West of Vienna, the Danube snakes through the Wachau, one of its most scenic stretches, where castles and vineyards cling to steep slopes above quaint villages. The western end of this 40km stretch is marked by a stunning Baroque monastery in Melk. Further west the river steadily loses charm, though it’s still a focus for several towns and cities, including Linz, whose high-tech Ars Electronica museum is particularly enjoyable. South of the Danube region, the land slowly climbs and rolls into the hills of Styria, with its attractive and bustling capital Graz. Northwest of here, the land rises again up to the Salzkammergut, a region of fine Alpine scenery and pretty lakes within easy reach of Salzburg. Southwest of the Salzkammergut the peaks really start to soar and resorts like Bad Gastein take full advantage of the landscape and healthy spring waters to offer great skiing, and first-rate spa facilities.
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