We had been interested in cycling the Danube river bike path for quite some time so when our 30th wedding anniversary came along we decided to celebrate it in Austria.
For this bike trip, we booked a self-guided tour with the company, Bike Tours. They arranged our lodging, bikes, bike bags, luggage transport to each destination, GPS, maps, suggested areas to visit and an emergency hotline. Based on our requested “difficulty level” they provided us with a recommended bike route that was best suited to our fitness level. We choose a level this company calls “Difficulty 1”. They define it as “mostly flat“. This was exactly what we were looking for, a leisurely bike experience, with no hard work, please 😊. It was between 20-40 kms a day with mostly flat paved bike trails. Since we were on our own the time it took to reach each destination each day was really up to us. We are just weekend bikers and had no problems to complete this route. Here is another link that gives more info on the Danube River Cycle Path . For this trip, we biked the distance between Linz to Krems which took actually 4 days of biking. But if we were to go back we would certainly bike a longer route, maybe Passau to Vienna (which is identified as Wien on the map below).The Danube cycle path is said to be the most popular bike route in Europe. This explains why we were so impressed with how well organized it was.
Below is the outline of our itinerary that was sent to us by our bike company. You can follow each daily destination on the map above.
You’ll enjoy Linz, Austria’s third-largest city, with a historic market square surrounded by baroque buildings. The majestic fifteenth-century Linz Citadel stands watch over the Danube. If you’d like, board Europe’s steepest mountain railway to climb the Pöstlingberg, a hill overlooking the city. The train, which still operates with its original 19th-century cars, covers nearly 2 miles and about 825 vertical feet in 16 minutes. The view of the river is superb.
You continue past two medieval castles to the Enns River and head a few miles upstream to Enns, the oldest city in Austria. Enns is postcard-perfect with its medieval tower and fortifications and its Renaissance and Baroque façades.
In Wallsee, you can visit the 14th-century Wallsee Castle, still in the possession of the Habsburgs. Past the tiny village of Adragger, you ride under the mighty Fortress Clam. You explore the fertile farmland of the Danube Valley, with rural towns and picturesque farms. A Danube highlight soon comes into view: the baroque village of Grein with its imposing castle. With only 2,800 residents, Grein is one of Austria’s smallest towns. Due to its strategic location above rapids on the Danube, the city became quite rich during the 16th and 17th centuries, and the wealth still shows off in elaborate houses built around the town square.
After Grein, the Danube starts getting narrower. The valley is tighter and craggy where ruins of ancient castles seem to appear at every bend in the river. You can stop at the Persenbeug Castle, which still watches over the Danube from a stark rock outcropping. It dates from the ninth century, although its current form is “only” 400 years old. You cross the river to Ybbs, with its recently restored old town with winding lanes, quiet courtyards and patrician homes from the 15th and 16th centuries. Much of the historic town wall is still intact. In Ybbs, you enjoy lunch and board the riverboat and follow the Danube around a tight curve and travel a short distance to another tour highlight: the Melk Abbey. Melk marks the official start of the Wachau, Austria’s most famous wine-growing region. Vineyards stretch up the sides of the valley, and wine villages lie along the river as well as in the neighboring hills. The Benedictine Abbey, a magnificent baroque structure built between 1702 and 1736, surrounds seven courtyards and stretches 1,065 from end to end. Take a tour of the abbey and the adjacent English landscape garden.
Ride your bikes to Spitz, in the heart of the Wachau, where you can take a short hike to the ruins of the Hinterhaus castle and look across to the Tausendeimerberg, the Mountain of a Thousand Buckets, where vineyards are carved into hillside terraces. Board the riverboat in Spitz for the short but scenic ride to Krems. The 1,000-year old town is surrounded by vineyards and filled with historic buildings, including churches, monasteries, and fortifications. It’s also a lively town with cafés, shops, and bistros.
Danube Bike Path
Before leaving Canada we had also received some information on the bike route including this booklet from the bike company. I recently found it again for sale on the internet as well. Cycling Guide Danube Bike Trail.
This guide book has detailed maps of the entire Danube route. So you just need to find the section you are biking and follow the map. In addition to the maps, this guide book lists some of the attractions with descriptions of sites you will find along the route. Of course these days most people depend mostly on their GPS which is included to guide them along the path. However, it’s always good to have a manual map for back-up.
We started this bike trip by actually flying into Vienna and we stayed there the first overnight. The next morning we took the train to our starting point, the city of Linz. Of course, what do we do on our arrival at Linz? Finding a place for some refreshments of course🍺. We needed to get hydrated in order to prepare for the first biking day!
And then dessert! We couldn’t wait to try the Linzertorte, the traditional dessert in Linz with a bit of cream on top. Yummy!
We did a bit of sightseeing that afternoon and quite enjoyed this city. We took the Pöstlingbergbahn (tram) up the mountain It is a popular tourist destination with a viewing platform over the city. It is also the site of the Pöstlingberg pilgrimage Church. This pilgrimage church is dedicated to the Seven Sorrows of the Virgin Mary and is perched high above the city as a landmark. We were told is was built in 1748. It’s now a popular location for weddings because of its unique beauty overlooking a beautiful landscape.
In Linz that night the bike company had booked us at Hotel Donauwelle.
With all the touring we did of the city that day we missed the bike company’s regional rep who we were told by the hotel staff had arrived at the hotel a bit earlier. Hum, we are now on our own to figure this trip out. He did leave however all the documentation with the staff at the front desk. The bikes, we were informed would have been left in the garage underneath the hotel. This was all new to us since this was our very first bike tour using the assistance of a bike company. In the garage, we saw many bikes with name tags on them but none had our names. We eventually saw two lonely bikes in the back of the garage with no names on them. We wondered right then, could these be ours? We were a bit puzzled as the bikes were pretty shabby, not sure they would have lasted the trip! We then started laughing our heads off. We just couldn’t believe having to do the trip on those bikes 🤣. We were envious of all the other bikes we saw around us intended for other bikers. This was hilarious! Just as we were about to leave the garage in tears of laughter I saw “Robichaud” on a tag on one of the other bikes. Oh my! We’ve been saved! Here were two great bikes with saddlebags, racks, locks perfect! 🚲
We had a bit of difficulty sleeping that first night as we were quite excited to get going in the morning. We had a good breakfast, which was provided for us at the hotel and got going with our first destination being Ennes, 38 Kms away. What a great bike path! Many people were cycling on it, young and old. I must say that those older European bikers sure know how to bike!
Many signs led the way. It was great going through the countryside and cycling along the Danube River. Biking this path was a great way to discover this region. It’s so easy and traffic-free!
Once we got to Enns we settled into hotel Brunner. Great location right in the town’s main square. After all that biking we might as well have some dessert 🍰
That evening we had dinner right in front of our hotel. Already excited for the next day.
Grein is our next day’s destination, 32 kms away. What can be more fun then this (see below), taking a bike ferry 😊 to cross over to the other side of the river. When we read the information in our bike package it indicated that we would be taking a ferry. We were thinking of a car ferry of course, but to our surprise, this is what appeared on the side of the river to pick us up! Loved it!
Cycling the route we noticed our destination coming up. What will we see in this new town?
In Grein we stayed at Gastof ZunTraube.
These little towns are lots of fun to explore.
The next day we were off to Melk, 26 kms away.
Along the way you see many river cruise ships passing by on the Danube river. These are all those river cruises we had heard so much about before coming to Austria.
Great day of cycling!
On our way to Melk we stopped in Ybbs. They had a little market happening that day in the small village square.
Have a look at this bread! It was a bit strange as the stall banners had “Italia” written on them ?? We should have asked why but mostly interested in the size of the bread!
Melk was beautiful. Melk marks the official start of the Wachau, which is Austria’s most famous wine-growing region. As we cycled by, vineyards stretch up the sides of the valley. Once in Melk we visited the Benedictine Abbey, a magnificent baroque structure that is visible from afar.
While in Melk, we stayed at the hotel Melk Wachauerhof.
The next morning we headed to our final destination Krems . We first biked 20 kms to Spitz and then we took a riverboat to reach Krems. The riverboat cruise to Krems had been organized by the bike company as well. We certainly enjoyed this last day of biking but we did not want it to end.😩
In Spitz while waiting for our riverboat we had a little lunch by the river.
We then boarded the riverboat with our bikes for a nice scenic cruise to krems.
In Krems we stayed at the Park hotel.
We celebrated our final destination with a nice meal. Bernard’s favorite, blood pudding!😊
We leave by train tomorrow for Vienna … we’ll miss our bikes as we turned them in with the hotel staff. It was a great and memorable bike trip. 😊🚲It would be amazing to do this with our family someday. There’s nothing like being on a bike to explore new places. You get to see so much more and you can do it at your own pace. We will definitely incorporate cycling into our vacations to Europe in the future. (and we did…😊)