We must say that we can identify with the German’s love of cycling, as well as their love of beer; two of our favorite things. We chose two connected routes, starting in Munich. This is a good central spot for flights into Germany. The S-Bahn connects to town from the Airport and takes bikes, within the designated hours that do not conflict with heavy commuter traffic. We arrived in the evening and had already checked out the Deutsch Bahn (train) connections for the following day. We picked a direct train to Passau, where we begin our actual ride. It’s easy to check the Deutsch Bahn schedule from home and pick a train that takes bikes and is direct from Munich to Passau, without having to change trains enroute. This makes for an easy and carefree journey. After a restful night and a good fruestach (breakfast), we headed to the nearby station for our rail journey. Arriving in Passau, we made our way from the station to our hotel; checked in and stopped at Tourist Information to arm ourselves with more information and a map of town. Then we headed out to see the sights. Passau is the starting point for no less than 8 cycle routes. This scenic town is located at the confluence of three rivers. If you need any bicycle assistance, there is a convenient bike shop. We made a circuit, catching the main sites and also stretching our legs with a climb up to the castle/museum, for a great view of the three rivers converging in Passau.
The historic St Stevens Cathedral dominates the city and we understand that the organ is the largest in the world. Based on the town’s location, it has a rich trading history.
Stage One: Passau to Deggendorf 61,1 km
Next morning we make our way from our hotel, beside the Danube, to the Rathaus (town hall), along the south bank of the Danube. Then we cross the bridge over the river and turn left to ride upstream with the river to our left. This is a very popular route and we encounter many other cyclists. This is the Danube Bikeway and this is pretty well signed. Mostly there is a path of paving, dirt or gravel, except for stretches through the small towns, where we are on the roadway. There are no major climbs, just up to some dyke paths from time to time and often the river is within sight as the path curves along to match the curving river.
As we approach Degendorf, the largest town on the North side of the Danube on this ride, the traffic increases as we ride through town to our hotel. Then it’s time for some sightseeing of the Town Hall, with it’s tower and clock, the Baroque churches and the town square and a few of the remaining town walls.
This is yet another town where three rivers converge.
Stage Two: Deggendorf to Straubing 39,9 km
This stage is nearly completely flat. For much of it, we are alongside the winding Danube or not far away. Just follow the Danau Bike Path signs. There are other routes as well that may intersect this route, so don’t be confused. The path itself varies again from pavement to gravel to dirt. We diverted for a side trip to the Monastery in Metten. It was only a few km out of our way. This 8th century church was founded by Charlemagne and had a very interesting interior, with fine carvings and frescos. Then we headed back to the Danube route. We made a stop for refreshments as we passed through Bogen. Then the route takes us back to the Danube, until Reibersdorf. Eventually we reach the first bridge into Straubing over part of the Danube. The second bridge is a ways away, across an large island to reach the other part of the Danube. After the 1st bridge, we took what looked like the correct path which diverts to wind through suburbs and past a campground and sports fields on local roads on a quiet paths. This ends near the second bridge over another part of the Danube. Straubing, itself, is across and up the hill and through the gate into the old town center. The Radhaus is straight ahead. The town is a Baroque classic.
We check into our hotel and then become pedestrian tourists. The town square is colorful and we see many other cycle tourists here. We also made a visit to St Paul church with it’s fascinating “dance of death” frescos.
Stage Three: Straubing to Regensburg 57,2 km
Today is another day of flat ground, except of one climb to visit Walhalla. We leave Straubing and cross the Danube; then pass through several small towns. The route varies from a track beside the highway to dirt and gravel paths and dyke paths. It is well signed with the Danube Route signs. Ride past planted fields of wheat and corn. We glimpsed the castle in Worth; but, did not make a stop. We were soon back along the Danube again. We made a stop for picnic lunch after the small village of Frengkofeen. Then the path runs between the Danube and the highway. On the hill ahead, we catch site of the Walhalla monument; modeled after the Greek Parthenon. We turn off at Donaustauf and head up hill to visit the monument. The view from here is spectacular, as we look down over the Danube and the see Regensburg in the distance. Then we breeze back down the hill and push on to Regensburg. It takes a while to pedal through the suburbs and under a number of bridges that cross the river. We cross the river on the Nibelungenbrucke Bridge, which took us safely over both sections of the river. Then we pass under the city gate; Osten Tor (East Gate) and made our way over the narrow cobbled road to Cornmarket Square and on to the Roman Tower and the Dom. This is the heart of Regensburg.
Tourist Information can give good advice of what to see. There are 1500 historic sites in town. We started with Dom St Peter; built in 1275 and a masterpiece. The city itself was founded in AD178 and the Steinerne Brucke is the oldest bridge in Germany and the 1st to span the Danube.
This was a good spot for a day off of rest and sightseeing, the following day, as well as a good time to do some laundry.
Stage Four: Regensburg to Neustadt 50,3
What a difference a day makes. We had had lovely sunshine just yesterday and today we awoke to steady rain. Oh well, what can we do? After lingering over breakfast and delaying our departure a bit, we finally determined that this rain was going to last a while and we may as well push off. We headed out of town; riding beside the Danube,s North bank on a mostly level route. Initially we are on the road without a bike path before it picks up. It is dirt and gravel in this section and today the dirt had turned to mud. After the ferry landing in Grossprufening, we decided to leave the muddy path for a while and pedal on the roadway, which did not have a lot of traffic and our progress was faster. When we reached Bad Abbach, there is a very nice bike/pedestrian bridge over the Danube. At Poikam, we made the decision to stay north of the Danube for now; before turning back onto the dirt/gravel track and back to the Danube again after Herrensaal. We ride the track along the dyke into Kelheimwinzer. We followed the signs through town and then back on the cycle track on top of a dyke. Just outside Kelheim, there are several cycle route directional signs. We took what was marked as R7, which took us into Kelheim, at the confluence of the Altmuhl and the Danube. There is a nice suspension bridge for cycles and pedestrians, taking us over the Altmuhl. From here we cross through the portal and ride the cobbled streets of old Kelheim. Just outside is the boat landing, where we catch the Ferry for about a 40 minute cruise through this section of the Danube’s gorge.
This was spectacular, with sheer cliffs rising from the river. The Ferry lands at Kloster Weltenberg Abbey. They lay claim to being the 1st brewery in the world, from the year 1050. The date may be disputed; but, the monks have a reputation for the beer the brew here.
If time allows, one can linger in the beergarden and check out the gift shop. We made our visit short, as we were anxious to reach of final destination of the day. We chose to ride on the roadway here, as it was pretty straightforward and since we were running late. There is a small climb from Weltenburg and after cresting the hill, we are rewarded with some sunshine. This was so welcome, after the rain. After the town of Fittling, the bike track picks up. We continue through Bad Goggings and over the Abens River and on to Neustadt. We ride through the banner bedecked main street to our lodging. They whole town was in celebration mode for this summer festival. We checked in, freshened up and joined the townfolk for beer, food and entertainment on a lovely evening. What a full and diverse day! Time to unwind.
Stage Five: Neustadt to Neuburg 58,0 km
Today we will be crossing back and forth over the Danube, multiple times. It’s a technical ride and we stopped often to get advice from others to make sure we were on the right track. The path again ranges from dirt, gravel, mud and payment and part of this is up on a dyke. We leave Neustadt and are soon on a bike track beside the highway. We cross over both sections of the Danube on a separeated track. There are some confusing sections where we cross over the highway and then cross back over shortly after to join the cycle path again. Our second Donau crossing is before Pforrin, after negotiating another confusing highway crossing. We then pass through a few small towns and a long stretch beside the river on multi terrain. After Oberdunzing, we prepare for another Danube crossing at Vohburg. This was a pretty little town with town gates and nice square. We got a bit lost here and asked a local to make sure we were on the Donauradweg. Who know, it looked just like a small gravel road to a farm. Lo and behold, up the gravel incline was the continuation of the trail. We cross the nice cycle bridge over the Klein Donau (little Danube tributary). The Danube itself soon comes into view and we ride along the twisting river for quite a while. We found that the best crossing was not the Grossmehring bridge, which had no bike lane; but another bridge before Ingolstadt. We work our way into the heart of Inglestadt and pass the Schloss (castle) and through the old section of town. We made this our lunch stop and took some time to explore the castle grounds. The town is still surrounded by medieval fortifications. We exit town and ride on to the Westliche Ring road, where we cross and go straight. Signs are few here. We continue to a Danube Dam and cross the river on the dam. From here we are in some woods and then countryside. We ride through Weichering and on to Rohrenfeld, where we pick up a paved track. More confusion, until another cyclist gave us good directions. Finally we are on a path beside the road that goes beside the Danube and into Neuburg. The castle is on the hill to our right. We found our guesthouse, settled in, cleaned up and headed to the castle to explore the beautiful baroque buildings, as well as the Neolithic remains and gardens.
Stage Six: Neuburg to Donauworth 35,9 km
Today we cross over the Danube for the last time on this route. We will be alternating all day between riding in the roadway and on cycle paths and there are a few climbs, along with some rolling hills. We head out of Neuburg, over the Elisenbruke Bridge. We note the various cycle route sign, as many routes seem to intersect. We’re watching specifically for Donauradweg route signs today. We ride through Bittenbrunn, then through some woods, before reaching the Danube. Continue on through Riedensheim and then climb to Stepperg and then to Bertoldsheim, on a hill. Again today, we are in the company of a number of other cyclists on this popular route. We are on the highway through Marxheim and then a climb to reach a nice two/way cycle track beside the highway. We get to coast downhill and then climb again to Lechsend on the hill. There are some lovely views along the way. Then it’s on through Altisheim and Zirgesheim. At last a sign for Donauworth. We enter town on a nice cycle track, through a town gate in into the center.
Donauworth is a cycling crossroad, where the Donauradweg and the Romantische Strase intersect. It lies at the confluence of the Danube and Wornitz rivers and was a way station on a busy trade route. The radhaus dates to 1236. The helpful Tourist Information office is just inside the town gate. We strolled around town and caught sight of the storks, which return here each year to nest. This is where we leave one route and start on the Romantische route, which is also popular.