Published: Nov./Dec. 20082008 DESTINATIONS RATED
Historic Places Rated: Europe

Austria: Wachau/Melk Abbey

Score: 88

"Well-renovated. A proud monastery in a beautiful landscape. Well-organized guided tours. Good parking facilities."

"The Benedictine Abbey is very impressively maintained both in the extensive well-manicured grounds and the variety of interior rooms open to the public. Our guided tour was extremely informative and lively; you really step back in time. Afterward, we walked downhill through very narrow medieval alleys and staircases into the town, which seemed somewhat touristy along the main street, though well maintained."

"Melk Abbey and the Wachau are not one entity. While the Abbey is a monument, the Wachau is a cultural landscape related to the wine industry."

"Each village and town seems to try to outdo the others in promoting local heritage while maintaining cultural integrity. The abbey at Melk is well managed and never seems crowded. Tourist zones are low-key and commercial establishments do not intrude on the visitor's experiences."

Austria: Graz

Score: 80

"Tourists tend to ignore this gem. It is associated with an important wine-growing valley of Austria, and has the potential to become an important tourist destination."

"Impelled by its role as a European Capital of Culture several years back, Graz invested heavily in eye-catching architecture, cultural programming, and historic preservation. The integration of these is a model for the rest of Europe and the world. Perhaps the best benefit of this smart investment is a renewed sense of self among Graz residents, which bodes well for the future."

"The best heritage city in Austria, in part because of its intact fabric, condition of that fabric, population size and 'localness,' life style, and lack of major tourism intrusion."

"The city plan has done a good job of integrating old and new. The transit system is efficient, easy to use, and extensive. Tourism infrastructure in Graz is well developed."

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