This was a lovely way to arrive; we had sailed from Vienna at 11pm the night before and were up very early ro see the approach to Melk..
It was our first River Cruise and was way beyond our expectations - such a joy to go to bed at night without having to pack for the next leg of the journey - and a long drive.
It was a good bit more organised than all our years of independent travel had accustomed us to.
All apprehesion about ship board companions were overcome when we teamed up with a delightful couple, a little older than ourselves.
Our other "ship-mates" were 3 couples very much younger than ourselves- a mother and daughter, a gay couple, two single ladies travelling alone, and a married couple, 30 years younger than us.
So if you are feeling dubious about cruising choose a small ship with an interesting itinerary and if possible a theme - history, music, architecture - whatever.
We sailed on Johann Strauss with Noble Caledonia.
There are basically two ways to go to Melk and rest of the Wachau area from Vienna.
The first way is by car and the road conditions are good, with stunning sceneries of the hills, Danube River, lovely towns, vineyards, castles etc. It takes about 2 hours drive North-west of Vienna to reach the Wachau area. After passing by some flat land area outside Vienna and crossing the Danube River, you will soon see that the scenery begins to turn to hilly region (which indicates you are entering the Wachau region). The first prominent town you will reach is Krems (see my VT Krems page) followed by Durnstein (see my VT Durnstein page) and then Melk, which you need to drive across the Danube River to reach Melk. My trip to Melk and the Wachau area was by car, thanks to Michael (VT member Globetrott) who took my wife and I on a wonderful day trip. If you can cycle, there is a good cycling path network in the Wachau region for spending a few days cycling in the region.
The second way is by a cruise along the Danube River (most tourists will visit the Wachau region by this way because it is a packaged day trip). The good thing is that everything is arranged and you get to cruise along the river, and visiting Melk. But the downside is that these sort of trip is usually very rush and you may not stop at places like Durnstein and Krems. Furthermore, it is not cheap (arount 60 Euros for adults and 30 Euros for children). I have not tried the cruise trip but if you are interested, you can see the webpage below.
You can get to Melk from Vienna very easily either by road, rail or river. This last option is obviously a particularly attractive one but I'm not sure if the cruise boats run all winter long.
Try this website: www.ddsg-blue-danube.at
Trains leave the Westbahnhof station approximately every hour. The journey takes about an hour and a half, depending on the type of train, how many stops it makes etc. Just make sure you only get on one that will be stopping at Melk as some go straight through.
By car or coach take the Autobahn A1 for speed but if you have time on your hands opt for the scenic route on the country roads through the Wachau Valley.
Trains from Vienna to Melk leave from the Westbahnhof - there is one direct train per hour, and the journey takes 75 minutes. Otherwise you can always travel to St Pölten and change there on to regional trains to Melk - if the connection time is good it is only a few minutes slower than the direct train! The journey is a distance of 85km - around the single ticket for this distance is currently around €9 without a rail card for a single in second class.
Many tourist groups come to Melk with the bus.
It is a comfortable driving possibility and an agreeable travel modality, to admire in silence the lovely setting.
On the highway A1 or on the national highways B1, B3, and B33, one can reach the town Melk, from miscellaneous directions.
For approximately 30 bus and 250 small cars, it is park possibility, in the big Stift parking place.
The modern buses, this to, in or from Melk drive, are an important transportation possibility for this town.
The town Melk is placed at the Danube valley, 85 km far from Vienna.
By car, is very simple, to reach this place.
From east or west, one can drive to Melk, over the highway A1 (exit of Melk), or over the national highways B1 or B33.
From north, one can drive over the Danube Bridge over the national highway B3.
From Vienna, one can on the highway A1 drive, in direction Linz until Melk.
The trip, on the highway is agreeable, and doesn't last long and the magical routes over the national highways, drive through a splendid landscape.
Melk also has a trainstation. But it is small one and so it is served only from regional and local trains.
If you are on tour with fast trains you have to change the train in Sankt Pölten or Vienna.
Look at the website of the Austrian Federal Railways (ÖBB) to check schedules of trains to Melk.
Stift Melk is directly on the motorway A1, half the way from Vienna to Linz. It is a huge yellow building on a hill and it is lightened at night ... So you cannot oversee it!
Take exit "Melk" and follow the sign to "Stift Melk". It is a great stopover when you are on the way to Vienna or Salzburg and you should not miss it!
Most days the weather was such that it was not inviting to watch the riverbanks glide by from the top deck of the boat. But on our second to last day it was quite pleasant watching the Austrian countryside slip past our eyes. we saw many castles, churches, villages and hills complete with their autumn plumage.