Monday, March 28, 2011

A Bike Journey: The Danube Cycle Path in Europe

Danube Cycle Path in Europe

The Danube Cycle Path is one of the most popular bike routes in Europe, and as a result we found it to be a very sociable ride. As the trail is fairly flat and easily accessible, there are many families and weekend cyclists as well as long distance cyclists on the trail, and we met cyclists of many different nationalities and backgrounds. Contrary to what we expected, the cycle path does not always run directly alongside the river but winds its way inland through pretty little towns and quaint countryside on more than a few occasions, making for a more varied journey.
Guest Blog from Frederike Ramm at A Bike Journey blog.

The Danube Cycle Path: A Ride through the Heart of Europe
As part of our bicycle tour from England to Australia, we followed the Danube Cycle Path through Europe for six weeks. The Danube Cycle Path begins at the source of the Danube river in the Black Forest in Germany and follows the river all the way to the Black Sea, through 8 countries covering a distance of 2,875km. In Germany and Austria, the cycling is almost entirely on traffic-free bicycle paths, whereas in Eastern Europe, cyclists find themselves on minor roads shared with low levels of traffic.
Thanks to its historic towns, castles and monasteries, beautiful scenery and good infrastructure, the 350km Austrian section from Passau to Vienna is the most popular part of the Danube Cycle Path. We were worried that it would be very crowded, but although we saw other cyclists regularly, it wasn’t as busy as we had expected. We found it enjoyable to meet some of our fellow cyclists, particularly at camp where we would swap stories and talk bike.

Accommodation is usually easy to find, as there are many campsites and bike friendly hotels and home stays along the route, particularly on the German and Austrian section. During the busy summer months it may be necessary to book hotels in advance, but we visited in July and used campsites, which was never a problem. We also enjoyed visiting the many cafes and beer gardens along the route that always seemed to spring up just as our energy levels were wavering – it’s a great way to taste the local specialties, particularly in the Wachau, a beautiful apricot growing region. If you only have a week or so and are planning to do the Austrian stretch of the cycle path, you could fly into Vienna and take your bike to Passau on a river boat, then cycle back to Vienna.
While the German and Austrian sections of the Danube Cycle Path are enjoyable and easy to ride, they are certainly not off the beaten track. However, as soon as we left Vienna to follow the Danube further east, the number of cyclists dropped dramatically as did the facilities. Gone are the Biergartens and caf├ęs so stock up on pastries before you leave Vienna. Suddenly the cycle path felt much more adventurous as we rode along the potholed roads of rural Eastern Europe. Accommodation wasn’t as easy to find, and while there were still campsites or hotels most nights, we also ended up camping in people’s gardens on a few occasions. Our highlights for this part of the trip were the cities of Bratislava and Budapest, the dramatic scenery of Serbia, and the cheerful people of Romania.

Danube Cycle Path in Europe
In all our bicycle travels we have never found an area that appeals to such a variety of cyclists, from people on their first bike tour, to families travelling with small children, people on package tours, groups of friends cycling together and long distance cyclists like ourselves. Whether you are into food, beer appreciation, culture, scenery or socialising, the Danube Cycle Path offers something for everyone. 

For more details see the excellent Bikeline guide books.

Please visit the A Bike Journey blog to read more about the two-wheeled adventures of Frederike and Guy on their amazing bike journeys around the world. In addition to great writing, it includes incredible photography.


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