Start at your hotel in Passau, the city of three rivers. If you arrive with time to explore be sure to visit the well-known cathedral; housing the world's biggest church organ. In the evening receive your bikes and a personal welcome briefing.
Leave Passau, and cycle from Germany into Austria amidst one of the most significant river landscapes of Central Europe. The trail runs beside densely wooded slopes and ravine forest passing the only Trappist monastery in Austria at Engelhartszell before continuing to the famous Schlögener Loop. Here the Danube does a U-turn around a granite mountain before changing the direction of its flow twice, providing spectacular views from the surrounding hills.
The valley narrows as it continues downstream and has a wilder appearance passing the beautiful castle of Ottensheim, also one of the oldest places in Austria. A day of river crossing and cycling along country lanes, entering the fertile plains of the grand Eferdinger basin before reaching the historic Cistercian Abbey at Wilhering. The trail continues to Linz, where the central Hauptplatz is a good place to start exploring the old town.
A change of scenery today as the route guides you away from the Danube, via St Florian (an Augustinian abbey) to Enns. See the town square with its 60 metre high tower, the landmark of the oldest town in Austria. Back along the Danube you reach the beautiful baroque town of Grein; with a chance to visit the oldest municipal theatre in Austria, the maritime museum or Greinburg Castle.
Historically Grein marked the beginning of the river's most treacherous stretch, often feared by sailors. The cycling is through the fascinating landscape of tall and densely wooded rock formations on both sides of the Danube. The journey takes you through quiet riverside towns, with numerous examples of castles that were positioned to exert power over the area, collecting tolls from those following its path. Your journey will end as one of the most striking edifices on this whole route comes into sight, the Benedictine abbey at Melk - stunning both inside and out, you can't miss it!
This morning you ride through the magnificent Wachau terraced vineyards, which give this area its distinct and beautiful appearance. It is one of Austria's best known wine growing regions, with centuries old tradition of wine production. The route winds between the pretty villages of Spitz, Weisenkirchen and Durnstein; castles continue to dot the landscape. In Durnstein you will find another spectacular monastry and also the ruins of a castle where King Richard the Lionheart was held for ransom. All along the route there are opportunities to experience Austian hospitality in small taverns offering local food and drink. Finish your journey in the 1000 year old town of Krems and enjoy a wine tasting to showcase some of the delightful local produce!
Today starts with a train ride from Krems to Tulln, then ride past Greifenstein and Klosterneuburg.This area has always been important culturally, politically and economically with settlements in existence before the Romans moved to the area. Again you will pass many castles, including the Kreuzenstein Castle in Korneuburg. There is also the famous story of the Korneuburg Rat Catcher, a similar story to the Pied Piper. Arriving into Vienna, enjoy a cup of coffee and a piece of typical Viennese cake, 'Sachertorte', in one of the numerous coffee houses. Enjoy an evening stroll around Stephansplatz or walk along the famous shopping street Mariahilfer Strausse.
End Vienna. The city is a metropolis with unique charm, vibrancy and flair. It boasts outstanding infrastructure, is clean and safe, and has all of the culture, architecture and inspiration that you could wish for in this wonderful part of Europe. Highlights that you may consider include visits to the grand Schonbrunn Palace, Sigmund Freud Museum and a tour in the Vienna State Opera House. Don't miss a visit to one of the many wonderful coffee shops to enjoy the typical cake Sachertorte!
* 7 nights family-owned and tourist class hotels * 6 days cycling with luggage transfers * 99% cycle path, 1% road * Mainly flat cycle paths with some gentle hills * Self-guided holiday. Min age 5 yrs
All breakfasts and one wine tasting included. Breakfast: Buffet style breakfast will usually consist of fresh bread, cheese, ham, croissants, butter, jam, tea or coffee. Lunch and Dinner (not included): there are numerous restaurants along the route with a selection of menus of two or more courses and the route notes will provide more details to help you decide. Self-guided cycling also lends itself really well to picnics. You can stop wherever you please, in a spot that suits you and eat your lunch taking in your chosen view.
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