Despite having never been on a cycling holiday, even as part of a small group, Customer Support Manager Amy rose to the challenge on a self-guided trip along the Danube and quickly discovered it was a fantastic way to travel. Here she tells all…
I had never visited Germany or Austria previously, or been on a cycling trip, so going on our Easy grade ‘Self-Guided Danube Cycling – Passau to Vienna’ trip was going to be a completely new experience for me. I knew my navigational skills were going to be tested, as was my cycling fitness given I don’t cycle at home, but having the chance to explore a country, without seeing it through a coach window, meant I could discover a new destination while also challenging myself.
The first part of the trip was quite straight forward; a train journey from Vienna to Passau, where our first hotel was an easy walk from the train station. After settling in, we headed to the bike shop, another quick walk from the hotel and picked up our bikes. They came equipped with a water bottle holder, pannier and map holder. If you have your own bike computer, I would strongly recommend taking one to attach to your bike; they’re not provided but they are a good way of tracking your kilometres.
The first day of cycling was approximately 42km to Schlogen, famous for its location on an enormous bend in the River Danube – a stunning place to watch the sunset. As this was our first ride, reading the route notes and maps took a bit of getting used to, but after a couple of instructions we soon found them easy to follow. I also downloaded a GPS app (ViewRanger) and added the tracks for the trip, it was reassuring to check I was still on track and see how far I’d gone.
Every night after dinner, I studied the route notes and maps so that I could familiarise myself with the journey for the following day. After waking up in our own time and having a continental breakfast at the hotel, we set off around 9am. We left our luggage in reception which would then be picked up and taken onto our next hotel: it was always waiting for us at the next hotel.
The majority of days, we completed the rides within 5-7 hours. It’s one of the great aspects of a self-guided trip that you can take every day at your own pace. There was plenty to see along the way - rolling countryside and the flowing Danube - and because we took our time it meant we could take all this in and really get to see how the locals live.
The good thing about going through smaller villages is trying their food: it was incredible! It’s the perfect pick-me-up to give you energy for your rides; the famous Apfelstrudel and Sachertorte were fantastic and after a day in the saddle the local white wine, Wachau, was lovely and refreshing!
Along the way there was plenty of culture to take in; from Melk’s UNESCO-listed Baroque abbey, one of the Europe’s largest, founded in 1089; to the beautiful ruins of Kuenringer Castle in Durstein, where King Richard the Lionheart was held prisoner in the 12th century. Travelling by bike meant we could stop off whenever and wherever we wanted to.
We also had the opportunity to stop off in larger towns, where you can visit local museums, grab a bite for lunch and break up the time in the saddle. My particular favourites were Linz, which is full of character and culture as Austria’s third largest city; Perg was also charming with a great community feel; and lastly Vienna where there is so much to do that it’s worth adding an extra night at the end of the trip.
For anybody who enjoys cycling and being outdoors, or is active and wants to get closer to a place, then I would definitely recommend booking!
Find out more about the Self-Guided Danube Cycling – Passau to Vienna trip here.