A trip along the Austrian Danube unfolds like a treasured picture book. Roman ruins (some dating to Emperor Claudius), remains of medieval castles-in-air, and Baroque monasteries with "candle-snuffer" cupolas jut out from steep river banks; the river cuddles on its shores villages so cute they should get their cheeks pinched. Today, thanks to the technology of modern dams, travelers have the luxury of tamely observing this part of Austria from the deck of a comfortable river steamer. In good weather the lazy nine-hour trip upriver from Vienna to Linz is highly rewarding. If your schedule allows, continuing onward to Passau may be less dramatic but gives more time to take in the picturesque vineyards and the castles perched on crags overlooking the river.
- Baden. Spend an afternoon discovering the attractive spa and casino town of Baden.
- Leisurely bike rides. Pedal through the flat plains surrounding Neusiedl Lake, stopping to explore scenic hamlets and dine on fresh fish from the lake.
- The Melk Abbey. Magnificent Benedictine Baroque splendor leaves you breathless. The enormous edifice, stately royal rooms, lovely library, and golden, glittering church are incomparable.
- Linz. As the saying goes, "It begins in Linz." Designated a Cultural Capital of Europe 2009, the capital of the province of Upper Austria has awakened to a new future, taking a leading role in contemporary art, style, and design.
- Wachau Valley. Travel in tranquility by boat or bike between the historic towns of Krems and Melk and experience the Danube Valley's most picturesque and verdant vistas.