Austria: cycling down the Danube river to Vienna

After our previous trip and the associated excesses in Spain, we decided to book a last minute cycling holiday in August to Austria. Apart from sorting ourselves out with padded cycling shorts, there was little to arrange beforehand as we had organised a self cycle tour through a company called Austria Radreisen. All we had to do was make it to our first hotel on the date specified to begin our cycling adventure and they transported our luggage onto the next stopover for us. We started out in the pretty town of Scharding, our destination – Vienna.

Being a novice cyclist, it took me a couple of days to understand how to use gear changes to my advantage, so the initial pace wasn’t too fast. The Danube cycling route is largely on tow paths away from traffic and is mostly flat with the occasional sharp incline to test you. We were lucky enough to have glorious sunshine and warm weather the whole week we were there, (last minute booking definitely recommended to ensure you aren’t cycling for a week in the rain). The route took us between Austria and Germany, through small market towns, woodland areas and magnificent scenery. This is definitely an amazing way to see the countryside and outdoor life that Austria has to offer.

In hindsight, some bike training prior to the trip would have been a good idea. Going from no cycling at all to averaging 65km a day took its toll on my leg muscles and my derrière! Daily aloe deep heat cream into my leg muscles got me through the trip! A lot of cyclists on the routes had also opted for e-bikes, definitely something I would consider next time to help make the day a little more leisurely and less a race to get to the next hotel. At the start of the trip I was holding Phil back with my leisurely cycling, but by the end of it I had picked up my pace to an acceptable 24km/hr. The scenery was stunning. A lot of the cycle paths were directly on the Danube river and we were able to cross sides multiple times and slip between Austria and Germany!

After six hard days of cycling, multiple refreshment stops, vineyards, old churches, castles and beautiful old towns we arrived in the magnificent Vienna.

The sweaty “We made it!” photo

A beautiful city, with great restaurants, ornate buildings and friendly locals. Our first day was spent doing our own walking tour of the city, taking in the various sites and gardens and enjoying walking instead of cycling for a change!  The following day we took a day trip to Schonbrunn palace, the highlight being the hedge maze and pretty gardens. Of course, a trip to Vienna wouldn’t be complete without some hommage to Mozart and Beethoven and so we booked a classical music and operatic show – touristic yes, but enjoyable all the same!

Would I do a cycling holiday again? Yes, but if a beginner probably with the aid of an e-bike which Austria Radreisen do have available to hire. From what we saw, these bikes allow you to zoom along at 25km/hr with minimal effort making for an altogether more relaxed paced holiday. The Danube river route is spectacular and I can’t recommend it enough if you are thinking of your first cycle holiday. Austria Radreisen were great and we would recommend utilising this company; our organised accommodation was lovely, baggage transportation easy, bicycles well maintained and our self guided map easy to follow.


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