Cycling the Danube with Inghams
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I’d always fancied cycling down the Danube, mainly because it
looked both scenic and flat - the winning combination for cycling jaunts. Passau
to Danube is both, and so perhaps not surprisingly the route from Passau to Vienna
is the most popular cycling holiday in Europe (for which read busy in the
school holidays). It’s signposted well enough for even a map dullard like me to
navigate, it’s mostly off road and primarily it mirrors the river path itself
cutting through breathtaking scenery.
Being so popular, and being Austrian, it’s seriously well-organised
on the bicycle front – thousands of top of the range bikes to rent and vans to
take your two pieces of luggage on to the next destination every day as well as
a couple of panniers for bits and bobs during the daytime. They’ve got cycling
holidays sussed big time.
Better still with this route, if you get tired (and with an
average of 40kms a day over 7 days you might well do) you can put your bike on
the train, or a boat to shorten some of the days or skip the bits you don’t
fancy. If you want to switch river banks you can ring a bell and a little ferry
for bikes and walkers will take you across to the other side. They even sell
schnapps on board which if you are sopping wet might not be a bad idea.
It’s about 5 hours cycling a day at a gentle pace plus all important
coffee, cake, lunch and sightseeing stops.
The hotels are good but not luxurious with the exception of
Hotel Donauschlinge at Schlogen where the river does a switchback U bend and you
need to save energy here for a tough climb up to the Schlogina Blick to take in
the view, as well as time in the spa, pool and sauna. The hotels all provided good
hearty breakfasts, comfortable rooms and in several cases all you can eat
buffets in the evening. Austrian food is so fabulous that I have a horrible
feeling that I spent 60% of my cycling time thinking about what I might eat at
dinner– should I go apple strudel, pork knuckle, or suckling pig tonight? Or maybe
goulash with red cabbage? Or indeed some pumpkin soup with caraway dumplings?
And of course because you’re exercising all day you feel a
marvelous sense of entitlement to your food (it reminded me of being pregnant-
ish). Unfortunately the net result is that I’ve put on 2 kilos – something of a
personal best, but I do feel incredibly well.
Perhaps best of all are places to see on the route. Passau is a charming city where three rivers
meet and cruise ships dock to take in the charming cobbled streets, Baroque
churches and castles notably at Wilhering and Artstetten are on the route and
ideal places to stop for a picnic or when saddle sore, Linz is one of the
overnight stops which was Hitler’s favourite city – not necessarily something
to boast about but gosh I can see why. It’s utterly enchanting and the
Cathedral’s stained glass is some of the most powerful I’ve ever seen. On Day 4
the path winds through vineyards of the Wachau region, fields of apple orchards
and picturesque villages. Then there’s an overnight in Krems the beautiful mediaeval city, Melk Abbey and Stein
which has one of the oldest working theatres in the world (together with loo separated
from the auditorium by just a curtain). The cycle ends spectacularly with a
flourish in Vienna itself. Brilliantly the tour suggests you drop your bike off
in the suburbs- since getting your wheel stuck in a tramline would be something
of a worry otherwise. Vienna is one of those cities you could just keep going
back to. It’s the jewel in the crown of the Hofburg Empire and its opulence and
elegance is second to none. The cafe society still feels as important as ever
and try Cafe Central where Trotsky, Freud and intellectual reprobate Altenberg
met on a daily basis to plot intellectual revolution by cake or indeed Cafe
Mozart where Graham Greene wrote The Third Man. To end the trip, what else but
the world famous Sacher torte at the Sacher Hotel.
Things to pack
- Travel kettle. What is it with European hotels?
- Cycling helmet. They don’t rent them.
- Cycling shorts with lycra padding for the undercarriage.
- Savlon. Lots of it as above.
- Waterproofs(plural) rain can happen and you’ll need to dry
it all for the following day.
Leave room in the case to bring back Sacher torte. They sell
it in presentation boxes.
Inghams offers 7 nights on the Treasures of the Danube, Passau to Vienna unescorted cycling tour from £799 per person on a bed and breakfast basis (half-board option £132 per person - full board option £188 per person) including return flights from Gatwick, airport transfers, 3-star and 4-star hotels, bike hire, detailed map, luggage service, three Danube boat trips and a return trip to the Postling mountain railway in Linz. Flights are also available from Heathrow and Manchester.
- Bring your own bike available
- Upgrade to an E-bike £65pp
- Helmet hire €32 (available in Passau or Vienna)
- Extend your stay in Vienna
Silver Travel Advisor recommends Inghams
127 people found this feature helpful