Cruising Through The Wachau Valley

Located in Lower Austria, the Wachau Valley is a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its architectural and agricultural history which dates back to the prehistoric times.

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Cruising through the famous Danube River, we basked in its breathtaking landscape formed by the magnificent monasteries, the stunning castles and castle ruins, the historical towns and villages and the rolling vineyards responsible for the famous wines this region is known for.

 

Stift Melk (Melk Abbey)

Our first stop! We took the early train from Vienna and as the sleepy town of Melk was just waking up, we got off the train and wandered around this lovely town, hiking up the steps to reach the Abbey’s entrance.

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The Abbey as viewed from the town.
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The Pfarrkirche or Parish Churc

 

 

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Melk Abbey is a Benedictine Monastery founded in the 11th century. It is famous for its great relic of the Holy Cross which is kept in the treasury and can only be viewed with special permission. The library is a must see as well with its countless medieval manuscripts. This is one of the most intricately ornate monasteries I’ve seen.

The abbey contains the sarcophagus of Saint Coloman of Stockerau and the remains of several members of Austria’s first ruling dynasty, the House of Babenberg.

Click images to see more…

After exploring the Abbey, we hurried to catch the 11AM cruise through the Danube River…

 

The Blue Danube

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“The Blue Danube” (An der schönen blauen Donau) is the most famous waltz ever written. It was composed by Johann Strauss II with an intent to uplift Austria’s morale after it was crushed by post-war economic depression.

Personally, I grew up with this waltz, both the music and the dance. My parents occasionally played it on Sundays and I ended up learning and performing the dance (atleast twice) in school for an event. This gave me enough curiosity to plan for a day trip and see the inspiration for this timeless piece which was also a part of my childhood. 

 

The Danube’s Medieval Towns…

Emmersdorf an der Donau

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Known as the “cyclist village”…
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Stop here to visit the pilgrimage site Maria Taferl and the Artstetten castle.

 

Spitz an der Donau

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Spitz is a market town first mentioned in 830 AD.
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Burgruine Hinterhaus sits on a mountain overlooking the town.
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A closer look at the Castle Ruin with grounds dating back to the 12th century.

 

Dürnstein

One of the most visited towns where King Richard the Lionheart of England was kept as a prisoner. (Remember the Tales of Robin Hood?)

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Love this picture perfect view of the Blue Abbey Church and Burgruine (castle ruin) Dürnstein
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This castle ruin was where King Richard the Lionheart of England was once imprisoned.

 

Krems an der Donau

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Our last stop for the Wachau Cruise, Krems is one of the most famous wine cities in Europe with its history interlacing with the history of winemaking itself. There are a number of cafes and restaurants to choose from and of course, don’t forget to try the wine!

 

Cycling through the Valley

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Famous for cycling enthusiasts, the Wachau valley is only a “short” 41km bike ride from Melk to Krems compared to its complete 365km cycle way that runs along the Danube River from Austria to Slovakia. A bicycle may be rented from several tourist offices and local shops and may be taken on board the cruise ships to cross from one side to the other.

 

Wachau Sightseeing Cruises and Tour Packages

Brandner and DDSG Blue Danube offer several cruise options including themed cruises. More detailed information can be found in their respective websites. There are combination tickets offered by OBB, the rail transport provider of Austria, that includes roundtrip rail tickets from Vienna, access to the Melk Abbey and a sightseeing cruise.

Getting there

Train tickets may be bought going to Melk or Krems and back from the OBB website.

 

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2 thoughts on “Cruising Through The Wachau Valley

    1. would love to see it when I go back to Finland! It only takes about 2 hours if you take the cruise straight from Melk to Krems or vice versa. It takes longer of course if you decide to stop by the different villages in between and catch the next cruise til you reach your final stop.

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