Pedal around opal lakes and past terraced vineyards. Pull up at pastry shops where the cakes' decoration rivals the beauty of the scenery. Austria is full of the glory of an old, rich civilization, without the militarism of a powerful one. Music, art, history, crown jewels...
Days 1 & 2: Our trip assembles on Sunday, and the earlier you arrive, the more for Salzburg. Strudel at the Glockenspiel cafe, evening Mozart. Claim your bike, and adjust to their quirks on Salzburg's delightful bike path network. On Monday, pretty loops can take you to a water castle, a salt mine, an eagle’s nest (the ambitious can ride all the way to beautiful Berchtesgaden, regretably (in)famous as Hitler’s rural retreat)..., and still get you back into Salzburg in time for more Mozart. Or more strudel. Spend a festive evening in a tree-shaded beer garden (at least until you slip under the shady table). (20-60km)
Day 3: An early train gets us out of town, and then it’s off to a pair of beautiful lakes, the Mondsee and St. Wolfgangsee. Follow lakeside roads, through fairy-tale landscapes. The yellow onion-domed church in Mondsee is where the marriage took place in “Sound of Guess What.” You'll have to go on the trip if you want to know about the trickery. Then into the mountains. This evening we take a mountain railway to our hotel on top of the local Alp, the Schafberg. (45km)
Day 4: Down the mountain in the morning, and then from St. Wolfgang to Bad Ischl for Austria's most famous pastry shop. You'll quickly see why. Kaiser Franz Joseph kept his country villa here: a visit allows you to admire the gardens, and also his single-minded persecution of the local deer population. “Bad” in this context is not a qualitative comment, incidentally, but rather the German word for “bath,” or spa. Up the valley to the Hallstätter See, and to Austria's prettiest village. A day of superlatives. Rent an electric boat to glide out onto the glass lake, or have a cherry strudle on the shore and watch the trout in the waters at your feet. Finally, on up the Traun valley to Bad Aussee for a two-night stay in a country gasthof. (60km)
Day 5: A day in the Bad Aussee land. Cycle back to Hallstätt to visit the salt mines, or to Obertraun for a cable-car ride to the top of the Dachstein. There is an Eishöhle (pronounce carefully) — an ice cave — up here, too. Visit Altaussee to gaze up at the Loser (an Alp, not a person). Play a round of mini-golf on Bad Aussee's charming town square. Sip the local white wine as you gaze at the Grundlesee. Or leave behind the already limited hustle and bustle for a hike to one of Austria's most isolated and beautiful lakes... perhaps a picnic on its shores. Venison is a local specialty, in season. (0-40km)
Day 6: An early start is wise for this long and beautiful day. You're in the heart of Austria now, pedaling through farming villages covered in flowers, and down bucolic river valleys surrounded by soaring mountains. Tourists rarely come this way - you'll see far more farm animals. The abbey at Admont has a spectacular library, and there is the occasional castle... but this is a day for biking. The scenery unfolds before you, and no two kilometers are the same. Marathoners can try to do it all by bike; most of us will train over the last third. (100-150km Hang on!)
Days 7 & 8: A gorgeous and varied day along a gentle path through soothing country-side. We follow the Enns River to where it joins the Steyr River, in the city of Steyr, the capital of the Steyr district of Austria. There’s a notable dearth of imagination in all that, eh? Visit the entertaining “work museum,” or watch for Shubert’s trout in the rapids. The prettiest location in town happens to be right where our hotel is, overlooking the mingling waters. Lots of interesting loops are available on the morrow, or just enjoy the beauty of the regional capital. (72km Saturday, 0-60km Sunday)
Day 9: Along a mix of cycle paths and country lanes down to the Danube, which we cross via a ferry dedicated to cyclists. On the far side of the beautiful blue, a surprise: a veritable river of cyclists flowing down a path laid out along the river. The Danube bike route is certainly the greatest, and the most used, of all of Europe’s cycle arteries. Join the fun! The day is marked by some disturbing history, flat terrain with the wind at your back, and the satisfaction that comes from burning kilometers. Not really even a hint of what is to come. (60km)
Day 10: We continue our exploration of the river bike path, passing cheerful groups of Austrians riding their clunky uprights and dragging the kids behind. Stop in riverside taverns for an apfelsaft on your way to Melk. A glorious Benedictine abbey greets your arrival. (45km)
Day 11: The high point of the trip: we ride into the fresh and fruity white wine region of the Wachau. The valley narrows, the villages become more frequent (and oh-so-picturesque)... Stop often in the heurigen along the way and sample happy local elixirs in cordial backyard settings. A wurst and a bretzel at every stop make for a delightful all-day lunch, and the bike path keeps you from getting too banged up if the buzz knocks you off your bike. A day to wear your helmet, and not as a vessel for wine tasting! Richard the Lionheart was held for years in the castle at Durnstein, but by the time you get there, it won’t seem like such a bad fate. Nightfall brings us to Krems, the regional capital, where our usual hotel is a postal relay, centuries old. (40km)
Day 12: Pretty much as many k as you want, since you can cycle all the way to Vienna if you choose, or get on the train after a quick, flat, morning ride, and be there for lunch. If your time in Vienna is short, you can even catch a train directly from your hotel’s front door. (70km)
Day 13: Spend as long as you can afford with the music, the wine, the palaces and their gardens. Vienna is one of our favorite cities, with the wealth and beauty of the center of empire it was for so long. Take in an opera or a concert, visit the beautiful Cathedral or one of the great art museums, hunt down a stallion or two.... And be sure to make time for the delightful cafés in the north end of town, where you can catch a couple of the hundred or so houses Beethoven apparently lived in.
Trip disbands here - enjoy your final hours in this fabulous city!
- Bike rental included in trip price!
Also see tour packages in:
Europe Austria Outdoor: Land Rambler Bicycle Touring
Email it to a friend:
Click here to email this vacation to a friend