There is no correct answer to that but for practical reasons, I decided to list trail stages between Spitz and Krems goes backwards compared to most other sites, including official ones. I found it much more convenient to walk towards the closest exit train station so the return to Vienna would be shorter. The stages of the trail between Spitz and Melk are listed under the ‘correct’ direction for the same reason. People who are doing the whole Wachau World Heritage Trail will have to pardon me, the article is directed more for day or weekend hikers and not so much for trekkers.
The trail starts right at the heart of Spitz in der Kirchen Platz (eng. Church’s Square), and leads towards Rote Tore (eng. Red Gate). It is an easy climb for the spectacular views of the town and the surrounding vineyards.
Take right after Rote Tore and descend to the valley before climbing up again. The further road lies in a primaeval forest with a few openings for amazing vistas of Spitz and Danube. The trail is marked very well but it might get tricky from time to time. If you stop seeing trail marks consider yourself to be on the wrong trail. Follow the forest road until you reach vine terraces not too far from Woesendorf.
This section of the trail is relatively easy and straightforward. Just follow the road and enjoy the spectacular views of vineyard terraces and the Wachau Valley. There will be another loop into the forest but after that, your destination will just be in front of you. This stage of Wachau World Heritage Trail ends, or starts, in Weissenkirchen Marktplatz(eng. Market Square).
There are two viable direction options to get to the Wachau Valley from Vienna, both are good but depends on the destination.
The way to get to the Wachau Valley is either to take the REX train (Regional Express), running between Franz Joseph Bahnhof and Krems an der Donau, or the REX train navigating between Westbahnhof and Melk. Both options are good, your pick should depend on your destination. I would go to Melk if I wanted to reach any point between Melk and Spitz, and pick the train going to Krems if I wanted to go somewhere between Spitz and Krems an der Donau. Note that, after reaching any of the two train stations, you need to take VOR 715 bus, running between Krems and Melk through the Wachau Valley to reach your final destination. The buses timetable is aligned with the trains so the journey shouldn’t take longer than 1h40 minutes.
As an alternative, there is a private train – Wachaunahn – running between the two cities. It is a more expensive option, barely faster, and is not covered by either Einfach Raus Ticket or Freizeit Ticket.
Pro tip: Due to relatively expensive buses and a lack of discounts, the cheapest way to get to Wachau from Vienna is using Freetime tickets (Freizeit). It costs only 19.90€ and covers all ÖBB trains and VOR buses in the region. Have in mind that it is available only on weekends on holidays.
To Krems: The path follows the Danube River northwards on roads A22, S5, S33, and 37a.
To Melk: Just follow A1 Highway, leading to Salzburg and make an exit to Melk before reaching the Danube River.
Only 40 km / 25mi separate Melk from Krems an der Donau. It is possible to reach most of the places within this range on a bike in almost no time. The best part is that you don’t need to bring your own bike but you can use NextBike bike-sharing service. Cycling could also be a great alternative to Wachau World Heritage Trail to experience the Wachau Valley actively. I have a separate article about the best cycling route in the Wachau Valley.
If you fancy, there is a possibility to switch the bus for a river cruise from Krems, or even book a full trip from Vienna to the Wachau Valley on a tour boat. Though these options serve more as an alternative way to experience Wachau and hardly could get in line with hiking unless you are on a multi-day adventurous trip to the Wachau Valley.
Honestly, some parts of the trail felt a bit underwhelming compared to the road by the Danube, but I only say so because it is Wachau and I have a very high bar set up for this area. To be fair, it is not unusual for some parts of a long trekking trail to be not that impressive but then again – this is Wachau. Despite that, some of the vistas compensate for the weaknesses. For sure, Wachau is at its best from the bird’s view, I just expected more openings. I suggest to take Wachau World Heritage Trail only if you want to immerse yourself with the idyllic nature of Austria’s countryside. If you want to experience the best that the region has to offer, I suggest trying wine hiking in the Wachau Valley.
On the other hand, this is good for the health of the forest. I saw some benches standing just in from of impenetrable amounts of small trees. I assume, the forest is very healthy and expands anywhere where it is possible. It is also filled with life, honestly, sometimes it is easy to forget that you are walking in Wachau. I’m not sure if this is what I expected but sure I enjoyed it. Therefore, I cannot recommend these routes who just want to experience the picturesque Wachau region but for Wachau World Heritage Trail, you’ll also going to need some love for nature.