After departing Melk, we started sailing along the Wachau Valley on Viking Atla toward Vienna. The stretch of the Danube between Krems and Melk is known as “the Wachau ” locally and is considered the loveliest part of the river. This could be why in December 2000 “Wachau Cultural Landscape” was entered in the UNESCO List of World Heritage Sites in recognition of its architectural and agricultural history.
Viking River Cruises makes your scenic cruise down the Danube River and the Wachau Valley a memorable one. As you can see here, Sorin gladly served us a glass of sparkling wine out on the Aquavit Terrace. We had great views that included castles, medieval towns, and stunning churches and cathedrals. Combine that with great company and wine and what more could you ask for in life? This is how river cruising differs from ocean cruising. You sail through the day in areas an ocean cruise liner could never enter, which allows you to admire and appreciate so much more.
Passing by the extremely small town of Dürnstein, we immediately saw what Dürnstein is known for, which is the Stift Dürnstein. This spectacular blue and white former monastery towers over the town. Strangely enough, the blue color was only discovered during its restoration in the 1980’s and was considered highly controversial at the time. Now because of this striking color, the abbey is considered the landmark site in this area.
Passing through the river locks is an event, whether it’s your first or you’ve experienced them previously. As you can see in the pictures above, people gather on the deck to watch the process. As the water is let out, the ship starts slowly descending down, down, down. The mighty doors open and like that, we simply pass through. Seems so simple, but it is truly an engineering marvel, which you can witness firsthand as you sail through the more than a dozen locks located along the Danube River.
While there may be plenty of waiting as you enter a lock and then wait for the water levels to go up or down, that’s only part of the experience of sailing along the Danube River. The views are spectacular and the adventure itself is something you’ll always remember. Why I may not have learned the names of every town, castle, or church, the experience of sailing down the Danube River along the Wachau Valley is one I won’t soon forget.
Up next: Onward we sail until we arrive in Vienna, Austria!
I was a guest of Viking River Cruises for this cruise, but as always — all opinions and photographs are my own.