Danube - Passau to Budapest Cycling Holiday

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.

Dürnstein - Wachau Valley

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.

Danube - Passau to Budapest Cycling Holiday

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.

Dürnstein - Wachau Valley

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

Day 1 : Arrive in 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 – Wesenufer/Schlögen
27 miles/43 kms

After breakfast you start to follow the Danube Cycle Path downstream. You’ll pass through a deep gorge, carved by the river over centuries, before arriving in the charming little village of Engelhartszell. Here you may choose to visit the nearby Monastery where a silent but enterprising order of Trappist monks make and sell some rather good liquors. Cross the river using the quaint little ferry and enjoy some serene cycling on an idyllic cycle path beside the river as you continue eastwards. You’ll spend the night either the little village of Wesenufer or slightly further on in the village of Schlögen.

Day 3 : Wesenufer/Schlögen – Linz
36 miles/58 kms

First stop on today’s route is the stunning Danube Loop at Schlögen. Here the great river makes a dramatic 180 degree turn and we highly recommend investing in the 20 minute hike up to the lofty look-out point in the woods to fully appreciate this majestic scene.

Afterwards, follow the riverside cycle path through a peaceful valley where nature still reigns supreme. This is leisure cycling at its best, stunning scenery, charming villages and easy cycling, far from hustle and the bustle of the modern world.

After a few kilometers the valley begins to widen out and soon you are cycling through an open plain with meadows on either side. Stop in Aschach at one of the riverside cafes for some refreshment or lunch before continuing downstream. 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

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

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

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

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

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

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)

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
43 miles/69 kms

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 alongside the Danube. At Šturovo you cross the bridge to the city of Esztergom. Here you can visit the imposing basilica, the largest in Hungary. The town also has a beautiful town square. You’ll spend the night here or a little further along the river in the town of Visegrád.

Day 12 : Visegrád – Budapest
37 to 28 miles/59 to 45 kms

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 €5 per person) or a boat along the river and into Budapest (payable locally €10 per person). You can of course also 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 : End of trip

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

Bikes

Regular bikes provided are modern alloy framed models with 21 speeds. The bikes come equipped with pannier and lock.

Electric 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 Spitzberg

Wesenufer: Hotel Seminarkultur

Linz: Courtyard Linz

Persenbeug: Boehm Inn

Krems: Hotel Klinglhuber

Vienna: NH Danube City

Bratislava: Hotel Lindner Hotel Gallery Central

Mosonmagyaróvàr: Hotel Lajta Park

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.

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