The Danube or Danau river is the second longest in Europe and passes through nine countries. It is a historic corridor for which control has been contested through the centuries. The Austrian Danube valley was populated during the Paleolithic Age 25000 years ago. When the Roman arrived in the 1st century BC there were Celtic settlements which had established the important salt trade. The cycling route through the Austrian Danube is well established and this route passes Abbeys, archeological digs, vineyards and fortresses. There are bike paths on both sides of the river, in most cases and opportunities along the way to cross over via ferry, bridge or over the various power station dam tops. We had flown into Vienna (Wein) and had rented bicycles, instead of bringing our own. They were ready and waiting for us when we arrived at our hotel. Next morning we made our way to the Franz Joseph rail station to catch the “bike train” that took us, and a load of other eager cyclists, on the approximate 4.5 hour journey to Passau, Germany. This is a crossroads of a number of cycle routes and we had been here before on a route Germany. We arrived mid day and after checking in at our pension, we stretched our legs and did a tour of town. Aside from being easily accessible by rail, Passau is a nice little riverside town. Three rivers converge here; the Danube, the Inn and the Ilz, and the view from the Roman Museum on the hill across the river gives a great view of the convergence.
Stage One: Passau to Schlogen 39,3 km
We cross the Danube on the bridge near the Rathaus and go right through the short tunnel and then ride with the river on the right. There is a bike lane across the bridge and then it disappears for just a bit, before picking up again. The route is well signed. There are lots of cyclists out today. It is straightforward through Obernzell and then on through Niederranna and then on until we reach the well marked; but, pretty non descript passenger/bike ferry that will take us across the Danube to Schlogen, where we are spending the night. A brief; but, intense rain storm hit, shortly after we checked in to our hotel. We were lucky that the sun came up soon after and we were able to make the hike up the hill to catch the spectacular of the Schlogen bend when the Danube makes a big loop around. This was a great view and a photo op.
Stage Two: Schlogen to Linz 56,3 km
Next day we head out to ride most of the day beside and with the river to our left. No ferry crossing today; but we will cross the river at a power station/dam that spans the river near Aschach. We stay on that side of the reiver all the way until we cross the river to enter Linz centrum. We questioned whether this was private or OK to use as a crossing and determined it was OK. There is an alternative route to continue on path, without crossing here. We opted to cross, instead. It was not as quiet; but, more direct. We then leave the river for a bit, before coming back to it around Weidet. Again, the path is well signed. From there, we pedal on to the town of Ottensheim. Leaving town, there are several crossings under roadways and a crossing over and then beside rail tracks, then a section beside the roadway on the cycle path at Puchenau. We can tell that we are getting nearer the large city of Linz. This is a comfortable approach to the city and we approach Linz and only turn away from the river just before Nibelungenbrucke bridge. We will be riding up and around the new city hall, to cross the bridge. It has bike lanes in both directions. Straight ahead is the attractive main square, Hauptplatz. We had a long ride to reach Linz and we stayed over a day to ride the “mountain train” tram up to Postlingsberg. There are nice grounds around the old St Leopold church and amenities, as well as a spectacular overview of Linz and the surrounding area.
Stage Three: Linz to Enns 34,1 km
We retrace our entry and ride back across the Nibelungenbrucke bridge on the bike lane. Just after, we negotiate one way streets to loop around and bring us back down to the river, through a park and onto the bike path beside the river. We had decided on a side trip to Sankt Florian abbey, so we crossed over the Danube at the Abwinden-Asten Power Plant/Dam and headed south through Asten. This was a bit confusing with lack of signage, as we wound over rain tracks and under the auto route for around 4km, partially following the Ipfbach river. We are looking for the promised “green signs” directing us to Sankt Florian. Yeah! We reach the pretty little town and head up to view the impressive baroque abbey and grounds. Visits are by tours, only, so we opted to stroll around the outside on this sunny afternoon and just take pictures and pause for a welcome drink on this hot day.
Then we retraced through town and then through tiny Samnesleiten. From here there are farm fields. Whoa! we reached an area with major road construction and no signs. We guessed and took a wrong turn and had to double back to find the right way toward Enns. We ended up on Ental Road and road on under rail tracks until we reached the signed indicating we were entering Enns. We still have a ways to go, however. Go on through the roundabout and straight on. There is periodic bike path taking us to the centrum. Once we reach Mauthausenerstrasse, we head up the hill. We have found our lodging for tonight. We had time to walk around and explore this, Austria’s oldest town. The belfry of the town tower, completed in 1568, dominates the town square and the Enisburg castle, build in 1475, is also worth a visit to wander the grounds.
Stage Four: Enns to Grein 41,7 km
We leave Enns on Lorcherstrasse. There is no cycle lane here. After crossing over the rail track, we make a right turn. Then we pedal on to ride under the highway and rail bridge close by and then turn left. We ride through Enghagen; angling right. Soon we are on a quiet road beside the Danube. We reach the bike/pedestrian ferry which takes us across to Mauthausen on the north bank. We turn right and head toward Albern. We cross the Aist River near Obersebern. Then we ride on to Au and along a very nice wide paved path, past the marina. There are lots of other cyclists out today. There is a little jog away from the river. We continue on the north bank, instead of crossing at the Wallsee-Mitterkirchen Power Station/Dam, we leave the riverside to ride through Hutting and beside Mitterkirchen. We then head off through Labing and take the Mettendorf Road, past the fire station and over a stone bridge. We keep on this route, through some woods and thankfully, we now have some signs directing us to our destination. We make it back to beside the Danube. After crossing a pedestrian/bike bridge near Dornach, we are between the rail tracks and the river. This nice path beside the river, takes us all the way into the riverside town of Grein. The Grein castle is on the hill. We opted for a fun visit to the Old Rathaus. Constructed in 1563, the adjacent grain silo has been transformed into the famous Burgertheater in 1791 and contains an interesting exhibition of old memorabilia. This is the oldest theater in Austria. Most of the buildings in the town center date from the 16th and 17th centuries in baroque style.
Stage Five: Grein to Melk 47,6 km
Today we begin by immediately crossing the river on the Grein passenger/bike ferry.
We will be riding the south back, with the river to our left, today. This is a nice path and there are many other cyclists out today. This is very straightforward. We pass the Ybbs-Persenbeug power station and pedal on toward Ybbs. As we approach Ybbs, we cross over the highway and then back on a bike path on the other side, beside the river. We turn right to enter Ybbs and there is an interesting bicycle sculpture here. After a photo op, we continue up the hill into the old fortified town of Ybbs, to visit their bicycle museum.
This is a fun and recommended stop. Then we exit town on Weinerstrasse, past the Rathaus and cross Bahnhofstrasse to get back on a bike path. We will be crossing and riding beside the Ybbs river and under a rail bridge and continuing until it enters the Danube and we continue on the Danube bike path once again. We will be riding between the Danube and railroad right of way. We ride on past Sausenstein and Krummnusbaum. Soon there is a split in the trail and we take the uphill portion. This takes us to an overpass bridge. Just after the bridge, we turn left and continue along the Danube path past Pochlarn. From here, it is on past the Melk Power Station/Dam. We are just following signs to Melk, whcih is set back from the Danube, and we pass moored vessels and cruise boats, before turning off as the trail does a little zigzag. A tunnel takes us under the Melk river. Up ahead is a little bridge and the town of Melk, with its most impressive Benedictine abbey, loom ahead. They sun was glinting off the abbey towers as we head up the hill to our lodging. Melk abbey is one of the best known in Europe. The library houses over 100000 volumes. It is certainly worth a visit for the frescoes, the library and the views.
Stage Six: Melk to Krems 37,7 km
Today we ride through the beautiful Wachau valley. This scenic region is noted for its vineyards, which stretch up the hillsides from the Danube. We ride down Hauptplatz from our hotel and at the bottom, before the bridge, we cross at the crosswalk, turn right and ride on the path to the left of the road; Wachauerstrasse. When the path appear on the opposite side of the road, we cross over. Continue on and ride under the bridge to Emmersdorf. Just after, there is a right turn and shortly beyond that turn is a steep path for bikes and walkers that takes us up the hill to where we get on the bridge. There is a nice safe lane for cyclists. On the other side, the road loops around and watch for the crosswalk to take across to the bike path that takes us back beneath the same bridge we just crossed; but, beside the river on the north bank. Continue to Schallemmersdorf and cross the road to ride through town. The path picks up as we exit and we ride on to Grimsing, then a short diversion before returning to the bike path. We continue on through Aggsbach-Markt and stay on the bike lane along Bundessrasse. We have a little climb up to Groisbach and then continue up to Willendorf. There is an archeological dig and small museum here. Among things found was a fertility figure, as well as more than 130 stone age objects. Quite a find.
We stay above the river through Schwallenbach and on through Spitz, where we wind through town, under rail tracks to Bahnhofstrasse and then pass in front of the rail station. We cross the tracks and head down to the river. The path narrows past St Michael church and there is another little climb away from the river. Were right beside loads of vineyards here and a view back down to the river below. We pedal through Wosendorf and Joching and then on through Weisenkirchen. We’re beside the highway for a bit on a path and then we turn off left on a farm road through “Frauengarten”, among more vineyards, before returning back down beside the roadway. As we approach Durnstein, the ruined castle can be seen on the hill. This was where England’s king Richard the Lionheart was held for ransom during the 30 years war. The much visited town of Durnstein sits up a hill and below the ruin. We arrived mid day and it was bustling. We made a stop for refreshments, as well as snapping some photos. Then we were off for the last stretch. We left town, turning left and under the busy Bundesstrasse highway and follow the lane through vineyards and orchards. There is a stretch beside the road, again, between the rail tracks and river and when we reach Stein, we ride through the Linz gate and straight on to exit through another gate and then under a rail bridge. We are actually now in Krems. Our hotel is near the center pedestrianized area and near the park. Krems is a larger town; but once we pass through the Steiner Tor and enter the pedestrian sheet, we feel the comfort of a market square and enjoyed the ambiance of several welcome beer gardens.
Stage Seven: Krems to Tulln 42,1 km
We head out of town on Ringstrasse, which may change names; but, it pretty much a straight shot out. We pass under, the rail bridge and turn right, after. Then we continue on Kremsrecht. After a rail crossing, we are pretty much out of Krems and on a small road that parallels Krems. Soon we cross over the Krems river on an overpass and ride beside the Krems. We cross back over the Krems, again and the path goes through some woods as it makes its way to the Danube. From here we follow the Danube north bank, under a bridge and keep going to the Altenworth Power Station/Dam, where we cross the Danube to the South bank. We ride past Zwentendorf and Kleinschonbichl and cross over the Persohling river as it flows into the Danube and we’re in a rather industrial area, interspersed by fields. Then we ride on through Pischelsdorf and Langenschonbichl. Then a section of fields and then woods. The path crosses under an autoroute and then shortly after, we cross over the Gross Tulln river. We turn left and ride beside the Gross Tulln as it flows into the Danube. This brings us into Tulln beside the Danube on a lovely path that threads through park grounds and footbridges. This is a nice stop before reaching the big city of Vienna. We enjoyed a visit to the Egan Schiele Museum, as well as the Roman museum. Tulln has an attractive harbor and a very creative sculpture/fountain.
Stage Eight: Tulln to Vienna 39,8 km
We leave Tulln on Hauptplatz to Indrite Abbey and then trun right and down to the harbor. Again, there are a lot of cyclists out today. We turn right onto the tow path and pass the river stage and on under a bridge and past the marina. From here, it is straight on beside the Danube, past Langenlebarn and Muckendorf. Then on to the Greifenstein power station/dam. We are not crossing; but, stay on the south bank, turning toward Greifenstein, instead. Pass Hoflein and then the path diverts from the river. We parallel the rail tracks past Kritzendorf. Then under the auto bridge and over another bridge over the Klosterneuburg Durchstich canal. Time for a stop to take in Klosterneuburg. This impressive medieval monastery is only available for guided tours, so we opted for a quick view. Then it was on for the last part of the ride into Vienna (Wein). This part was a bit tedious, as we are going into a very big city. We have paths, before we reach the bike lanes in the city itself. We leave Klosterneuburg through a wooded area, then winding around and back over the Klosterneuburg canal and getting on a path that parallels the river. This goes on and on and we pass under multiple bridges until we finally reach the Rossauer bridge and we take the ramp up to Franz-Josefs Kai and the street. We cross over and then turn right at Schottenring. We will be passing beside or very near some of Vienna’s prestigious museums. The streets are quite busy; but, we hold our own on paths and bike lanes, following ring roads. Finally we make it to Mariahilferstrasse and proceed to our hotel to check in & this is where we leave our rental bikes for pick up. Vienna has much to see and we chose to stay on to catch some of the sights. St Stephans Cathedral is a must see, and you can get a spectacular view of the town from it’s tower. Horse drawn carriages queue up to ferry sightseers around; but, we preferred walking. For opera enthusiasts, there are performances to see. Movie buffs may recall the Orson Wells “Third Man”, which was filmed here and tours of the sewer, will put you right in the picture. There are an abundance of wonderful museums as well. Then there are the outstanding desserts. Need I say more?