The Austrian Lake District is just one of the excursion choices you have when you visit Linz (Austria) with AmaWaterways Melodies of the Danube River cruise!
In my last post from Day 5 of Melodies of the Danube river cruise with AmaWaterways, our ship, the incomparable AmaMagna, had just left Grein, Austria, and we were cruising through the night to Linz.
NB: As with all travel companies, AmaWaterways has paused their cruise schedule through June 30, 2020. Please go to their website for detailed information about future bookings and increased flexibility for your travel plans.
Disclosure: my mother and I were hosted on a 7 night Melodies of the Danube river cruise with AmaWaterways. No requirements or stipulations were made for a positive review. As always, all opinions are my own.
One of the most difficult parts of taking an AmaWaterways cruise is making a decision regarding the excursions. Why? Because all of them sound so wonderful, I want to choose them all! The positive spin on this is that one could take the same AmaWaterways river cruise more than once and still have a very different experience!
One of the hardest decision days on the Melodies of the Danube river cruise was choosing the excursions from Linz. Which would you choose? Keep in mind, these are not the fully detailed descriptions that we received! They were even more enticing than they sound here.
- “UNESCO City of Media Arts” (Linz) Walking Tour (1.5 hrs) see Landstrasse, the Old Market, Mozart House (where Mozart composed the Linz Symphony in 3 days), Landes Theatre, the Trinity Column, City Hall and St. Mary’s Cathedral
- “Cultural Mile” bike tour (1.5 hrs) 7 mile bike tour: Ars Electronic Center, Danube River, Old City Center, the National Gallery, OK Centrum and Linzer Schloss (Castle)
- Full day Salzburg excursion (full day) drive to Salzburg via Mondsee (Sound of Music wedding church). Walking tour of Salzburg (see Hohensalzburg Fortress, Cathedral, Mozart’s birthplace) and visit Mondsee, Getreidegasse, Mirabell Gardens, Residenz Square with Fountain and Linz main square.
- Austrian Lake District excursion (7h 15min) Scenic drive through the beautiful Austrian Lake District stopping in Mondsee to visit the Sound of Music wedding church, then onto St. Wolfgang im Salzkammergut for a walking tour and then free time. Ride through the market town of Ebensee and the shores of Lake Traunsee. May be combined with the morning Linz walking tour.
- Česky Krumlov excursion (7h) Charming mountain town just over the Czech-Austrian border in Czechia. See the Church of St. Vitus and Castle Gardens. Visit UNESCO World Heritage Site, “Historic Center of Česky Krumlov.”
- Half day Salzburg excursion (7 h) A shortened version of the full day Salzburg excursion. May be combined with the morning Linz walking tour.
I had originally chosen the full day Salzburg option, but after listening to Cesario (our cruise manager) describe the excursions, I had second thoughts. I asked Mum what she preferred to do, but she was no help as she said she wanted to do them all, too! The Česky Krumlov was enticing in that we would be visiting Czechia, so it would be another country to add to my list. In the end, I changed my mind and went with the Austrian Lakes outing.
Let me just say, I don’t know what we missed in Salzburg, and I probably would say the same thing if we had gone there, but I do not regret my choice one bit. And my mother was simply beside herself that day, and is still talking about visiting the Austrian Lake District.
We began our day with a light breakfast in the Al Fresco Restaurant. There’s truly so much to choose from here, even though there’s less than in the Main Restaurant. Cheese, meat, yogurt, fresh fruit, oatmeal, bread, pastries and more are prepared and displayed with care.
We then returned to our freshly cleaned suite in order to pick up the things we needed for our morning excursion.
Linz Walking Tour
Mum and I joined a small group led by Silvia, a native Austrian dressed in traditional garb. She was very congenial and welcoming to all of us as we started walking into Linz that foggy morning. It was a 5 minute walk from the AmaMagna, docked on the Danube, to the city of Linz.
The first thing we saw was that a market was on and the locals were doing their shopping. I’m like a moth to a flame when I see markets, especially in Europe! We walked through the market on our tour, and naturally, I was entranced by the produce, and envious of all the locals buying the fresh baked goods, cheese, lovely fruit and vegetables and more.
Silvia was a wonderful guide and beguiled us with so many stories and historical happenings from Linz’s past. One of the most wonderful stops was the Mozart House. In 1783 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart stayed in this three story Renaissance building as a guest of the Count of Thun. It was here that he composed the Linz Symphony in only three days. I loved being able to walk into the courtyard and imagine him sitting in a window above.
I couldn’t resist capturing these gorgeous autumn colored arrangements for sale at a florist shop.
We admired the beautiful architecture throughout Linz. Hitler spent his youth in Linz and always had a strong connection to it. He also had major plans to turn Linz into “his” city, with a massive art museum to display all his stolen art. Thankfully, his plans never came to fruition.
St. Mary’s Cathedral (The New Cathedral)
Proudly hailed as Austria’s largest cathedral, Linz makes it’s mark with the fact that this construction was made to seat 20,000 worshippers.
As we entered, Silvia pointed out the stained glass to us as it is one of the cathedral’s most important and stunning features. Each stained glass is unique and tells a different story. The most famous is the Linz window which tells the history of the city of Linz.
There are also windows which contain portraits of those who sponsored them.
Walking back towards the center of town, Silvia pointed out a bakery that is very famous: it is the home of the original Linzer Torte!
You may have heard of Linzer cookies or Linzer biscuits? These are from Linz! I cannot tell you how excited I was that we had a little time to pop into the bakery! I purchased some Linzertorte, which I planned to take to relatives (it keeps very well.)
I also chose a slice of Drunken Monk cake as it was topped with lots of fresh cream and came highly recommended by Silvia! (I ate it the next day and it was phenomenal!)
And let me show you the inside of one of those doughnuts from the bakery: it had an intensely flavorful apricot filling and the doughnut was so light. 5 stars!
We walked a loop through Linz and ended up near where we had started. Our guide told us a historical fact about a balcony we were standing below. On the evening of Saturday, March 12, 1938, Hitler stood on this balcony to proclaim that Austria was being annexed into Germany, the Anschluss. There are photos of him on this balcony, but I don’t want to add it here. The balcony alone is enough.
Shortly after this, our tour ended and we walked back to the AmaMagna. It had been foggy all morning, so we hoped the sun would come out for our afternoon excursion.
Lunch on the AmaMagna
Breakfast for lunch: it can be done on an AmaWaterways cruise, too! I didn’t want to eat too much as I had the doughnut from the Linz bakery and was hoping to score some Austrian apfelstrudel in the afternoon.
Right after lunch, we got ready for our afternoon excursion in the Austrian Lake District and disembarked from the ship to board the bus. Lo and behold, Mum and I were delighted to see that Silvia was our tour guide again! On our drive, Silvia showed us maps and explained a lot to us about the Austrian Lake District and what we would be seeing and visiting.
Austrian Lake District Excursion
Although it was still chilly and foggy in Linz when we left, soon the fog began to lift as we traveled towards the lake district. Soon, we had clear blue skies and sunshine and I was elated (photos are obviously much lovelier in these conditions.)
Sound of Music Church in Mondsee
Both Mum and I were elated to be able to visit the church where the Sound of Music wedding was filmed (the interior scenes.) There was hardly anyone there except for a small wedding party that you can see in the background behind me. Entering the church, there were things that gave away this church’s famous movie history.
However, when we went inside, it was stunning and I all but forgot why we came to visit. It definitely didn’t look the way I though it would, and it was extra special to have the church almost all to ourselves.
This is the detail behind the altar which is in the center of the photo above.
After visiting the church, we had some free time. Silvia had recommended trying an eiskaffee (iced coffee), which sounded fabulous. So we found a cafe, ordered one and sat outside to enjoy it: splendid afternoon!
Mondsee is a lovely little town and after a little walk around the shops, I found my much longed for apfelstrudel (apple strudel) in a cute, little bakery. It was perfect, and even had a little edelweiss flower on it!
We said goodbye to Mondsee and boarded the bus for another scenic drive to our next stop: St. Wolfgang.
St. Wolfgang im Salzkammergut
In the photo above, you can see the opposite side of the lake which is where our bus driver took us to visit St. Wolfgang. Silvia had filled us in on the history of this market town, including a colorful legend about the Devil and St. Wolfgang himself.
When we arrived, Silvia walked us through the town, showing us different places to visit and where we could buy Austrian products (Mum bought me an Austrian cookbook!) and even pointed out some street food. You know I couldn’t resist this bratwurst! I still think about this sandwich!
Silvia walked us down to the church and we walked around the back.
There were such spectacular views everywhere I turned.
Silvia then took us inside the church which has a beatiful Gothic altarpiece by Michael Pacher, a painter and sculptor who was one of the first artists to introduce Renaissance art to Germany.
Some details of the interior of the magnificent church.
There is a very famous hotel in St. Wolfgang called the White Horse Inn. It is the setting of the operetta by the same name.
Silvia then left us to have some time exploring on our own. However, it was just too enticing not to sit and admire the lake for a while.
St. Wolfgang was a wonderfully serene town.
Someone offered to take our picture together in return for me taking theirs. Everyone says Mum and I look alike, but I just don’t see it.
We headed back to the bus at the time Silvia had told us to meet there, and had one more stop on our way back.
Lake Traunsee in the Austrian Lake District
Our last stop before heading back to Linz was one of the most awe inspiring places I’ve ever seen. The peacefulness of the lake seemed to exude into the atmosphere and the early evening setting here was nothing short of magical.
We didn’t spend much time here, but it was the enough to know that I will absolutely be returning to this little part of heaven on earth.
The entire Austrian Lake District was simply one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever visited, and I have seen many. This is the church overlooking Lake Traunsee in Traunkirchen.
One last snap, and I was the last one on the bus! 😎Everyone else was more timely than me. I didn’t hold anyone up, I just used every second I had here.
The following picture was one of the last photos I took as we were nearing Linz on the bus that evening. The beauty that we had laid our eyes on that day was indescribable. I’m so thankful we had such gorgeous weather that mid October day which made our outing absolutely perfect.
Farewell Gala and Meeting the Entire 5 Star Crew
Each AmaWaterways cruise includes a Farewell Gala and Captain’s dinner, usually the second to last night of the cruise. Guests gather in the lounge area and we are introduced to all the fantastic staff and crew who make our cruises the marvelous experiences that they are.
Captain’s Dinner on the AmaMagna
My apologies for these photos, as they simply don’t do justice to the food. I can assure you that these dishes were superb, but it is difficult to capture them as they really looked due to the artificial lighting.
From the arugula, mozzarella and tomato salad starter with pine nuts, to the grilled Atlantic scallops with carrot and mango puree to the sparkling sorbet, our dinner was first class. Our main dish was a pan-fried sea bass filet with Pacific gambas (shrimp/prawns) in a Chardonnay sauce, young vegetables and rice Macaire.
Chocolate mousse or an ice cream coupe was on the menu for dessert, but Mum and I both opted to share a cheese plate instead. Of course, the wine flowed and the service was impeccable, as always!
At 8 pm, the AmaMagna left Linz for Passau, where we would dock the next morning. Meanwhile, as we cruised the Danube, we were treated to some fun in the lounge.
I never thought I’d be learning the Minuet on this trip, but I was pulled up by one of the ladies from Sounds of Austria to dance! They were the evening entertainment and everyone in the lounge enjoyed their singing, from the Sound of Music (as they said, it had to be done), to dancing the Minuet with guests! Every evening includes some form of entertainment on board, but these ladies were one of the highlights of our trip.
This was our last view of Linz from the top of the AmaMagna. An unforgettable day.
I hope you enjoyed my experience on day 6 of the Melodies of the Danube River cruise on the AmaMagna. Stay tuned for day 7/8 in Passau and Wilshofen, where we disembarked at our final port.
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The Melodies of the Danube River Cruise Day 1
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Disclosure: my mother and I were hosted on a 7 night Melodies of the Danube river cruise with AmaWaterways. No requirements or stipulations were made for a positive review. As always, all opinions are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with FTC requirements.