Year after year, the natural spectacle of the apricot blossom attracts visitors to the World Cultural Region of the Danube Valley, when around 100,000 trees are veiled in countless delicate pink and white blossoms. It can be compared to the cherry blossom in Japan or the almond blossom in Majorca, when the buds of the apricot trees burst open, and the Danube valley is transformed into a delicately scented sea of blossoms. When the spring sun shines through the branches and casts a soft light over the blossoms, you will have the perfect photo opportunity. At the same time, it keeps us on the edge of our seats every year, because the time of flowering cannot be predicted exactly, as it depends on the location, temperature and amount of precipitation during the previous winter. So, when is the best time to cycle along the blossoming apricot orchards?
The blossoming starts in mid to late March in the Krems area, then appears a few days later in the Spitz and Arnsdorf area and a few more days later in the upper Wachau Willendorf, Aggsbach-Markt, Aggstein and Spitzer Graben. The duration of the blossom varies between 10 days and 3 weeks and at the beginning of April, usually around Easter, you can then marvel at the blossoming trees in all their glory - the ideal time to finally start pedalling! My tip: It is best to plan your tour so that you cycle through the Wachau during the week, because the weekends are usually a bit busier due to the many day-tripping guests who do not want to miss the spectacle of the apricot blossom.
With the help of the webcam, you will always be up to date on the development of the blossom and the later growth of the fruit!
- You can find all cycle tours along the Danube Cycle Path here.
How the apricot started conquered the Wachau region
The Danube Cycle Path winds parallel to the sparkling ribbon of water through one of Europe's most enchanting river valleys. For over 20 years, the Wachau cultural landscape with the Melk and Göttweig Abbeys and the old town of Krems has been included in the UNESCO World Cultural and Natural Heritage list. For centuries, the delightful Wachau has been known as a wine-growing region – full-bodied Grüner Veltliner, fruity Riesling or multifaceted Neuburger are cultivated here on steep terraced vineyards that shape the landscape. The apricot began playing a greater role at the end of the 19th century, when phylloxera - a dangerous pest - destroyed the vineyards and reduced the yields of the winegrowers to such an extent that they had to look for an additional source of income. Until then, fruit cultivation was only practised for self-sufficiency, but the resourceful farmers realised that the nutrient-rich soil and the climatic conditions were not only perfect for grapes, but also for apricots.
Here in the Danube valley, different climates collide: Pannonian climate from the east, foothills of temperate, Atlantic air from the west and, in addition, cool, often humid air masses from the north that flow in from the high plateau of the Waldviertel! The constant circulation of air and the alternation between cool, windy nights and hot days during the ripening phase shapes the development of the flavours and aromas in the fruit. Apricot cultivation has had a significant influence on the region and life in the Wachau ever since. Around 230 apricot farmers cultivate exclusively regional varieties such as the "Klosterneuburger Marille", which is highly aromatic, soft and juicy. Some of them have 50-year-old trees in their gardens. After blossoming, the fruits need a good 100 days to ripen and are harvested and sorted by hand in July and August. Another quality feature that distinguishes the Wachau apricot! Incidentally, you can recognise the original Wachau apricots by their seal of quality.
Change of perspective with the ferry
Even though the silent ferry ride only takes a few minutes, depending on the water level of the Danube, it is a special experience not to be missed! You can effortlessly change banks to experience the spectacle of the apricot blossom from a variety of perspectives, for example in Arnsdorf/Spitz or St. Lorenz/Weißenkirchen.
The apricot for those with a sweet tooth
You’ll find the famous apricot jam at every breakfast table in the Wachau. Due to its high pectin content and sweetness, the Wachau apricot is ideal for preserving and is a real treat as a jam on a fresh slice of bread with some butter! Be sure to try the classic Austrian pastry - the fluffy apricot dumplings! Here the ripe apricots are wrapped thinly in a curd dough, cooked and then rolled in buttery golden-yellow crumb, dusted with icing sugar and served! A delight, I promise you! But the versatile fruit is not only cooked, it is also made into tasty liqueurs or fine brandies. With a bottle of spirits you will have found the ideal travel souvenir to enjoy a piece of the Wachau at home after your cycling holiday.
In general, foodies will certainly get their money's worth in the Wachau. In addition to inns and restaurants, the numerous cyclist friendly Buschenschanken and Heurige in the orchards and vineyards invite you to stop for a bite to eat, but you must watch out for one special feature! Is it "ausg'steckt"? If a "Buschen" made of fir branches or a ring woven from straw hangs on the house, it means that the Heuriger or Buschenschank is open! The establishments run by winegrowers' families are only open on certain dates, when they serve their own wine and non-alcoholic drinks such as grape or apricot juice, and they serve traditional, regional delicacies, but no hot dishes. In the shade of the apricot trees, treat yourself to a hearty Brettljause with a Wachauer Laibchen - another speciality of the region - and a glass of house wine to go with it, which each of the winegrowers will swear is the best in the region!
In the footsteps of the crusaders
Take time for a little detour through the small medieval town of Dürnstein! Get off your bike and push it through the romantic alleys and let yourself be inspired by the unique atmosphere. Take in the ruins towering high above the Danube where the English King Richard the Lionheart was imprisoned during the Crusades!
Every season has its charms
Even if you missed the beauty of the apricot blossom and the gardens are no longer in full bloom, spring is still a wonderful time to explore the Wachau by bike. The interplay of colours of the peach, cherry and apple trees that blossom a little later is just as delightful! And in summer everything falls once again under the shine of the apricot, it is also wonderful to cycle along the banks of the Danube and cool off in the water in one of the numerous, fine sandy bays around Weißenkirchen. During the apricot harvest in mid-July to early August, you can taste the wonderful delicacies on offer in the old town of Krems, for example. Also especially in autumn, just in time for the grape harvest, when the leaves of the vines slowly change colour, the region once again shows itself in a blaze of colour and abundance that must be experienced!
Das Eurobike-Team steht Ihnen bei der Buchung Ihrer Radreise in die Wachau gerne mit Rat und Tat zur Seite!