With its ornate golden-colored façade and grand baroque church towers set against an idyllic backdrop of the Wachau Valley and the Danube River, Melk Abbey looks more like a palace than a monastery. Founded in 1089, the Benedictine abbey underwent a dramatic makeover in the 18th century and is now regarded as one of Europe’s most beautiful baroque churches.
The town of Melk lies at the western end of Austria’s Wachau Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and full-day tours from Vienna often combine an abbey visit with wine tastings in the valley, a boat cruise along the Danube River, or even a trip to Salzburg or across the Czech border to Cesky Krumlov. The castle is open to visitors with or without a guided tour from April to October.
How to Get There
- A visit to this monastery is a must for history buffs and architecture lovers.
- Guided tours of the abbey last about an hour.
- Melk Abbey tours from Vienna include roundtrip transportation (about a 1.5-hour drive each way).
- A restaurant, gift shop, and restrooms can be found on-site.
- The abbey is accessible for wheelchair users.
Perched on a hilltop overlooking the town, the Melk Monastery can be reached on foot from the Melk train station (a 10-minute walk) or by a short taxi ride. Most visitors opt to visit on a day trip from Vienna, 50 miles (90 km) east, but it’s equally accessible from Salzburg, 70 miles (115 km) west, or Spitz, 12 miles (20 km) north.When to Get There
The Melk Abbey is open all year round, but from November through March, visits are only possible by guided tour and must be booked in advance. The abbey can get busy in July and August, so plan an early morning or late afternoon start to avoid the crowds.The Baroque Gems of Melk Abbey
The abbey is famous for its exquisite baroque architecture, the work of architect Jakob Prandtauer. Highlights include the Marble Hall, with its magnificent ceiling frescoes by Johann Michael Rottmayr; the opulent library, filled with priceless manuscripts; and the Abbey Church, with its dazzling gold altar.