Salzberg or Wachau Valley?

Old Oct 3rd, 2021, 01:32 PM
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Salzberg or Wachau Valley?

Haven't been on here a a while (I am the former LAleslie on Africa and SE Asia forums).
Our family of 5 is taking a 7-night Danube cruise in late May, Vienna round trip + Budapest, Bratislava, Wachau Valley and Linz, etc. Afterwords, 4 nights in Vienna. After that we are planning 4-6 nights in either the Wachau Valley (we stop for only a day there on the cruise, in Durnstein) or Salzberg. We don't like moving around too much. We are interested in food and wine, walking/hiking, museums. There is a wide disparity in forums here about time spent in Salzberg, from 1 day to 4-5. We couldn't care less about the Sound of Music, and interest in classical music is minimal, but the waterside towns, day trips and Alps are enticing. In the Wachau, we could do day trips from Durnstein to Melk and Krems, either by bike or hike, or even car. I think splitting time between the two areas is too much travel. What say ye fellow wise people?
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Old Oct 3rd, 2021, 04:41 PM
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I have only been to Melk of all your destinations but it is worth a day to see the Abbey and to have a nice lunch. The day we visited it was blistering hot and when we arrived we had a coffee in the hotel, as I think we were early for admission to the Abbey. We made our way up to the bright yellow Abbey, which is atop a cliff overlooking the town. It is really something special and we took our time there. After seeing the Abbey, we had lunch in the restaurant there (a really good lunch), then walked down and took in more of the town below. We didn't stay a whole day. There are a few little shops (including gift shops) and a hotel but IMO not a whole lot going on in the town itself. After poking around the shops we had a coffee flavoured with the apricot liqueur that the area is famous for in one of the cafés, and then caught a train back to our flat in Vienna (we were there for two weeks). I think if you were to walk along the river that would take up some more time, but we were in the company of our then four year old so we did not push the boundaries of our excursion. A nice memory was that we saw some people pedalling into town on two recumbent bikes, and we saw them later when we were having coffee. They had evidently been cycling the Wachau Valley.

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Old Oct 3rd, 2021, 04:59 PM
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We spent a day in Salzberg (which we thought was the right amount of time) and 4 nights in Melk (which was about the right amount of time there also) in a hotel with a view of the Abbey. We had a car in Melk, so we explored the Wachau valley. We timed our trips to the "destinations" on the river so we would not be there when cruise ships arrived (had dinner at a few of them).

Stu Dudley

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Old Oct 4th, 2021, 12:32 PM
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It's Salzburg, not -berg. Burg means castle or fortress, and berg is mountain. The town is named after salt, which they used to ship on barges down the river near there. There is a fortress there, which is one thing to see. I spent a couple days there and have no interest in Sound of Music, but do have a lot of interest in classical music and Mozart. The town does have a very well preserved and attractive center, it is known for Baroque architecture, a lot of which is original, it wasn't destroyed in the war like in a lot of places in Germany. I didn't do any day trips, but if that is really your interest, I guess you can figure out what they would be and if it works. I think Hallstatt and Berchtesgaden (?) are the usual suspects You can get there easily by bus or train.. I think Hallstatt is quicker by bus, actually, and it's farther. No need to rent a car for Strasbourg day trips.

I haven't been your other place so can't compare, unfortunately. If you want to cycle, I guess the other one would work ok. I prefer not to rent cars if I can avoid it, especially in places with good public transportation like Switzerland.

I think people who recommend 4-5 days in Salzburg are counting on day trips, not just to see the town itself.
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Old Oct 4th, 2021, 06:36 PM
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Thanks for the spelling error check. Embarrassing.
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Old Oct 4th, 2021, 06:37 PM
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Originally Posted by StuDudley View Post
We spent a day in Salzberg (which we thought was the right amount of time) and 4 nights in Melk (which was about the right amount of time there also) in a hotel with a view of the Abbey. We had a car in Melk, so we explored the Wachau valley. We timed our trips to the "destinations" on the river so we would not be there when cruise ships arrived (had dinner at a few of them).

Stu Dudley
So you didn't care for Salzburg much? Why did you chose to spend more time in Melk? Did you prefer the Wachau Valley to Salzburg?
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Old Oct 4th, 2021, 06:54 PM
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I found the day trip options from Salzburg more varied and more interesting.... based entirely on MY interests and preferences.

https://www.touropia.com/day-trips-from-salzburg/

A slightly different list, although some sights would be too far as a day trip for me:

https://www.wanderluststorytellers.c...from-salzburg/

We took a nice hike in the Monchsberg recreation area above Salzburg. There are several routes from the town but also a lift up. Beautiful views from several points.

If you go to Salzburg, as you're walking around the town, look for brass plaques in the paving memorializing individuals and families who were taken from their homes in Salzburg by the Nazis.

https://www.bbc.com/news/av/world-europe-44660049
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Old Oct 5th, 2021, 12:48 AM
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Those brass plaques are called Stolpersteine (stumbling stones) and are a project by a German artist, Günther Demnig. They are everywhere in Germany, and have spread to neighbouring countries. I believe you can sponsor the stones. You are supposed to be inspired to think about the crimes every time you pass by one or walk on one. A lot more effective than a monument, IMO.

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Old Oct 5th, 2021, 07:47 AM
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I did like Salzberg, but I think a day is all that's needed to see it. Wachau Valley is a large area with many villages, scenic drives, and & sites to explore. Thus more days. We visited Salzberg & Wachau on separate trips - several years apart.

Stu Dudley
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Old Oct 5th, 2021, 08:10 AM
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If you're only looking around the town of Salzburg, then yes one day is probably enough, but there are villages, scenic drives, easy train rides and sites to explore from Salzburg, too. Which base is "better" depends on each traveler's interests. Only the OP can figure that out after doing a little research into both areas.
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Old Oct 5th, 2021, 09:55 AM
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The OP only mentioned Salzburg. He/She never mentioned interests in sites around Salzburg. So I answered exactly what he/she asked.

Stu Dudley
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Old Oct 5th, 2021, 11:11 AM
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Thanks for all your input, helpful.
I''ve done lots of research and still can't decide, but am leaning heavily toward Salzburg, Yes, I know day trips would be part of the appeal for 4-5 days, but some sound sooo touristy, as does the Wachau in the spring (looks like we'll be there in late May/early June). We love drinking wine, esp. Gruner Veltliner, but are not into wine tours. (We are in Central California, loaded with wineries.) We thought we might get enough of the Wachau scenery on the boat, which passes/stops there down- and up-river. Hoping we can see the Melk Abbey on a short trip from Durnstein. We are very interested in WWII, so thank you, Lavadula for the info on the Stolperstine. I'm thinking a side trip to see Hitler's Eagles Nest would be fascinating, but.....is it? Anyone been there?
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Old Oct 5th, 2021, 11:25 AM
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Count me in the longer is better camp. When I last visited Salzburg in December 2019, I spent four nights and could have easily spent more. This Christmas we're planning five nights.

Granted, days are much shorter in December than May, so that might be a factor for you, but IMO there's so much to see and do in Salzburg even without the whole Sound of Music thing.

Highlights for me included touring Hohensalzburg, the Dom, Untersberg and Haus der Natur (we spent six hours there and I don't even like museums!).

Only a day in Salzburg is giving it short shrift IMO.

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Old Oct 5th, 2021, 11:49 AM
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""(We are in Central California, loaded with wineries.)""

We're headed to Lodi tomorrow morning. Then Visalia/Hanford & surrounds. Nevada City/Sutter Creek/Angles Camp Gold Country earlier this year.

Will you spent the night in Durnstein - or just an on/off in one day? IMO, visiting Durnstein (or any other village) on a cruise ship stop (with no overnight) might not be something you'll enjoy. We were there during a cruise ship stop - and it was shoulder to shoulder people. We left the village immediately, and returned about 5:30PM the next day, toured the town, and had dinner there. Quite enjoyable without the hordes of cruise ship tourists. Melk Abbey will be the same. We stayed in Melk for 4 nights, and visited the Abbey very early in the day when it first opened - and it was crowded. The Abbey is a time-consuming visit because there is lots to see there. I would not want to visit Durnstein & Melk on the same day. We were there in mid September.

Does your cruise ship offer a group tour of both on the same day?

You might find this interesting:
When we were on the tour of Melk Abby, the guide showed us a very old map of the "New World". The map depicted California as being an island off the mainland. I remarked that "it still is an island".

Stu Dudley

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Old Oct 5th, 2021, 01:03 PM
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Originally Posted by StuDudley View Post
The OP only mentioned Salzburg. He/She never mentioned interests in sites around Salzburg. So I answered exactly what he/she asked.

Stu Dudley
BUT the OP did mention things to do beyond Salzburg... "We couldn't care less about the Sound of Music, and interest in classical music is minimal, but the waterside towns, day trips and Alps are enticing."
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Old Oct 5th, 2021, 01:41 PM
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Yep - I missed the stuff along the river & Alps.

Stu Dudley
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Old Oct 7th, 2021, 07:01 PM
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Thanks Stu Dudley. We are on the coast in San Luis Obispo, and I highly recommend either SLO or Paso Robles if you like wine.

We are on a short 7-day Crystal boat trip Vienna to Vienna. One day in Durnstein. Our boat has only 120 people when full, so the question is whether they'll be other boats. We are aware Durnstein is touristy but it's the only stop in Wachau. A short boat trip is something that is best suited for our independent family members--we have a love/hate view of cruises, but Crystal is different and we dislike tours, so we'll strike out on our own somehow. We may take a boat or taxi to Melk, not sure. Hoping for fewer people in late May. With Covid, who knows?
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