Cruising the Danube from the Black Sea to the North Sea
April-May 2023: Day 19

Durnstein, Aggstein and Melk Abbey, Austria


We walked off the ship at about 0820 on a lovely calm sunny Spring morning and walked along the river's edge to the village of Durnstein, about 10-15 minutes away. The centre of the village is dominated by the blue church spire of Durnstein Abbey and the hill behind by the ruined castle of Burgruine Durnstein. Here one of us chose the steep climb up to the castle while the other explored the town. Then we met back on the ship for the cruise through the gorge to Melk. At Melk we boarded coaches, one for the steep climb to Aggstein Castle, the other to Melk Abbey. We were back on our ship just as the heavy rain with thunder arrived.

Durnstein, Austria

Durnstein is a small town on the Danube; one of the most-visited tourist destinations in the Wachau Region of Austria. The town is certainly geared to tourists with plenty of top-class hotels, souvenir and wine shops. There is a steep, rocky path behind the village that takes the keen climber up to the ruined castle on the hilltop. It surprised me how many people from the various cruise ships docked alongside ours made the climb (and equally surprised that none had major medical events on the way). But despite the rough steps there are great views of the Danube valley below.

Durnstein - take 2

While I climbed the steep, rocky path behind the village up to the ruined castle, Colma explored the village.

Sailing the Danube from Durnstein to Melk, Austria

Once we were all back onboard the Scenic Jade (except for the heroic cyclists who had set off on the 35 km journey by road) we sailed north towards the town of Melk. We passed many small villages, all with a tall-spired church and grape vines clinging on the impossily steep valley sides (Northern side only of course).

Aggstein Castle, Austria

Aggstein is a wrecked castle high up above the Danube that has been turned into a tourist attraction. It was sited for its clear views up and down the river so that the residents could spy merchant ships and intercept them for a "fee". Our guide was Mr Williams, a Welshman, now a fluent German speaker. He claimed to be the only guide in Austria accredited to guide tourists in Welsh! I am sure he was kept busy... At Aggstein we were met by Dena Seidl who runs storytelling tours of the castle.

Melk Abbey - Baroque World Heritage in the Wachau

According to their website Melk Abbey is one of the biggest and most beautiful European Baroque ensembles. Its splendid architecture is famous worldwide and part of UNESCO’s world heritage. Since 1089, the Benedictine monks have been living and working in Melk Abbey in uninterrupted tradition. The Abbey also has splendid gardens,

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Last updated: 30 May 2023