A river cruise on the Danube will take you to a few destinations as you travel through Austria. The river flows in an easterly direction for about 225 miles passing through the Austrian cities of Linz, Melk, Durnstein and Vienna. Salzburg is sometimes included in Danube River cruise itineraries; although, it’s about 80 miles south of the Danube.
You’ll only spend part of your trip in Austria on a Danube River cruise. Your cruise might begin or end in Vienna, or Vienna might just be a city you visit on your journey. The Danube River flows through nine other countries along its course. Originating on the eastern side of the Germany’s Black Forest, Austria is the second country the Danube flows through as it turns to a more easterly course.
A few other rivers in Austria are the Salzach River in Salzburg; the Inn River, which forms a border between Germany and Austria; and the Wien River in Vienna.
Hauptplatz or Market Square in Linz, Austria
By darkweasel94 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0-at (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/at/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons
The city of Linz is the first stop in Austria for Danube River cruises traveling east and the last stop for westbound cruises on the Danube before entering Germany. It’s about 74 miles east of Passau, Germany and about 82 miles northwest of Salzburg.
Linz is the third largest city in Austria in terms of population. It’s relatively small based on geographical size – about 37 square miles.
Hauptplatz or the Main Square is a favorite among visitors. There is a mountain tramway – the Pöstlingbergbahn - that takes you through the Main Square to Pöstlingberg in the northern end of the city.
Other popular attractions in Linz, include the Linz Castle and Castle Museum or Schlossmuseum, which were built on a hill overlooking the Danube River. Also, the Ars Electronica Center is often visited by tourists. It’s an interesting museum that blends technology with art featuring, a 3-D simulator as well as some interactive and hands-on exhibits.
Visit Austria via the Danube
Old Town of Salzburg, Austria on the Salzach River
By Jiuguang Wang (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons
If your itinerary includes a trip to Salzburg, you might not spend much time in Linz. Salzburg is not located on the Danube River. It’s about 80 miles southeast of Linz, so you’ll be transported there by ground transportation.
Salzburg is close to a river, though. It’s located on the Salzach River near the Austrian Alps. Indirectly connected to the Danube River, the Salzach is a tributary of the Inn River; and, in turn, the Inn River is a tributary of the Danube River. Day and evening Salzach River cruises are available.
The Historic Centre of the City of Salzburg is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As you stroll through Salzburg’s Old Town with its cobblestone streets, you’ll see buildings with Baroque-style architecture and one of the largest castles in Europe - the Hohensalzburg Castle, which overlooks Old Town.
Outside of Old Town, you’ll find the Untersberg mountain, which is located on the border of Austria and Germany. The mountain – surrounded by the Berchtesgaden Alps - overlooks the city of Salzburg.
Melk Abbey in Melk, Austria
By Aconcagua (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
The Austrian city of Melk is located midway between Linz and Vienna at the western point of the Wauchau Valley. It’s a rather small town measuring under10 square miles with a population of about 5,200.
On your Danube River cruise, a trip to Melk will probably include a visit to the famous Melk Abbey. Overlooking the Danube River, the Melk Abbey is a large structure with 497 rooms, a baroque-style church and its impressive 12-room library.
Visit Austria via the Danube
The Wauchau Valley extends for 24 miles along the Danube River between the cities of Melk and Krems in Austria. It’s a very popular tourist destination in Lower Austria. The Wauchau Cultural Landscape received UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 2,000 for its architectural and agricultural history.
The Town of Dürnstein, Austria on the Danube River
Atrribution: By Footyfanatic3000 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL(http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons
Dürnstein is another small town in Austria – even smaller than Melk. It’s about 6.5 square miles with a population of under 900! Even so, it’s one of the most frequently-visited cities in the Wauchau Valley.
Located in the middle of the Wauchau Valley, Dürnstein is also well-known for its wine production. As part of a walking tour through the city, you’ll probably even have a chance to sample some its wines.
Stephansplatz and Graben Street in Vienna, Austria
Tupungato [CC-BY-2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons
Vienna is the capital of Austria. It is also the largest city in Austria with a population of 2.4 million people, including its metro area. Vienna covers a lot of land, too. It’s 160 square miles in size – much larger than any other destinations in Austria.
Close to the border of Slovakia and Hungary, Vienna is the port in Austria that is furthest east on the Danube.
When your cruise ship reaches the port of Vienna, you won’t be in the center of the city. The Innere Stadt or Old Town is not located directly on the Danube River. It’s approximately a 15-minute ride from the port to Old Town.
There is a river that flows through the city, though. It’s the Wien River. Translated from German to English, the word Wien (pronounced ween in English and veen in German) means Vienna. The Wien flows for 21 miles through Vienna’s city centre until it reaches the Donaukanal or Danube Canal, which is connected to the Danube River. The canal flows north of Vienna’s downtown area.
The Historic Centre of Vienna is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. One of the most popular tourist attractions is the 1,441-room Schönbrunn Palace.
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