschank Hajszan (nestled among vineyards on Nussberg hill), and Buschenschank Worseg (a perfect choice after working up an appetite – their wine comes with a buffet!).
NEXT STOP: 2 HOURS & 13 MINUTES
2. DRIVE WEST ALONG THE DANUBE TO KREMS
From Austria, pilot your Vienna car rental west toward Krems. This drive 2+ hour drive will treat you to stunning views of rural Austria as you hug the banks of the iconic Danube river. Glide through the Wachau valley where you’ll cruise through idyllic, terraced vineyards. If you stop for a walking tour of these ancient vineyards you may be treated to a memorable encounter with an emerald-scaled Smaragd lizard – the mascot of the richest and most intensely flavored wines of the Wachau Valley.
The Wachau Valley is one of Austria’s most fascinating wine-growing areas and has been named a world heritage site by UNESCO. This narrow Danube valley between Melk and Krems offers 1,400 hectares of tidy, historic vineyards housed on steep terraces that sweep into the crystal waters of the Danube.
This drive is beautiful, and we recommend budgeting time for stops along the way to Krems to explore on foot or turn into tantalizing vineyards for a tasting or for lunch.
Once you arrive in Krems you’ll note the close link to wine culture and heritage. Old harvest estates abound in Krems, a testament to Austrian wine culture and the great viticultural tradition of the region. Krems is also home to the well-known Lower Austria Wine Fair. Be sure to visit the acclaimed Winzer Krems winery during your stay, and you’re your evening drinks at Weingut Stadt Krems, a classy wine bar in the city.
NEXT STOP: 1 HOUR & 32 MINUTES
3. SOUTH ON THE A9 TOWARD STYRIA, AUSTRIA
Sauvignon Blanc, the Styrian wine region’s signature grape, awaits you as you turn south from Krems along the A9. This gorgeous hilly region will treat the palate of visitors to crisp, elegant wines, and each of the three sub-regions within Styria offers specialized wines.
Schilcher Rose, a beautiful expression of the shale terroir is dominant in the west, offering a spicy twist on the fresh flavors of the region, and the Sausal region along the South Styrian Wine Road (recommended), is renowned for aromatic Sauvignon Blanc and Gelber Muskateller varietals.
We recommend taking the South Styrian Wine Road in the late morning or early afternoon, enjoying a few glasses of Sauvignon Blanc with a fresh lunch of fowl or fish and salad. The ripe red currant, white pepper, and lime notes of this region are sure to enhance light, fresh local dishes.
Finally, Vulkanland (south-eastern Styria) offers a true one-of-a-kind terroir, as the vineyards are planted on the remains of volcanic activity and the Traminer produced here will cause connoisseurs to swoon. There’s nothing else quite like it!
NEXT STOP: 1 HOUR & 23 MINUTES
4. SOUTHEAST TO GRAZ, AUSTRIA
The S36 will take you on a scenic, one and a half-hour drive southeast of the Graz Airport, a city where we recommend spending the day touring castles and museums – a nice way to clear your head before heading to the tantalizing wineries of Burgenland.
Schloss Eggenberg is a stunning castle where you can (and should) book a private tour. It’s known as the most significant Baroque palace complex in Styria, and it’s a beautiful structure where you’ll want to have a camera at-the-ready. The northern corner of the palace grounds is home to a planetary garden and lapidarium of Roman stonework. There’s also an archaeological museum here, and the palace itself houses a wonderful collection of medieval artwork and pieces which span the full five centuries of European art history.
The Universalmuseum Joanneum’s artist’s house in Graz is an amazing venue for touring some of Austria’s most exciting modern art.
For dinner, try El Gaucho for something different – it’s a top-reviewed steakhouse which is a great place to chow down and fuel up for the next leg of your journey.
NEXT STOP: 1 HOUR & 12 MINUTES
5. ONWARD TO BURGENLAND ON YOUR AUSTRIAN WINE COUNTRY TOUR
While rugged alpine views flank Austria in the west, Burgenland in the easternmost corner of Austria offers a unique opportunity to enjoy the sun-drenched Pannonian plain – the most iconic landscape of central Europe.
While driving the Burgenland region in your Austrian rental car, the horizon will stretch out before you across the plains, and when a massive body of water appears don’t be alarmed – you haven’t taken a wrong turn toward the Adriatic: that’s Neusiedlersee, a beautiful lake in the state of Burgenland. You’ve arrived!
If you have sweet tooth and have never tasted excellent dessert wines, the lakeside vineyards on the banks of Neusiedlersee may be your new favorite place on earth. Burgenland receives nearly 300 days a year of full sun, and the shallow lake moderates the warm climate here with the daily mist coming off the water to cool the vines, making the region ideally suited to the sweet dessert varietals and wine-making process.
If sweet wines aren’t your thing, don’t worry! Blaufrankisch is also popular here, and it’s a perfectly paired wine for a hearty plate of spicy barbeque at one of Burgenland’s trendy restaurants.
What’s most exciting about spending a day (or two if you choose to extend your trip) in Burgenland, is the unique and beautiful architecture popular in many of this region’s lakeside wineries. You’ll find steel-skinned additions perched atop ancient cellars, and glass-walled tasting rooms jutting from gentle hillsides toward the lake.
NEXT STOP: 1 HOUR & 41 MINUTES
6. RETURN TO VIENNA TO CONCLUDE YOUR AUSTRIA WINE COUNTRY ROAD TRIP
The final leg of your road trip takes you north from Burgenland to Vienna’s international airport for your return flight. This is a charming drive – it takes less than two hours by car and offers beautiful views of the vast Pannonian plain as you return to the beautiful capital city of Vienna.
While this tour of the best wineries in Austria can be completed in 4 or 5 days, we encourage you to plan for at least a week for this drive-through Austria’s wine country. Touring in a rental car and leaving yourself with extra, unscheduled, time will allow you to take unplanned detours, or to get lost for an afternoon, driving west to visit the Alpine villages which are just a few hours away. When you’re ready to drive to discover Austria, trust Auto Europe to book your rental car at the best available rates.