Danube – Passau to Budapest Cycling Holiday

  • 3.9
    (6 reviews)
  • Category

    Cycle Touring
    Self Guided
  • Grade

    Leisurely to Moderate
  • Duration/s

    12 nights
  • Start / Finish

    Passau / Budapest
  • Distance

    377 miles/606 kms
  • Themes

    EbikeRivers and LakesWine Lovers
  • Accommodation

    Superior
  • Tour code

    059-107CAT
Price From £1012

Overview

A leisurely, long distance cycling holiday along the Danube from Passau in Germany, via Vienna in Austria and Bratislava in Slovakia, to Budapest in Hungary. One river, two weeks, three capital cities, four countries and a lifetime of memories.

Spend twelve nights following the course of the mighty Danube river as it wends its way across Europe through vineyard-laden valleys, past elegant palaces, romantic ruins and intriguing, medieval towns and villages.

The Great Loop of the Danube River

Starting from Passau on the German/Austrian border, you’ll follow the river downstream past the majestic Danube Loop, the medieval city of Linz and through the stunning Wachau Valley. Along the way you can stop to explore charming, riverside villages such as Grein, Spitz, Weisskirchen and Dürnstein. At times you will cycle through open plains and meadows while other stretches lead you through steep-sided valleys lined with cascading vineyard terraces. Elegant Vienna has much to see as does convivial and welcoming Bratislava. Exciting Budapest waits at the end of the tour, a fitting finale to your trans-European adventure.

The route is mostly flat but with the odd incline along the way. You’ll be cycling on well-maintained cycle paths and some quiet country lanes. Around cities there may be short sections along busy roads.

Itinerary & Map

The route is mostly flat but with the odd incline along the way. You’ll be cycling on well-maintained cycle paths and some quiet country lanes. Around cities there may be short sections along busy roads.

View larger map

Day 1: Arrive in Passau

Passau - Germany

Passau

Check in to your hotel and then take a stroll through the “City of Three Rivers”, so named because this is also the point at which the the Inn and Ilz rivers flow into the Danube. The narrow cobbled streets and pretty squares of the old town are a delight to explore and we also recommend a climb to Veste Oberhaus, a medieval fortress and museum that offers a fantastic, panoramic view of the town and rivers.

Day 2: Passau – Danube Loop, 27 miles/43 kms

Danube Loop

Danube Loop

Your first day’s ride follows the Upper Danube Valley to Schlögen on the famous Danube Loop, where the mighty river makes a 180 degree turn. On the way you will ride ride through Enghartszell, a small riverside village. Nearby there is a monastery inhabited by silent but enterprising Trappist monks who make and sell some rather good liquors. The river valley is quite narrow here with tree lined, sloping hillsides and green meadows descending to the river.

Day 3: Danube Loop – Linz, 37 miles/59 kms

Today’s ride follows the river as it continues to wind its way through the picturesque tree-lined valley. After a few kilometres

Cyclists - Danube cycle path

Danube cycle path

the valley begins to widen out considerably and soon you are cycling through an open plain with meadows on either side. After a bend in the river the city of Linz, your overnight stop, comes into view. Linz is the capital of Upper Austria with a lovely old town centre and bustling main square.

Day 4: Linz – Persenbeug, 44 miles/71 kms

Grein

Grein

Quite a long day in the saddle today but the scenery and level cycle path make the miles fly by. At Mauthausen a short detour away from the river will bring you to Mauthausen Concentration Camp and Memorial – a thought-provoking place. You then follow the cycle path downstream, through pleasant, undulating farmland. Why not stop for a break at the open-air museum near Mitterkirchen before pedalling on through the beautiful wooded Strudengau valley to the pretty town of Grein with its looming castle and historic theatre. The Danube boasts many castles along it’s course and today you will pass some fine examples at Pragstein, Wallsee, Dornach and Greinburg. Your destination today is the pretty little village of Persenbeug.

Day 5: Persenbeug – Krems, 37 miles/59 kms

Duernstein's famous baroque church in the Wachau Valley

Dürnstein’s famous baroque church – Wachau Valley

Today’s ride is a real treat and it’s worth starting early as you’ll probably want to to stop and look around some of the charming villages and towns  along the way.

Shortly after starting out you’ll see a lovely church up on the hillside to your left. This is the Pilgrimage Church of Maria Taferl from where, following a bit of a climb, you can enjoy marvellous views along the Danube Valley. In the distance you can just make out the Benedictine Monastery at Melk. On arrival in Melk we recommend a walk up to the 18th Century Monastery where you can visit an impressive library with countless medieval manuscripts as well enjoy more superb views along the river.

The next section of today’s ride is considered by many to be amongst the most beautiful sections of the whole river  – the Wachau Valley. Romantic castles and palaces perch on strategic bluffs overlooking terraced vineyards and orchards that cascade down to charming wine villages such as Spitz, Weißkirchen and Dürnstein. Beautiful old taverns and Inns invite you to stop and enjoy hearty, Wachau hospitality before riding on along the river to Krems. The people in this region are justly proud of their wine so if you abstained during the day be sure to visit one of the many wine cellars in Krems to sample the fine local product.

Day 6: Krems – Vienna, 44 miles/71 kms

Danube Cycle Path

Danube Cycle Path

Today’s ride leads you through a very fertile region, famed for it’s vegetables throughout Austria. You’ll cycle through Tulln where, we recommend a visit to Die Garten, some show gardens that are a real pleasure to explore on foot.

A few kilometers further on you reach the small town of Greifenstein and here you can opt to complete the rest of the journey to Vienna by train if you’d prefer more time in the city

If you choose to continue by bike, the route leads you through the famous Vienna Forest – Wienerwald and past the monastery at Klosterneuburg into the heart of the imperial city where you will spend the next two nights.

Day 7: Vienna – Free day to explore

Belvedere Palace - Vienna

Belvedere Palace – Vienna

Today is your free day to explore Vienna. 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 film, ‘The Third Man’. No trip to Vienna would be complete without enjoying a coffee and cake in one of the city’s elegant coffee houses. In the evening we highly recommend trying the local speciality – Wienerschnitzel. This pan-fried breaded pork cutlet has become popular around the world but this is where it was born.

Day 8: Vienna – Bratislava, 42 miles/68 kms

Bratislava - Slovakia

Bratislava

Shortly after leaving the hustle and bustle of Vienna you enter a very different world, cycling through a riverside nature reserve full of diverse flora and fauna. The city suddenly seems a million miles away with the peace and quiet only interrupted by chattering birds. The Romans left their mark around here and we highly recommend stopping at the Carnuntum archaeological park just before the spa town of Bad Deutsch-Altenburg. Therafter you cycle across the border into Slovakia and follow the riverbank to the country’s charming capital, Bratislava. The medieval town at the city’s heart actually feels more like a large village than a city and the attractive flag-stoned streets are a delight to explore on foot or by bike. Other must-sees include the Castle, which offers fantastic views from its high vantage point and St Martin’s Cathedral, the city’s oldest church. You’ll spend the night in this enchanting city

Day 9: Bratislava – Mosonmagyaróvàr, 28 miles/45 kms

Danube River

Danube at dusk

Today you have a lovely ride along an idyllic cycle path beside the river. The Danube broadens considerably just after Bratislava and resembles a lake more than a river. It also marks the border between Hungary (southern bank) and Slovakia (Northern bank).  Nature holds sway here and the only sounds are your tyres on the tarmac and birdsong. After a while you leave the river and head south to pleasant old town of Mosonmagyaróvàr where you will stop for the night.

Day 10: Mosonmagyaróvàr – Györ – Komárno, 40 miles/64 kms (plus 27 minute train ride)

Danube Cycle Path - Hungary

Danube Cycle Path – Hungary

After breakfast, head for the local train station and board a train for the town of Györ about half an hour down the track (trains depart every hour). From Györ, a lovely old town worthy of a look round, you pedal north to rejoin the idyllic cycle path that follows the Danube River. The raised embankment provides a nice platform from which you can admire the surrounding countryside and river views as you head east. Your destination today is the town of Komárom or Komárno. This fortress town has two names as it straddles the river and is therefore part Slovak and part Hungarian.

Day 11: Komárno – Visegrád, 50 miles/81 kms

Danube Cycle Path - Esztergom, Hungary

Esztergom, Hungary

The route continues along the embankment cycle path. After a few kilometres you might want to stop at the the Roman fort Kelemantia. From there you pedal on through quiet farming villages before arriving in the city of Esztergom, famous for its imposing basilica, the largest in Hungary. The town also has a lovely town square which could be a good place for a coffee break.

A little further on, after rounding a particularly beautiful bend in the river you arrive in the pleasant little town of Visegrád where you will spend the night.

Day 12: Visegrád – Budapest, 28 miles/45 kms

Budapest

Budapest

Your final ride leads you around the Danube Knee and down to the artists’ island of Szentendre. From here you may opt to take a train (payable locally €3 per person) or a boat along the river and into Budapest (payable locally €10 per person).  You can of course opt to complete the journey by bike and cycle into the city centre.

The rest of the day and evening are yours to explore this fascinating city which is actually two cities, Buda on the west bank and Pest on the east.

 

 

Day 13: Departure

After breakfast it’s time to head for home or your next adventure.

Dates & Prices

2019 Arrival Dates
Arrivals : Every Saturday, Sunday and Monday from 28 April to 24 September

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2019 Prices
059-107CAT
Per person
28 Apr
to
24 Sep
 
Superior category
Double/twin £1047                  
Single £1392                  
Triple £1012                  
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Deposit per person £125

Price Includes

12 nights accommodation. See practical information
12 x Breakfast
Luggage transfer
Maps & route information
Train ride Mosonmagyaróvàr - Györ
Parking space in Passau
Local assistance

Price Excludes

Flights and transfers
Bike hire (see supplements)
Tourist tax (payable locally)
Ferry ride, day 6 (approx 3 Euro)
Optional train or boat/ferry Szentendre to Budapest
E-bike: €180 credit card deposit on arrival, payable locally

Supplements

Half board (excludes two nights in Vienna) (£185)
Extra night Passau double/twin, superior (£40)
Extra night Passau single, superior (£60)
Extra night Vienna, double/twin - July and August, superior (£48)
Extra night Vienna, single - July and August, superior (£63)
Extra night Vienna, double/twin - other dates, superior (£82)
Extra night Vienna, single - other dates, superior (£96)
Extra night Budapest, double/twin, superior (£47)
Extra night Budapest, single, superior (£83)
Transfer Munich airport to Passau, train ticket (£41)
Transfer Budapest airport to Passau, train ticket (£79)
Bike with pannier & lock. See practical information (£81)
Electric bike with pannier & lock (£157)

Practical Information

Bikes

Unisex hybrid bike

An example of the female hybrid bike used on this tour

The bikes provided on this tour are modern alloy framed male and female hybrid models with 21 speeds and comfortable saddle with upright riding position.

The bikes come equipped with rear pannier and lock.

E-bikes are also available. Important: A security credit card deposit of €180 will be requested on arrival as a ‘guarantee’ only. This will be returned when you return the bike in good condition.

Helmets are not provided and we therefore recommend bringing your own.

Accommodation

Below you will find examples of the types of accommodation typically used on this tour. Please note that the hotels we book for you may differ slightly from those described but they will certainly be of a similar standard.

Superior: Good quality hotels and guesthouses.

Passau: Hotel Dormero
Schlögen: Hotel Donauschlinge
Linz: Hotel Park Inn
Ybbs/Persenbeug: Gasthof Böhm
Krems: Hotel Klinglhuber
Vienna: NH Danube City
Bratislava: Hotel Austria Trend Bratislava
Mosonmagyaróvàr: Thermal Hotel
Komárno: Hotel Bandérium
Visegrád: Hotel Visegrád
Budapest: Lion’s Garden

Local taxes: Some hotels have started to charge a local/tourist tax. These taxes are not included in the sale price of the tour and must be paid directly by you at check-in or checkout at the hotels. The fee varies and is frequently changing but as a guide, you may be asked to pay between €1-€4 per person per night.

Getting There

Fly to Munich or Vienna (Salzburg or Linz are also possibilities). Then take the train from Munich/Vienna airport to Passau with one change. For the journey home fly from Budapest or Vienna. The rail journey from Budapest to Vienna takes 3 hours.

Research flights from the UK here.

Research train timetables here.

Gallery

Current rating for this cycling holiday based on 6 reviews 3.9
  • Date - 11/10/2018
  • Name - Anonymous
  • Service rating -
    5.0
  • Service comment - Very responsive, helpful and efficient in booking
  • Product rating -
    4.0
  • Product comment - Amazing scenery, safe roads and lovely people. Could have used better directions for finding hotels in each city however
  • Date - 07/10/2018
  • Name - Steve Fay-Cosman
  • Service rating -
    4.0
  • Service comment - Excellent pre-tour service. Great and responsive answers and patience.
  • Product rating -
    4.0
  • Product comment - It was a great trip and overall the hotels were better than I thought. Directions to and from the hotels to the start of the trail could be better though. A couple of hotels were not in the ideal part of town for sightseeing (but good hotels) and one hotel needs to be scrapped from the agenda. The views are stunning and the ride spectacular. This trip should be on every bucket list.
  • Date - 05/10/2018
  • Name - Kristen Keirsey
  • Service rating -
    4.0
  • Service comment - We received a fairly good idea of what we would be doing. It was however, fairly bare bones as far as what to expect and problems that might be encountered. I think they should have recommended a GPS unit for your bike.
  • Product rating -
    4.0
  • Product comment - Flexitreks provided good organization, good hotels and very efficient transfer of luggage. The route is spectacular and the hotels for the most part were excellent. However, the directions, especially after Vienna left much to be desired. After Vienna trail markings are much fewer and we felt very fortunate to team up with some other riders that had a GPS with the trails downloaded. Sometimes the hotels were hard to find because of traffic and lack of street names. In Bratislavia the hotel needed to be closer to the city center. The first Thermal hotel in Mosonmagyaroavr was clearly not as nice as any of the other hotels. (The staff was friendly though) A hotel in Gyor would have been much better for the route because it would allow an earlier start on a difficult day and Gyor seemed like a more interesting town. We found this out because it was very difficult to find the trail through the town of Gyor. The Slovakia trails out of Gyor were very difficult and there was little guidance to choose which side of the Danube to ride on at that juncture. On the Slovakia side we chose, there was actually a 20 Kilometer stretch on thick gravel that was very hard to bike on. The final day of the journey had two options but no explanation was given on the difficulty or ease of riding all the way into Budapest. We chose to leave our bikes at the early stop and take the train in and that seemed to be the best option. We were not given good directions to the train station so that caused a problem. The hotel in Budapest was very nice but too far from the historical center of the city. At least an option for a city center hotel should be provided.

    The rental bikes were heavy but were very good under many different trail conditions. It was great to have panniers provided.
  • Date - 29/09/2018
  • Name - Bud Harbidge
  • Service rating -
    4.0
  • Service comment - The initial instructions were good. Bikes were available as described, some instruction when we picked the bikes up.
  • Product rating -
    3.0
  • Product comment - The leg from Passau to Vienna was better than the leg from Vienna to Hungary. The luggage always arrived at our new destination.

    Directions: Can be improved. Donau provided the instructions on how to get to the next hotel, but were written by someone whose first language was not English. Did not translate well.

    Hotels: All hotels were fine. However, the hotel in Mosonmagyrovar was a disaster. The so called Thermal Hotel had no outdoor space, and there was an extra charge for the thermal pool. That makes no sense. A water main broke so no water in hotel room, couldn't take a shower, the staff seemed not to care, no water brought to the room, no announcements. Terrible service!!! The hotel looks like a strip mall. It looks like they are preparing for demolition. Take this hotel off of the list.

    NH Danube City. Bike storage was in the basement, It flooded and we had to wade in water a foot deep to get our bikes. This was raised with staff, they indicated it always floods when it rains. Not good enough! Need to find another place for the bikes if that is the case.

    The trails were generally unmarked and closed in some places without signage. Some trails were basically not ride-able and we had to take the highway.

    The leg from Mosonmagyrovar should be eliminated, because of the hotel and the need to take a train to Gyor. You get off the train in Gyor and no signage to Komano. The instructions said:

    Along the Slovakian cycle path (64 kms). No directions on how to get there. In the end the cycle path was closed in any event. The statements by Donau stated )" Each bike traveller has to make his own decision, how to come up against damaged sections of the cycle paths, (dismount, tow bike etc)" Not very helpful, but described what we were up against in some of the latter sections of the trip.

    Positives: Great bikes, luggage always arrived on time, great hotels except the Thermal hotel, food good.

    Negatives: The trails from Vienna to Budapest need some work, a lot of riding on the roads to get from one town to another.
  • Date - 02/09/2018
  • Name - Anonymous
  • Service rating -
    5.0
  • Service comment - Would use flexitreks again, good information up front and very organised briefing at the beginning of the tour
  • Product rating -
    4.0
  • Product comment - We really enjoyed the tour, interesting journey with well judged daily routes, the bikes worked well although the saddles were not the most comfy (take your own!), very efficient luggage transfers all through.

    Would recommend making sure you have google maps as some of the hotels weren't that easy to find
  • Date - 02/09/2018
  • Name - Lindsay Chalmers
  • Service rating -
    1.0
  • Service comment - The pre tour service left a lot to be desired. No pre tour information other than the itinerary was made available. We did not receive any maps or made aware of what materials would be given to us before we arrived so had already purchased the blue books with the routes in. We now have duplicate copies.
  • Product rating -
    4.0
  • Product comment - On the whole we really enjoyed this holiday. Why we have only given 4 stars and not 5 was to do with the bikes, some of the accommodation and the complete lack of route explanation for the second week.
    Bikes
    We had opted for electric bikes however the bikes provided by Donau Touristik were very heavy and cumbersome. This effectively cancelled out the benefit of the motor. Other companies we saw had much better bikes. Also other companies provided handlebar bags which showed the map clearly in addition to the panniers. Also charging the bikes was quite tricky at some locations as we could not remove the batteries from the bikes. Not all of the hotels were able to charge all the e bikes in the secure areas
    Hotels
    The range of hotels was eclectic. In the main the hotels were very good. However the Thermal Hotel at Mosonmagyarovar was particularly bad reminding us of a nursing home. The decor was tired and the spa baths on the website did not belong to the hotel but were the public swimming pool. The town had no attractions other than a surfeit of beauticians and dental clinics. We were provided with rail tickets to get to Gior but this did not include tickets for our bikes which we had to purchase. Not a problem but a little inconsistent.
    On arrival in Vienna the hotel was not prepared for people continuing on to Budapest and said they had no bike storage facilities. This was quickly sorted out by the holiday provider. However people starting there holiday on Vienna and cycling to Budapest were given a welcome chat and told about the route. This would have been useful to us as in Passau the route was only explained as far as Vienna.

    We would do a similar holiday again but not with Donau Touristik as the bike provider.