Double Olympic Gold Medalist and Freewheel Holidays ambassador Joanna Rowsell Shand MBE recently visited Austria for our very popular Passau to Vienna Danube cycle path holiday. Read more about her time below...
Having experienced my first Freewheel Holiday in 2017 to stunning northern Italy, I was back for more in 2018 and keen to try a new area. I had heard about the Danube bike path and was attracted by the idea of riding a route almost exclusively traffic free, which is such a rare treat! I had been to Austria on holiday as a child but had never visited Vienna so we chose the Passau to Vienna route and then booked to stay for 2 extra nights in Vienna at the end.
Day 1 – Passau to Schlogen – 40km
A shorter day to begin the trip meant we had a relaxed morning and breakfast in Passau after our day of travelling. It was a short ride to the bike path and then over the border from Germany into Austria. We stopped halfway for some lunch (make sure you have cash with you as lots of places don’t take cards!) and enjoyed a leisurely ride down the Danube. As we were on the north side of the river the day finished with a short boat trip across the Danube to our hotel which was right on the shores of the river. We were treated to a stunning sunset over dinner and a pool and spa to relax in.
Day 2 – Schlogen to Linz – 45km
Another beautiful day following the Danube on the bike path. We crossed over the river a couple of times and found a quiet town for lunch – we definitely took our time to cover the 45km before arriving into Linz which was a lovely city to wander around the shops and restaurants.
Day 3 – Linz to Bad Kreuzen – 58km
Today’s hotel destination was 6km away from the Danube and up a climb, so we had been told we could meet a minibus in the town on the river and get driven up. I, however, thought better of this and decided we could just ride it. Not only that, according to Google Maps there appeared to be a shortcut on a small road which looked like it might be nice and quiet for cycling on.
So off we embarked on our own route away from the Danube for the last few kilometres of the ride. I soon discovered what appeared to be a small lump on the profile was an incredibly tough steep climb – probably not so bad on a full carbon road bike but hard work on a touring bike with paniers! However we made it up and were greeted with some stunning views.
It was now just a few kilometres to the hotel down what looked like some nice lanes. These lanes turned out to be gravel climbs – so tough – especially when you think you’re nearly there and haven’t eaten properly all day! But the final few kilometres were worth it and we arrived at the most stunning hotel of the whole trip, which a huge balcony and panoramic views and a well-deserved buffet for dinner.
Day 4 – Bad Kreuzen to Emmersdorf – 49km
Today started with a 6km descent down to the Danube at Grein before joining up with the bike path again. Another day of gorgeous weather and enjoying the traffic free bike paths.
Day 5 – Emmersdorf to Traismauer – 55km
Today was the first day of the trip we had the luxury of a tailwind! And with the bike path being ever so slightly downhill for the whole ride, we made good progress and enjoyed stopping along the way for a picnic and having time to take in the views.
Day 6 – Traismauer to Vienna – 70km
The final day of our trip was the last ride into Vienna, however rather than riding the full 70km we did cheat slightly! We rode from our hotel to a train station about halfway then got the train into the main station in Vienna. It was then an 8km ride to our hotel and a brilliant chance to explore some of the city on our bikes on Vienna’s impressive network of bike paths. We had a lovely dinner at a restaurant alongside the Danube and I was particularly pleased when my risotto came out with a whole ball of mozzarella!
To finish our trip we booked 2 extra nights in Vienna to give us chance to explore more of this gorgeous city. One day we got the train from Vienna to Bratislava in Slovakia which was well worth the visit. Just over an hour on a direct train and then a short walk from the station into Bratislava old town where we visited the castle and tried some more great local food.
To find out more about this cycling holiday, please click here >