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Tips for Cycling The Danube From Passau to Bratislava
Hi everyone, my names Mike, and I’m currently cycling around Thailand while running my bike blog – Pinch-Flat. Recently I was able to go on an adventure across Europe on my bicycle, and today I’m here to tell you about one of the more relaxing sections of the ride – cycling the Danube from Passau to Bratislava.
The Danube River rises from the Black Forest of Germany and flows 2900km (1780 miles) downstream to the Black Sea. From its source to Budapest – about half its length – there is a dedicated cycle path, free from any other kind of traffic. It winds through the stunning countryside that’s full of wonderfully historic places such as – Passau, Regensburg, Linz, Melk, the Wachau, and Vienna.
Stop off at any one of these locations, and you’ll be in awe of the sights on display. Flowing from west to east, the river is a reassuring traveling companion.
Fun Fact -It was once a watery border for the Roman Empire against invading barbarian hordes. In times gone by the waters were used to shift salt barges along this trade route, now the cargoes are gleaming new cars or tourists.
A Bicycle Friendly Route – Passau to Bratislava Along the Danube
Most cyclists take the route from Passau to Vienna, cycling around 50km per day, over the course of 7 days. I did the same but cycled on further to Bratislava in Slovakia. You can start further east if you don’t fancy such a long distance or cycle slower if time allows for it.
Getting to Passau is easy as Germany is very bicycle friendly. Trains have special bicycle carts where you can simply wheel bikes on. There’s no need for boxing up your bike here.
Once you arrive next to Europe’s second largest river, you’ll notice how well set up the path is. I even encountered several bicycle ferries, exclusively for cyclists. There are not many nicer ways to drift across the river!
In addition to this, I came across numerous “bicycle stations” and pubs along the route. Here I found picnic tables, bicycle pumps, and maps for information. Sometimes it was hard to get away after meeting other enthusiastic bicycle tourers.
A Route Built For All
Something that impressed about the route was the large mixture of people tackling it. The main obstacles are not hills (of which there are few) but Lycra-clad groups of cyclists who fly down the path like speeding trains.
They’d often yell encouragement as they saw me on my second-hand bike from the 60’s.
Being the competitive type, I’d try to tag on the end. As I dropped off, I’d use the excuse that my panniers slowed me, but it was most likely the extra helping of Wiener Schnitzel at lunch time that weighed me down!
Along with the road racers and tourers are tandems and recumbents. Several cyclists even had carts behind their bikes, carrying a wide variety of items, including camping supplies, luggage, children, and even pets.
At some points along the river, I had to rub my eyes as several people rollerblading towing a baby sailed past me!
When To Go:
The best weather for this itinerary is mid-summer, you run the least chance of rain, spoiling an otherwise excellent day of cycling. However, be warned, in the mid-summer, you risk sweltering heat, which would be less likely in June or September.
Accommodation along the Route:
Being a popular bicycle route, you’re spoilt for choice regarding accommodation. Many hotels post signs to market themselves as welcoming to cyclists. “Radfahrer Wilkommen.”
As I was on a budget, I chose to sleep out in my hammock! But I understand that outdoor camping is not everyone’s style, so below I’ve added a list of places that come highly recommended.
These recommendations are more family run B&B’s than luxury hotels. B&B’s are an excellent way to experience the local culture. If you do choose to travel during the summer months make sure you book up before you arrive to avoid disappointment.
Art Hotel & Hostel – Located in Passau this accommodation is an excellent place to get a goods nights rest before you begin your adventure
Pension Idylle Am Donauufer – Situated directly on the river you’ll be able to watch other weary cyclists sail by as you relax the evening away. This place comes with a large bicycle garage, so it’s well equipped for your cycling needs.
Anna’s Landhaus – A secluded B&B right on the water with a fantastic view and private balcony. A cozy spot with welcoming owners.
In Vienna, the K&K Hotel Maria Theresia is a bit more upscale, but worth the money, as you are smack in the middle of the city. Relax and explore this beautiful city, before you head on.
On your way to Bratislava, you can stop at the Landgasthof Marc Aurel. The rooms are nice, and the food in the restaurant is fantastic.
And in Bratislava, the Loft Hotel is a stunning hotel right in the city center of Bratislava and a perfect place to spoil yourself for a few days after your accomplishment!
For more accommodation, here’s a nice list of places you can stay while rolling down the river.
My Top Tips for cycling the Danube from Passau to Bratislava:
In the busy season, the bike path will become crowded with riders, with many of them starting each day from the same city. This applies especially to those that leave Passau on the weekend.
If you’re itinerary allows for it. Try and start your trip mid-week and be on the road by 9 am or earlier. Most families and groups won’t surface until around 9:30 am or later.
An Itinerary – Cycling the Danube from Passau to Bratislava:
Use this brief guide as a starting point to plan your trip.
Day 1: Arrive in Passau
Day 2: Passau to Schlögen (44 km – 27.3 miles)
Day 3: Schlögen to Linz (53 km – 33 miles)
Day 4: Linz to Grein (65 km – 40.4)
Day 5: Grein to Melk (51 km – 31.7 miles)
Day 6: Melk to Krems (40 km – 24.9 miles)
Day 7: Krems to Vienna (85 km – 52.9 miles)
Day 8: Vienna to Haslau an der Donau (55 km – 34.2 miles)
Day 9: Haslau to Bratislava (28 km – 17.4 miles)
These are the most exciting areas to stop off at and will give you plenty to do in the evenings if your legs aren’t too tired! Cycling down the Danube is a challenging but do-able bike ride. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I know you will too.
Tips for Cycling the Danube from Passau to Bratislava – Pin for later: