To shorten a day's riding, you can often board a train or ship along the way. Many trains have cars specifically for bicycles, and ships carry them with no problem as well. Unforgettable end of the tour is the Austrian capital, Vienna, with its countless sights. You start in a deep valley with craggy outcroppings topped with the ruins of ancient castles. Soon, the hills turn to the rolling vineyards of the Wachau region, dotted with medieval towns. As the river widens, flat pastures spread to the horizons, and you meander through farms and villages.
From time to time you cross the river, over dams, locks and bridges and sometimes in small ferries that hold barely a dozen cyclists. You finish in Vienna, where you have a chance to see the city by bicycle. This is an excellent tour for families with children. Children's bikes, seats and trailers are available. The typical tour from Passau to Vienna lasts 8 days/7 nights, and many variations are available. You can also stay in one location and do day trips. Tours from Linz to Vienna are also possible.
Day 1: Individual arrival in Passau. Arrive in Passau, the City of Three Rivers, at the confluence of the Inn, Ilz and Danube Rivers. If you'd like, take a sightseeing tour around the city and the cathedral, where you might hear a concert on the world's largest church organ. Overnight in Passau.
Day 2: Passau – Aschach (43 miles by bike). You pass the charming town of Engelhartszell with its unique Trappist monastery and breathtakingly beautiful rococo church. The monastery also makes its own brandies, which you might pick up for later consumption. After riding through granite massifs, you enter an opulent green landscape and soon you come to Schlögen, where the Danube rounds a nearly 270-degree bend. There you can board a ship (with your bikes) and travel the day's last 16 miles by ship (ship is optional and not included). You disembark in Ottensheim, a medieval market town with historic parish church and castle. Overnight in Aschach.
Day 3: Aschach – Enns/surrounding (33 miles). Continue your ride along the Danube under the gaze of old castles that look from the hilltops. You'll soon come to Linz, Austria's third-largest city, with an 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 to 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.
Past Enns, a winding road overlooking the Danube ends starkly at the concentration camp in Matthausen. From 1938 until the Allied liberation seven years later, 110,000 prisoners died, most of hunger, disease and exhaustion from working the adjacent quarries. The memory of its terrors stands in tragic counterpoint to the landscape below. This is an optional side trip—there's a climb, and the experience is emotionally wrenching. In Wallsee, take the time to visit the 14 th -century Wallsee Castle, still in the possession of the Habsburgs. Overnight in Wallsee.
Day 4: Enns/surrounding - Maria Taferl (43 miles). Past Enns, a winding road overlooking the Danube ends starkly at the concentration camp in Mauthausen. From 1938 until the Allied liberation seven years later, 110,000 prisoners died, most of hunger, disease and exhaustion from working the adjacent quarries. The memory of its terrors stands in tragic counterpoint to the landscape below. This is an optional side trip - there's a climb, and the experience is emotionally wrenching. In Wallsee, take the time to visit the 14th century Wallsee Castle, still in the possession of the Habsburgs.
Past the tiny village of Ardagger, 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 stop at the Persenbeug Castle, which still watches over the Danube from a stark rock outcropping. It dates from the 9 th 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 15 th and 16 th centuries. Much of the historic town wall is still intact. The day's ride ends in Maria Taferl which is located on a small hill. You will get a free transfer for the last miles. Overnight in Maria Taferl.
Day 5: Maria Taferl - Krems (43 miles). You follow the Danube around a tight curve and travel a short distance to another tour highlight: the Melk Abbey. 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. 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.
In Spitz, in the heart of the Wachau, you can make 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. You soon reach Krems, which you enter through its impressive Stone Gate. The 1000-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. Overnight in Krems.
Day 6: Krems – Tulln (29 miles). You travel along dams, locks and trails as the valley broadens and flattens. Here the river flows off into oxbows and meanders, and the setting often feels more like remote wetlands (with ample wildlife) than one of the world’s mightiest rivers. In Tulln, known as the “Flower City,” enjoy a ride along the medieval town walls and look for relics from Roman times. Overnight in Tulln.
Day 7: Tulln - Vienna (24 miles). You pass Klosterneuburg with its imposing monastery and reach the metropolis Vienna.
Day 8: Departure or extension in Vienna.
Also see tour packages in:
Europe Austria Outdoor: Land Rambler Bicycle Touring
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