Day 1: Join trip Vienna; travel to Passau
Leaving our exploration of the wonderful city of Vienna until later, we begin the trip by heading straight to Passau, (either by train or private bus) a journey of some 3 hours. On arrival we shall settle into our hotel and get ready for tomorrow's cycle.
Day 2: Cycle from Passau through small villages to Schlögen
Passau lies at the confluence of the Danube, the Inn and the Ilz and has hence long been known as the 'City of Three Rivers'. Once one of the centres of power for Roman Catholicism, much of the city was destroyed by a great fire in 1662. But, rebuilt in Italian baroque style, it remains today certainly one of Germany's most beautiful cities and a fine starting point for our trip. Before leaving Passau we get fitted up with our bikes. We'll then cycle through the Donauleiten Nature Reserve, part of the southern edge of the Bavarian Wald. A wealth of plants from different geographical origins grow here, and amongst the notable fauna there are more different reptiles to be found than in any other region of Germany. After passing through the small village of Erlau, the town of Obernzell and Jochenstein we cross over the Danube by ferry at Schlögen and enter Austria at Engelhartszell. Travelling now largely on the old tow path, we pass through a valley dominated by the Ranereidl Castle. It is not long before we arrive at Schlögen and the start of the famous 'Schlögener Schlinge' (Great Loop). Here we stay the night.
Our total cycling distance today is approximately 44 kilometres
Day 3: Cycle the 'Great Loop' from Schlögen to Linz
The Danube, up until it reached Schlögen, had been merrily cutting its course through soft soils. At Schlögen, however, the river came up against a granite ridge barring its path. Unable to cut through, it turned 180 degrees and went north east back the way it had come until it was able to make its way past the obstruction, thus creating the famous 'Great Loop'. The Danube's smaller tributaries were used for farming pearls and 'Passau pearls' enjoyed great popularity for many years. We cycle along the flat river path following its twists and turns. Arriving in Linz we shall take the time to make a tour of the recently renovated historic centre. Though the capital of Upper Austria is a busy centre of trade and industry (in fact Europe's first ever industrial factory was in Linz) it also has a growing reputation as a city of culture and the arts.
Our total cycling distance today is approximately 53 kilometres
Day 4: Pedal through the fertile countryside to Grein
Today's ride passes through green and fertile Austrian countryside and there are many sights along the way that could distract us, sights like the open air 'prehistory' museum at Mitterkirchen, the Berglitzl (a hunters' camp dating back to the end of the last Ice Age in 12000 BC), and Burg Klam, one of the best preserved castles in the country. One again our cycling follows the river allowing plenty of time to admire this waterway. Our destination is Grein, a pretty town that is itself dominated by the picturesque castle of Greinburg. It also boasts a 16th century Rathaus' and the oldest surviving theatre in Austria.
Our total cycling distance today is approximately 65 kilometres
Day 5: Cycle from Grein to Melk
Shortly after leaving Grein, travelling on the south bank, we ride through the 'Strudengau', where the presence of the Hausstein Rock causes dangerous eddies and the island of Worth forces the Danube waters swiftly through narrows that have long been difficult to navigate; so difficult in fact that eventually a canal was built to bypass this section of river. Further on we cycle by Ybbs, former trading centre on the Danube, located on the southern bank. Directly opposite on our side of the river is Persenbeug, in the early 1800's the most important shipbuilding town on the lower Danube. The ride continues, passing by Maria Taferl with its pilgrimage church, to Melk, dominated by its imposing Benedictine monastery.
Our total cycling distance today is approximately 46 kilometres
Day 6: Ride along the terraced vineyards to Krems
Today we cycle through the Wachau, with its terraced vineyards, fruit plantations and romantic villages constituting undoubtedly some of the most beautiful landscape along the entire Danube River. This region has been growing vines for wine production since the time of Charlemagne, and the industry still thrives today despite being variously ravaged over the centuries by weather, periods of war and pests. Today the wines produced in the Wachau are much prized throughout the world. Besides the sheer beauty of the landscape, we shall ride through historic towns and villages, like Weissenkirchen, Durnstein and Stein. Richard the Lionheart was once held hostage in Durnstein Castle, the ruins of which can be seen above the picturesque town. The medieval city centre of today's destination, Krems, invites us for a stroll. Regarded as the oldest city in lower Austria it is a beguiling mix of the Renaissance with the baroque and the Gothic, a profusion of narrow criss-crossing streets and alleyways, full of old town houses and pretty churches with impressive spires and towers.
Our total cycling distance today is approximately 40 kilometres
Day 7: Cycle the Krems and Danube tow paths to Tulln
With the Wachau region ending at Krems, the Danube enters the expansive flatlands of the Tulln plain. We set off today initially following the Krems River, but this soon meets up with the Danube itself. It does not immediately flow into it, however, and we find ourselves cycling along the well-surfaced tow path between the Krems to our left and the Danube to our right. We continue like this all the way to Altenworth, and shortly afterwards cross the Danube by way of a dam to the south bank. Almost immediately we cross the Traisen, another tributary about to join the Danube, and turn left to continue along our journey. Crossing streams and traversing both forest and fields, we pass through the villages of first Zwentendorf, then Pischelsdorf, Langenschonbichel and Kronau to reach our nightstop of Tulln.
Our total cycling distance today is approximately 46 kilometres
Day 8: Arrive in Vienna by bike for orientation tour
For the final stage of our journey we return once more to the northern, or left, bank. After a while we shall see on the opposite bank the village and castle of Greifenstein. At Korneuburg the mighty Danube begins to dip southwards and soon afterwards enters the outskirts of the capital, Vienna. Proceeding through the streets we shall make an orientation tour of Vienna's main attractions before heading to our hotel to check in. The rest of the day is free for independent sightseeing. The city of Vienna remains a testament to the once immensely rich and powerful Habsburg dynasty and its architectural treasures are many, with impressive statues and public buildings at every turn, interspersed with tasteful gardens. You may choose just to spend a few hours walking or cycling around, soaking up the atmosphere, or you might take in a couple of the wonderful museums, or perhaps visit the world-renowned Schloss Schonbrunn, the enormous summer palace of the Habsburgs. Whichever you choose, Vienna will certainly provide a wonderful end to our trip.
Our total cycling distance today is approximately 39 kilometres
Day 9: Trip ends Vienna
The trip ends in Vienna this morning after breakfast.
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