Towns, countryside and a river – hiking the Danube Panorama Trail in Bavaria
© Tourismusverband Ostbayern e.V. | Fotograf: Stefan Gruber
Lush floodplains, dramatic rocky outcrops, idyllic orchard meadows and wide hills – the Danube carves through spectacular landscapes on its journey through the Bavarian Jura and along the mountainous foothills of the Bavarian Forest. The Danube Panorama Trail leads you through the heart of this scenery along the river from the town of Neustadt an der Donau to the three-river city of Passau on the German-Austrian border. In addition to magnificent views and nature, you can expect an insight into the rich culture and traditions of Eastern Bavaria as you visit lively towns and idyllic villages en route. As you hike through secluded forests and along scenic paths that follow the Danube embankment, you discover centuries-old monasteries, stroll through medieval alleyways and explore ruined castles too.
The Danube Panorama Trail accompanies the majestic river for 10 daily stages as it flows through eastern Bavaria to Passau. Thanks to well-developed and signposted hiking trails, you can walk the route in every season: in spring, you hike across fragrant flower meadows; the pebble beaches will tempt you to take a dip in the river in summer; you can admire the trees’ colourful leaves in autumn; and in winter, you hike through quiet, sleepy landscapes.
The hiking trail has excellent infrastructure. You can reach the individual stages easily by train or bus and many stages can even be combined with a boat trip. On your hikes, friendly innkeepers at the breweries and restaurants en route will take care of your physical well-being and spoil you with hearty Bavarian cuisine. In the stage destinations at the end of each individual Tour, you always have a varied choice of accommodation – from simple youth hostels to elegant hotels.
By the way: the Danube Panorama Trail offers some great extras for hikers such as a baggage service, which lets you hike luggage-free. You can also enjoy the stages as microadventures. Browse through the Collection, dream about hiking the trail in one go or choose your favourite stage for your next microadventure.
The starting point of your hike on the Danube Panorama Trail is Neustadt an der Donau. The city already has city rights since 1273 - and thus as the first city in Bavaria. Along the Abensauen and overlooking wide hop gardens, the path leads you in the direction of Eining.Just before you reach the town, a historic climax awaits you: just a few meters from the path you can visit the ruins of the Roman fort Abusina all year round. From Einig, the Danube ferry takes you to the other shore, if you fancy a trip to Hienheim and the Limesturm. If you prefer to continue your hike directly instead, stay on the right bank and continue along the Danube.After the confluence of the Abens, the landscape changes and the Danube is surrounded by Jurahängen with dry grasslands. The Donau-Panoramaweg follows the Danube floodplains in the direction of Weltenburg. Shortly before the world-famous Danube Gorge, Weltenburg Monastery is picturesquely situated on the banks of the river. In the Klosterschenke you can taste the tasty, home-brewed beers - after all, it is the oldest monastery brewery in the world and the tradition you can taste here as well.From Weltenburg Monastery we climb up and over the Danube to the Wieserkreuz. From the rocky but guarded vantage point you have a spectacular view of the Danube Gorge. In the milestone Kelheim worth a visit to the Liberation Hall, which towers high above the town.Alternatively to the hike, you can also back the section from Weltenburg to Kelheim by boat. The journey through the Danube Gorge provides a unique view of this natural spectacle. Please inform yourself before your hike whether a boat trip is possible due to the unstable water level. All information about shipping can be found at schiffahrt-kelheim.de/fahrplan-donaudurchbruch.
The second leg of the Donau-Panoramaweg takes you from the old town of Kelheim for a short distance along the Main-Danube-Canal until the canal joins the Danube at Kelheimwinzer. At Kelheimwinzer worth the trip to the old church of St. Jacob. The church is only a few minutes away from the signposted hiking trail and carries a distinctive and typically Bavarian onion dome.Via Herrnsaal, you will always hike directly along the Danube to Kapfelberg. Here the trail climbs a bit and follows the Jurasteig. Up on the valley slopes you have a beautiful view of the Danube. At Poikam you change to the other shore and reach Bad Abbach, your destination today. Visible from afar are the landmarks of the city: the Heinrichsturm and St. Nikolauskirche. In the idyllic spa park or in the quaint old town you can end your stage. To relax your tired legs, a stay at the Kaiser-Therme is also worthwhile.
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Coming from Bad Abbach, the Donau-Panoramaweg first runs along the Donaudamm before after passing Oberndorf (at the football field on the right) it meets the Jurasteig after about 80 vertical meters. After a total of one and a half kilometers through woods and meadows you will come to Matting, where Jurasteig and Danube-Panoramaweg finally separate.In Matting it is worth strolling along the street "An der Donau". Here you can take a look at the Gierseil ferry at the bathing bay or stop off in one of the inns and restaurants. From Matting the trail leads you along the edge of the forest and then directly through the forest on natural paths on Unterirading to Pentling. In Pentling, Joseph Ratzinger worked for many years as a pastor in the small church of St. John prior to his appointment as pope, which today is often referred to as the papal church. Not far from the church, the path leads you out of the village and on to the slopes of the Danube valley.After a while you will find yourself on a particularly exciting stretch of land - the narrow and partly rock-covered two-kilometer-long slope path of the nature reserve Max-Schultze-Steig. Within the nature reserve you will also pass the protective rock "Hoppefelsen", which bears the name of the botanist David Heinrich Hoppe, who sought shelter under this rocky roof during a storm.The way leads finally over Großprüfening at Schloss Prüfening over to the center of Regensburg. Since 2006, the Regensburg old town belongs to the district Stadtamhof UNESCO World Heritage.
After extensive exploration of the historic city of Regensburg, the Donau-Panoramaweg will take you across the Steinerne Brücke, the symbol of Regensburg, through Stadtamhof to the Danube Cycle Path. You follow the bike path for a short distance and then wander with great views on the Danube dam.Shortly after Schwabelweis you leave the shore and wander on the edge of the Fellinger Berg to the Geopad Tegernheimer Schlucht - there a "window" to the history of the earth awaits you, because here are three large geological units: the crystalline basement, the Schichtstufenland and the southern Molasse Basin.Along the Baierweinweg and surrounded by individual vineyards, the hike continues to Donaustauf, where you can plan a detour to the castle ruins. Afterwards you walk past the St. Salvatorkirche and meet one of the most important buildings of classicism and one of the cultural highlights of the region, the Walhalla of King Ludwig I. After exploring the temple of fame, you wander off the Danube Sulzbach and then cross the state highway. Here you walk with a wonderful view on the dam crest and always along the Danube to the heart of the Baier wine region, to Bach on the Danube.
The fifth stage runs from Bach on the Danube without significant height differences over fields and meadows on the edge of the Danube valley. So the hike offers you the opportunity to directly experience the Danubeau with the wide view into the Danube plain and the passing of cargo and cruise ships.Between Bach on the Danube and Wörth, the path runs comfortably and almost exclusively on the former railway line of the Walhallabockerl. The Walhalla Bockerl reversed from 1889 to 1968 on narrow gauge rails from Regensburg-Stadtamhof to Wörth on the Danube. Their name and their origin owed the train of lying on the track Walhalla at Donaustauf. The route of the former Walhallabockerl connects Bach and Frengkofen with Wiesent and Wörth on the Danube. Here it is worth taking a detour via the new zig-zag path to Wörth Castle with its magnificent panoramic views.After the visit to the castle, you leave Wörth in the direction of Tiefenthal. A small hill gives you a magnificent view over the Danube-Altwasserauen. The trail leads you through Tiefenthal and at the end of the village a signpost points you to the right on a dirt road, which continues directly to the village Hofdorf.Below Hofdorf you will soon reach the nature reserve Gmünder Au. On the Danube there is a small residence, from which very good waterfowl can be observed. The trail leads you for a while through the picturesque floodplain landscape and finally along the banks of the Danube to the stage destination Kirchroth.
Starting point of the sixth stage is Kirchroth. From here, the trail runs on the dike crown - with wonderful views of the Danube and the nearby mountains of the Bavarian Forest. To the left and right of it you can see old water and meadows with rare plants and many different species.Already from a distance greets the city skyline Straubings with its numerous towers on the opposite bank. The center of the Gäuboden impresses with its spacious medieval town square, the imposing town houses and its many magnificent churches from Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque.From Straubing begins the last stretch of free-flowing Danube in Germany. You wander here through a natural, idyllic river landscape towards Bogen. Shortly before the bow, a short detour to Oberalteich is worthwhile. In the small village you can visit the former monastery church of St. Peter and Paul, an impressive Early Baroque church from the time of the Thirty Years' War.Then you reach the stage destination Bogen, the cradle of the Bavarian diamond coat of arms. What is now connected with Bavaria all over the world comes from Countess Ludmilla von Bogen from the 13th century. Her second husband, Duke Ludwig of Bavaria, had taken over her diamonds in his Wittelsbach coat of arms.
The seventh stage begins with the ascent to the Bogenberg, the sacred mountain of Lower Bavaria. It occupies a dominant position on the edge of the Danube plain, surmounting it by more than 110 meters and therefore offers a fantastic view. Because of its special location and the southwest orientation, there are many warmth-loving animal and plant species settled and therefore the mountain is designated as a nature reserve. In addition, the Catholic Parish and Pilgrimage Church towers on the summit. It is considered one of the oldest and most famous Marian pilgrimage in Bavaria. In the immediate vicinity there is also the district museum with the special exhibitions for the pilgrimage and the history of the "Bavarian diamonds", which originated in Bogen.From the Bogenberg, the route takes you close to the Danube again and you walk along Pfelling, Waltendorf and Mariaposching to Metten. Here you can expect the magnificent monastery library and the mighty monastery church in the Benedictine monastery. The Prälatengarten am Klostergelände is ideal for a break in the countryside. Wonderfully stop by next door at the marketplace.Back on the Danube, the Danube Panorama Trail leads you to Deggendorf along the river. Here you can enjoy the terrain, which was created in the course of the state garden show with Donaupark, waterfront, new bridge and playgrounds. It is only a few hundred meters to the city center and the museums in the cultural district. The town square with the historic town hall in the middle is the lively center of the university town Deggendorf.
The eighth stage starts in the center of Deggendorf. From here you walk through the oldest district of Deggendorf up to the Geiersberg church, where you can enjoy a fantastic view over the Danube city, the Danube and wide meadows and small forests. From the church you cross the ridge of the Gailberg and then wander in the direction of Seebach back down to the Danube bank. For those who are interested in churches, a short detour leads from Seebach off the Danube Panorama Trail to the worth seeing pilgrimage church half mile.In the further course, the path nestles close to the Danube and brings you to the abbey Niederalteich. On the way there are several idyllic and calm bathing lakes as well as nice banks on the Danube for a little refreshment at the water - so in summer do not forget your bathing suit.For the impressive Niederaltaich Abbey, you can plan a little more time to admire the church, to browse the monastery shop and to dine in the monastery tavern. If you want to delve even deeper into the history of the monastery, you should register for a guided tour.The Donau-Panoramaweg leaves Niederalteich in an easterly direction and you will reach the stage destination Winzer via picturesque field and meadow paths. Winegrower is already visible from afar, because the striking castle ruins rise high from the Danube valley.
The starting point of the ninth stage is the cozy village of Winzer. With a beautiful view of the foothills of the Bavarian Forest in the north you stroll along the flat trail along the banks of the Danube. After about eight kilometers, the Danube Panorama Trail leads you across the promenade of Hofkirchen. Here you enter the Passauer Land and the place with its inns is perfect for a cozy retreat.In the further course, the entire route leads directly along the Danube - including beautiful views. On the way to Vilshofen, the Hilgartsberg castle ruins soon rise on the northern bank of the Danube. The detour up to the ruin is worthwhile, because the castle is quite well preserved and the view from the wall down into the valley is simply picturesque. The remains of the medieval castle complex are today the scene of many events and also has on every first Sunday of the month the castle café with a small museum open.Continue to the small three-river town Vilshofen on the Danube. The charming town on the right bank of the Danube has a lot to offer - from a cultural experience with top-class events and the monastery Schweiklberg to a real Bavarian lifestyle with beer from the local brewery.At Vilshofen, the trail runs over the wooded slopes of the Danube hills above the river, before returning to the shore just before Windorf. Arrived in Windorf, you can end the evening on the Danube Island. Windorf is the longest river island in Germany and is protected due to the special biodiversity. Here you can sit on the riverbank and just enjoy the view.
On the tenth and last stage of the Donau-Panoramaweg you will hike from Windorf to Passau. The path leads along the banks of the Danube, from where you can enjoy a beautiful view of Germany's longest river island. If you take a little time and are lucky, then you can watch turtles here on the shore.The Danube Panorama Trail leads you leisurely along the banks of the river further downriver. The landscape on the current section is dominated by orchards and pastures rural. Along the way, numerous beer gardens invite you to rest before you reach Schalding.After Schalding the trail leads you into the hinterland of the Danube. Here you hike on forest trails over a hill. Through the idyllic city park Freudenhain it goes back down to the Danube. One last climb and you are standing at the Veste Oberhaus high above Passau. Your gaze wanders over the city and over the Danube, Ilz and Inn, which flow together here and continue the journey together. From here you can marvel at a special feature of the rivers: the water of the Inn is turquoise green, the water of the Danube is deep blue and the Ilz is almost black. When the rivers flow into each other here, the three colors do not immediately merge, but continue to flow as three-colored Danube for many kilometers.At the end of your tour on the Donau-Panoramaweg, you can wander through the picturesque alleys of Passau, admire the impressive Baroque architecture and enjoy the Italian flair of the city. At the three-river bank you bid farewell to the Danube before you start your journey home.