Loading slideshow...

The Wachau - Austria

Melk Abbey, Wachau Spiral Staircase, Melf AbbeyAggstein Castle, WachauGottleib AbbeyGrafenegg Castle

The Wachau region of the Danube valley between Melk and Krems is the most picturesque stretch of the mighty river. The area was very important as a transport corridor from east to west and was fought over for hundreds of years. This is shown by the many castles, some of which are just hilltop ruins while others are now palaces and museums.

One of the most important and impressive abbeys overlooks the small town of Melk. The original Benedictine monastery burnt down and was replaced in the 1700s by a massive Baroque building. The abbey is golden in colour and stands out for miles around with a church at its centre.

Aggstein Castle is one of the nicest ruined castles in the area. Sat on top of a high rocky outcrop and overlooking a bend in the Danube the castle has been partially restored so that the towers and wall can be accessed. The view of the river is stunning, with long barges making their slow journey upstream against the current. Passenger ships also ply the river, some of which are mini cruise ships complete with swimming pools.

Further downstream is Gottleib Abbey, another Baroque monastery this time finished in pink stone. It's almost as large and imposing as Melk Abbey and is surrounded by vineyards that once provided the abbey's wealth.

The historic town of Krems is nicely preserved with a pleasant old centre and some lovely Baroque buildings. It's surprisingly sleepy considering its prime location as a base to visit the main attractions of the area.

Nearby Attractions

Back to Austria Guide