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Melk-Wachau Valley OR Innsbruck

We are going to Austria end of June. We have only 5 and half days (6 night) and wondering what places we can visit. Everything looks so beautiful and more I research more places we are tempted to visit but unfortunately time does not permit.
We are thinking of 2 and half days in Vienna, 3 days in Salzburg. During our 3 days of Salzburg stay, we are planning a day trip to Hallstatt and lake district and another day trip to Innsbruck.
I have following questions:

  1. Trip to Melk and Wachau Valley from Vienna is also tempting but might not be possible in our only 2 and half days of stay in Vienna. If we have to choose one, any recommendation on what to choose between a Melk-Wachau Valley and Innsbruck? Should we add a day in Vienna and cancel Innsbuck trip from Salzburg?
  2. Is Sound of Music tour worth taking?
  3. Any recommendation of tours to Hallstatt and Lake district from Salzburg. Came across private min-van tours but coming a bit more expansive for family of 4. Other tours to Hallstatt don’t visit other towns (St Gligen, St Wolfgang im Salzkammergut) in lake district. Sound of music tour combined with Hallstat also just passes by those towns. Taking a train and/or bus seems complicated and requires changing of multiple transportation. Didn’t find any direct transportation. Any recommendation other than renting a car and driving?
Posted by
1323 posts

"Unfortunately time does not permit" says it all.
What I enjoyed in Wachau along the Donau was E-Bike riding and drinking Grüner Veltliner and Riesling wine. Melk was OK. Visited during a rainy day.
I have been to Innsbruck multiple times (mostly around Christmas), but rarely stayed more than a day (no overnight) I'm sure I have missed plenty there. I have usually stayed in the mountain valleys to the south.
Can't speak to the Sound of Music tour, but you are basically there in Salzburg/Salzkammergut, unless you want a specific move site.
Once you get to St Gligen, you can take a lake boat ferry to St Wolfgang. I'm sure you have read the pros and cons of Hallstatt in these Forum?
Not sure a rental car is the right answer. You will have to navigate and park (find a parking spot). I drive my own car, but it does stay parked at the hotel many times.

Posted by
394 posts

The Wachau Valley would get my vote over Innsbruck, especially for a late-June visit. For your referenced itinerary, that would advocate adding an extra day in Vienna (for Melk/Danube) and reducing your Salzburg stay from three days to two. GetYourGuide has a wonderful full-day Wachau Valley tour that makes the whole experience (transportation, boat cruise, Abbey visitation) stress free. It meets in front of Vienna's Opera House, departing for a walk around Dürnstein, a quaint town offering history (Twelfth-Century castle which once held Richard The Lionheart) and aesthetically pleasing courtyards and wineries. From there, they deliver you to nearby Spitz where you board an 80-min Danube lunchtime cruise and arrive into Melk to tour the Abbey for ~2 hours. Return transportation to Vienna (Opera House meet-up location) gets you back into town for dinner.

Posted by
5 posts

Thanks for you replies. Appreciate it.

Does Wachau Valley tour give enough time to visit actual towns (Melk, Dürnstein, Spitz) and also vineyards?

Thanks again in advance.

Posted by
394 posts

LoveToTravel, the tour I mentioned doesn't include visiting Wachau vineyards, unfortunately, nor Krems. Their itinerary makes for a full day getting from (and then back to at its conclusion) Vienna - about an hour in each direction; a 90-min stop in Dürnstein; the short drive to nearby Spitz (just the dock, no time in that town proper) to board an 80-min boat cruise on the Danube btwn Spitz and Melk; free time to wander Melk grounds before the group's timed entry into the Abbey, its' Library and Cathedral. Seem to recall the group departed Wien Staatsoper at 08:00 and got back around 18:00. We opted to do this tour on a Sunday, when many of Vienna's sites and shops are otherwise closed. Hope this helps!

Posted by
1323 posts

We recently spent 5 overnights in Dürnstein (Apr-May). There are Vinyards on the southern side of the town. Like Hallstatt, Rothenburg ob der Tauber and other tourist towns, it is full during the day, but becomes a pleasant place in the evenings and mornings. With your short time available a tour may be your best option.

Posted by
5 posts

Thanks for your replies. They are definitely helpful.
Any idea if renting a car and driving ourselves to Wachau valley from Vienna might be a better option? We can customize our trip that way. Not sure about parking situation though. We would love to take the river ferry from Spitz to Melk and would love to rent a bicycle for some time along the river or through vineyards

Also driving from Salzburg to Hallstatt that way we can customize that one day trip also and go into St Gligen, St Wolfgang towns, take lake ferry etc which tours don't have that in their agenda.

Please let me know if there is any downside of driving. Thanks

Posted by
1853 posts

I would skip Innsbruck for the Melk Abbey and Wachau valley. You'll get some fair bit of what you're getting in Innsbruck out in Salzkammergut anyway.

The Melk Abbey might be my favorite interior in Europe, really beautiful. The Wachau is charming. I think what you're going to want to plan is a trip to see the Abbey, and then a trip to a heurige to take in some wine and culture. Transferring between those two activities will give you a good look at the valley itself.

Posted by
1853 posts

Also, the reason that tours from Salzburg to Hallstatt skip other towns is it takes quite a while to get there and back. To me, it appears that the way you are planning in general is not accounting for realistic transfer times. Not just the time of driving or the train, but getting to the train station, waiting for the train, walking into town from the station, etc etc. Even if you can pull off the jam-packed many transfer itineraries, you're not really going to experience much of any place. Do a little less maybe and spend a little more time?

Posted by
5 posts

Thanks so much for your suggestion Hank. You are right, I was not thinking about the extra time needed other than the actual travel and sightseeing. We will definitely keep the time factor in mind. Hallstatt is a priority and we would like to spend enough time there without rushing, then we will visit other towns in lake district only if time permits.

Posted by
27 posts

Vienna is a fabulous city with tons to do. I've been there at least 8 times, and still haven't been to everything in Rick's guidebooks (getting close, though). The Wachau Valley is lovely, especially if you like to bike and drink wine, but I wouldn't give up part of 2.5 days in Vienna for it if you've never been to Vienna.

Salzburg and the surrounding area is also lovely. If you're into the Sound of Music, there are a plethora of SoM tours to choose from. The one on bicycles seems really popular. I made my own tour using an internet site (I think it's called Big Boys Travel) because I wanted to get to the places the tours don't take you. If you decide to do it your own, a trip over to Werfen Picnic Park is lovely and easy from Salzburg - like a 20 minute train ride. (It's where they filmed the beginning of Do Re Mi, and it's gorgeous). You can do Hallstatt by yourself easily, too. Just hop on the train and when you get there, hop on the ferry. I think I would do Hallstatt OR Innsbruck, but not both. I love Innsbruck and prefer it to Hallstatt, but with your already packed itinerary, I think I'd go with Hallstatt because it's closer and smaller.

Posted by
24 posts

Reading your post- I had to double take- your trip is almost identical to the one we are doing in August! What have you decided? Do you mind sharing the guided tours or self- guided car option you’ve decided on?
The bike tour in Salzburg sounds awesome! Please post a trip report- I still can’t decide whether to do the Abbey or not!

Posted by
7061 posts

I would also choose the Wachau Valley over Innsbruck - both were lovely, but for me the Melk Abbey made the Wachau Valley win. You don't have to take a tour which ties you down to certain amounts of time in places. It's very easy to do on your own. You get a combo ticket that includes rail transportation to Melk, entrance to the Abbey, a Danube cruise from Melk to Krems, and then rail transport back to Vienna. You choose the times and have control over how much time you spend in Melk before taking the boat cruise, subject of course to the boat schedule. I believe the ticket states Melk to Krems but you can get off the boat in Durnstein which is a good town to explore and a much smaller town than Krems, although Krems is nice too. Then you can get a bus to Krems for the train ride back to Vienna. The only thing you have to do is check the schedules for the train, the boat cruise, and maybe the bus from Durnstein to Krems if you choose that. Within that you have the choice of how much time to spend in each.

When I did it, I left Vienna early, about 8-8:30, spent time in Melk and took my time at the Abbey. Then I took the boat all the way to Krems (did not get off in Durnstein, but wish now that I had) and spent some time there before retuning to Vienna around 7 pm in time for dinner. A long day but quite relaxing, especially on the boat, and didn't seem rushed at all.

Posted by
3 posts

Hello,

Can I take a combo ticket train to Melk, take boat cruise down river to Durnstein to see the castle there, and then re-board to boat to Krems and travel by train back to Vienna from there?
The boat cruise and its scenery ands the castle are the 2 main attractions for us. Thanks!

Posted by
2011 posts

On the page to which the link above leads, there are links to the two river cruise companies which serve the route Krems-Melk-Krems:
DDSG Blue Danube
Brandner Schiffahrt

The Wachau-Ticket allows you free choice of transport.

Posted by
897 posts

5-1/2 days is just enough for Vienna!

If you are going to split our time, then go to Salzburg, since you mentioned SoM. I recommend the bicycle tour. You see enough, you have some exercise and it is fun. Make certain you do these 2 things while there (in addition):

Untersbergbahn, south of the city.
City Bus 151 up to Gaisbergspitze. Plan to have lunch up there.