Melk abbey is part of the UNESCO World Cultural Site region of Wachau, © Niederösterreich-Werbung/ Michael Liebert

The gateway to Wachau: Melk an der Donau

Melk is at the start of the Wachau and is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site region. Fall for the charms of the abbey and the town.

There are threads connecting Melk, one is the ‘Roter Faden’, plus three others: the ‘Goldene Stiege’ (golden stones), the ‘Blaue Welle’ (blue wave) and the ‘Grüner Pfad’ (green path). They are the new Melk themed trails. The starting point is the Coloman fountain in the Town Hall square, from which we have explored the town.

The common thread connecting historic Melk

The historical ‘Roter Faden’ (red thread) leads through the heart of the town to its historic centre, the stunning Melk Abbey. From high above, it towers over Melk. The abbey is home to Benedictine monks and the oldest monastic school in Austria, and is lovingly described as the ‘the most symbolic and dominant Baroque building’ in the country. We agree with this; the many years of history and beauty of the staterooms is unique, so we recommend booking a tour, so you don't miss out! Before going on the tour, indulge in a hearty breakfast in Haubis in the Löwenpark with bacon from the Hammerherren, sheep cheese from the Mostviertel and many different regional types of bread and sweet pastries– tasty! The Restaurant zur Post is an additional culinary highlight along the Rote Faden trail. Our lunchtime tip: the popular breaded fried chicken with potatoes and corn salad!

It’s not where you go, but how you get there

Next up, we make our way along the ‘Green Pathway’, which leads straight to the renovated city park. The route passes Café Central, the oldest coffee house in the area. Relax in the welcoming pavement café, look up to the abbey while you enjoy coffee roasted in-house by the owner Markus Madar and joke with the endearing head waiter, Friedl, a sight worth seeing. A green space is also our destination along the ‘Goldene Stiege’ golden walkway, which leads to the abbey, where we can admire the abbey garden with its relaxing mix of Baroque and English garden architecture. A paradise across three levels invites visitors to wander along intricate paths with stones featuring messages and fascinates them with its variety of species. Our afternoon tip is to try a traditional Austrian dish in the Rathauskeller Melk. More specifically, it is the excellent ‘Rieslingsbeuscherl’, which is veal cooked in Riesling. Continue along the ‘Blaue Welle’, where blue stones follow the flow of the river and reach the viewing platform and finally, the Melk meadows. At the boat landing of Brandner Shipping and the DDSG, you can book an excursion to Wachau, Spitz, Dürnstein or Krems - a must for visitors to Melk! We get back in time for afternoon coffee in the Mistelbach bakery and patisserie, where we indulge in an unbelievably delicious cake (the house speciality: Melk cake!) and during the apricot season, don't forget to try a scoop of excellent, home-made apricot ice-cream.

Village meets town: Cuisine from the surrounding area

weekly market is held every Wednesday in the pedestrianised zone, with stands selling tasty wild honey, fresh and smoked fish, farmhouse bread, and fresh vegetables and plants. The same as the produce sold at the farmer's market, held every Saturday, delicacies come from the surrounding villages. At the heart of the pedestrian zone, Gerdas Bioladen [Gerda’s Organic Shop] awaits your visit if you are a lover of regional smoked goods and sausages, fresh juices, strong organic cheese by Roland Berger and rich organic ice-cream from Hansinger in Kilb. Sdraule specialist butchers is around the corner and is famous for its pastries and specialities from the Waldviertel, such as the Saumeisn meat dish. Enjoyed best at a pavement café! Hotel Wachau is just outside of the town centre. Its restaurant produces dishes that use almost only regional ingredients, such as home-reared organic beef and game from the abbey's hunting ground. Our tip: Enjoy a first-rate stay at the 4-star hotel.