I'm thinking of stopping for two nights in Melk, en route from Munich to Vienna (via train). I'm looking for a picturesque Danube valley spot and the bike trip from there to Krems sounds great. But... I'm going to be there in the spring (early may) and it could be raining. Are there museums or other sights to see, in addition to the abbey? I'm looking for quaint, village-like locations to counter the big city visits. Thanks for your input! BTW I'll be traveling there solo.
Go to Weissenkirchen, Spitz, or Durnstein insted of Melk. Much more scenic. You can rent bikes in any of these places as well for cycling which maybe you could get rain, but maybe excellent weather as well. You can always take a bus back to Melk to visit the Abbey if the weather is rainy. Also in Durnstein is the ruined castle above the town where Richard Lion Heart was held captive. On the other side of the river are the ruins of Aggstein castle which are very cool.
Solo travel in Austria is no problem or worry.
Did you know that it is actually faster to go from Munich to Vienna than Munich to Melk? For that reason, I would suggest first visiting Vienna and then interrupting your stay in Vienna for a few days in the Wachau.
As Alex suggests, I would go for Spitz, Weissenkirchen or Duernstein over Melk. Much more quaint and in the heart of the Wachau. Don't waste your time in the Abbey or in museums - enjoy walking, biking and boats through the gorgeous scenery that this region is famous for. Early May is my favorite time to visit the Wachau as the apricot trees are in bloom. Cross the river on the ferry at Weissenkirchen to St. Lorenz and wander the trail to Rossatz which winds through vineyards and apricot orchards. Visit some wineries, climb to the castle ruin in Duernstein, eat an apricot dumpling on the terrace of the Richard Lionheart Hotel.
These are great tips - thank you. So it's quicker due to a faster train? I am definitely considering it. I had wondered if going directly to Vienna might be a better idea but thought I'd be back tracking and paying the extra fare then if I headed back to Wachau. But this way, I could also choose a better weather day.
Can a nice day trip to the Wachau from Vienna be done within a day - avoiding the luggage and lodging hassles? I did read RS's travel tip - early train Vienna to Krems, bike or boat to Melk, train back to Vienna - is this really reasonable?
I'm going to consider these towns and love the ripe apricots info as well as the trails and wineries - and that is right, I'll be doing enough museum trekking in the cities. Also thanks for the note that going solo is no problem... it's been 30 years since I travelled solo in Europe (in college). I'll be with family in France, then solo in Germany and Austria.
I personally would not miss the Melk Abbey,all the other suggestions are good.I stayed in the Hotel Zur Post next to the square,great hotel family run with two Restaurants.
The train that goes from Munich to Vienna is a fast RailJet train, which reaches speeds of 200 km/hr. If you detour to Melk/Wachau, you will be on local trains which crawl along and make frequent stops. I think heading out to the Wachau for a day (or overnight) trip from Vienna is better as it allows you to go on a day when the weather will be nice. To go to the Wachau on a bad weather day would really diminish the experience, in my opinion.
To do the day trip, my suggestion differs from what you have outlined below. For me, the real treasures are the villages in between Krems and Melk. If you take the boat from Krems to Melk, you will really miss out. My preferred route would be to take the train to Melk, boat to Weissenkirchen, where you can have lunch. Bike to Duernstein, where you return the bike, hike to the castle above and have an apricot dumpling at the Richard Lionheart Hotel terrace. Take the bus to the Krems train station and then take the train from Krems back to Vienna. If you spend the night, take the ferry across at Weissenkirchen and walk from St. Lorenz to Rossatz where you will find loads of fruit tree blossoms at that time of year (no ripe apricots yet!).
I did the RS recommended triangle trip to the Wachau this past July as a day-trip from Vienna and would recommend it highly. I took the train to Melk, visited the Abbey, strolled the town, then took the Danube cruise from Melk to Krems and then the train from there back to Vienna. It was a beautiful day and the boat ride was glorious. I would also suggest doing it as a day trip from Vienna rather than as a stop on the way from Munich to Vienna. I really feel you need to pick a nice weather day to enjoy it to the max.
My thoughts on the Abbey is that it is not to be missed, but that's just me. It was the most awesome, mind-blowing, jaw-dropping example of baroque architecture and decoration that I have ever seen. Photos I had seen of it did not even do it justice. I loved the church, the museum and, as the other poster said, the library. I even enjoyed just walking around the grounds of the Abbey.
To each their own about the Abbey there is absolutely no reason to childishly attack someone for their opinion. If you have two days or whatever by all means go take the tour if you want. Melk is easily reached from any of the villages that have been mentioned.
Personally as we biked down from Aschach an der Donau, we just admired it from the outside and biked on to Durnstein. We loved hiking up to the ruined castle above this village.
I do not agree with taking the boat from Melk all the way to Krems as you will miss the wunderbar villages along the way.
Either way you should have an excellent time in the Wachau.
I also did the day trip from Vienna to Melk by train; Melk to Krems by boat; and returned to Vienna by train. We enjoyed it quite a lot but I can understand the benefit to making some of that trip by bike. Just be aware that the boat arrival in Krems and the train departure from Krems does not leave a lot of time to get from the dock to the train station. In retrospect, we should have either taken a local bus or taxi between the boat dock and the train station. We wound up missing the train and waiting in the train station for about one hour.
Thanks for all this clarification. Yes – apricot blossoms, not fruit. :) Thanks again Emily, your info is excellent. Nancy thanks for your comment about strolling the abbey grounds - this would particularly attract my attention. Alex, thanks for mentioning it’s easy to reach Melk from any of the towns. These little hints really help when I’ve not been to the area. And Darrel, thanks for your comment about getting from dock to train, and to all of you about your trips to the Wachau. I am definitely going to head straight for Vienna from Munich, and pick a nice day for the Wachau, from there.
I appreciate everyone’s comments, including people who said to skip the abbey… or not to skip… to each his own! It’s most helpful when people give tips about the trains, tell me how to avoid faux pas, ideas for good day trips, share what you recall best, places for 10-rated coffee, and help us others avoid as many bleeps and blips as possible. Thanks again, this resource is amazing.
I enjoyed Melk almost as much as Pannonhalma.
Whatever you decide to do, you will have a glorious day. For me, it just doesn't get any better than walking through acres of blossoming fruit trees. But that's me. If you do end up taking the boat, I strongly recommend getting off at Duernstein (or Spitz or Weissenkirchen). By getting off at the Krems dock, not only have you missed these lovely villages, but it will be a long, long walk to the Krems train station. The WL1 bus is very handy here. The ride from Duernstein to the Krems train station takes about 15 minutes on this bus. One of the stops along the way will be the boat dock in Krems as well. Here is a helpful link on the buses.
Thanks Emily, this info is invaluable and it's going into my trip notes. Can't wait to see all these places....