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Austria Questions

I am planning a future trip, flying into Munich and home from Prague. 15 nights on the ground. Here are a few questions.

My son wants to visit Kehlsteinhaus in Berchtesgaden. We will traveling by train from Munich and plan to stay 2 nights in Salzburg. Berchtesgaden looks beautiful. Does anyone recommend staying here for one night instead of a day trip from Salzburg? (I know that Kehlsteinhaus is closed and may open again in May 2021).

We will travel from Salzburg to Vienna by train. I would like to spend a day on the Danube from Melk to Krems. Do you recommend that we go to Vienna and then on a different day travel back to Melk? Is there a way to do this on the travel day to Vienna so that we don't backtrack? This would require some baggage storage. The two of us will be carrying one 40L pack and a crossbody bag each.

Also, does the ferry stop at the towns in between? I am thinking of exiting the ferry at Durnstein and then taking a bus to Krems to catch a train to Vienna. Has anyone done this? Anyone with experience of riding a bike from Melk to Krems? Would it take 4 hours without stopping at towns in between? That may be more of a ride than I want.


Posted by
17768 posts

Does anyone recommend staying [t]here for one night instead of a day trip from Salzburg?

Generally speaking, unless you are very good at efficient packing, I would not recommend two one-night stands over a two-night stand. If it were I, I would do two nights in Berchtesgaden (it is indeed beautiful) and make a day trip by bus (RVO 840) to Salzburg. (Actually, having spent time in both places, I would probably spend my time in Berchtesgaden and pass on Salzburg, but that's just me.)

Posted by
1522 posts

Hello fellow traveler,

The Wachau Valley is such a beautiful part of the Danube. A full day to explore this region is needed. If you were only planning to visit a town like Melk to tour the abbey then it would be convenient to make a stop on your journey to Vienna but you mentioned you want to stop at Durnstein and Krems, so I would suggest head to Vienna first then make a full day trip to the Wachau Valley to explore those villages. You don't want to rush to see all those villages. You want to savor the moment. You can take the train to Melk and start your journey and then venture to the other towns. On your way back to Vienna, take the boat ride on the Danube.

Take Care

Posted by
634 posts

I too would stay in Bertchesgaden instead of Salzburg.
There is a lot to do, Kehlsteinhaus, documentation center, Konigsee lake and lots more.
Biking from Melk to Krems is easy and flat, it would take about 3 hours at a confortable pace. I biked from Pasau to Vienna in 2018. It is a very enjoyable bike ride, mostly all on paved bike path along the Danube and very flat.

Posted by
723 posts

One thing to consider is when you plan to travel. I find I prefer Berchtesgaden in the fall and Salzburg in the spring. Since the distances are not that great i don't see a problem with spending a night in each, provided you're not the type who spreads out and tries to be "at home" at every stop. I rarely carry so much that I can't pack in 15 minutes, so to me moving isn't a big deal.

You might want to consider (again if you don't mind moving) getting off the train in Melk for a night or two. There's a local bus that runs between Melk and Krems along the river. Takes about an hour each way. For me, that would be ideal.

Posted by
753 posts

We were trying to figure out Salzburg to Vienna, with a Melk/Krems visit, a few years back . I'm not an expert on trains, but it seemed like the speedy trains between Salzburg and Vienna is one train company, and the Melk/Krems route involved a regional train line. So for us, stopping at Melk/Krems "on the way" was going take more time, because of the train changes and waits. Hopefully someone here has more expertise than I.

I wouldn't recommend a day trip to Salzburg - I think Salzburg requires more time.

Note that the ferry times to Melk/Krems depends on the currents. One direction,[ which I've forgotten] takes much more time because of moving against the river current. So- it's best to train the direction which is against the current.

Hope this helps. Safe travels- whenever!

Posted by
3009 posts

Pat ,The trip from Vienna toward the Wachau is more time consuming because the river estuary empties into The Black Sea . West to East flow , the only major European River to do so , if I'm not mistaken .

Posted by
4156 posts

Vandrabrud - Stay in Salzburg. So much to see and more dining options. Reaching Berchtesgaden from Salzburg is easy by public bus. Berchtesgaden is cute, but not the cutest place I've been. Salzburg is spectacular. On the Wachau region (the stretch between Melk to Krems), you should do this visit as a day trip from Vienna rather than on the way. You do not want to lug your baggage with you, trust me. It isn't really a major back tracking as the train from Salzburg to Vienna doesn't stop at the Wachau anyway. There are two ferry companies - DDSG and Brandner. Google them for their routes, but they both stop at all the villages between Melk and Krems. I have done this trip so many times and you are correct to exit the boat at Duernstein and take the bus from there to the Krems train station. Alternatively, you could ride a bike from Duernstein to Krems train which is pleasant and will save you some time on the bike. Let me know if you need more info as I am very familiar with this area.

Posted by
17768 posts

Reaching Berchtesgaden from Salzburg is easy by public bus.

Reaching Salzburg from Berchtesgaden is just as easy by public bus.

Berchtesgaden is not the most spectacular place I've ever been to, but it is close.

In 2000, I stayed in Freilassing, across the river from Salzburg and an hour's train ride from Berchtesgaden. I went into Salzburg for an afternoon and evening. Then I went down to Berchtesgaden for the next two days.

In 2002, I returned to Salzburg for a day and then later spent three nights (2 full days) in Berchtesgaden. Since then I have been through Salzburg twice to change trains but never to spend time. I've spent a day of more in Berchtesgaden two more times, and will probably return.

I grew up in a suburb of Los Angeles and have since lived in the suburbs of Seattle, Pittsburgh, Nashville, and Denver. Big cities have been a place to work, but never a place to visit for enjoyment. I feel the same way about Salzburg.

I'm always amazed at people who think Europe is a vast wasteland with just a few big cities they've heard of. I've spent 80% of my time in Europe in towns of 20,000 or less.

Posted by
4156 posts

I'm always amazed at people who think Europe is a vast wasteland with
just a few big cities they've heard of. I've spent 80% of my time in
Europe in towns of 20,000 or less.

I’d hardly describe Salzburg as a big city, if that’s your intention here. It is no Nashville or Phoenix. Salzburg is a charming medium sized town with a medieval fortress hovering above churches, cobblestone streets and music wafting in the air, snuggly nestled in the Alps. There is a reason such a town is unmissable.

Posted by
3542 posts

You may now have gotten your plans roughed out, but I’ll suggest that if you can get in a bike ride along the Danube, however long, it will be a memorable, rewarding experience. We did a ride over a few days one April, years ago, back when you could actually rent a bike at an Austrian train station, and turn it in at another, which allowed taking the train immediately from there. Sounds like the bike program isn’t available from the railroad now, however. We started in Vienna, and pedaled upriver (uphill), but the ride was mostly gentle. Heading off the river path into a town sometimes involved a bit of a climb - the one up to the Melk Abbey was steep. Lunch at park in Krems one day, arriving late afternoon in Melk that same day. We did tote our luggage on rear racks, but invested in cheap pannier bags over there to distribute things. We took our time over those several days, and turned in our bikes in Ybbs, Austria, before heading to Czesky Krumlov then Prague by train from there.

We’d planned to need a few days, and the journey was as much of the experience as the towns we visited. Renting and turning in a bike could be more complicated now, but if anyone let you turn it in a different location, allowing for a one-way rental -- or even if you just did an out-and-back ride for a short while, there’s hardly a better place to ride than the Wachau, and hardly a better way to see it than by bicycle, even if just a short jaunt. And you’ll have earned a radler for your efforts!

Posted by
1303 posts

Sounds like the bike program isn’t available from the railroad now, however.

OeBB (Austrian Railroad) does not operate the bike renting themselves anymore, but partners with different companies in different Austrian states.

Regarding Lower Austria, where the Wachau (Danube valley between Melk and Krems) is located, this is the company of choice:

Posted by
3542 posts

Thank you, wmt1 - That’s good to see that bike rental option. They’re set up differently than the bike design we had, and the check-out/return procedure is certainly different, but a two-wheeled cruise up or down the path in the Wachau valley is still doable! And it should be done, if there’s time on a visit.

Posted by
1 posts

I would also encourage you to make a stop in Innsbruck. The Old City (Aldstadt) is wonderful (strolling around, drinking beer, finding a good restaurant, checking out the churches), and you must go up into the surrounding mountains (the Nordkette). You can take a funicular train up the mountain. I particularly enjoyed the restaurants in Aldstadt. I also enjoyed the train ride to Munich (take the route that stops in every small town along the way).