When we had finalized our trip to Vienna, we had decided to spend one day on a cruise on the Danube river and in our research of the region we found the perfect solution – a day trip from Melk to Krems. This is a very convenient trip, all you need to do is visit a major train station in Vienna and book an all-inclusive day Wachau valley trip ticket.
The Wachau region is a valley in Austria with picturesque landscapes, the Danube river, forests, beautiful vineyards and pre-historic towns.
On our trip we started the day pretty early, reached Melks by train and went up a hill to visit to the beautiful Melks Abbey. This Abbey is situated on top of a small hill, has 7 courtyards, a main Church and numerous windows. You also have beautiful views of the Danube and the Melk town from up here.
This Abbey is one of the world’s most famous monasteries sites with a museum,a library (with an extensive manuscript collection) and an impressive abbey. On entrance to the abbey is a museum which houses quite a few artifacts, paintings, chalices, jewel-studded crosses, etc. After crossing the museum you reach the beautiful nd what I think is the highlight of the Abbey – the library.
The library has beautiful frescos all over and a collection of 100,000 books including manuscripts and 750 volumes printed prior to 1500 AD. Some of these ancient manuscripts have been displayed in glass cases and you can actually see the beautiful paintings and scripts of those centuries.
If you continue walking, you reach a small courtyard and then the Abbey. This is an impressive abbey , painted in mustard yellow color and numerous angles and golden twirls inside. We walked around and explored the full church, the gift gallery and the huge gardens outside.
We then walked outside this complex and started exploring the town. Like all small European towns, Melk has become a small tourist hub with every house now owning either a small gift shop, or a boutique or a cafeteria. We walked around and explored this town completely before settling in one coffee shop for lunch and our daily dose of hot chocolate. 🙂
Post our lunch, we started our walk to the ship station for taking our afternoon cruise to Krems. While we took a cruise, there are quite a few people who cycle this stretch to Krems. Quite a few people also brought their cycles on the ship and got off in one of the towns in between and started cycling from there. For us lazy ones, we decided to take it easy and cruise along the way. ;p
The ship station is conveniently located, a short walk outside and there are ample signages to guide you. Also, there are 2 ship companies who run this service and you can choose either one of them as your ticket is valid for both.
At 2pm we boarded our ship and took the seats on the top of the ship with ample view of both sides of the hills. There is a restaurant at the first floor of the ship and you can also enjoy a nice culinary ride while you are on the cruise. But this ship was also the first time that we saw discrimination against us in Europe. On the full cruise, the waitress on the ship would serve all Europeans but would leave the 2 tables that we Indian occupied. It was quite sad actually.
The cruise is for about 2 hours in duration and passes by some of old castles, ruined towns and some important towns of the Wachau region. All along the trip there is a recorded guide who keeps telling you interesting stories and anecdotes of these ruins, towns etc. There was one story of a friend who saved his imprisoned prince by singing, then there was another of a group of people who would fling their prisoners from top of the hill into the jungles below. Though I don’t know how true these stories were, but overall it was all quite entertaining.
Since I can’t describe the cruise in words, below is the flavor of these places through pictures –
The cruise ended at Krems and we got off to explore the town of Krems.
In Krems, we walked around for a bit, but just had time to see the Steiner Tor, a gate which is the symbol of the city. We didn’t have time to see much else as we were very tired by then and had our last train back to Vienna.
Tip for the trip –
- In Vienna, you can buy an all-inclusive ticket for this trip. This ticket costs quite a bit but includes a train trip from Vienna to Melk, a cruise down the Danube from Melk to Krems and then a return train ticket from Krems to Vienna. The entry ticket to the abbey is also included in this.If you want, you can also take your cycles on this trip.
- Before starting the journey check the timings of the last train from Krems to Vienna as there aren’t too many trains and the train station is quite far from the ship station here.
- In Melk, there are some beautiful things to shop but as in all small touristy town it’s quite expensive. So if you are on a budget trip, spend wisely.