Melk Abbey Austria- Must See?

We really enjoy visiting impressive churches. The tour we are thinking about does a drive by of the Melk Abbey in the Wachau Valley of Austria. There are day tours out of Vienna that includes a site visit to the Melk Abbey. How impressive is the Melk Abbey and is it a must see? I hate to waste a free day in Vienna back tracking to see the Abbey. But I have heard wonderful things about it. Comments welcomed. Thank you.

Posted by Terry kathryn
Ann Arbor, Mi
2600 posts

It was beautiful and since I was with a group we did not have too much time there... I would have stayed longer. I prefer this kind of tourist site vs. most things in cities... so I loved it.

Posted by Margaret
Aschaffenburg, Germany
14 posts

Melk was impressive and worth a visit, in my opinion. The gallery exhibits were done in a more modern style, which I liked. The gardens are also quite extensive and the whole place has lovely views.

Posted by James
Frisco
1781 posts

We visited it about 18 months ago and it was impressive. Well worth the effort. But also well worth the effort, especially if you enjoy such places is the remarkable Pannonhalma Archabbey outside of Gyor. http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pannonhalma_Archabbey Time it right and you can attend services, complete with monks and Gregorian Chants; or a tour of the winery. Gyor and the Archabbey make a wonderful overnight trip from Vienna or Budapest. About 90 minutes by train from both. Gyor in and of its self has a stunning baroque center with all sorts of markets and shops and a wonderful old synagogue. I like the abbey at Melk, but in for me Pannonhalma is much more hands on and relevant. Having said that, if the only possibility is Melk, don't miss it!

Posted by Pamela
New York City, NY, USA
3298 posts

It's worth a visit. The library is impressive as well the rest of the site. We spent a 2-3 hours touring it on the Rick Steves Berlin, Prague and Vienna tour a few years ago. Don't miss the garden. The views out the back of the river were beautiful. Pam

Posted by colleen
dallas, TX, USA
149 posts

I totally enjoyed my visit to Melk Abbey and am glad we included it. One of my favorite churches. My husband loved it also and he always begs me not to plan more than one church a day and no more than 2 in 3 days.

Posted by Dick
Olympia, WA, USA
664 posts

I'm never sure what a "must see" is but we thought Melk Abbey was worth the few hours we spent there. Maybe not as the sole destination of a day trip from Vienna if you only have a few days in Vienna. A day trip that also includes Durnstein or one of the other scenic Wachau Valley towns would be better. But since the tour you're taking includes a drive-by of Melk, you can see the outside of the abbey and decide whether you want to come back for the inside. There's been an abbey at Melk since medieval times but at least two fires have destroyed much of what was there. A 1960s restoration left the place looking splendid, and you can get the sense of how magnificent it looked back in the 18th century. I don't think you can just walk around the abbey on your own, but our guided tour, in English, was very well done. There are interesting exhibits, including the so-practical but so-unused opening-bottom coffin designed by one of the emperors. The library is fascinating and the chapel is over-the-top gilded painted baroque (I'm a gothic guy myself). There's a great view over the town from the balcony, and if you have time to walk down the steps from the abbey into the town there are the usual shops and restaurants on a winding cobblestoned pedestrian street. Bottom line: for us, with only three days in Vienna, it wouldn't have been worth losing one of those days, but as a half-day cruise stop after Vienna it was a great addition.

Posted by Kim
Paris
541 posts

Yes. I've traveled a bunch and seen a zillion churches, but when I walked into the church in Melk, my jaw literally dropped. Additionally, it's a lot of fun to see the Wachau valley -- maybe go out by train and return by boat . . . . Beautiful.

Posted by Robert
Happy Valley, PA
151 posts

You can easily do this on your own. Buy a combo train-boat pass and make a nice day trip; we did this several times when we lived in Vienna in the early 1990s. Take the train from Vienna to Melk, grab a bite to eat, and then visit the Abbey. Then, take a boat from Melk towards Vienna, but get off at Durnstein to visit the beautiful church and the castle ruins where Richard the Lionhearted was held captive for ransom on his way back from a Crusade. If I recall correctly, you can either catch a boat or train from Durnstien to Krems, where you can get off and take some time to visit that town also. Then, take the train back to Vienna from Krems.