Danube 4 Countries Bike and Boat – MS Primadonna
CategoryBike and Boat
Start / FinishPassau / Passau
Distance185 miles/298 kms
Cruise and cycle along the Danube River between Passau and Budapest aboard the elegant and stylish MS Primadonna. Offering spacious cabins and impressive on-board facilities the MS Primadonna is the second largest cruise ship afloat on the Danube and is a very comfortable base for this leisurely, highly enjoyable, cycling holiday.
You join the boat in Passau, on the German/Austrian border and from here you’ll journey downstream, visiting the Austrian capital Vienna and also Budapest. Each day you’ll disembark for highly enjoyable, leisurely bike rides, on level, dedicated cycle paths or quiet lanes beside the river. The route unveils some of the Danube River’s most iconic sights such as the Schloegen or Danube Loop, elegant Vienna, vibrant and visually stunning Budapest, charming Bratislava and the beautiful villages and scenery of the Wachau Valley.
The daily rides average 48 kms which might sound a lot to some but rest assured the cycling is very easy on level terrain. There are loads of places to stop for a rest or a coffee and the focus is on leisurely cycling rather than haring along so take your time and stop whenever you like. The MS Primadonna, your floating hotel, moves with you everyday so if you like you can always have a day off from cycling and enjoy a leisurely cruise to the next night’s stop. The boat moors somewhere new each evening, sometimes it will be a charming little riverside town and on other nights it will be a large vibrant city. One of the unique joys of this trip to step ashore for a post dinner stroll in a completely different place each night.
Easy cycling, suitable for anyone with a basic level of fitness. E-bikes also available.
Itinerary & Map
The Primadonna operates two slightly different itineraries between Passau and Budapest and your chosen date of travel will determine which of the two routes described below apply. Route A is purely for cyclists while route B will have a mix of cyclists and cruise only passengers. .
Departure dates by route:
Route A: 19 May, 7 July, 14 July, 11 August 18 August & 29 September.
Route B: 28 April, 5 May, 12 May, 23 June, 30 June, 21 July, 8 September, 6 October & 13 October.
Day 1 (Route A): Passau
Upon arrival in Passau make your way to the boat and settle into your cabin. A welcome cocktail is served at 4pm and at 8pm the captain’s welcome dinner begins. During the dinner the crew cast off and we cruise downstream for 3 hours to Schloegen/Obermuhl where we moor for the night. If you arrive early, Passau is a charming town with plenty to see and do. It is the point at which the Danube, Inn and Ilz rivers all meet so there are plenty of river banks to stroll along but we also recommend making the climb to Veste Oberhaus, a medieval fortress and museum that offers a fantastic, panoramic view of the town and surrounding countryside.
Day 2 (Route A): Danube Loop – Linz, 33 miles/53 kms
After a hearty breakfast you disembark for the first cycle ride of the holiday. The ride starts at the Schloegener Loop, also known as the Danube Loop, where the mighty river makes an abrupt 180 degree turn – a very picturesque and famous scene. You continue along the riverbank cycle path, riding through a serene and peaceful valley where steep, forested hillsides descend to the river. Shortly afterwards you’ll pass through the pleasant town of Aschau, perhaps stopping for a coffee, before continuing on along the river. After passing through some more pretty riverside villages you arrive in the city of Linz, where the MS Primadonna is waiting for you. After dinner the crew cast off for an overnight cruise downstream to the city of Tulln.
Day 3 (Route A): Tulln – Vienna,, 22 & 32 miles/36 & 52 kms
After breakfast have a look around Tulln – perhaps visiting the Egon Schiele Museum or Die Garten Tulln, an exhibition of over over 60 different gardens. You then follow the Danube cycle path eastwards, past the foothills of the Wiener Wald (Viennese Woods) and the monastery at Klosterneuburg to the city of Vienna.
A cycle tour around the vibrant, historic city takes reveals many of its famous sights or you can also explore at your own leisure if you prefer. We recommend visiting one of the elegant Viennese cafés for coffee and cake!
Late in the evening the MS Primadonna slips her moorings and cruises downstream through the night to Komarom in Hungary.
Day 4 (Route A): Komarom – Esztergom, 35 miles/56 kms
Disembark after breakfast and start to follow a car-free, flood-defense embankment along the left bank of the Danube. The slightly elevated position affords good views of the surrounding countryside and across the river. You’ll pass through a few sleep villages as well as the small town to Moca before finishing your ride in Esztergom, once the capital of Hungary and one of the country’s oldest towns. At 5pm you are invited to join a tour of the famous Basilica with its enormous, 72 meter high dome. The treasury inside houses an amazing collection of church vestments festooned with precious stones and gold. The MS Primadonna leaves Esztergom at 8pm and cruises downstream to Budapest, arriving around 11pm. It’s worth being on deck with you camera at the ready as you arrive in the city as the view from of the illuminated Parliament building from the river is quite something.
Day 5 (Route A): Budapest – Szentendre, 24 miles/38 kms
After breakfast there is an optional guided city tour of Budapest on foot (€9 per person payable locally) or you can of course explore this youthful, vibrant city at your own pace. The city is actually two cities divided by the river – Buda on the west bank and Pest on the east – with many bridges connecting the two. In the afternoon, a short but very enjoyable bike ride delivers you to the river island of Szentendre just north of Budapest. The town of the same name is a delightful place to stroll around, full of cafes, quirky shops and galleries. The Primadonna picks you up in Szentendre and heads upstream to the town of Vac. If you like you can disembark here for an early evening ride of about 16km around a scenic bend in the river to the town of Visegrad where the Primadonna picks you up and begins a night-cruise back upstream to Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia.
Day 6 (Route A): Bratislava – Hainburg – Bratislava, 32 miles/51 kms
The MS Primadonna arrives in Bratislava around breakfast time. Once again you can choose to join a guided tour of the town (€5 per person payable locally) or explore on your own. Bratislava is a charming little city with a welcoming atmosphere and a network of winding streets to explore. Cafe culture is big here so there are no-end of quaint little places to sit and drink in the atmosphere. In the afternoon you start cycling towards the Austrian border. Your route takes you across what was once the Iron Curtain to the remarkable Castle Hof, an impressive, elegant palace with exquisite staterooms and carefully manicured gardens. You then follow the river westwards, crossing over to the southern bank at the pretty riverside town of Hainburg and back through a rural landscape to Bratislava where the MS Primadonna is waiting for you. At around 8.45pm the boat heads upstream on another night cruise, this time to Krems, the gateway to the Wachau Valley.
Day 7 (Route A): Wachau Valley, 30miles/48kms
Every day on this trip is special but the scenery on today’s bike ride is truly sublime. Disembark in Krems, a pretty place that was once the country’s richest town, and start to follow the river bank upstream. Before long you enter the beautiful, winding Wachau Valley. Steep hillsides, often crowned by castle ruins, descend via a cascade of stone-walled, vineyard terraces and orchards to the river. Tiny, impossibly idyllic, wine villages dot the landscape, many with inviting bars and gasthofs that tempt you to stop and sample the excellent, local wines. The baroque church on the riverbank in Duernstein is stunning but we also urge you to invest in the climb to the castle ruins above the town to see where Richard the Lionheart was imprisoned. Around the next bend in the river you reach Weissenkirchen another gorgeous wine village, closely followed by it charming neighbour, Spitz. It worth climbing the hillside behind Spitz for sensational views of teh river valey with the charming village in the foreground. You rejoin the MS Primadonna in the town of Poechlarn and at 5.00pm she starts the final leg of her journey back to Passau.
Day 8 (Route A): Passau
The MS Primadonna arrives back in Passau at around 8.00am. Disembarkation begins after breakfast at 9.00am. Now it’s time to head for home or your next adventure.
Day 1 (Route B): Passau
Upon arrival in Passau make your way to the boat and settle into your cabin. A welcome cocktail is served at 4pm and at 8pm the captain’s welcome dinner begins. During the dinner the crew cast off and we begin an overnight cruise downstream to the town of Ybbs.
If you arrive early, Passau is a charming town with plenty to see and do. It is the point at which the Danube, Inn and Ilz rivers all meet so there are plenty of river banks to stroll along but we also recommend making the climb to Veste Oberhaus, a medieval fortress and museum that offers a fantastic, panoramic view of the town and surrounding countryside.
Day 2 (Route B): Ybbs – Melk – Wachau Valley, 17 – 32 miles/ 28 – 52 kms
Disembark after breakfast in Ybbs with your bikes. Your first ride leads you through the beautiful Nibelungengau valley on a lovely cycle path beside the river. You’ll pass through quiet, well-kept villages and small towns separated by fertile grazing meadows. The going is easy, the scenery enchanting and before you know it you have covered the 28 kms to the town of Melk with its imposing baroque abbey standing guard over the town. Here you can either re-board the Primadonna for a cruise downstream through the stunning Wachau valley or, if you’re up for more cycling, you can ride through the valley on the riverside cycle path. Either way you are in for a treat as the Wachau is considered to be one of the most beautiful stretches of the river with idyllic wine villages, cascading vineyards and ancient hill-top ruins all vying for your attention. If you opt to cycle this section you’ll re-board the Primadonna in the charming village of Duernsten with its iconic blue and white baroque church. After dinner on board the Primadonna slips her moorings for an overnight cruise downstream to Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia.
Day 3 (Route B): Bratislava – Devin – Hof Castle – Bratislava, 24 miles/ 38 kms
The Primadonna moors in the Slovakian capital for the day so there’s plenty of time to explore the lovely centre of this small but beautiful city. The cycle route leads you along the line of the former Iron Curtain border to the grand and imposing Hof Castle with its immaculate terraced gardens. From here you return to Bratislava via a network of quiet rural lanes. The centre of Bratislava is quite small and we recommend dropping the bikes back to the boat and then exploring the city on foot. Highlights not to be missed are the gorgeous medieval old town with its winding lanes and beautiful squares, the wonderful St Martins’s Cathedral and the city’s most prominent feature, Bratislava Castle.
At around 7.30 pm the Primadonna embarks on an overnight cruise further downstream to Budapest.
Day 4 (Route B): Budapest, 11 miles/ 18 kms
After an overnight cruise you arrive in stunning Budapest, cruising past the awe-inspiring Gothic Parliament building on the riverbank – have the camera ready! The river divides the city in two, Buda on the west bank and Pest on the east. After mooring up you can embark on a relatively short cycle route that will lead you around the two sections of the city. You can also join a more formal guided city bus tour of the city too if you like. In the evening the crew of the Primadonna cast off around 10pm to begin the journey back upstream. Cruising slowly past the illuminated parliament building and ancient bridges of this historic city is a memory that will live long in the memory.
Day 5 (Route B): Esztergom – Komarno, 34 miles/ 55 kms
The Primadonna moors in Esztergom, home to Hungary’s largest Roman Catholic Cathedral which dominates the town from a bluff overlooking the river. Today’s cycling route is nice and level ride, leading you westwards alongside the river past quiet, small towns and villages. On this stretch of the Danube the river is the border between Slovakia (north of the river) and Hungary (south of the river). The ride finishes in Komarno, on the Slovakian side of the river, where the Vah river flows into the Danube. The Primadonna departs Komarno at 6pm for an overnight cruise to the Austrian capital, Vienna.
Day 6 (Route B): Vienna, 13 miles/ 20kms
After breakfast disembark with you bikes for an exciting day’s sight seeing around the vibrant and historic Austrian capital. Vienna is a cycle friendly city with many traffic free routes throughout the metropolis. Visit Schönbrunn Palace, St. Stephen’s Cathedral, and the Imperial Palace. You may also want to take in the ‘Riesenrad’, the giant ferris wheel, made famous in the 1949 British film, ‘The Third Man’, and no trip to Vienna would be complete with out enjoying a coffee and cake in one of its famous coffee houses. After dinner on board the Primadonna you are invited to partake in some wine tasting in the on-board theatre. At around 8pm the boat departs Vienna to cruise upstream to Grein.
Day 7 (Route B): Grein – Linz, 35 miles/ 56kms
Your final day’s cycling leads you from the charming wine town of Grein to bustling city of Linz. Before leaving Grein be sure to have a quick spin around the town as it has a lovely square with a rather good bakery. Follow the well-maintained cycle path past Dornach Castle and through the forest beside the river. Fancy a challenge? Take on the climb to Klam Castle to your right, the view are well worth the effort. Further on near the town of Mauthausen you may wish to visit the site of the concentration camp – a thought provoking place. Finally you arrive in Linz where you can attend a concert on the Bruckner organ in the baroque church. After dinner the Primadonna heads upstream for an overnight cruise to Passau.
Day 8 (Route B): Passau
After breakfast it’s time to disembark and head for home or your next adventure
Dates & Prices
|2017 Arrival Dates|
|Route A departures|
|Route B departures|
|Season 1:||28 April. 6, & 13 October|
|Season 2:||05 & 12 May, 23 & 30 June, 21 July 8 September|
|Season 3:||29 September|
|Season 4:||19 May. 7 & 14 July, 11 & 18 August|
Per person - 2 sharing
|Bunk beds, Lower deck||£639||£785||£693||£760|
|Double, Lower deck||£761||£876||£826||£893|
|Double, Mid deck||£1163||£1294||£1138||£1220|
|Double, Upper deck||£1210||£1340||£1177||£1259|
|Accom Type 5|
|Accom Type 6|
|Accom Type 7|
|Accom Type 8|
|Accom Type 9|
|Accom Type 10|
Board basis: Full board* see notes
Welcome snack on arrival
Daily afternoon tea & coffee
Services of an onboard representative
Cathedral tour in Esztergom
Daily cycle tour briefings
Maps & route information
Route B also includes concerts in Ybbs & Linz & entrance to Castle Hof, a city bus tour in Budapest & 2 small drinks with dinner
Bike hire (see supplements)
Drinks on board
Electric bike (£122)
25% for 3rd person sharing mid deck, sofa bed
*Electric bikes: A security deposit will be requested on arrival as a ‘guarantee’ only. This will be returned when you return the bike in good condition.
Deposit per person £100
The bikes provided on this tour are modern, alloy framed 24-speed hybrid models with comfortable saddle and upright riding position. They are equipped with a pannier for your personal possessions. E-bikes are also available. Helmets are not provided and we therefore recommend bringing your own.
MS Primadonna (Superior)
More images of the cabins and facilities, including deck and cabin plans, are available in the gallery
The MS Primadonna is the second largest cruise ship on the Danube and offers elegant, spacious accommodation and facilities.
All outside cabins are arranged over three decks; lower deck, mid deck and upper deck. All offer individually controlled air conditioning, ensuite shower/wc, hair dryer, satellite TV, minibar and spacious wardrobes.
There are 30 lower deck cabins, which are 12 meters squared and have a large porthole, which does not open to fresh air. All lower deck cabins are twin cabins with 2 separate single beds at either side of the cabin and either a small sofa or 2 separate chairs.
8 cabins to the rear of the lower deck are slightly more compact, approx. 10 square meters and feature bunk beds.
There are 20 mid deck cabins. Mid deck cabins are spacious cabins occupying 16 square meters and have panoramic, sliding French windows and balcony with external bench seat. All mid deck cabins are double cabins – 2 beds together, which cannot be separated and which have separate mattresses and duvets. There is also a small sofa.
There are 20 upper deck cabins. All upper deck cabins are spacious cabins occupying 16 square meters and have panoramic, sliding French windows and balcony with external bench seat. All upper deck cabins are double cabins – 2 beds together, which cannot be separated and which have separate mattresses and duvets. There are also 2 separate chairs.
The ship’s public areas are modern and elegant, providing customers with a very comfortable amenities for the week afloat. A 6o meter long lounge provides a lively place to meet and socialise. There’s also a panoramic restaurant and bar. At the front of the boat there is a fabulous viewing gallery with wonderful, unobstructed forward views. Other amenities include a spacious sundeck offering a range of seating as well as a Jacuzzi (only open if the weather permits). The Spa with Kneipp pool is open all season while the sauna is open June through to August only. On board you will enjoy sophisticated international cuisine. Breakfast is an extensive American breakfast buffet while lunch consists of a light 3 course, a-la-carte menu or a packed lunch for cyclists. In the evening there is a 4 course a la carte menu with a full gala dinner once a week. Tea, coffee and cake is provided each late afternoon and the bar also serves snacks late into the evening.
- Date - 29/07/2016
- Name - Anonymous
- Service rating - 5.0
- Service comment - Ally was very helpful in all respects, especially helping an inexperienced "Yank" get connected by international telephone. All aspects of the reservation process were handled efficiently.
- Product rating - 5.0
- Product comment - We had a great trip! How's that for a start!
We actually picked the trip from among those that were Bike and Boat on the Danube based on the superior accommodations on MS Primadonna. That worked out perfectly; the room was great and the food was excellent. The crew was also very nice as you would expect. So we give the trip four stars out of five. The service provided by *you* was absolutely five stars by the way.
But there were two areas we think could be improved by the boat operator:
1. The on-board bike coordinator was not very well equipped to make the daily journey as good as it might have been. We think the maps provided were very difficult to use. Specifically, the style (font, colors, contrast, clarity, etc.) of the maps made them difficult to read in our opinion. That combined with a lack of verbal information from our bike coordinator to leave us with some uncertainty each day. By the end, we realized by ourselves that there were numbered route signage along the way. If we had only been told! Also, if would have been possible for the coordinator to put up arrows where turns were recommended as he was usually one of the first to complete the trip each day.
2. This may be the responsibility of the boat company: Some routes had stretches of 8-15 km of pathway along a dyke that was out of view of the Danube (or anything interesting). Perhaps that cannot be helped but we think a better route selection (different stops?) might have been possible. To be sure *most* of the routes were very beautiful and interesting.
I hope you are left with the fact that we enjoyed ourselves immensely; would certainly do another “Bike and Boat” and most certainly would book through Flexitreks.
- Flexitreks response - Many thanks for the useful review and the flattering account of my telephony skills! I am glad that you enjoyed the trip overall and while it may be small consolation to someone who has already concluded their vacation, I hope you will be relieved to hear that the maps, route notes and on-board coordinator role have all been improved immeasurably in the interim. I hope to be of service to you the next time you venture across the pond.
- Date - 28/07/2016
- Name - Dot
- Service rating - 5.0
- Service comment - Ally was very friendly and informative. She was efficient and always responded timeously to our enquiries.
Would definitely use Flexitreks again
- Product rating - 5.0
- Product comment - Would rate this as excellent to very good really. We had a disappointing start as there was a lack of communication about where the boat was moored. It was not able to get to Passau as the Danube was too high. Thankfully, Flexitreks were most helpful at ensuring we arrived at our destination.
Accommodation and food were excellent. Bikes were superior. Information on the bike tour could have been a bit better - but that could have been down to the translation. We misinterpreted some points most days, but quickly got back on track.
Overall very pleased with our holiday and would definitely repeat the experience.
- Flexitreks response - Thanks for the review Dorothy. Yes, the exceptionally high-water in Passau made for an interesting start to the trip but I'm glad we got you there in the end. Another bike and boat trip next year or something on dry land? There's loads of choice so get in touch and I'll be happy to make some recommendations.